Shooting

Everything You Need to Know About Exploding Targets (Tannerite)

hunting rifle at a shooting range

Shooting is fun. Explosions are fun. Combining the two? Well, that’s just awesome.

With exploding targets like Tannerite, you can do just that. You probably already have some idea of what Tannerite is, but if you don’t, the name exploding targets should be explanation enough. However, before you just go out and get yourself some, make sure to read up on them.

Ready to find out more? Then, here we go.

What Is Tannerite?

tannerite
Image from Gander

For starters, Tannerite is technically a brand name that’s begun being used for exploding targets of its kind in general, similar to how Band-Aid is used to describe any adhesive bandage and all colorful, plastic, flying discs are called Frisbees. So, there are other brands.

Tannerite, like the similar exploding targets out there, is a binary explosive.

This means that it comes as two separate components, an oxidizer and a fuel, which the user then mixes together when they’re ready to shoot. Think the two liquids from the Die Hard movie, the one with Samuel L Jackson.

Each individual component is not explosive on its own and even when mixed, Tannerite is still very stable.

It will only detonate when struck by something with a velocity of at least 2000 feet per second. It won’t detonate if dropped or struck by something going slower than 2000 feet per second, no matter how heavy. It also isn’t flammable, so it can’t be detonated with electricity or fire.

Most popular rifle rounds have a high enough velocity to detonate Tannerite, including 5.56 NATO, .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, 7.62 Soviet, and pretty much any other high-velocity rifle round.

For other gun types, your options are limited. Shotgun rounds won’t do the trick and only one handgun round, .22 TCM, has the ability to achieve the velocity necessary to detonate Tannerite.

Once detonated, Tannerite does what explosives do: it produces a big cloud, a lot of kinetic energy, and makes a loud noise.

Now Tannerite isn’t the only binary explosive. There are also rimfire binary explosives, like those sold under the brand name White Lightning. However, these explosives are less stable than Tannerite and therefore less safe and are often more expensive as well. Be careful with them.

Why Use Exploding Targets?

Closeup of a rifle scope in a shop

So what’s the point of using an exploding target like Tannerite?

For one, they’re great for long-distance shooting. The loud noise and visible explosion leave no question that the target has been hit, even without using an optic to check the target.

But also, they’re just fun to shoot, and they’re affordable and you can shoot them, so why not?

But fun and games aside, there area few things to keep in mind whenever you deal with Tannerite.

Safety Considerations

Tannerite
Image from Gander

Remember, it’s an explosive. It’s loud, it creates a lot of kinetic energy, and creates a cloud of dust and smoke. Always wear eye and ear protection when using Tannerite and make sure those around you do as well, but you should be doing that whenever you shoot anyway.

In addition, while Tannerite itself can’t be detonated with a fuse or spark, once detonated, Tannerite can ignite flammable things nearby and has been responsible for wildfires.

One such instance led to wildfire that took a week to contain and spread over approximately 46,000 acres, including a national conservation area.

Don’t be that guy; make sure your Tannerite is well away from anything flammable and don’t use it anywhere that a fire watch has been issued.

You also don’t want to use it to blow up anything that can create shrapnel or, obviously, anything that you’d like to remain in one piece. You may have seen it used to blow up old cars and lawnmowers on YouTube, but you should stick to things like melons, chalk filled easter eggs, and dirt piles.

As for how much to use and how far away you should be, any target that uses one-quarter of a pound of Tannerite or more should be at least 100 yards away from people and animals. Tannerite Sports, the company behind the explosive, recommends that non-professionals use no more than a pound of mixed Tannerite at once.

Finally, Tannerite is toxic if ingested, so when you’re not using it, store it where it can’t be accessed by kids or animals.

Legal Considerations

Gavel and Themis statue in the court library.
Image from Getty

Mixing Tannerite is considered manufacturing explosives since it’s not legally an explosive until the components are combined. It’s legal for individuals to manufacture explosives for their own personal use, but you need a license to do so for others or for a business, even if it’s your own.

Since it’s illegal to transport or ship explosives and Tannerite isn’t considered an explosive until it’s mixed, Tannerite can only be transported or shipped unmixed.

In addition, because of the risk of fire, Tannerite is banned in some places, including US Forest Service land in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest regions. Other individual properties may have bans as well, particularly in the western US, so always check what’s permitted before heading to public lands to shoot.

State and local laws may also have regulations about Tannerite, like who may use it, whether licensing is required, and how it may be stored and transported. Ignorance is not an excuse, so make sure you check your state and local laws.

Parting Shots

Tannerite, and other similar exploding target materials, can be an awful lot of fun if handled properly, and can be a disaster in the making if you aren’t careful. Hopefully now you know enough about these exploding targets to be able to buy confidently, and use them safely.


What do you think of exploding targets? Let us know in the comments below! Ready to buy some of your own? Check out the selection at Gander Outdoors!

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