The Chemistry of a Browning 9mm HI Power


The Browning 9mm HI Power is a medium sized handgun, commonly used for self defense and sports shooting. I have chosen to find the chemistry in the Browning 9mm HI Power because it was the first handgun I ever shot. The gun belonged to my father, but I called it mine. On my 18th birthday he gave it to me and it was the only thing on my mind when we started the project.

Composition of ...

The Browning 9mm is made up of all steel. The gun has many parts that make it function properly. First, the barrel is made, then the frame. On the frame there is the front and rear sights. Then there is the trigger guard, the trigger, the magazine, and the hammer. On the inside of the frame there is the striking match and the firing pin. I also included the bullets in my project.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

The main chemicals in the Browning 9mm are steel, Fe3C and Brass, Cu3Zn2, Gunpowder/black powder 10KNO3+8C+3S=2K2Co3+3K2SO4+6CO2+5N2,bullet- copper (Cu), lead alloy , primer incandescent potassium carbonate.

Chemistry's Role

Steel is man made. The Iron ore is mined from the ground then smelted, melted to a liquid, in a blast furnace where impurities are removed and carbon is added. The steel is laid out into big slabs and cooled, then cut into smaller slabs and sold. To make the barrel of the gun they use “cold rolled steel”, really hard steel, and drill a hole for the caliber they want. When they do this it creates the rifling, which is the spirals going down the barrel use to give the gun its accuracy. This is all done in a machine.

Bullets are also man made. Bullets are made by starting with the brass. They use a brass tube and cut it to the caliber they need. Then the tube is rolled and tapered the end of the bullet tube on both ends. After, they drill a hole in the back end of the tube and crimp the edges around. They also cut the front of the tube and neck and rim the casing for the bullet to fit. On the back end of the bullet they put in the seat( the flat, back part), then insert the primer. They then measure the proper amount of gunpowder and put it in the casing. Finally, they set the bullet and crimp the casing around the bullet keeping it in the casing. The bullet is then cleaned and ready to shoot!

Background Research

When the components are put together you have a well functioning machine. The machine works in a step by step function that happens in a blink of an eye. At first shooting a gun seems pretty easy, you just pull the trigger right? There is so much more going on inside the gun that no one really thinks about when they shoot. When the 9mm is ready to be fired the hammer will be in a full cocked position, pulled all the way back. Then the trigger is pulled, when this happens the hammer is pulled forward and hits the striking match. The striking match hits the firing pin and in return hits the primer in the back of the bullet. When the primer is hit it sets off the gunpowder. When the gunpowder reaction happens the sufler lowers the ignition temperature starting the reaction. Then the potassium nitrate supplies the oxygen and the charcoal is broken down to provide carbon and other fuels for the reaction. The products of the gunpowder combustion are 56% solid product, 43% gaseous, and 1% water. The gunpowder heats and propels the copper, lead alloy (the bullet) down the barrel. The barrel of the 9mm and all guns have what is called rifling going down the barrel, this is a long groove cut along the barrel in a spiral. The rifling gives the bullet the accuracy. The top of the frame slides back, ejecting the bullet, and pushing a new bullet in.


Basic info on guns and labels outside parts of the gun.

chemical components

chemicals and the chemical reaction in gunpowder

75 Percent Potassium Nitrate- saltpeter is a common name for potassium nitrate.

15 percent Charcoal- consists of broken down cellulose and provides carbon and other fuel for the reaction.

10 percent Sulfur

Energy density= 3 megajoules per kg

products of combustion: 56 percent solid product, 43 percent gaseous products, 1 percent water.

chemicals in the primer and how it works

basicly made up of a metallic cup containing an explosive mixture that serves to ignite the main powder charge

-most primer cups are made of 70/30 cartridge brass. Most manufacturers apply a nick plating to their primers for appearance.

-lead or lead alloy is used for traditional bullets

-bullet jackets are made of copper

-todays bullets can include aluminum, bismuth, bronze, copper, plastics, rubber, steel, tin, and tungsten.

Parts of a Hi Power


-front sight

-slide, slide stop

-rear sight



-magazine, magazine release catch

-trigger guard, trigger.

Frame and slide are made from solid steel

basic information about the makeup of a bullet mostly focusing on the primer, the purpose, and history of the primer.

About the Author

Matteson Opie is a senior at Billings Senior High School. She enjoys the outdoors. Matteson rides and works with horses, she love to camp, hunt, and shoot. She has been on the dance team for two years and lettered in dance. She also volunteers with the special needs students at Senior High and help children with disabilities learn how to ride and handle horses. Matteson will be attending Northwest College for equine riding, training, and business management. She enjoyed learning more about her Browning 9mm and sharing her knowledge.