Indiana Jones ammo question

In the beginning of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” … stal_Skull the main character is looking for a magnetized box in a large warehouse. He orders KGB agents to open their ammo cartridges and pour gun powder into his hand. When KGB question the logic of this, he says that gun powder contains metal and throws a cloud of powder in the air. Gun powder cloud is attracted to the magnetic box, and that is how they find it. Is it possible for gun powder to contain metal? Please, just don’t throw eggs at me.

Since Russian cartridges (KGB Agent) have magnetic bullets, it would have been a lot easier to just throw a handful of cartridges into the air, rather than break open cartridges, an easy task only in the movies, were they do it with their fingers.

Can’t answer the powder question.

I just love the movies. You can see why Hollywood supports the political side it does. So many of the people associated with Hollywood are morons who have never learned to separate fact from fantasy. Oops, maybe too politcal of me.

John I really like what you wrote, regardless it’s correctness.

To my limited knowledge normal propellants do not conatain any metals. Those metals being magnetic are anyways only iron, kobalt and nickel. Other metals are not.
Propellants containing metals (magnetic or not) would burn much hotter, develop a higher gas pressure and enhance the muzzle flash. For this reason one may find metal ingredients (usually aluminum powder) in pyrotechnics and explosives.

And as John indicated some people take their own horizon as the edge of the world. This may explain the “metal in the powder” since movie blanks often contain aluminum powder for the flash/show/movie effect (otherwise an action movie is not good it seems). Knowing only such ammo of course someone may think this goes for real ammunition also.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Smokeless rifle and pistol propellant powder is cellulose. Black powder is charcoal, sulpher and potassium nitrate.

Movies and TV are not real. The Arizona Cardinals are REAL. ;) ;)


  1. The sun was in McNabb’s eyes.

  2. Aluminum powder would not be attracted to a magnet.

  3. Why weren’t all the million other steel and iron items flying towards the magnetic skull?

The wife and kids had to sedate me when I watched that movie.

That scene in the movie bothered me immediately. Because 1: gunpowder is in no way attracted to a magnet, and 2: if it were somehow a powerful enough force that a crate over 100 feet away were able to attract even something which is attracted to a magnet like Iron powder, then the magnetic source would be so strong that anyone who got very close would be killed by all of their metal objects being ripped away and pulled into the source, and people would be cut in half by flying metal objects. The worst thing I think I have ever seen in regards to ammunition though has got to be the recent film release titled “Wanted” when in the commercials they kept showing one person instructing another to “curve the bullet” and he swings his gun around and fires whilst the bullet flies out the barrel and proceeds to curve around a woman who is standing in front of a target. As if a bullet can be slung like a curve-ball or something, ridiculous… I guarantee however, that after having seen this movie, that some punk tried it out in a field somewhere, swinging his pistol around and thinking that he could shoot around a tree or something.

Well, with the movies ignorance is bliss, They did get one thing right gun powder is affected by a type of force field, which is very similar to a magnetic field, it is an electrostatic field, similar in effect but very different. Vic

Some years ago there was a movie poster for one of the ‘Naked Gun’ series which showed a pistol being fired and the bullet emerging from the muzzle - complete with its cartridge case!

When watching films like Indiana Jones you just have to suspend disbelief from start to finish.

Ah movies! I was watching Lord of War in the theaters–great ammo related intro–when I noticed something peculiar. Yuri Orlov (Cage’s character) is in the Ukraine acquiring weapons. The shot pans over a guard holding an AK-47. That’s when I lean over to my wife and whisper, “Want to know what’s wrong with that AK?” “No, I don’t care,” she responds. Well the guard was holding an AK-47 with a closed front sight post.

Nickel is non-magnetic…it is the main part of the alloy in Stainless Steel…


There are different types of stainless steels. All of my stainless rifle barrels are highly magnetic. They are made from 416 stainless steel which has a high chromium content plus added sulpher.


[quote=“Ray Meketa”]
The Arizona Cardinals are REAL. ;) ;)


Your local cricket team ? ;)

Hi Ray
According to my husband the only reason Sulfer or Selenium is add to the steel is to make it free machining.


Your husband is a smart guy, but you already knew that. That’s what makes 416 such a great steel for barrels.


Sorta. It’s like cricket without shirts and ties. ;)


I hear the sun will be shining in Tampa Bay too. Roethlisberger had better bring his sunglasses. ;)


OK…Randy is not a smart guy like Carolyn’s husband…Nickel is magnetic…I kinda knew there are many different types of stainless, some are magnetic and some are not…and I thought true stainless (say, 304 and 316) was non-magnetic, (seein’s how I have about 1000 lbs of it sitting here in the scrap yard) and that the main ingredient in the alloy was nickel, but …oh well…funny how my magnet doesn’t stick to nickels…The Forum has, as of today, become read only for me…

I still like the part where he climbs into the fridge just before the nuclear blast… :D


I didn’t mean to chase you away. You know me and my big mouth. Come back.


Enough about the movie. 90% of the movies made today are crap and a waste of money to even go see. I am not sure the occasional one I watch on television is even worth the electricity used while I am watching it.

Back to cartridge stuff. I have two large electro-magnets that have not been charged in 40 years. I keep them attached to each other by their own magnetic pull. I cannot phyically pull them straight apart - I have to twist one off the other-they are still so powerful.

With that background set down, if Nickel is magnetic, why won’t any nickeled cartridge case I own jump to these magnets? I can hold one over a GMCS bullet 3 inches - probably more - and the bullet will fly up to the magnet. A nickeled case doesn’t “draw” at all - not one bit. I know it is plated brass, but the nickel should have some draw if nickel is magnetic.

I vote with Randy.

Tony: There was a film poster for “Smokin’ Aces” in 2007 that showed a “bullet” that had supposedly been shot into glass and cracked it. It was also the letter “O” in the word for the film title. The problem was that the “bullet” was the head of an RG 7.62 NATO round with an unfired primer, and a heart stamped on the primer.

Christopherb: What seemed strange about that intro in the Soviet ammunition factory is that on the cartridge machine a brass block went along a conveyor belt, and two steel blocks stamped it from each side. A prefectly formed cartridge case was there on the belt when the blocks were retracted. I’m sure we all know This is not how a cartridge case is made.

OK…to clarify…Stainless steels are many and varied, both magnetic and non-magnetic. The main portion of the alloy is steel. Another large portion is chromium. To create an austenitic (non-magnetic) stainless steel, nickel or manganese, depending on the intended usage of the metal, is added to stabilize the austenite structure of the iron (in the steel), rendering the stainless steel non-magnetic. Most, if not all, 300 series SS is austenitic. The 400 series are either Ferritic or Martensitic. 416 is one of the most machinable due to the addition of sulfur, however, it is magnetic. And I should have been more explanatory earlier…nickel, in its pure state, is a ferro-magnetic metal, but, as we know it best, as a coin or plating for cartridge cases, it is a non-magnetic alloy, wherein it is alloyed with primarliy copper. Nuff said…maybe someone else can start a thread on the alloys of nickel and what happens to the metallic structure to render the magnetic properties of nickel “inert”…