C-4 (explosive)

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C4 or Composition C4 is a common variety of the plastic explosive known as Composition C. It is 1.34 times as powerful as TNT.[citation needed]


Composition and manufacture

C4 is made up of explosives, plastic binder, plasticizer and, usually, marker or odorizing taggant chemicals such as 2,3-dimethyl-2,3-dinitrobutane (DMDNB) to help detect the explosive and identify its source.[1]

As with many plastic explosives, the explosive in C4 is RDX (cyclonite or cyclotrimethylene trinitramine), which makes up around 91% of C4 by weight.[1] The plasticizer is diethylhexyl (5.3%)[1] or dioctyl sebacate and the binder is usually polyisobutylene (2.1%).[1]

Another plasticizer used is dioctyl adipate (DOA). A small amount of SAE 10 non-detergent motor oil (1.6%) is also added.[1]

C4 is manufactured by combining the noted ingredients with binder dissolved in a solvent. The solvent is then evaporated and the mixture dried and filtered. The final material is an off-white solid with a feel similar to modelling clay. It has a faint bituminous odor and an astringent taste.[citation needed]

Characteristics and uses

C4 detonation velocity is 8,092 m/s (26,550 ft/s).[2]


A major advantage of C4 is that it can easily be molded into any desired shape. C4 can be pressed into gaps, cracks and voids in buildings, bridges, equipment or machinery. Similarly, it can easily be inserted into empty shaped charge cases of the type used by military engineers.

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