Binary explosives are pre-packaged products consisting of two separate components, usually an oxidizer like ammonium nitrate and a fuel such as aluminum or another metal. These components typically are not listed separately on the List of Explosive Materials and do not meet the definition of "Explosives" in 27 CFR 555.11. ATF does not generally regulate the sale and distribution of these component chemicals, even when sold together in binary "kits." However, when the binary components are combined, the resulting mixture is an explosive material subject to ATF regulatory requirements found in 27 CFR, Part 555 - Commerce in Explosives.
All mixed binary explosives must be stored in an explosives storage magazine as prescribed in the regulations found in 27 CFR, Part 555, Subpart K-Storage, unless they are in the process of manufacture, being physically handled in the operating process, being used or being transported to a place of storage or use.
License or Permit Requirements
Mixing binary components together constitutes manufacturing explosives. Individuals or companies must obtain a federal explosives manufacturers license if they intend to engage in the business of manufacturing explosives for sale or distribution, or for their own business use (e.g., mixing for demonstration or testing purposes). Persons manufacturing explosives for their own personal, non-business use only (e.g., personal target practice) are not required to have a federal explosives license or permit under 27 CFR, Part 555. However, a federal explosives license or permit is required to receive or transport mixed binary explosives, such as transporting mixed exploding targets to a shooting range. Persons prohibited under 27 CFR Part 555.26 from possessing explosive materials may not possess mixed binary explosives such as exploding targets or flash powder.
Unlike regulated explosives materials, including mixed binary explosives, ATF does not require persons to report the theft of precursor or binary explosive components. However, we ask that everyone voluntarily report any theft or loss of these chemical explosive precursors to the local law enforcement authority and to the United States Bomb Data Center at 800-461-8841 (after hours, call the ATF 24-hour hotline at 800-800-3855).
Compliance With Other Requirements
Compliance with ATF regulations does not convey any rights or privileges to operate in violation of other federal, state or local regulations. Persons mixing binary explosives should check with other federal agencies, as well as their state and local law enforcement officials as there may laws that prohibit the mixing, transportation, possession or use of binary explosives, including binary exploding targets. For example, the transportation of explosive materials on public roads may be subject to regulations under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Some states prohibit the use of exploding targets because of the fire hazards they may present. The Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Standards (CFATS) program covers various chemicals used in binary explosives in certain quantities. For more information on the CFATS program, go to https://www.dhs.gov/.