C4 Composition

1.25lb slab of C4 explosive

or Composition C-4 is a common variety of military plastic explosive.

The term composition is used for any stable explosive, and "Composition A" and "Composition B" are other known variants. C-4 is 1.34 times as explosive as trinitrotoluene (TNT). It has gained popularity due to exposure in media including films and video games.

A major advantage of C-4 is that it can easily be moulded into any desired shape. C-4 can be pressed into gaps/voids in buildings, bridges, equipment or machinery. Similarly, it can easily be inserted into empty shaped-charge cases of the type used by special forces. C-4 is also well known for its durability, reliability, and safety. It will not explode even if hit by a bullet, punched, cut, or thrown into a fire. The only reliable method for detonation is via both heat and pressure, e.g. a detonator or blasting cap.

British Military plastic explosive is referred to as PE4. Like C-4, it is an off-white solid and its explosive characteristics are nearly identical. The only difference between C-4 and PE4 is the type and proportion of plasticizer used.

Because C-4 burns slowly if simply ignited with a flame, rather than detonated with a primary explosive, soldiers would sometimes use small amounts of C-4 as a fuel for heating rations while on long patrols during the Vietnam War era. While many soldiers were able to use C-4 in this manner safely, there are several anecdotes about soldiers attempting to put out the fire by stamping on it and causing it to detonate.

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