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Old 11-28-2007, 09:41 AM
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Default Ammo shelf life



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I was wondering, how long can ammo be stored and still be good. I have heard that new production ammo won't last as long as the old surplus ammo does. I am thinking of getting more for long term storage, but would hate to go overboard and be stuck with thousands of rounds of dead ammo in 20 years. I am pretty conservative with my ammo. I target practice when I can, but only use a 100 rounds or so at a time. I use a different firearm each time, so each one only gets used a couple times a year. In 4 years I have only put about 500 rounds through my AR 15.
Old 11-28-2007, 10:35 AM
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If you keep in in a dry cool place commercial ammo will keep for a few decades at least.

I still have Fiocchi 38spl and 357, Winchester 22lr, And federal 9mm thats been sitting around for well over a decade and it still works as good as it was new.

The one thing you do need to be concerned about is the decay of gunpowder. Even if the powder stays dry and flammable, and the ignition system stays operational, the powder itself will loose potency over time. I've heard a lot of different estimates, some as much as 20 feet per second per year (this is an average for the major types of gunpowder).

The biggest problem with long term storage is the storage conditions. moisture control alone wont do it. You DO need to keep the air dry, but you also need to keep the temperature consistent. Fluctuation of temperature can be just as devastating to gunpowder as moisture.

i am lucky to have a basement that is very dry. It stays cool year round so I store my ammo in the air-tight army surplus ammo cans. I make sure to throw a few fresh silicone moisture absorbers in there with them. It worked out well for me so far.

Last edited by mr.trooper; 11-28-2007 at 10:42 AM..
Old 11-28-2007, 01:03 PM
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Military ammunition uses Berdan primers and sealed bullets and primers so it keeps under correct storage conditions for over a century.

Commercial ammunition keeps for many decades if stored properly.

Hand loaded ammunition is more demanding as to proper storage conditions to remain dependable over decades.
Old 11-28-2007, 01:13 PM
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you will get failures out of rimfire ammo long before centerfire all things considered equal. One thing to consider is lubricants, WD-40 (and other penetrating oils) will cause primer failures. Not that you store your ammo in WD-40, but if you spray your ammo box, mags then load them, or spray your weapon then load it.....you can have problems over a much shorter period of time.
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:15 PM
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thanks, i ws aloways told to keep WD-40 away from ammo and weapons but not so much why.
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:16 PM
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Corrisive Primed sealed Mil surplus is supposed to last longer then non corrosive. Now I recently shot some steel jacketed WW2 stuff. It went Bang and some 1937 date stamped. A few years ago I fired of a couple of 32 Rimfire in a old Iver Johnson I had. They ignited and went bang. Ammo does deteriate and you get reduced results but 50 year old or more. Rust and corrosion on the cartridges and moisture seeping into primers is the main problem.
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Old 11-28-2007, 04:04 PM
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Can ammo be vacum packed safely for long term storage?

just curious because i have access to such a machine

its true about mil-surp ammo ive fired 1940s vintage .303 ammo out of an enfield with no problems at all.
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Old 11-28-2007, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forrestdweller View Post
Rust and corrosion on the cartridges and moisture seeping into primers is the main problem.
Use clear, water proof fingernail polish to coat the primer. Then you wont have that problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by keltoboi View Post
Can ammo be vacum packed safely for long term storage? Just curious because i have access to such a machine
its true about mil-surp ammo ive fired 1940s vintage .303 ammo out of an enfield with no problems at all.
I see no reason why not.
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Old 11-28-2007, 06:39 PM
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Ammo can last a looong time providing stored properly. Sometimes a person still comes across post ww2 surplus ammo .
Old 11-28-2007, 06:43 PM
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I had noticed some russian 7.62 had coated primers and the case was coated where the bullet seats but had never thought about fingernail polish. Great idea!
Old 11-28-2007, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kev View Post
Use clear, water proof fingernail polish to coat the primer. Then you wont have that problem.
+1

I use clear nail polish on my 12ga. and 9mm commercial stuff. Never had a problem
Old 11-29-2007, 03:31 PM
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Do not Vacumn pack ammo there is some evidence I have read that it actually sucks the oxygen that is needed to start the initial ignition of the powder out over time and there are reports I have read of misfires and under ignition. No personal experience so suggest your own research.
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Old 11-30-2007, 07:53 PM
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I've had good results storing ammunition in surplus .50 cal ammo cans, just make sure the lid seal is intact.
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Old 11-30-2007, 10:55 PM
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Don't forget to throw a bag of dessicant in the ammo can to absorb the moisture from the air that is in the can when you seal it.
Old 11-30-2007, 10:59 PM
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I recycle the ones I get in boxes for electronics and clothing. Throw them in my gun cases too
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Old 11-30-2007, 11:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badkarma View Post
you will get failures out of rimfire ammo long before centerfire all things considered equal. One thing to consider is lubricants, WD-40 (and other penetrating oils) will cause primer failures. Not that you store your ammo in WD-40, but if you spray your ammo box, mags then load them, or spray your weapon then load it.....you can have problems over a much shorter period of time.
I truely hate to burst your bubble, but your a off on this on. lubricants will NOT penetrate loaded rounds. They WILL kill a primer, and/or powder. This guy did a test just to see. you be the judge.

http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot39.htm
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Old 12-01-2007, 12:15 AM
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well done. thank you
Old 12-01-2007, 01:24 AM
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like I said, I was NOT trying to burst your bubble. I want to know the hows and whys of things, and I think many of us here do also. I just hate posting a contradictory post, and sounding cocky about it. So if I sounded cocky in my first reply, I'm sorry badkarma.
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Old 12-01-2007, 09:26 AM
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I have some 7.35mm military from 1937 and have yet to find a dud or misfiring round. Keep them cool; 70oF or cooler, and your kids could still use them with confidence.
Old 10-18-2010, 05:23 PM
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Default gunpowder shelf life.

I checked with the guys at "DILLON PRECISION" and they told me that under ideal conditions gunpowder will last 80 + years.I know thay do not make powder and primers but they are real professionals
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