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Thread: How long can you store ammo?

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    Default How long can you store ammo?

    I'm a newbie when it comes to guns so I have a question for those of you who know your stuff when it comes to guns and ammo.

    On page 12 of the Beretta Nano user manual, I read the following:

    WARNING: Carefully inspect each cartridge before it is loaded in the magazine. Be certain the cartridge cases are not split or deformed, and that the cartridges do not possess any other dents or defects. This warning even applies to factory ammunition.

    Do not fire old ammunition. Primers, powder, cartridge cases, and bullets can deteriorate with time and cause damage to the firearm, or injury to the shooter or others.


    source:
    http://www.berettausa.com/file.aspx?DocumentId=78


    My question is regarding the "do not fire old ammunition" statement. I thought ammunition didn't go bad and you could stock up on it so you'd have ammo when the next "dry spell" in ammo comes along.

    I bought a case of ammo to keep and now I'm wondering about that. What constitutes "age" in the life of a bullet? I mean, what is "old" ammo? How old is old?

    Is that line in the user manual valid or is this just an example of the lawyers at Beretta covering their bases? I'm hoping it's just a line the lawyers made them put in there.
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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    It depends on the quality of the components (powder and primer) but mostly on how it is stored. If you store quality ammo properly, it will keep fine for decades. On the other hand, leaving an open box in your garage and it might start to rust after several years or so and I wouldn't want to fire it then (or at least would be more careful and selective.
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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    cool and dry

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    i dont know the answers but i have regularly shot 30+ year old shotgun shells with no issues.........i have also shot 30yr old 22lr cartridges with mixed success.....i do think "cool and dry" is the answer

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    Okay, thanks. That's what I thought. As long as one protects the ammo from the elements, it should keep longer than I will live. Their "deteriorate with time" statement threw me. I knew moisture was an enemy of ammo but I didn't think "time" was.

    Thanks for your responses.
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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    Quite some time. The 40mm repeating canon used on US AC130 gunships are Bofors surplus from WWII naval vessels and originally used as air defense weapons primarily against the Japanese. They have been using the WWII surplus stock of ammo because there has been no production since.

    I've got some WWII surplus 30-06, works fine.

    Last edited by TomD; 02-03-2012 at 11:31 AM.
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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    When I was working for the ASP (ammo supply point) at a nearby military training base during Desert Storm we were sill storing, issuing and firing 155 howitzer rounds made in 1955. Stored in subterranean magazines with dehumidifiers. Dry and cool.

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    Just the firearm manufacturers liability statement. They don't want you shooting corroded or questionable ammo then blaming them when your gun malfunctions or blows up due to squib loads.

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    I have recycled those Omaha Steak styrofoam boxes and loaded them up with my surplus ammo.Keep'em in the basement...cool & dry.
    Slow is smooth.....smooth is fast...

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    Keep it cool and keep it dry, and it will outlast you. Some of the old Soviet ammo is better shooting than new production...Siberia and those spam cans kept it like new.

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    I have ammo I bought in the 60s Im still using, no problems. .22 9mm and 12 gauge.

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    I agree with the above, I will add that there are other variables in the equation. Corrosive primers tend to hold up longest, esp. in cold weather. Most military cartridges will be sealed at the primer and mouth, which will help them last longer, especially if exposed to moisture. Many paper and cardboard ammo boxes have chemicals which become acidic over time, causing ammo to corrode. Some ammo has steel cases rather than brass, steel will obviously rust faster than brass. Etc., etc.

    Back to your original question, that stupid brochure was written by a lawyer, not an authority on guns or ammo.
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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eat Beef View Post
    Many paper and cardboard ammo boxes have chemicals which become acidic over time, causing ammo to corrode.
    I never heard that before. All my bullets are packed in steel army surplus cans, but they're all in their original boxes. What's the time frame for this?

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cynical1 View Post
    I never heard that before. All my bullets are packed in steel army surplus cans, but they're all in their original boxes. What's the time frame for this?
    Any NATO or Western Commercial manufactured ammo produced within the last fifty years will be just fine, especially when kept in a steel military ammo can in a cool, dry place. Some of the older Com Bloc ammo can have issues depending on the country of origin. Bx3

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    Quote Originally Posted by ttazzman View Post
    i dont know the answers but i have regularly shot 30+ year old shotgun shells with no issues.........i have also shot 30yr old 22lr cartridges with mixed success.....i do think "cool and dry" is the answer
    I've shot shotgun shells that my grandfather gave me 30 years ago with no problems, and they were old when he gave them to me :]

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bx3 View Post
    Some of the older Com Bloc ammo can have issues depending on the country of origin.
    Cough....Albanian...cough.

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    I've got a couple of cases of military surplus .308. In each case there are 5 battle packs, each having ten 20 round boxes all enclosed in a very heavy rubber water and moisture proof pack. They're dated 1985, they shoot.

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    Quote Originally Posted by TomD View Post
    I've got a couple of cases of military surplus .308. In each case there are 5 battle packs, each having ten 20 round boxes all enclosed in a very heavy rubber water and moisture proof pack. They're dated 1985, they shoot.

    Indonesian?

    Pindad = Indonesian Government arsenal.

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    They still sell surplus from WWII. Make sure when you store it to put it in waterproff/air tight ammo cans. It could outlast you.
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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    SongSungAU, what you have to remember is that a lot of a modern firearms manual is written by lawyers to cover liability. Part of the assumption that old ammo is bad is tied to the idea that it may have been stored improperly, in which case powder, primers, and even the brass can deteriorate. It can change the burn and ignition properties, so, for example, the powder burns faster, so pressure is built up faster than the cartridge or gun is able to handle.

    Another matter to consider is what is called "corrosive" ammo. Prior to WW2 almost all primers left salts behind after firing. Deposited in the chamber and barrel, these salts attracted moisture in the air and encouraged rust. After the war, most of the NATO countries switched to to a new primer mix that did not create salts. The Soviets continued to use the old corrosive mix, for a few different reasons. First, because the old mixture stored better under adverse conditions and was less likely to break down from heat or cold. Second, the steel used in Soviet Bloc countries (with Yugoslavia as a notable exception) contained a high percentage of chromium, which resisted rusting. The Chinese would later do this as well. On the other hand, as was noted earlier, some of the Soviet countries had less than ideal quality control *coughcough Albania* and had a higher failure rate.

    There were countries that were absolute sticklers about ammo, though, like the Swiss and the Swedes. There seems to be some debate about whether or not the Swedes were using non-corrosive ammo before WW2; they were almost obsessive about gun care, however, and Swedish surplus firearms are among the cleanest, most pristine on the market.

    I mention the Swedish because I have pre-WW1 military 6.5X55 that I have fired without difficulty. Admittedly it wasn't a true test, because I don't have much of it and I keep it mostly for its historical value, but if nearly 100 year old ammo can fire without a hiccup, just about anything else will.
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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    In Panama during early 1990 we were resupplied with 7.62 from the ASP at Rodman, there was some corrosion and jams even after cleaning the ammunition. Having guarded Rodman, they had the typical covered in earth bunkers, but I don't know what they used for humidity problems. Whatever it was, it wasn't working for the lot we were issued.

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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    @SongSungAu: I shoot at CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) M1 Garand matches and it is not unsual to use LC-69 (Lake City made in 1969) M2 Ball ammo or Greek HXP-73 (Pyrkal manufactured in 1973) ammo for the matches. I prefer the HXP stuff since it comes in sardine cans. I have seen guys use older stuff too.
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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    In 1981, I inherited a .22 WRF pistol from my late grandfather, and with it came a few boxes of ammo, the youngest of which was over 50 years old, and all of which appeared to have been improperly stored.

    One out of five rounds failed to fire, and since they were rim-fires, I rotated those in the cylinder, and ended up being able to fire all but a few, perhaps 5% of the total.

    I shoot mil-surp .308 which was produced in the early 80s, and I have never experienced any significant problems.

    By the way, brass cases do not rust, but do Oxidize and turn green, which can be polished and used with no problems. I bought some German milsurp which was partially Oxidized, and it shoots fine.
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    Default Re: How long can you store ammo?

    I am CERTAIN I got the record, here...

    I still have a coupla rounds left from a bagful of .45 caliber dated


    [wait for it]


    [..............drum roll..............]





    1917!!

    TINS, Pilgrims. The bullets are NOT copper-jacketed. They are solid lead. Moreover, when you fire them, they throw sparks. Yup.

    But... they fire just fine.

    And I gots some WWII 8mm for my old Mausers. Over a thousand rounds. Works fine.

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