Ammunition is becoming increasingly expensive. It’s more important than ever that we take steps to ensure we don’t lose any of our ammo through poor maintenance or storage practices. I keep 1,000 rounds of each type of ammunition my firearms require, just in case, and I also make it a point to ensure that it stays in the best condition possible. Have you done everything you can to protect and properly store your ammunition? Read on to find out all you need to know about ammo storage.
Ammunition Shelf Life
To be sure, all ammunition does have a shelf life or a point where its accuracy is unreliable, or it even becomes unsafe to fire. Fortunately, ammo typically has a shelf life of years or even decades. If done correctly, you can even store modern-day ammo for centuries.
Ammunition made with smokeless gunpowder came into wide use after the 1930s. Ammo with smokeless powder is very reliable, durable, and long-lasting. There are even instances of soldiers during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 using .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) ammunition that had been in storage since the 1940s. Today’s ammo enjoys such a long shelf life because of much-improved manufacturing processes along with many design improvements.
Watch for Humidity
I make sure my ammunition is ready to go when I take it out of the box or ammo can by always storing it in a location that’s dark, dry, and cool.
Keep the below in mind when you’re considering how to store ammo:
1. Humidity is ammunition’s greatest enemy, and if it’s humid enough, it will reduce your ammo’s shelf life. Brass is the most common metal used for gun and rifle ammunition casings. While this relatively soft metal is resistant to corrosion and deterioration, such as we see in humid conditions, it’s also not wholly immune from it.
2. Given enough time, humid, wet air will seep into any surface, and that will also dampen gunpowder and ammo primers. Damp ammunition powder and primers lead to poor ammunition performance or even ammo that won’t fire at all. Over time, moisture has a damaging effect on all parts of an ammunition cartridge or shotgun shell.
Unless I’m actively using my ammunition, I always keep it properly stored rather than leaving it out on a table or some shelf. Dry, non-humid basements and cellars are examples of great places for your ammo. However, even a climate-controlled house or apartment is fine for an ammo storage site.
I also avoid subjecting my ammo to extreme temperature swings. For example, I never let my ammunition sit out in the hot sun in the summer and then in freezing temps in the winter. Wild temperature swings lead to humidity.
Steps To Take For Longterm Storage
If you’re serious about making sure your ammunition will perform even after you’ve had it in storage for years and years, take these steps:
- Avoid extremely cheap ammunition. Though ammo today is greatly improved since the 1930s, there is always a small chance that cheap ammo could also be a production run reject.
- Rotate your ammunition regularly and label your ammo boxes and cans with the date you bought that ammunition. Always use your oldest ammo first, if possible.
- If you can, place your ammunition in plastic bags and then store it in ammo boxes or cans that have a rubber seal on the lids to keep out moisture and humidity.
- To absorb moisture and protect your ammo, use desiccants like silica gel packs or clay packs with sodium bentonite or calcium bentonite. Silica gel packs are relatively inexpensive, and you can drop them into your ammo boxes or cans after you’ve placed your ammunition in them. You can also purchase silica gel packs that change color when they’ve absorbed all the moisture possible so that you know when to replace them.
- Another way of preventing moisture from degrading ammo is to place it in a vacuum-sealed bag. These vacuum bags are in most department stores. All you need to do is use your vacuum cleaner’s hose or nozzle attachment to remove any air from them.
- Once I’ve stored my ammunition, I always check it regularly for any signs of deterioration. It’s easy for me to schedule ammo checks because my ammunition is stored in sealed plastic bags before I put it into my date-labeled ammo boxes and cans.
Knowing how to store ammo is essential to ensure my own will perform efficiently and accurately when I need it. It also doesn’t take a lot of work or money to store ammunition properly. However, I’m always conscientious about rotating and inspecting it to ensure it’s not rusted or otherwise damaged. I believe many factors decide whether any shot I take will end up on target, including holding my weapon correctly. I also think that having a properly maintained weapon and ammunition is just as important when ensuring my shot goes where I intend it to go.