Ammo storage question

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by Benevolus, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. Benevolus

    Benevolus Monkey+++ Founding Member

    I know that the best way to store ammo is in a cool, dry atmosphere. All of my ammo is stored in those steel GI cans with a desiccant thrown in. At this point all of is located in the basement (very cool and dry). I really don't want to keep all my 'eggs in one basket' so to say. With this in mind, I'd like to move some of it to my attic (unheated& uncooled). Unfortunately my attic gets hot during the summer. The maximum temp recorded up there was 90 degrees. There's a mushroom fan up there that is thermostatically controlled. I was wondering if there would be any problems keeping some of my stock up there. Here in the northeast basically there's four months worth of those hot temps. Thanks.
  3. magnus392

    magnus392 Field Marshall Mags Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I would think the heating and cooling of the ammo could cause it to deteriate over time. I think that is about what has happened to the Indian .308 that everyone fears like the plague. If you store it short term, maybe a yr? I think it would be fine, but say a decade, and I wouldn't trust it.
    john316 likes this.
  4. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I wouldn't even trust a year. It isn't the powder so much as the primers that can't take the heat and a batch of ammo that mis fires when you need it isn't worth the metal it is made of.
    Storing ammo in a vehicle is even risky if you have temperature fluctuations. It will draw and express moisture unless the rounds are sealed. I know you said that the ammo is stored in GI cans, but the seals on those cans are less than perfect and you take the chance that they will leak and start the expansion contraction process, especially in your atic where there is a large humidity change.
    Personally, I wouldn't try it.
  5. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Im no expert on this but Ill throw out my personal experience any how. I havent ever had ammo that lasted to many years before it was shot but I remember a bunch of ammo my dad had. He had several bricks of .22 lr ammo that he had just left in the packages they came in, normal cardboad, and put them in an old foot locker. As I understand it he had bought this well before he and my mom ever met so by the time I was shooting it it was well over 20 years old. For as long as I remember and up to when I started shooting this ammo, the foot locker had been kept in the basement that ocasionaly flooded and was alwayse humid. There was a lot of it that had a bit of corrosion on it but I would say over 99% of it all went bang, and this had been cheap ammo as I understand, when he bought it, I know it was some brand I had never heard of or seen else where. The last of it that I fired would have been around 30 years old and still the same storey. I have had ammo that was kept under the seat of my truck for a couple of years, shotgun ammo at that, and it all went bang when I shot it.
    Point being, while like I say Im no expert on this, I personaly dont worry to much about it since I have never had any more problems with ammo just tossed on a shelf or whatever for extended periods of time than I have with new ammo so I dont know that I would realy worry about it. I do now keep my ammo, aside from whats in my kits or out for easy acess to the guns that I shoot pests and such with reagularly, in ammo cans just to make it easier to organize and transport if headed to the range or whatever (a different can for each calibur), but so long as its not in a place that the ammo is going to be wet (as in laying out on the ground) or haveing extreeme temp changes like from freezing to roasting quickly and commonly, then from my experience its not a big deal.
    Just what I have seen, dont know if you keep it for enouph decades or its cheap enouph ammo things may be different.
    Maxflax likes this.
  6. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I agree with you Monkeyman, but if he is stocking this ammo for SHTF situations, you don't want to be taking chances with your life. Just like water, I found a two litre pop bottle of water that my brother stashed away when he was younger. This stuff has been laying around for about 12 years, so being the adventurous type, I drank it and there was nothing wrong with it. I wouldn't condone storing water in pop bottles for my survival purposes.
    The second thing, .22 ammo does survive quite well because the bullets tend to be wax treated, so they have a type of bullet seal. There is no external primer, so moisture can't get in there. On regular cartridges, the primer is the primary weak point for moisture expansion.
    Also, over time, primers when treated to excessive heat will deteriorate and fail and powder will go bad if treated to repeated moisture changes. I got a box of shotgun shells from my grandfather after he died that he kept under his truck seat. Took them out to shoot them and they "belched" a big green cloud and the shot made it about 20 yards.
    Benevoulous, it's your call, but I would look at whatever else you could store up there, clothing and gear or such. Just my $.02
  7. Benevolus

    Benevolus Monkey+++ Founding Member

    First, I want to thank all for your great responses.

    I tend to agree that the weak link in center-fire ammo would be the primers. Moisture and temperature fluctuations would be a problem. The ammo I purchase is always top notch stuff, either LC or IMI. If I am correct, these manufacturers lacquer seal the bullet as well as the primer. I make sure that the seals on the ammo cans are in good condition usually rubbing silicone gasket gel on them. This makes them soft and pliable. I'm not really concerned about moisture as much as temperature (now that you brought it to my attention).

    The 'eggs in one basket' was my thought. What if I was robbed or there was a scenario involving seizures. No, I don't have my tin foil hat on. I just always like to think out of the box using 'what if' situations.

    Whenever I see pictures from Iraq or Afghanistan, I think about the conditions there during the summer months. The heat in the desert is very high. I wonder if all those bullets go 'boom' after sitting in warehouses over there?
  8. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I think the cool, dark place is always best for storing most anything. Low humindity helps too. I'd go with the under the house spot first. I'm not afraid of cold or freezing, just the hot , hot attic.
  9. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Really, it is not the heat as much as it is the humidity that hurts ammo. If you want to be sure you ammo is properly waterproofed, take a pot of boiling water and pour it over the ammo. and then watch it. If you start seeing a steady stream of bubbles coming from the primer or neck seal, pull the rounds out immediately and dry them off and they will be OK to shoot. Do this with some rounds that you know are not sealed and watch how much expansion there is. Dry heat doesn't hurt as much as humid heat as found in most attics!
  10. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Like I say, Im no expert on it, and I could see where storage at a constant temp in a dry place would be good, I just kind of had to vent a little (and also see how much anyone could dispute it from experience) since I seem to see a lot of folks, often some what new to prepairedness, being told that they need a lot of special care to store thier ammo and based on what I have seen it seems to me that unless its being prepaired for storage in VERY adverse conditions, like say being burried or something similar, then the money being spent on all that special stuff for the storage of the ammo would (IMHO) be beter spent on more ammo. I mean some of the stuff I have seen mentioned on some boards would, for a fair sized ammount of ammo, cost enouph that by the time you stored that ammo 'properly' you could have bought another few thousand rounds of mil surpluss or low cost ammo.
    Sniper, you did mention one example of some ammo that didnt survive time well, I do have to ask though since they were aparently old shotgun shells if they were of a modern type or were they the old paper/cardboard type? I could easily see the powder in them being a lot more vulnerable and would figure that in general shotgun ammo, even the modern type, would be the most easily effected by its enviroment. Do you or dose anyone else have any other first hand or at least from someone you know (as opposed to a friends cousins room mates das uncle, once) of ammo being damaged by improper storage short probably of being left in a toilet tank for a long time or something? I mean if Im way off here I would definately be glad to find out rather than be screwed by my ignorance and misconceptions down the road. I just go on what Ive seen, and I know my dad even reloads but hasnt been doing enouph shooting for the past 25 years or more to go through a lot of components very fast, I recently went up and he helped me load a few hundred rounds of .38s with powder that had been in cans in a humid basement on the shelf for over 20 years and primers that were the same way and I didnt have any problems with any of the ammo, and I would think that the components that way rather than the amount of seal you would naturaly have from an assembled round, would be even more vulnerable.
    Now I do know that with a lot of the mil surpluss ammo (or at least the old stuff like from WWII and such) that it was stick powder and if it was bounced around to much the sticks could, over time break up and cause it to create dangerously high chamber preasures and even blow up the guns. Dose anyone know if they have gone over to the flake powder like the civi rounds now or are they still stick powder?
    So I mean I dont have a problem with it if anyone wants to store thier ammo in what ever matter its just that a lot of times when tis question comes up the general feel seems to sugest that if you put ammo just in its cardboard box on the shelf of your room or whatever for say 10 years that it will just be totaly unreliable, and that just hasnt been anything like my experience. Like I say though I could be wrong, it did happen once :D , and would be intrested to hear if anyone has examples they have known of on what dose happen with it improperly stored, especialy if they have an idea of how it had been stored since even as laid back as I am on it I wouldnt advocate dumping the ammo in a gunny sack and hideing it in the bottom of the well and Im sure someone has tried it.
  11. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Back in the day when I was really deep into SHTF preparedness, I used to waterproof my own ammo and I did a extensive test on what damage heat, cold, and water did to rounds. I can tell you that extended heat at 200 degrees will cause some sealed bullets to expand to the point that they push the bullets out of the case! Any one of the components of heat, cold, or humidity will not usually be enough to cause the damage, it is the repeated heating, cooling, AND humidity that causes damage to the round. You have to be pushing and pulling humidity in and out over time to get it to do damage. As for rounds damaged from storage, yes, I have had rounds that have corroded because of poor storage techniques. What I have never tested is what does bullet corrosion do to a bullet's accuracy. All of this is just my own Anal opinion, but, I am really anal when it comes to my guns, equipment, and ammo. Knock off the jokes!
    I look at it this way, stored ammo is a valuable asset that you can't afford to not have when you need it. To take chances with it's storage is just flirting with disaster. I had a squib round with my .44 three weeks ago when Aviationlifesupport was here visiting. That has caused me to think about disassembly of all the rounds to ensure it was just a fluke! You don't want to have to be doing that in the middle of a SHTF situation.
  12. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Good info guy's, Sniper I might try that 12 years old water, got any left?
  13. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Naw, threw it out, tasted like crap!
  14. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    that bad ehh?
  15. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Kinda like swimming pool water. I think it was the pop bottle plastic breaking down. If I remember right, I used the remainder to water my mom's plants!
  16. rvulcan500

    rvulcan500 Monkey+++ Founding Member

    When I had alot of ammo to store I put in Food Saver bags with card board and stored them that way. For instance .223 ammo for our AR's we would store in rows of 4 3 rows high due to the fact a 30 round mag can hold 30 rounds and if you stack it 3 hight that is equile to one mag so each unit would hold essentailly 4 mags worth of ammo. The carboard would go on the top and bottom. If you do this make sure you cut the card board a little wider so the tip of the ammo doesn't puncture the bag. If it stayes sealed it will last a long time due to the fact there is not air in the bag. We have also don this with full bandoleers of ammo.
    Just my .02
  17. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I do the same thing with ammo, but I quit using the food saver bags as they punctured too easily. I use old used MRE bags now. Will hold about 200 rounds of 5.56 or about 500 rounds of 9mm. You can damn near toss them around without puncturing them.
  18. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    I use ammo cans even for bandoleers, just fold them up. I never thought about the MRE bags, you heat seal them?
  19. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yes, first I tumble them to clean all the oils off, then with a dipper, drop them in and heat seal it. I don't bother to vacuum seal it as it will pull the air out of the rounds and when you open the bags, whatever moisture that is in the air will be pulled into the rounds, so I don't see a need for it. Just run it through the heat sealer part and be done with it. If I am going to store them for a while, then I will put the bags in ammo cans.
  20. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I have lots of powder and ammo and I did not want to keep it in the garage where temps go from well over 100 in the summer to freezing in the winter. I took the closet here in my office and in the safe room and put Gorilla Racks in them. Now I stack all the ammo I want in there and it's no problem, and the powder stays in a controlled range so it should last a long time.
  21. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Good information here, how are folks storing their ammo now days to last as long as possible?


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