Help: why does my ammo smell like cat piss?


January 3, 2008, 06:52 PM
I went out shooting today as the weather was very nice for this time of year - low 40s with barely even a breeze. When I was shooting my AR, I noticed something I've not noticed before, either with this ammo or with this gun, or with any combination of gun and ammo, for that matter. There was a very distinct - I'd say strong, even - odor of ammonia. It happened primarily when I was shooting more quickly - or that I noticed, at least. It did not smell what I'm used to combusted gunpowder smelling like, and this Fiocchi has historically smelled little different than, say, Federal .223.

The gun is just a boring AR-15. The ammo is Fiocchi 55gr .223, which comes packaged in 50-round boxes (boxes are green w/ the plastic tray). I bought a case (1k rounds) of it a couple years ago when it was still relatively "cheap". I've shot about half of it up, and it has been stored in of doors (heat and air conditioning) - though the climate we're in now is quite a bit drier than the one I bought it in and where it was for about a year (in terms of warm-season humidity).

Is this ammo corrosive? What's the deal? Aside from being unobservant, what might lead to the very distinctive ammonia odor (not just distinctive, it was the only odor I could smell aside from "warm barrel")? Is this ammo known for having such an odor?

ETA: there was a "moist" residue, which I assume was condensation, on the inside of the receiver, though I have not noticed this in the past while shooting in colder weather (and I've been out shooting in much colder/windier). Could the ammo have gotten wet to cause this?

If you enjoyed reading about "Help: why does my ammo smell like cat piss?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
January 3, 2008, 06:56 PM
This seems to be a complaint with Wolf ammo, but I don't think I've ever heard or smelled of it with Fiocchi myself.

January 3, 2008, 07:02 PM
Its spoiled, pack it up and send it all to me. :):)

I have noticed something similar at various times when shooting. I have never been able to attribute it to any one thing. Ammo has always fired fine, so I have never worried about it

January 3, 2008, 07:06 PM
Do you have a cat? ;)

January 3, 2008, 07:11 PM
Hah, yes, we have a cat, but I am very sensitive to such odors. (I'm not fond of the cat.) I would notice that, as the ammo is stored in "my room", so I'm frequently in close proximity to it. And, the boxes show no sign of having been wet (no yellowing/distortion/etc.)

It's not at all the same "sulfuric" odor that you get with Wolf ammo at times. This smelled like, well, ammonia from the drug store (or wherever you buy such things).

January 3, 2008, 07:18 PM
I get the whizz smell from 7.62x39 black box Wolf.

January 3, 2008, 07:19 PM
I had a simular experience with rem. .30-06. Maybe some cheap commie powder they are using. Never had any ammo that smelled that bad.

January 3, 2008, 07:33 PM
Thats what I'd think too, except for the fact that I didn't notice it at all - and I'm pretty sure I would've - while shooting what I've already shot. While I can't exactly recall it having the usual "savory" gunpowder odor, I know it didn't smell like cat!

January 3, 2008, 07:36 PM
Maybe some cheap commie powder they are using. Never had any ammo that smelled that bad.
I guess it could be. Cordite/nitrocellulose is made by putting nitrate groups onto cellulose molecules. It might be possible for ammonia or some other nitrogen compound (almost all of which stink to high-heaven) to be in the powder if there was a boo-boo in the production facility and QA/QC was neglegent.


Average Joe
January 3, 2008, 07:40 PM
that Mexican .22 ammo smells like that too !

January 3, 2008, 07:46 PM
I always get that smell with XM193. I just think it is the Ammonium Nitrate in the powder. Just shoot and enjoy the smell of powder.

January 3, 2008, 07:49 PM
Aguila is the worst smelling ammo there is. Sometimes I wonder if they're not smuggling something in the powder.

The old norinco 7.62X39mm use to have a foul odor, but I don't think it smelled like cat piss.

I think your fiocchi's are just a special batch, or maybe your cat is as fond of you as you are of it.

January 3, 2008, 07:57 PM
As others have said, I also get that ammonia smell from Wolf ammo, almost to the point of choking sometimes...

January 3, 2008, 08:07 PM
It's great at removing unsightly nose hair though

January 3, 2008, 08:11 PM
I like that smell, but then again I like the smell of sweet sweet cosmoline.

January 3, 2008, 08:39 PM
The ammo *might* be loaded with a triple-based powder. The nitroguanidine (sp?) can give you that smell. Have you fired any of the ammo at dusk to seen if it is flash suppressed?

(I just barely know what I'm talking about here) :)

January 3, 2008, 08:43 PM
Ive smelled it while using Wolf .223 and Bulgarian surplus 5.45x39 ammo but not Wolf 7.62x39. Which I thought was odd. Although it never seemed to happen with controlled fire, only during times of rapid fire. Personally I can't stand it. Cosmoline is more my taste.
On the weird ammo smell bit, Ive noticed that Wolf 9mm has a bit of a fruity smell to it. But, it's been a while since Ive used it, so it may not be so fruity now. It was a rather pleasant smell compared to the ammonia.

Roswell 1847
January 3, 2008, 09:27 PM
Some powder I salvaged from a batch of corroded 7.62 NATO loaded in South America broke down in a powder can and dissolved it into a pile of loose dusty rust. The odor was much like Cat Pee. Vapor from the powder rusted some steel objects nearby.

The Powder was a square flake propellent which they'd used for Mauser Military loads at one time. Those loads had probably used powder meant for 7.65X53 loads and stored for years before being used.

Even the gilding metal peeled from the steel jacketed bullets. Had to discard the entire batch.

Saint Dennis
January 3, 2008, 09:32 PM
It's a sign from God. Here Kitty Kitty

January 3, 2008, 10:00 PM
It is a little known secret that cat pee contains the highest concentration of nitrate. The powder is based on urea nitrate made from cat urine.

Cat urea was used during the civil war by the south take make black powder. The southern ladies all had lots a cats on hand for the collecting of cat piss. That is why there are so many cats in the south to this day. During the civil war it was against the law to kill a cat!!!

The hard part is getting the kitty trained to pee in a jar. I have read that long haired cats have the best urine.

Am i lying? Would this face lie?

Roswell 1847
January 3, 2008, 10:12 PM
Not too far off. Bat Guano was mined for ammonium nitrate, the Bat Pee leaves the chemical in the mess.

I wouldn't doubt that Cat Urine might have been used, I hear Human urine has been used in seiges.
Potassium nitrate for black powder can be boiled out of just about any shovel ful of dirt but some areas are richer in it and it would gather on the walls of dungeons below moat level and in sewers.

January 3, 2008, 10:18 PM
Just burn some incense.

January 3, 2008, 10:18 PM
Aguilla .22 ammo stinks because it's Eley primed.

January 3, 2008, 11:32 PM
Most of the Wolf I have shot either smells normal or like sulfur. It really doesn't bother me.

chris in va
January 4, 2008, 03:38 AM
I had one of the moderators 'adjust' my post because it contained the word 'pi$$ed'. Hope yours lasts longer than mine did.

January 4, 2008, 03:46 AM
Did it start smelling like that after Christmas Eve?

January 4, 2008, 04:47 AM
The old norinco 7.62X39mm use to have a foul odor, but I don't think it smelled like cat piss.

I thought it did.

January 4, 2008, 11:43 AM
Wolf ammo has an ammonia smell to it. None of my other stuff has that smell.

January 4, 2008, 11:50 AM
Glad you mentioned it, I thought I was the only one who thought some ammo smelled funny that way.

I get that smell shooting Romanian 8mm surplus (corrosive 1970s stuff) and Golden Tiger 7.62x39.

What really struck me as strange was smelling some .223 I made last week using BL-C(2) powder - it had that same odd smell that I think now is ammonia-based. My other rifle loads I make with BL-C(2) don't smell that way, I'm wondering if the Remington SR primers I used might have anything to do with it?

January 4, 2008, 02:07 PM
Hah, yes, we have a cat, but I am very sensitive to such odors. (I'm not fond of the cat.)

Mr. cat is getting even with you buy not using the litter box!........:rolleyes:

January 4, 2008, 02:23 PM
Doesn't that Italian ammo smell like pizza? ;)

If you enjoyed reading about "Help: why does my ammo smell like cat piss?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!