When should ammo be discarded?


January 22, 2008, 05:57 PM
I can't tell you how many times I have accidentally left a box of bullets in a poor environment for lengthy spans of time... humid basements, leaky trunks, etc...

Often, this mistreated ammunition looks horrible and I am afraid to run it through my guns. The brass becomes discolored, and steel cases sometimes corrode a bit. What are the rules for using such ammunition? Should it be discarded unless 100%? Can it be cleaned up safely?

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chris in va
January 22, 2008, 06:09 PM
Discolored brass/steel casings polishes up nicely with some Nevr-dull, etc. I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Owen Sparks
January 22, 2008, 06:10 PM
I discarded some pre WWII .303 ammo a while back...
Down range one at a time. They all fired. I have on occasion put some old cruddy looking ammo in my Dillon case cleaner for an hour and it came out looking nearly new and shot fine. I say if you can get it clean and it will chamber it should be safe to try in any sound firearm PROVIDED that you give any dud rounds 30 seconds before ejecting in case of a hang fire.

Urbana John
January 22, 2008, 06:13 PM
+1 to Owen

I'd throw them away if they DON"T go bang!!!!


January 22, 2008, 06:35 PM
Great, I appreciate the input.

Thanks guys.

January 22, 2008, 06:50 PM
i tend to discard mine about 100 yards down range into a large berm of dirt

January 22, 2008, 07:25 PM
Even if it looks cruddy, it's not likely to be dangerous.

January 22, 2008, 07:29 PM
If it's deformed enough not to chamber in your gun (bent in half, severely bulged, growing limbs, etc) dispose of it

January 22, 2008, 07:59 PM
I have shot .45 that was still in the 20round box from when it was manufactured
for the Thompson during WWII, fired perfectly fine... with the exception of a few jams(2-4jams), out of probably 100. Cleaned The pistol thoroughly afterwards also, just to be safe

January 22, 2008, 08:04 PM
For your own safety, send all corroded, dirty or outdated ammo to me. I will deal with it in an appropriate and safe manner.

January 22, 2008, 08:33 PM
I recently picked up some 1951 vintage linked hungarian heavy ball MG ammo. About 5 rounds had bubbly rust at the base of the cartridge case. I discarded those, but kept the rest.


January 23, 2008, 10:07 AM
About 5 rounds had bubbly rust at the base of the cartridge case

Don't want a case seperation, that's for sure...

January 23, 2008, 11:05 AM
I lost a box of Czech silvertip in a snowbank last winter, found them during spring thaw, and shot them all. Unless the case integrity appears to have been compromised, I say keep and shoot. Worst case it'll just be blasting ammo.

January 23, 2008, 11:24 AM
Seeing that they sell off a lot of ammo from waaaaay back for guns like the Mosin Nagant........perhaps never. :) (just got into that rifle :D)

I read the corrosive ammo does not really have a shelf life; it seems to last for close to ever.

They SAY more modern ammo shelf life is 30 years........BUT I sure thats just a number someone picked out of the air.
I don't think anyone has tested it to see how long it really lasts. ;)

January 23, 2008, 12:11 PM
If there is severe corrosion or damage to the case, toss it. Otherwise blast away.

Mr White
January 23, 2008, 12:19 PM
Look at the primer. If it has a noticeable dent in its center and the other end of the cartridge is hollow and round rather than pointy, it can be discarded.

I have several thousand rounds of Russian Silver Bear 7.62x39 with zinc plated steel cases. Many of these cases have a white powdery substance forming on the case. Some sort of corrosion I suspect, but they still shoot fine. Unless the corrosion has pitted the case, it should be fine to shoot.

chris in va
January 23, 2008, 02:07 PM
I have several thousand rounds of Russian Silver Bear 7.62x39

I'm very jealous.:D

January 23, 2008, 02:24 PM
I've shot plenty of 90+ year old ammo -- with no ill effects.

Unless ammo is heavily corroded - where it will mar the finish of the breech -- it's probably safe to fire.....

I've also run plenty of ammo through the washing machine --- yeah, I know -- I should check my pockets better..... Out of curiosity I tried shooting it.... Factory ammo, reloads -- it all fires..... Simply being wet isn't likely to bother ammo.....

A bro of mine years back decided to experiment a bit. He took a box of primers -- CCI -- and soaked them overnight in a bucket of water.... He then took them out -- blew them out with a air hose -- and stuck them out in the sun for a few hours.... He then loaded 100 rounds with these -- and every single test round fired....

The same bro gave me all his reloading supplies at one point... There was an 8 lbs box of powder -- IMR 4831. It was probably close to 30 years old - and had traveled all over the country. It was in a cardboard box - lined with a plastic bag. It had been subjected to a wide variety of humidity and temperature conditions - as it traveled in his travel trailer -- from Colorado, to California, to Georgia, Michigan and every state in between.

I made up a couple hundred match loads --- that I'd done before with fresh 4831 --- with known casings, primers and bullets -- and had run over a chrono..... The old powder was consistent -- and within a small percentage difference of the fresh powder --- probably less than 2 or 3 percent on all loads....

Ammo is a lot tougher than people think.............

January 23, 2008, 02:28 PM
If there is a physical problem: splits, corrosion severe enough to weaken the case, big dents that won't allow chambering, discard the round.

Otherwise clean them if necessary with a cloth or steel wool and shoot away.

I am still shooting WWII USGI ammo with no problem.

I have some Remington 270s from the 1940s. Some rounds had mild corrosion. I lightly cleaned the cases with steel wool. The first ones split on firing. I threw the rest of the corroded ones away. The rounds that did not have corrosion shoot fine.

January 23, 2008, 03:09 PM
Yup, people have fired ammo that are decades old, with no problems.

Even if they are soaked and won't fire, still couldn't hurt to hold on to them. You could stick them in your ears to drown out the warble of the thinny, for instance.

January 23, 2008, 06:17 PM
Look up 8mm Lebel. I was at the range shooting the ammo I made for my Lebel rifle. The guy next to me looks at it and says, hey, wait a minute. Digs through his range bag and pulls out a round. He says, is this for that rifle? It was an original, 8mm Lebel, made previous to 1932, probably closer to early 1900's. I really wanted to see how that round compared to my loads, so I shot it. I wish I would have saved it now. There was a bit of delay between the click and bang, but all went well. My loads were a bit stout compared to the original. He found the round in his dad's things and just kept carrying it around until he found a use for it.

January 23, 2008, 07:43 PM
ive got 3 9mm rounds that were picked up off a battlefield somewhere in germany during WWII... they are not very shiny, but they look like they would fire just fine... im keeping em just cus it was family that picked it up

January 23, 2008, 07:45 PM
Drop them off at your local range; I"m sure they know what to do with them.

January 23, 2008, 08:46 PM
I am sure someone has already said it, but ammo should be discarded after the cases start to show splits after the 7th or 9th reload.

evan price
January 24, 2008, 01:28 AM
I don't discard any ammo.

Squibs get broken down for components. Good projectiles, a good case. Powder dumped of course.
I have lots of military ammo older than me. It all shoots fine. Anything that looks old gets a brief tumbling and looks like new again.

Split cases, corroded cases, it all sells for scrap. $225 a ton for steel. $2250 a ton for brass. I never throw anything away.

January 24, 2008, 01:31 PM
Ahhh another Dark Tower fan. Good to see :)


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