Ammo shelf life - Too old?


March 7, 2008, 02:54 PM
hi all, anyone know what the shelf life is for most ammo? how would I tell if ammo was too old? never really thought about this til I came accross a bunch of older military reserve .30 m2 rounds. any info would be great, thanks!

taz :-)

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March 7, 2008, 03:07 PM
I don't know your age, but can assure you that whenever you go under, the ammo still won't be too old!

Exception being if has been stored in such a manner as to be significantly, severely corroded.

March 7, 2008, 03:09 PM
If it's been stored properly (consistent temp, 70 degrees, dry) in ammo cans it could be good indefinitely.

If it's been stored in somebody's hot wet garage loose on a shelf, it could go bad in a just a few years.

How "older" is the .30 M2 we are talking about?


March 7, 2008, 08:38 PM
Shelf life for ammo? I don't know yet.

I still have a few rounds of GI 1942 stuff in -06 and it works fine when I shoot it.

March 7, 2008, 08:44 PM
I frequently shoot some European surplus stuff made in 1938. It's just fine.

Ammo lasts practically forever as long as it is kept dry.

March 7, 2008, 09:23 PM
well i thnk these are from 1953. They werent stored in a can, they were stored in a small cardboard box. they have some rust but really dont look that bad, I just dont want them to blow up or split or something when fired.

a little rust shouldnt cause an issue though, right?

thanks for all the replies!

Car Knocker
March 7, 2008, 09:48 PM
Rust? They're steel-case rounds?

March 7, 2008, 10:23 PM
well, maybe its not rust but just corrosion? or is that the same thing as rust? not sure if they are steel cased rounds or not, here is a pic of the same rounds:

March 7, 2008, 10:34 PM
well, maybe its not rust but just corrosion?

If that is the only "rust" you are seeing, you should be fine. Those rounds look shootable to me.

March 8, 2008, 12:30 AM
Get the headstamp then go to this site and identify the country of origin and date made.

Armed with that info, do about 20 to 30 searches on Google and as many different gun sites you can find and see if there are any things written about your ammo that maybe cause for concern.

Now pull some bullets apart and check and weigh all components and see how it's primed, boxer or berdan. Compare the powder loads by grains to see if they are consistent and the condition of the powder itself.

Any corrosion is a sign that at some time during the life of this ammo it was not stored properly.

I have shot tons of surplus ammo without incident, but I have also pulled a fair number of those rounds due to defects.
I have found that some ammo from 3rd world countries to be less ths desirable.

Be careful

March 8, 2008, 02:13 AM
As long as it looks good and is not damaged then try some, if it works good it is good.
Military surplus has been stored by many countries for years and years and still be good.

March 8, 2008, 03:37 AM
These 7.62x51 cases "looked good" before firing, now they don't look so good. In a slightly warn or loose chamber these could have changed the shooters good looks. After doing some research and personal experiance I don't shoot surplus Israeli any more, or ammo from India, or anything surplus from south of the US border.

Most surplus 30-06 is fine, but how hard is it to do all you can to get info on the net and waste a couple rounds just to be as safe as possible.

March 8, 2008, 10:28 AM
My Brother Is Still Shooting The 300 H&h Mag Shells That My Dad Bought Back In The 50's. I Am Still Shooting (well, Just Finished) The Old Paper Hull 16 Gauge Shells He Bought Way Back When Also. A Few Of The Paper Hulls Wouldn't Function The Semi-auto, But They All Went Bang.

March 8, 2008, 12:51 PM
I thought you said it was U.S. GI M2 ball from the Army Reserve.
Is this correct?

If it is, and the corrosion is just surface stuff that rubs off and turns to brown spots, it should be perfectly fine to shoot it.

If the corrosion is growing Green Fur that projects above the case surface, there could be enough degradation of the brass to make it unsafe.


March 8, 2008, 03:48 PM
I've got a few thousand rounds of 1926 dated 303 Brit ammo that still goes bang.and I have shot some 1921 dated 303,so I would say under somewhat good conditions,shelf life is "who knows" jwr

March 8, 2008, 08:00 PM
Well you do have to check out your firearm also. Factory fresh ammo in a firearm that is in bad shape is a no no.

March 8, 2008, 09:10 PM
Most of this type surplus ammo goes into surplus battle rifles who's chambers could very well be slightly worn but not in need of replacement. Most T+E gages are not a go and no go gage but a measuring device to show wear. These types of chambers do not merit replacement just because they are not new. They do need reliable ammo capable of expanding to the chamber dimensions, not brittle, corroded, out of speck rounds.

From the looks of the picture posted, I'ld say this is Yugo made ammo that may have been in the country of Venezuela for a while, before it was imported here.

What type of firearm will you be firing this ammo in, can you post pics of your ammo that has the corrosion instead of the informational sales pic.

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