What is the shelf life of ammunition?


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heavyshooter
October 16, 2008, 09:01 PM
When should I clear out my ammo box? Does ammunition have an expiration date?

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Fat Boy
October 16, 2008, 09:03 PM
planning to stock up for a long run???

I don't know the answer; I have pulled the trigger on ammo that was several years old and all if it fired; on the other hand, I have had squib loads and misfires with brand new stuff recently....maybe reloading is the answer?

planetmobius
October 16, 2008, 09:11 PM
Ammo if stored properly has a shelf life of decades, if not longer. If you look in Shotgun news or other similar publications you can still find WWII vintage ammo for sale. I have purchased and fired some of this with no problems. I have also fired commercial ammo that is decades old with no greater instance of misfires or problems than current production. Some of it acquired from other people with unknown storage histories. I think the key is storage and I reccomend a cool and dry place.

Dave R
October 16, 2008, 09:25 PM
Ammo if stored properly has a shelf life of decades, if not longer.That's it. There are lots of people shooting lots of suplus ammo that is decades old. Including me :D

possum
October 16, 2008, 09:40 PM
What is the shelf life of ammunition?
until you can get to the range and shoot it.:)

wally
October 16, 2008, 09:46 PM
I've shot plenty of ammo that was 50+ years old. Other that a few misfires (often go on the second hit) they still work. Not a good first choice for carry gun, but if TSHTF, quantity has a quality of its very own.

--wally.

Crazy Fingers
October 16, 2008, 11:00 PM
I have plenty of old 8mm mauser ammo that was made in the early 30s. I have never had one failure on it. This kind of stuff will last forever if properly stored.

However, some of the newer "Lead Free" primers seem to have a shelf life problem. This has been documented in 5.7x28 SS195LF ammunition.

SteelyNirvana
October 16, 2008, 11:16 PM
I have some .22lr Winchester super X (Yellow box) ammo that was made I'd say in the early to mid 60's that my granddad had. I've fired about 100 rounds off here and there with no misfires or anything. The old stuff does seem to be a bit more powerful and louder than todays .22's.

RONSTAR
October 17, 2008, 02:40 AM
When should I clear out my ammo box? Does ammunition have an expiration date?
Im sure you'll expire before your ammo does.

yeti
October 17, 2008, 03:44 AM
The 'trace' of WWII 30-06 tracer ammo isn't quite up to snuff any longer, but other than that it always seems to go bang.

qajaq59
October 17, 2008, 07:17 AM
You'll notice that most of us are talking about military ammo. I've never really kept any of my reloads much more then a year before I shot them, so I can't say how long those would last. My guess is that it would be quite a while though.

moooose102
October 17, 2008, 07:31 AM
IF it is stored correctly, i would say a shelf life is 50-70 years. if it is stored under perfect conditions, ( primers and bullets sealed, and in a ammo can with a good seal, and in a fairly stable, normal temperature), you could get good results up to 100 years. but, if it has been in the back of your pick up truck in a tool box just bouncing around, in the hot sun, cold winters etc., maybe as little as 5-10 years. now if it was just thrown out in the weather, not protected at all, i would only give it a year or so, if that. just my opinion, as i have no facts on any of this. but i have shot my share of really old ammo, and it always goes bang. maybe not with the authority it once had, but still it does fire.

32winspl
October 17, 2008, 10:35 AM
When we have a get-together at an Uncle's place, we generally get the kids to shoot at 12ga hulls from about 50'. Our kids did it. We did it. The rifle is a WWll M1Carbine, and it's still shooting WWll surplus ammo.
No failures to go bang yet.

csmkersh
October 17, 2008, 11:13 AM
planetmobius is correct. It depends on how its stored. I've shot .45ACP that the Army had in storage for 20 plus years and no problems. I've also shot .45ACP that was half that age but store in hot bunkers and you could see the bullet headed down range and plow up the dirt 10 yards short of your POA.

6_gunner
October 17, 2008, 11:19 AM
Ammo will last almost indefinitely if stored properly. The surplus 7.62x54R ammo that I use in my Nagant dates to the 1970s or before, and I've never had any problems with it. Of course, that stuff spent most of its life in a sealed can. I've used .22 LR ammo and shotgun shells that have set unprotected on a shelf for twenty or more years with few problems.

SSN Vet
October 17, 2008, 11:58 AM
I read a very interesting and long article about a guy who's buying 45 year old Chinese ammo. from the Albanian's Warsaw Pact stockpiles (after NATO gave them $ to destroy it) for $20/thousand rounds and then shipping it as new to the Afghan army in fullfillment of a U.S. Army contract.

The article stated that NATO standards require ammo. stockpiles to be tested after 10 years. The testing consists of test firing a statistical sampling of rounds through a chronograph to ensure the ammo. is still achieving it's rated velocity. Ammo stocks must be tested again every 10 years after.

Apparently, just because it goes bang, doesn't mean that it is 100% up to snuff.

Turns out, much of the 45 year old commie block ammo. was significantly degraded and the Afghan army doesn't want their lives depending on it.

The Feds are investigating the guy (from FL) and have nixed him from future contracts.

Turns out that Com. Bock ammo. is "non-standard" in the U.S. system and the army doesn't have "technical standards" for the procurement and testing of it.

The same guy is now peddling the rest of his stockpile at gun shows and on the internet.

His posted on THR last week and the mods. spotlighted him and deleted his threads.

foghornl
October 17, 2008, 12:16 PM
I haver shot some WWII vintage stuff in my 1911's. Every last round of it went Bang! the first time.

M2 Carbine
October 17, 2008, 12:30 PM
What is the shelf life of ammunition?
Stored in a dry place at a reasonable temp, ammo, in most cases will outlast it's owner.
I'm shooting 45ACP ammo that was loaded in 1942-43. It has lost about 25 FPS muzzle velocity but it's interesting that it is the most accurate 45 ammo I've ever shot.

I routinely shoot reloaded ammo that is over 15 years old and it's as good as the day I loaded it.

Pat-inCO
October 17, 2008, 12:59 PM
Properly stored, not much over fifty years. Improperly stored, thirty to sixty days.

Phil DeGraves
October 17, 2008, 01:28 PM
I shot some .45 ACP ammo that was from WW1. Had a headstamp date of 1917. About 90% fired. But I had to clean my gun immediately afterward because they used corrosive primers.
So the shelf life is directly proportional to yours (life, that is).

Zoogster
October 17, 2008, 01:35 PM
It really depends on the chemicals the primer is made from, and the composition of the smokeless powder.

Some of the 'green' ammo primers for example only lasted a couple years. While World War 1 ammo with primers of mercury fulminate would still fire today (as long as the powder was not exposed to the atmosphere.)

Lead styphnate has proven very reliable as well. It is still currently used in many primers.

I would steer clear of less proven primers on some ammo for the purposes of stocking up.

There has been a move towards a number of different exotic priming compounds in the last 10 or so years. Some more reliable than others. Almost none of them have been used long enough to provide real world assurances of thier life expectancy.
Some are preserved more with binders etc rather than a non hydroscopic primer chemical itself. Meaning some rounds of the exact same thing could last decades and others only a handful of years depending on some random circumstances and how a batch mixes.
Some priming chemicals are much more promising.

So the life expectancy of a lot of modern ammo is still questionable.

polizei36
October 17, 2008, 02:29 PM
but, if it has been in the back of your pick up truck in a tool box just bouncing around, in the hot sun, cold winters etc., maybe as little as 5-10 years. now if it was just thrown out in the weather, not protected at all, i would only give it a year or so, if that.

You bring up a good point Moooose102.

Here is another point to keep in mind. We carry SD ammo loaded in our CCWs on a daily basis. Some of us unload that ammo and store it depending upon how the situation dictates (range time HP to ball ammo, change to a heavier bullet for winter conditions and vis-a-versa) .
The ammo in this case is subjected to varying hot & cold temperatures on a daily basis. Both In and out of the house, room temperature to extreme temperature conditions as well as varying degrees of body temperatures which translate into the firearm and ammunition being exposed to humidity from your natural sweat.

So If you carried your ammo once and are now storing it for a rainy day the shelf life could have been degraded due to some of the conditions mentioned above.

IMHO only. :D

Dave

EShell
October 17, 2008, 07:45 PM
You'll notice that most of us are talking about military ammo. I've never really kept any of my reloads much more then a year before I shot them, so I can't say how long those would last. My guess is that it would be quite a while though.I've got a lot of ammo I loaded myself between 1985 and now and it's all been shooting fine. I shot 100 rounds of .38 special yesterday that was loaded in '95.

As stated above, it's all about proper storage.

orionengnr
October 17, 2008, 10:33 PM
About ten-fifteen years ago, I bought a 1600-rd wooden box of 9mm made in Sweden/Norway/somesuch in, IIRC, 1944s (through Shotgun News).

I still have about 1/4 of it. Every round I've dropped the hammer on has fired just fine. Compared to today's prices, it was a bargain. Wish I'd have bought about 10x as much as I did... :rolleyes:

Gun Slinger
October 17, 2008, 11:30 PM
Keep it in a controlled environment (most homes with AC and heat will so) sealed in ammo cans with a large dessicant packet and it'll last near forever. I have a ammo can full of .45ACP 230FMJ that was initially stored away by my grandfather in the late 1940's (looks very good, no corrrosion, clean and bright) and it still gives me 825 f.p.s. over the chronograph when I bother to test it.

Considering that it is just a bit over 60 years old, I am convinced that in another 60 years it'll still be just fine if left the way it was stored.

Realbigo
October 18, 2008, 12:13 AM
One thing no one has mentioned. Those of us who live in very humid places need to use more dessicant than other folks. I make Sachets out of old sox and a couple of cups of rice. So far it's worked pretty well.

heavyshooter
October 19, 2008, 11:57 PM
I am noticing a consistent point here. A bullet will last a lifetime if stored properly, but it will lose about 25-50 fps every 50 years or so.

heavy

crazy-mp
October 20, 2008, 12:21 AM
Like many others I have shot ammo that was older than me and it always fired. The only stuff I ever has problems with was some 12 ga. shells that were stored in my parents pool shed the chemicals ate up and rusted the brass and would not cycle in a semi auto but shot fine in a pump, a few swelled up and almost had to be hammered out but an old junker 85 dollar shot gun eh, no big loss.

Justin
October 20, 2008, 02:42 AM
Winchester WinClean ammo will begin to have failure to fire issues after about three-five years. Most of it will still touch off, but you'll get one or two per hundred or so that will not ignite.

MIL-DOT
October 20, 2008, 11:53 AM
I've asked this question here myself, once about shotgun ammo, then about 22's, both of which I'd heard had less of a shelflife than larger, sealed, centerfire rounds. I came away reassured.
Recently, I found a couple .22 rounds in our washing machine,( more than once,actually, need to check my pockets !! ) so I fed them into a rifle, and they all fired without incident.

heavyshooter
October 21, 2008, 10:41 PM
I store my ammo in a recycled military 50 cal. container. It seals so well that my wife is unable to open it. I am, however, curious as to what desiccant I can place inside to avoid any moisture. You guys have any suggestions?

Heavy

Big Daddy Grim
October 21, 2008, 10:44 PM
I'm shooting ammo my granfather bought so its safe to say ammo will make the 50yr mark

SamTuckerMTNMAN
October 21, 2008, 10:56 PM
I second, or third, or..... so on
what has been said about the long term storage life....I have fired grandpa's ammo that was from the 50's and 60' and 70' some of it, worked fine.

HOWEVER,
be alert to the affect of temperature changes. I had a load of .22 cal (rimfire seems to be a little bit more susceptible) that went from 1 in 30-40 failure to 1 in 15 and within 5 years of being wrapped, unsealed, in sandwich bags, in a box in the barn, exposed to cold extreme and heat. . . . 1 in 4 failure to fire!!!

Not good, even in, no especially in SHTF scenario. Only decent for solo hunting squirrel and da**ed frustrating then.

Good Question.

I'd say invest in a vacuum sealer.
Seal small quanitities so as to not break a seal on a hundred rounds when you only need 20-50 at that time.

Pack sealed bags into decent box such as Plano molded or even better gasket sealed milsurp cans.

Keep protected as possible, check once in awhile, some of the vacuum seals will rupture.

take care,
s

jaholder1971
October 21, 2008, 11:46 PM
It'll last as long as the shelf, I suppose:cool:

CRITGIT
October 22, 2008, 12:00 AM
About two weeks! After that it is recommended that you send all expired product to me!

CRITGIT

Blacksmoke
October 22, 2008, 12:04 AM
A couple of years ago I remodled the cellar under and old cabin on our place and found one box each of both Winchester .44-40 and Colt .38 Long. They are old. Since I do not own either caliber I have been wondering how that ammo will fire.

lions
October 22, 2008, 03:38 PM
What kind of desiccant do you use?

I get a bunch of the little bags from a local shoe store. Every shoe box is shipped with a package in it so if you are nice to the employees they will save them for you.

RockyMtnTactical
October 22, 2008, 06:20 PM
Indefinite, if stored properly.

Average Joe
October 22, 2008, 08:59 PM
Forever and a day.

RioShooter
October 23, 2008, 01:21 PM
I'd say invest in a vacuum sealer.
Seal small quanitities so as to not break a seal on a hundred rounds when you only need 20-50 at that time.

I thought I was the only one who did that.

RP88
October 23, 2008, 01:25 PM
it'll easily last longer than you if stored properly.

rondog
October 23, 2008, 01:39 PM
I'd say invest in a vacuum sealer.
Seal small quanitities so as to not break a seal on a hundred rounds when you only need 20-50 at that time.

I like that idea!

ndh87
October 23, 2008, 04:20 PM
Your shelf life will expire long before your ammo's shelf life. So stock up before the prices get jacked up again.

Hk91-762mm
October 23, 2008, 08:48 PM
The Military had a good idea --Sealed Ammo cans-I pop the top on a can when I want to use it and woosh the air sucks in or out!
A funn bit of info -I read where a powder co. has some smokless powder thats over 100 years old stored in a jug filled with water -Yep water ocassionally they take some out and test it --Always works as it did 100 years ago -
I have lots of ammo that dates back to WWI and Im sure its just as good today as then-In fact as a kid I shot up bunches of gramps old 32rf that was so old the bullets were frosted in white corrosion Darn they would be collectable today !

Huddog
October 23, 2008, 10:10 PM
Inherited a back from WWII handgun from my uncle a couple of months ago it had about 10 rounds of ammo that his brother had brought back with the gun. They all fired.

heavyshooter
October 24, 2008, 11:22 PM
This question came as the result of a conversation I had with a friend after watching CSI Miami (a virtual well of firearms information:rolleyes:). There was an episode about old ammunition that was being sold illegally. During the investigation, Detective Calleigh Duquesne dropped a WWII era 9mm on the floor and it discharged. The discharge was the result of age induced volatility. Who are we to question CSI Miami?!?! Maybe the ammunition was not properly stored.:D;):D

COMMENTS!!!

heavyshooter
October 25, 2008, 02:33 PM
Actually, I think I am going to start a new thread on this one. I want to hear what everyone thinks about it.

RoxboroRedneck
October 25, 2008, 05:51 PM
I shot .45 that was still in the 20round box from WWII. Cleaned the thing really good afterward of course. Had a few jams but what can you expect from old ammo

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