How long will rimfire ammo store for?


March 17, 2009, 12:21 AM
I know that centerfire ammo will store for a very long time (50 years + in a cool, dry storage area), but how long will rimfire ammo store for?

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March 17, 2009, 12:31 AM
I don't know. It hasn't been long enough.

I've fired .22 ammo that was put in storage in the '30s and '40s that was about as reliable as it had been when it was tucked away.

Maybe the stuff from around the Civil War era might be ruined by now... .

March 17, 2009, 02:53 AM
Ha ha, I want to see some of that Civil War rimfire ammo.

March 17, 2009, 03:03 AM
Some of my best .22 LR ammo is CCI from either the 70's or 80's. Bought it in Denver, where the weather changes the humidity in a house all over the scale (thank God I no longer deal with Denver weather). So properly stored, it should last a good long while.

March 17, 2009, 03:08 AM
Ha ha, I want to see some of that Civil War rimfire ammo.

I have some in my cartridge collection. Some of the original Henry production .44 rf, with he raised "H". I also have some with the stamped H. With the exception of the aged brass, it looks just like it did on the shelf.

If I had th money for an original Henry, I'd probably try to find some old ammo just to say I'd shot it. My guess would be that it would still work. Maybe not all would fire, but I'd bet a fair share would.


March 17, 2009, 03:27 AM
I've shot stuff that was 14 years old and it worked fine. Not sure when it would go bad... never kept it around long enough to find out!

March 17, 2009, 09:18 AM
I've shot some Remington .22lr that was 30+ years old and it fired fine.

March 17, 2009, 09:27 AM
Not as old as the others but I have a 550 round box of Federal that Ive been shooting out of for 10 years and its been open and stored in a starage facility that was not temperature controled for say 6 months when I moved here.

Still shoots just fine.

March 17, 2009, 09:38 AM
How long will rimfire ammo store for?
You won't live long enough to find out.

March 17, 2009, 10:26 AM
Ha ha, I want to see some of that Civil War rimfire ammo

was that ironical ? what do you think the 1860 henry was firing ? centerfire ?

March 17, 2009, 11:02 AM
well it seems to be stored in a dry temperature controlled location it'll last about forever. There are recorded cases of family heirloom firearms going off 300 or so years after they've been loaded...
i'm gonna say that ammunition (stored properly) has an unlimited shelf life


March 17, 2009, 11:07 AM
I still occasionally fire off some .22 shorts that my dad bought in the early 60s.

March 17, 2009, 02:21 PM
I have some late 60's/early 70's vintage .22LR from both Winchester and Federal...a radom sample of each went bang! every time.

Carlos Cabeza
March 17, 2009, 02:49 PM
I found some (3 boxes) in the attic of a very old home and all of it cycled just fine in a Ruger Mk II

March 17, 2009, 02:59 PM
I've heard a story about shooting vintage .32 rimfire ammo. Supposedly the rounds that are bullet down in the box are fine, and the ones that sat with bullets up are mostly duds, due to bullet lube working its way down over the years. So, if you have two boxes, you can shoot half and consolidate the other half of duds into a full box to sell to a collector.

The oldest .22 ammo that I have is a couple of boxes of Winchester Western Mark III that are left from a brick that I was given by a friend of my father's shortly after I was given my first .22. It might have been ten or fifteen years old then, so it's probably pushing 50, certainly over 40. I plan to hold on to it, maybe shoot it for the gun's 50th anniversary.

March 17, 2009, 05:36 PM
I recently ran through some .22 ammo that I'd bought in the late '60s and had stored in a box of shotgun shells, for some reason that now escapes me (it must have made sense at the time). It all worked fine ... more so, I would think, than the shotgun shells at this point. Those, I won't be firing anytime soon.

kentucky bucky
March 17, 2009, 06:45 PM
It has less places for moisture to enter into, so it might las better that centerfire. I have some 100 year old ".38 rimfire" and I always wondered if it's still good. The lead oxidized some though.
March 17, 2009, 06:54 PM
Ammo shelf life is dependent on the shelf life of the primer and propellant compounds.

As long as moisture or lubricants do not contaminate them, and as long as the cartridges are not exposed to temperature extremes (in the absence of empirical data, I'd venture -50 to 110 degrees Farenheit is survivable) that will cause degradation, I'd say any ammo can theoretically last hundreds of years.

Perhaps chemists and chemical engineers in this forum can chime in.

Kurt S.
March 17, 2009, 07:39 PM
I've fired .22 LR that has gone through a wash cycle in the ol' Maytag.

I've also fired .22 LR that was exposed to weather long enough to completly tarnish the brass dark prown with a few green specks.

Robust stuff.

March 17, 2009, 07:41 PM
Ha ha, I want to see some of that Civil War rimfire ammo.

You will likely see some in a collection somewhere, .22 Short introduced by S&W in 1859, IIRC.

March 17, 2009, 07:54 PM
22 Short introduced by S&W in 1859, IIRC.

I'm not positive, but I think it was actually earlier. The Henry was introduced is 1860 (also a rimfire) and I believe the .32 was between them. My guess would be the .22 (not a short back then) self contained cartridge was probably introduced around 1850. But that's just a guess. (And it's not important enough for me to go looking it up this close to dinner.)


March 17, 2009, 08:27 PM
Had to go get "Cartridges of the World". .22BB cap invented for the Flobert indoor target rifle in 1845 and still being loaded in a slightlly different form by RWS. .22 Short introduced in 1857 by Smith and Wesson, and has been in continuous production since. .22 Long introduced in 1871, .22 Long Rifle by Stevens Arms Co. in 1887.

March 17, 2009, 11:41 PM
Here's the last box of a bunch that was put down in the '60s.
All six boxes worth were as reliable as current production.

March 17, 2009, 11:55 PM
I'd say it is safe to assume that ammo will last a lifetime if stored properly. Maybe longer.

March 17, 2009, 11:59 PM
I would not worry about .22 rimfire ammo until it gets the whitesh/gray oxidation on the lead bullet.

March 18, 2009, 01:08 AM
"I've shot some Remington .22lr that was 30+ years old and it fired fine."

It probably works better than brand new remington.

March 18, 2009, 01:30 AM
I can't seem to keep it stored for more than a few weeks. Everytime I buy some my kids find it and it's gone!

It probably works better than brand new remington.

Heh, I was thinking the exact same thing. :)

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