Waterproofing ammo?


Joe Mamma
November 14, 2003, 10:09 AM
With regards to centerfire pistol ammo like 9mm or 45acp, is there a way to waterproof or seal the area around the primer and the bullet/case so the round will be waterproof? I know some personal defense and military grade ammo is waterproof. I want to know if this can be done to standard factory ammo after it has been purchased. Thanks.

Joe Mamma

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Navy joe
November 14, 2003, 11:38 AM
You can use primer sealant on both areas. Regular old ammo is suprisingly water resistant as is, never tried it but seen several tests where someone immersed non sealed ammo for a day and then shot it woory free. Getting rained, sweated, or bled on shouldn't affect it.

I think if you poke around on Brownells you can find some sealant, heard of people using thinned nail polish.

November 14, 2003, 11:43 AM
I use WalMart brand "Wet-n-wild" black nail polish to seal primers on my hunting ammo. It works fine so far, and only leaves a little bit of residue. I'm testing it on some mixed ammo that I'll toss into a jar of water soon for a more "scientific" test.

Dave R
November 14, 2003, 05:52 PM
Aaahhh, Poodleshooter, I love to see THR members pushing the frontiers of knowledge using the scientific method.

Let us know the results of your submersion tests.

November 14, 2003, 07:24 PM
Clear nail polish is suppose to work just fine. Most ammo is very waterproof the way that it is.

Standing Wolf
November 14, 2003, 10:04 PM
Not only does clear finger nail polish work just fine—I've tested it, in fact—but it's a great way to secure a screw in place without locking it forever.

November 15, 2003, 11:26 PM
Back in the days when I rebuilt snowmobile carbs, I used nail polish to seal the plugs in the carb bodies.
Nail polish held up to gasoline immersion, I can see no reason that it wouldn't stand up to a little water.

November 17, 2003, 07:12 PM
I thought handloaded ammo was pretty watertight too, until my basement flooded, and a bunch of my `06 handloads (with virgin LC cases, SMK168`s, and Win primers) were partially submersed for an hour-MAX, and much to my surprise, when I removed a few of the rounds from the 100 rnd case, I noticed they took on some water. If you`re reloading ammo that will be in inclimate weather, I think sealing the primers and neck would be worthwhile.

November 18, 2003, 01:01 AM
What do manufacturers use on milspec ammo? Ive bought some pulled 7.62x51mm nato stuff with live primers that has this black gummy seal around the neck.... kind of like a wax. Perhaps a commercial equiviant could be found?

November 18, 2003, 05:20 AM
George & Roy's Primer Sealant.


Just remember when sealing around the case mouth you may impact reliability and pressure.

Joe Mamma
November 18, 2003, 11:15 AM
"What do manufacturers use on milspec ammo?"

I'm wondering the same thing. It must be something that is very easy to apply like a spray or a bath, which also has a minimum impact on reliability and pressure? I wouldn't mind getting some of that.

I've noticed that Sellier & Bellot has some red material on it (around the primer/case area and bullet/case area). I assume that is waterproofing. Can George and Roy's Primer Sealant can be used where the bullet meets the case too?

Joe Mamma

November 19, 2003, 04:34 PM
Before you start on an "exercize," I'd suggest a contool tet with "as-loaded ammo."

Check this out first before (& after your) "waterproofing tests."

Let us know how the before & after works.

I'd bet hat the "good stuff" is about as reliable as the "old stuff."

Never had a single malfunction with "non-wetted-stuff."

November 20, 2003, 05:49 AM
Yes, but testing is actually required.

November 20, 2003, 05:52 AM
Specifically, before and after change shooting (and yes, I got a guy swimming deep with ammo.....don't ask for more.....)

November 23, 2003, 11:33 AM
Gardeners use a black tar like goop (pruning seal?) that will seal the bullet/neck area without hardning. I tried it once. It is messy to use and to me, not worth the effort. I tested sealed and unsealed rounds. With a limited sample the unsealed rounds with jacketed bullets failed less than 5 percent of the time, the sealed rounds stayed sealed. Again that was with a limited sample, maybe 30 rounds each, I would have to look it up.

I also tested lead bullet pistol rounds and they were nowhere near as watertight with normal handloads.

December 1, 2003, 11:48 AM
Military ammunition uses a little asphault in the case neck, and an acetate based lacquer (nail polish) around the primer.

I haven't figured out a cheap, easy, and reliable way to seal the caseneck, but I left a bunch of handloads w/ sealed primers sitting in a jar of water for a weak, and they all worked fine. But that was at a relatively constant and low pressure, changing conditions might adversely affect the waterproofness of the bullet as the air inside the cartridge expands and contracts....sucking in some water.

I think I will go seal up some more ammo and drop it in a jar of hot water....

December 29, 2003, 05:24 PM
I've been reloading for about five years now. For the last four years I have sealed both bullet and primer of every non-practice cartridge I have made because of an episode in inclement weather where the cartridge went fzzzzzzt when it should have gone BANG! I've used nothing but George & Roy's Primer Sealant and it has done an excellent job.I've not experienced any signs of high pressure nor had any feed problems in my semi-autos. It takes a little extra time but the reassurance is worth it.

February 16, 2004, 08:00 PM
So, when you use the nail polish... do you just paint it across the entire surface of the primer, or do you try to just "paint" it around the outer circumference?

February 16, 2004, 09:18 PM
Just put a drop on the primer and it will migrate just fine.

February 16, 2004, 10:53 PM
I use (of all things) DBSP dissolved in acetone. I use 1 gram to 10ml of acetone, and it makes a nice nitrocellulose laquer. A few hundred mls of this will last forever, seemingly.

Joe Mamma
February 17, 2004, 07:28 AM
What is "DBSP"?

Joe Mamma

February 17, 2004, 08:50 AM
Double based smokeless powder. Any SBSP would work too.... and that first S stands for single.

February 17, 2004, 02:07 PM
FWIW, the 1st Article test done for M80 7.62mmNATO ball ammo is 7PSID (15') submersion for 30 seconds. One bubble of air escaping is permitted.


February 23, 2004, 09:20 AM
Some time back I loaded some test recipes for my 30.06.

After each run of 15 test rounds I would but them in a ziploc baggie with the ammo info written on a slip.

About a week or so later when I finally got to the range to test fire them I noticed one baggie had serious moisture condensation inside the bag and the cases were discolored from laying in moisture.

I admit the rounds were not swimming in water but the humidity level inside the bag was obvious.

I finally came to the realization that it was a baggie I had washed out and grabbed by accident before it had any chance pf drying out.

Anyway, I thought and thought and said, "What the hey!" and decided to shoot them.

Every round fire very well and if I hadn't known the round had been extremely wet I wouldn't have noticed the difference.

December 14, 2008, 10:56 PM
Has any one used the George & Roy's primer sealer around the bullet & case?? If so how does it work??

December 14, 2008, 11:01 PM
i have used GR's and nail polsih. its the SAME stuff! if your polish is too thick you can dilute it with a bit of acetone or alcohol (not as good but works).

nail polish is also better due to more color choices which can identify ammo for you.

December 14, 2008, 11:53 PM
Are we a diverse bunch or what? Talking about nail polish on a reloading site! :)

Seriously, good tip on this...something I hadn't even thought of but makes a lot of sense if you're going to be in really inclement weather.

December 15, 2008, 12:04 AM
another word on this:

it really isnt needed. if you make your ammo properly you shouldnt have any "leaks". but if you are going to use it then there are easy ways.

for primers....just dab some on the crease and let it flow.

for bullets....dab around the base and then seat. you can apply it after you seat but it doesnt help near as much and if it chips then you have defeated the purpose.

December 15, 2008, 09:37 AM
greg700 is correct about the factory process, but it is also used on commercial ammo, at least they do at factory I've done some work for.

FWIW, tests on freshly loaded ammo may not provide reliable results. The reason I mention this is I put a little nail polish on the primers of some hunting ammo a few years back, as the last step in the process. So they had been loaded for a little while (up to a couple of hours), but bubbles formed in the nail polish around the primers on a number of them. There was still positive air pressure bleeding out of the cartridges from the reloading process. Once that air pressure is gone, there's nothing to push out moisture trying to get in.

BTW, I now do the nail polish after seating the primers, just like the ammo factories do.

December 16, 2008, 12:00 PM
i've been using nail polish to accomplish two things--add a bit of waterproofing to the rounds that i make by putting a bit along the the edge of the case/bullet crimp (where they meet) and to color code my ammo so that i can tell at a glance what each round is based on stripe color and number.

i've worried a little bit about introducing gunk into the gun mechanisms, but so far no detectable issues with close cleaning and inspection.

from what i read here in this thread, it sounds like it's okay to put a little bit of nail polish around the primer exterior, too? i thought about doing that but was worried about setting myself up for misfire...

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