Old Ammo


November 25, 2003, 08:34 AM
I was just given a couple of hundred rounds of old 38 special ammo. Some of this dates all the way back to the 1950's. Would it still be safe to shoot? If it had some squib loads I wouldn't be too worried as I would be able to hear the difference. What I'm wondering about if it would possibly have higher pressure. I would hate to blow up a good revolver just because I didn't want to waste ammo. Thanks

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J Miller
November 25, 2003, 08:58 AM

I have fired handgun and rifle ammo that was factory loaded back in the late 1800's up to now.
In my experiance, you'll have one of four things happen.
A: It will fire like new.
B: It won't fire at all.
C: You'll get a hang fire. (That's one where there is a noticable delay in the firing.)
D: It will fire, but not at full power. (Squib load. Usually caused by contamintion of the powder.)

If the ammo is fairly clean, (tarnish doesn't count), and in good shape, I will shoot it. While I won't say it's impossible, I have never had excessive pressure from old factory ammo. I do pay attention to things like squibs and hang fires, but other than that I'm not woried about old factory ammo.

(Old reloads by unknown persons are disassembled and the bullets, cases, and sometimes primers are salvaged. Never fired.)


Dave Markowitz
November 25, 2003, 09:21 AM
If it's factory ammo and it's been stored well it will be fine to use. If it hasn't been stored well, then it may give you hangfires or squibs. There's no way to be sure until you try.

Ammo that is properly stored (cool, dry place at a relatively constant temp) will last indefinitely.

FWIW, I am going out to the range today with my "new" CZ-52. The ammo I'm bringing will be some Bulgarian 7.62x25 made in 1955 and some Yugo ammo made in 1954, which looks like it was made yesterday.

November 25, 2003, 10:05 AM
I find the same factors as J and Dave. Quantrill

November 25, 2003, 10:45 AM
I've got a bunch of 8mm Mauser ammo made in Germany in the late 30's. Some of it is a bit tarnished, but it shoots great.

Mike Irwin
November 25, 2003, 10:50 AM
That's recent production...

Shoot to your heart's content.

Jason Demond
November 25, 2003, 05:48 PM
By all means shoot it! You should take extra care in cleaning your gun though. The ammo might be corrosive. You can use soap and water, or something like Windex. I just shot up some Turk 8mm ammo in my Mauser a couple week ago, and didn't have a problem.

November 25, 2003, 11:52 PM
It will probably fire just fine.

But don't firget about the collector value.

What brand of ammo is it?
Is it in the original boxes?
What is the headstamp?

Mike Irwin
November 26, 2003, 01:26 AM
If it's 1950s US commercial production, it's not corrosive.

Handgun ammo (with the exception of .22 LR) was generally all non-corrosive in the US by 1930.

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