Powder Ammo Primers Storage in a Safe


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roc1
December 1, 2010, 12:57 PM
Would it be safe to store primers,ammo and powder in a gun safe or would the fire hazard and explosion factor be to great? I liked having them in my old safe to keep grandkids and whoever out of them.This safe is not usedfor firearms at all only ammo,powder and primers and tools.
Thanks for info
roc1

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shotgunjoel
December 1, 2010, 01:05 PM
Disclaimer: I don't reload, and have no professional basis.
A bomb is basically an explosive (powder), ignition source (primers/heat), and a container to keep the materials together during reaction to build pressure (safe). I'd think that you'd have a decent bomb right there in the case of a hot fire. I've always heard that you are supposed to store powder and primers in different places. If I were you I'd get something like an old locker from a school that you could lock up, but wouldn't hold the pressure. I'm sure that someone with better knowledge will be along....

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
December 1, 2010, 01:06 PM
I am hard pressed to think of a BETTER place for them. I use an Old (and I mean REALLY OLD) refrigerator with a cross latch lock. Damn thing is built like a tank and the seals on it are in perfect shape. Aids in moisture control and such.

mbogo
December 1, 2010, 01:10 PM
No harm if powders are kept on separate shelves from primers. Make certain you have some means of controlling moisture.

mbogo

rondog
December 1, 2010, 01:21 PM
I keep all my powders and primers in an old Steelcase filing cabinet that locks.

djs764
December 1, 2010, 01:33 PM
My primers are stored in the basement in .50 cal ammo cans with no problems.I have a few desiccant packs in there,not really sure if I need them but figure it couldn't hurt.Just make sure the powders have a good sealed lid and they should be fine anywhere you store them.

kingpin008
December 1, 2010, 01:44 PM
Shotgunjoel - Smokeless powder isn't an explosive - it's an accellerant. As such, it won't cause the sort of explosion you're thinking of. It will burn energetically, for sure - but not explode.

Walkalong
December 1, 2010, 02:15 PM
If there is enough of it in a locked safe, it can be a bomb. How much would be unsafe? I don't know.

They make special containers for powder with a weak side to keep it from becoming a bomb.

M-Cameron
December 1, 2010, 02:23 PM
to be honest.....unless you have your safe packed to the brim with black powder.....you have VERY VERY little chance of having a 'Bomb' on your hands.....

the volume of most gun safes will allow the gas to expand and most safes are built strong enough to endure the little amount of pressure that would be generated.....


and as stated before....if you are using smokeless powder, you have nothing to worry about.

EOD Guy
December 1, 2010, 02:36 PM
Shotgunjoel - Smokeless powder isn't an explosive - it's an accellerant. As such, it won't cause the sort of explosion you're thinking of. It will burn energetically, for sure - but not explode.

Smokeless powder certainly will explode if confined. Depending on the size of the container and the amount of powder, you will get a pressure buildup until the container lets go. If the pressure is high enough at that point you will get a mechanical explosion. While it might not be as energetic as a chemical explosion, you will have pieces of metal flying about which can severely injure or kill anyone in the vicinity. That's how pipe bombs work.

For this reason powder should be stored in containers that are designed to vent before a dangerous pressure build up.

roc1
December 1, 2010, 02:47 PM
Thanks i my put the powder on the shelf in the closet and leave the ammo and primers in the safe.That may not be a good idea either. Maybe just the ammo in the safe.
roc1

rondog
December 1, 2010, 02:48 PM
I think it's more important to keep the stuff locked up to prevent curious little fingers from messing with them, and to prevent accidently mixing up powders or primers. When I'm loading, I'll only have the primers and powder that I need out on the bench. Keeps me from making mistakes. And we all know how kiddies like to play with fire, and hit caps with little hammers. Sure wouldn't want the youngun's experimenting with setting gunpowder on fire, or smacking primers with hammers.

Not that I ever did such things when I was young, oh no no no. :rolleyes:

NavyLCDR
December 1, 2010, 03:16 PM
No harm if powders are kept on separate shelves from primers

Why separate them?

jfdavis58
December 1, 2010, 03:36 PM
You should look at this from the perspective of the physics you can readily observe. There are several places to make observation and these do not include the internet.

Where is ammo and components stored at the local retail?

Best bet is in the back room so make friends and get a look. You will find a large open wooden cased box system if they value their insurance. The room may have special blow-out panels in either the ceiling or a nearby wall if the inventory is extensive. There will probably be at least one layer of chain link fencing and lots of locks.

Where is ammo stored in the military? I recall a bunker with spaced shelves low to the floor and made of hardwood and in certain areas a mesh walled room with open mesh steel shelving.

What does the National Fire Code say about residential storage?

After they make a specific warning about enclosed spaces/containers/SAFES they start with small amounts separate from primers in sturdy wooden boxes with lots of empty space surrounding...

What does your 'well stocked' safe most resemble? Let see... Ummm. I know! A cartridge in a gun with a blocked barrel. Having seen such 'storage' I can honestly say that any propellant if contained well enough and ignited, sounds and looks very much like an explosion.

roc1
December 1, 2010, 04:04 PM
Thanks again.I had rethought the situation and am going to keep only ammo in the safe,hopefully it will be ok. Any thoughts or is that just as bad seeing that it has powder and primers in it?
Thanks
roc1

kingpin008
December 1, 2010, 04:40 PM
roc1 - loaded ammo is incredibly stable stuff. There's a reason that the military keeps pallets of it in shipping containers in the Middle Eastern desert heat, ya know?

Of all the items you listed (loaded ammo, smokeless powder, and primers) the primers are the most fragile of the bunch. That doesn't mean that you need to handle them with kid gloves and find some elaborate storage system for them - just that you may be overthinking your storage needs just a bit.

For instance, many shooters here keep their powder in the factory containers, on shelves in their workrooms. Many also keep the primers alongside. Some choose to buy or make special cabinets, and while that's great, it's not 100% necessary. And many, many of us just toss our loaded ammo into ammo cans, and forget about it. We (my wife & I) keep ours in a closet in our bedroom.

ball3006
December 1, 2010, 05:24 PM
I just tell my wife that if the garage catches fire, to go at least two blocks down the street........Due to the price of ammo lately, I have my eye on a safe but I am waiting for it to go on sale.....chris3

Zoogster
December 1, 2010, 06:04 PM
Even worse is the path of least resistance on a solid safe is likely around the door.

This means a buildup of pressure would probably vent in that direction, perhaps sending the heavy door with it.
Where is the door of a safe pointing on many safes? Out into the room,
where the people would be.



The most likely cause of problems would be fire or movement of the safe such as an earthquake or if the safe was in a non stationary location (vehicle, motorhome, trailer etc).
A home next to railroad tracks or a military training location (train/bomb vibrations) could likewise pose a risk if the vibrations eventually lead to items shifting and eventually a primer being detonated.
It is possible if a gun or other heavy item falls onto or is jolted into or on top of primers as a result of the vibrations or earthquake.
The force of some detonating primers would propel other primers against hard items (and possibly even through soft things like nearby plastic powder containers) and surfaces detonating those not directly detonated from the initial explosion some distance away.
The accompanying increase in pressure in the small space and sparks would not be something you would want around stored powder.


So the risk is minimal but you asked and it is there, and the safe would become a bomb that would in most cases vent its energy in the direction of the safe's door. Which is typically into the living spaces of a room.

zoom6zoom
December 1, 2010, 06:48 PM
The only reason I would keep ammo in the safe would be to add weight. But there's no room for it. I'd need to buy a bunch more safes. It's perfectly fine sitting on the basement shelves.

NavyLCDR
December 1, 2010, 07:27 PM
How many times have I heard or read about a house or safe blowing up in a fire due to reloading components.....let's see.... for me, that count would be zero.

a1abdj
December 1, 2010, 10:52 PM
How many times have I heard or read about a house or safe blowing up in a fire due to reloading components.....let's see.... for me, that count would be zero.

I have never heard of it either, but that doesn't mean that it isn't possible.

Keep in mind that even a real fire rated safe will allow the interior temperatures to reach 350 degrees. I have opened many gun safes after a fire, and can tell you that I think many of these manufacturers oversell the ability of their safes to withstand real life fires.

They make cabinets for storing explosive and/or flamable materials. Proper tool for the job.

NavyLCDR
December 1, 2010, 11:16 PM
I just keep my powder in the original factory jugs under my reloading table, my primers, bullets and brass are in plastic storage bins under my reloading table. Most of my loaded ammo is in plastic ammo cans, guess where - under my reloading table!

S. Hill
December 2, 2010, 09:47 AM
I have a novel idea.... why don't you contact one of the powder manufacturers? They would have a definitive answer, not speculation by a bunch of (very smart) internet "experts". :scrutiny:

This is from the Hodgdon Powder website---

"If you have a safety problem or concern - DO NOT EMAIL - CALL US DIRECTLY 7:00am to 5:30pm Central Monday-Thursday : 913-362-9455"

Then let us know what they say.

sfsmedic
December 2, 2010, 10:23 AM
I described this to our EOD tech (retired SEAL). He just looked at me and said nice bomb and walked away. I keep mine on top of the safe and on a shelf separate.

Rapid expanding of gas in an enclosed container seeks the path of least resistance, which is how shape charges are made. A blast can be directed with something as light as a Tupperware bowl. Just food for thought.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

DuncanSA
December 2, 2010, 10:56 AM
An interesting question is what are the insurance implications? If you had a house fire that was helped along by burning propellants or (even worse) black powder, I think you would quickly see most companies weazeling out of any claim.

CraigC
December 2, 2010, 11:21 AM
I think we're forgetting that the whole point of a fireproof safe is to keep your guns from getting burned. Forget about whether or not the safe will explode. If you have a fire and it gets hot enough, the powder and primers will ignite and everything inside the safe is ruined.

roc1
December 2, 2010, 11:38 AM
S.Hill good idea.I did talk to Hogdon and they said leave on the shelf where they could rupture and burn which I will do. I think ammo is all I will keep in the safe it should be ok. I know it has powder and primers but it is already contained in a brass case anyways.
roc1

EOD Guy
December 2, 2010, 12:46 PM
I described this to our EOD tech (retired SEAL). He just looked at me and said nice bomb and walked away. I keep mine on top of the safe and on a shelf separate.

Rapid expanding of gas in an enclosed container seeks the path of least resistance, which is how shape charges are made. A blast can be directed with something as light as a Tupperware bowl. Just food for thought.

That's not how shape charges are made. Their effect comes from the shape of the explosive material and the Munroe effect which forms a jet that penetrates whatever material you are trying to punch a hole through.

See the link.

Munroe Effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munroe_effect)

S. Hill
December 2, 2010, 01:10 PM
Thanks for checking with them and posting, roc. Now we know.

OldLincoln
December 3, 2010, 12:00 AM
This article (http://www.beartoothbullets.com/tech_notes/archive_tech_notes.htm/60) is pretty thorough regarding storage and well worth a read.

I'm new to reloading and asking the storage question myself and I don't even have anything to store yet. Legally I can store a few cans just sitting on a shelf, but (even knowing the realities of powder being a flammable not a combustible) we are uncomfortable doing that.

Funny, just occurred to me that's how we were about our child. All corners were padded and my wife did everything but follow him around with a pillow in case he started to fall. Didn't take long to get over that - well for ME to get over that!

SaxonPig
December 3, 2010, 09:29 AM
If you have room in your safe to store powder you don't have enough guns.

Or too many safes. :D

My powder is on a shelf. Rather have it be flammable than explosive.

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