Secure storage for smokeless powder/loaded ammo?


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SWDoc
May 23, 2011, 12:46 PM
As I understand it, storing smokeless powder or loaded ammo in a semi-airtight enclosure is potentially bad. If it burns, the pressure can build to the point that it is explosive (as it is is designed to do). Is this correct, and does anyone MAKE secured and vented storage for this purpose?

Steve

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CoRoMo
May 23, 2011, 02:26 PM
I've never heard that before. Where did you? I have a hard time believing that notion though.

I store my ammo in my safe with my guns. I store my smokeless powder on a shelf, in my reloading cabinet.

MtnCreek
May 23, 2011, 02:31 PM
SAAMI has some publications on their site about storing smokeless powder and primers. Loosly put; they say somkeless powder should be stored in an inclosure that will come apart, rather than build a lot of preasure. For primers, they say to store in something thick that will slow down flames/sparks.

SWDoc
May 23, 2011, 06:17 PM
I have seen the SAAMI info, but I had heard that before some time ago. I reload, and kept my powder just on top of the safe, but have a friend who is now accumulating a pretty good stock of powder and loaded ammo. His plan was to keep in in a safe, and when I remembered the whole smokeless powder/ burn/ pressure buildup in enclosed environment = pressure spike = kerblooey I thought I'd check here. Seems I had heard of purpose-built storage lockers that were well vented to avoid that. It's all about the pressure. Maybe gunsafes are loosed enough not to pose a problem. Looking for expertise.....

Ring a bell w/ anyone?

Steve

RugerBob
May 24, 2011, 08:02 AM
I have an old heavy duty 4 drawer file cabinet. Lag bolted to the wall and a steel bar that also locks for extra measure. Store my ammo and powder in seperate drawers with the bottom drawer for misc stuff. $20 yard sale.

natman
May 24, 2011, 09:43 AM
I keep my powder in a fiberboard cabinet. It has doors that swing out and lock, BUT one wall is not glued and is only held in place with a couple of tiny nails. You could knock it out from the inside with your hand. If there's ever an untoward event with the powder, the wall will blow out long before any pressure can build.

Don't let a flash fire turn into an explosion.

gbw
May 24, 2011, 10:00 AM
If you have room for it try an old refridgerator.

rbernie
May 24, 2011, 10:07 AM
As I understand it, storing smokeless powder or loaded ammo in a semi-airtight enclosure is potentially bad. If it burns, the pressure can build to the point that it is explosive (as it is is designed to do). Is this correct, and does anyone MAKE secured and vented storage for this purpose?
You are correct - in terms of fire safety, you should not store ammo or powder in containers that will not easily come apart at moderate pressures. The rationale for this is to keep the pressures released by the powder/ammo during a fire from building up to the point where the storage container becomes a grenade or alters the normal oxidation characteristics of the compounds. In fact, the recommended enclosure for storing smokeless powder or similar chemicals has historically been a wooden cabinet specifically because it'll blow apart at relatively low pressures and the splinter radius will be relatively small compared to metal cabinetry bits.

Storing ammo in a RSC is a good idea from a security perspective but can be a momumentally bad idea from a fire perspective.

--

ETA - some reading:

http://www.alliantpowder.com/getting_started/safety/storage_handling.aspx

If a small, tightly enclosed storage enclosure is loaded to capacity with containers of smokeless powder, the enclosure will expand or move outwards to release the gas pressure - if the powder in storage is accidentally ignited. Under such conditions, the effects of the release of gas pressure are similar or identical to the effects produced by an explosion. Hence only the smallest practical quantities of smokeless powder should be kept in storage, and then in strict compliance with all applicable regulations and recommendations of the National Fire Protection Association (scroll down to read).


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published a Explosive Materials Code (#495) back in the early twentieth century. That publication has formed the basis for most local fire codes on the subject, and is referenced within the SAAMI guidelines:

http://www.saami.org/specifications_and_information/publications/download/SAAMI_ITEM_200-Smokeless_Powder.pdf

It includes the following:

10-3.7 Smokeless propellants intended for personal use in quantities not exceeding 20 lb (9.1 kg) may be stored in original containers in residences. Quantities exceeding 20 lb (9.1 kg), but not exceeding 50 lb (22.7 kg), may be stored in residences if kept in a wooden box or cabinet having walls or at least 1-inc. (25.4-mm) nominal thickness.
10-3.8 Not more than 20 lb (9.1 kg) of smokeless propellants, in containers of 1-lb (0.45-kg) maximum capacity, shall be displayed in commercial establishments.
10-3.9 Commercial stocks of smokeless propellants should be stored as follows:
(a) Quantities exceeding 20 lb (9.1 kg), but not exceeding 100 lb (45.4 kg), shall be stored in portable wooden boxes having walls of at least 1-in (25.4-mm) thickness.
(b) Quantities exceeding 100 lb (45.4 kg), but not exceeding 800 lb (363 kg), shall be stored in non portable storage cabinets having walls of at least 1-in (25.4-mm) thickness. Not more than 400 lb (181 kg) may be stored in any one cabinet and cabinets shall be separated by a distance of at least 25 ft (7.63 m) or by a fire partition having a fire resistance of at least 1 hour.

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