How often should you replace your carry ammo?


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Ben86
July 9, 2011, 07:36 PM
I realize this must vary according to what the ammunition has been through, but is there an established time frame that one should replace one's carry ammo? I am considering this with pistol ammo in mind. I kept my last bunch of gold dot 9mm in use for about 2 years. Considering that it got locked in a hot car a lot and chambered once and a while I think that may have been too long. I do try to chamber a "virgin" cartridge every time I carry, but I realize there must be a point were setback will occur regardless.

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orionengnr
July 9, 2011, 07:40 PM
Two years? It's probably fine, but I would shoot it off and replace it.

Seems as if most recommend between 6 and 12 months. Carry ammo is pricey, but 7, 8 or even 15 rounds once or twice per year is not an excessive expenditure.

Owen Sparks
July 9, 2011, 08:06 PM
As I understand it, modern ammo is not effected by time, at least not as measured by the rest of your relitivly short life span. A buddy found some 90 year old WWI 8MM Mauser ammo and every one of them fired reliably! A few years should make no difference.

Agmundr
July 9, 2011, 08:10 PM
From what I've been told by my dad, who has years of reloading experience, most modern ammunition isn't really affected by age due to modern primers and powders. I personally like to shoot my +P ammo instead of regular range plinkers from time to time, so I use the occasional change up as an opportunity to change out my carry ammo.

Shienhausser
July 9, 2011, 08:13 PM
You should fire some anyway from time to time to get a feel for them.

hso
July 10, 2011, 08:32 AM
Yep, you should be using your carry ammo to finish off the occasional practice session to have the feel of it more than worrying about the "freshness". Ammunition will be good for several years as long as it isn't subjected to solvents and wetting.

Doxiedad
July 10, 2011, 08:56 AM
Glad to hear. My carry ammo is about 6 years old now. Only shot maybe 5 rounds from the box I bought when I got my first Glock. Don't think they even make it anymore. It's a winchester JHP in a black box. I just bought what the LGS suggested when I got my pistol.

WinThePennant
July 10, 2011, 10:03 AM
Just a few weeks ago I fired off some FMJs and hollowpoints that were 20 years old.

No probs.

ColtPythonElite
July 10, 2011, 10:04 AM
My SP101 is loaded with Federal 125 gr JHP's that I bought in 1990. I have full confidence in them.

ironhead7544
July 10, 2011, 10:24 AM
I change mine about every six months. A year would be OK. You are betting your life on this stuff. Changing to new ammo is cheap insurance. Just my .02.

WinThePennant
July 10, 2011, 10:26 AM
FWIW, I am more concerned about my magazine springs over time than I am about my ammo.

Doxiedad
July 10, 2011, 03:40 PM
FWIW, I am more concerned about my magazine springs over time than I am about my ammo.

Yeah I worry about the same thing sometimes, but an unloaded pistol is about useless.

Clifford
July 10, 2011, 04:17 PM
I carry my snubby all day long, roughly 15-16 hours. Due to the fact that I work as a mechanic, sweating all day long in our wonderful AZ heat. I change out my carry ammo every two weeks. I'm sure that it could go much longer as I shoot my old carry ammo every range trip and have never had a problem. I just feel more comfortable changing it often. I'm a sweaty guy to begin with and as I said before, the heat out here just makes it worse. Even more so now that we are fully into our monsoon season, 110+ heat with 80%+ humidity. Better safe than sorry.

Canazes9
July 10, 2011, 04:41 PM
Wow! I see there is a lot of folks in this thread that aren't anywhere near as OCD as me. When I go the range all of my carry guns get fired with the carry ammunition I've been packing around, pocket lint in place etc. It isn't because I think the ammunition has gone bad or think it would come anywhere close for years and years. Just for me, I need to know that my carry guns will go bang every time as I carry them, no fiddling etc.

David

bigfatdave
July 10, 2011, 05:54 PM
When I go the range all of my carry guns get fired with the carry ammunition I've been packing around, pocket lint in place etc. I do that once in a while.

I actually carried my PPS for many many months (I think it was over 4) with no cleaning, no extra lube. And I saved every dinged-up 9x19 round in the household for it, plus some of the cheapest steel-case ammo I could find.
Took it to the range, cleared it, popped off the slide to see how much lint was in there (A LOT!), re-assembled and loaded up the cheapo steel ammo and ran 100 rounds ... then I ran all the leftover carry ammo from the last year or so through.

Not a single failure other than a sideways-mounted primer in the steel-case ammo, and I can hardly blame that on the gun. So I now know that I got away with 4 months of lint and a bunch of carbon crap buildup in there, so my 2-3 month range and cleaning rotation and roughly monthly inspect and blow out routine should be fine.

But I still only change my carry loads every 3-4 months, it is more of a seasonal thing. Plus I already have a different lot of ammo in the reload, and sometimes a different HP design.
"getting cold, better stick in some EFMJ in the gun just in case"
"getting warm, time to rotate in Gold Dots"
"been sweating on these a while, time for fresh"
"getting cold, time to dig out the EFMJ again"

MrsBFD gets fresh ammo when winter hits, and again when things warm up ... since she carries in her purse it doesn't get sweated on or much extra lint.

Mouse-guns get carried with ball anyway (.32acp) ... so they get fresh ammo after they go to the range each time. They get carried so rarely that I don't worry about time as much as proficiency.

ColtPythonElite
July 11, 2011, 08:15 AM
FWIW, I am more concerned about my magazine springs over time than I am about my ammo.


Lots of unneeded worry, IMO....I carried one brand of duty handgun 7 years and another brand for 12 years before each were retired. My mags were only unloaded twice a year...at bi-annual qualifications. Out of 2 handguns and 6 mags, I never had a single issue....Same goes for my duty rifle, which I have had now for 10+ years. The mags stay loaded year round. I've got 3 issued mags that I've had all that time. Never had a problem.

Ben86
July 12, 2011, 01:18 AM
I had a feeling is wasn't that big of a deal. Thanks for clearing this up guys.

I still plan on doing my usual monthly rotation and this time yearly (instead of two year) replacement for the carry ammo. I do live in a pretty humid area, so I don't want to push it.

Obsidian
July 12, 2011, 02:21 AM
I find its a personal thing. Some mentioned humid sweaty carrying conditions cause them to expend their ammunition sooner. Some don't worry bout it at all. My personal feelings for Revolvers are that I've yet to change the ammo for them that has not been exposed to moisture.

Semi autos are a different story. I rotate the ammunition once a year for something that is commonly carried/used. I find that the chambering of the rounds, especially for the .45 acp is harder than any personal carry is. The extracting/ejecting cycle does more to the rounds than any of it.

I rotate magazines every two weeks as part of my maintenance of the firearm in question as well.

Overkill, perhaps but I feel confident in it. And once a year I use new ammunition and get a refresher on that particular ammunition for SD drills.

MachIVshooter
July 12, 2011, 02:23 AM
I replace mine periodically to function check the gun, not because I'm concerned that the ammunition has suffered over time. Probably twice a year or so.

ColtPythonElite
July 12, 2011, 02:41 AM
My question is for all you guys are are replacing at whatever time frame you use...Have you ever had one of your "old" rounds misfire or be a dud?...In both alot of career and personal shooting, I don't think I have ever had a commercial factory round fail. (Not counting 3rd world multi-decade old surplus stuff, BTW)

Obsidian
July 12, 2011, 09:02 AM
Yes, I've had a defective round from the factory by one company fail to touch off, however upon further inspection it appeared that a small amount of corrosion had started between the casing and the projectile. Possibly that way from the factory, hard to say. But it was also a round greater than ten years old. (Was what I had for that firearm at that time. Used the old stuff to test point of impact)

Again, I'm not really worried about a round going bad (You do inspect each round from time to time don't you?) due to age as it is the human factor and the chambering and unchambering of rounds in autos.

bigfatdave
July 12, 2011, 09:26 AM
Have you ever had one of your "old" rounds misfire or be a dud?
<snip>
In both alot of career and personal shooting, I don't think I have ever had a commercial factory round fail.

nope, I have not abused commercial defense ammunition to the point of failure.

but I have seen brand-new in package factory ammo come out of the box in unacceptable condition, in the cheap plinking stuff ... WWB/Tula/Brown Bear/etc
I've seen bullet seated deeper than anything else in the box (WWB 9x19 100-pack, hard to complain when most boxes actually have 101 or 102), sideways primer (Tula 9x19, twice), casing peeled down the side of the bullet (Aguila .30carbine from the CMP) ... and I've seen undercharged rounds, with significantly less report than the rest in the box (Remington's cheap .45acp)

CoRoMo
July 12, 2011, 10:00 AM
I think we all know that ammo can sit and wait for decades and still be perfectly fine, but what happened to the hysteria about carrying ammo around for years and the powder abrading itself down to a fast burning blasting agent that will kaboom your Glock and the first third of your shooting arm?

I liked that theory. Never see it anymore though. :(

Ben86
July 12, 2011, 10:02 AM
The extracting/ejecting cycle does more to the rounds than any of it.

That's my belief as well.

bigfatdave
July 12, 2011, 10:49 AM
but what happened to the hysteria about carrying ammo around for years and the powder abrading itself down That's one of the reasons I swap mine out, and one of the reasons I don't keep a gun in the car or bike (one of, far from the only or primary reason)

I don't think that it will become a super-explosive, but it can change the function of the round enough that it isn't the round I tested any more.

It would be an interesting experiment to put some loaded ammo into a measurable and repeatable vibration generator (paint shaker?) and tested results. I imagine it would take quite a beating to make a measurable result, but I do think there would be degradation if there's any room in there for things to move about.

chhodge69
July 12, 2011, 11:30 AM
I change mine once a year - nothing scientific about that, it just makes me feel better to know that a) I have clean, new, unabused factory ammo once in a while and b) my gun still functions flawlessly with that ammo.

ny32182
July 12, 2011, 12:55 PM
Considering a lot of the rifle ammo I have shot is older than I am, I'm not too worried about rotating carry ammo every X number of months/years due to age.

When I shoot mine up, it is because it is noticably dented up from chambering/unchambering. And even then, it is really a cosmetic thing if I were to be perfectly honest about it. Since I no longer shoot my carry pistol in matches, it very rarely gets unloaded. I think I'm on year 2 or 3 with the same box of Gold Dots riding around in my G19. Not the least bit worried about it. 20 or 30 years from now I might put it on the to-do list. :)

I have dropped a magazine in a puddle once, it was submerged completely for a few seconds while I dug around for it. I shot up that magazine just in case. No issues. There is a hard press-fit between the bullet/case and primer/case that water is not goinig to readily penetrate, and most commercial top shelf ammo will have sealant in addition to that. A little humidity or sweat is not a concern.

Many reloaders tumble live rounds for hours in order to brighten them up as a final step. No one is blowing their arm off as a result. The vibration present in a tumbler is way more than anything your gun is going to be subjected to outside a tumbler.

Ammo is tough. Shoot it (or don't) and be happy. Keeping the springs, extractor, etc in your pistol and mags up to snuff, especially if it is a gun that sees a real round count, is far more important to worry about than rotating ammo, in my opinion.

oldbear
July 12, 2011, 05:03 PM
With the exception of two boxes of Speer GoldDot 158Gr. .357 Magnum ammo, I'm hoarding, I go through my ammo stash about every two years.
I don't date my ammo when I get it, which I should start doing, I simply move the fresh ammo to the bottom of the locker.

WinThePennant
July 12, 2011, 05:19 PM
RE: Hoarding.

This is something I highly recommend. You should never assume that your local Wally World will always have a box of WWB ready for your needs.

RalphS
July 12, 2011, 09:13 PM
Every 5 years, whether it needs it or not....

JohnBiltz
July 12, 2011, 09:29 PM
It really depends on the person and the gun. Unloading and rechambering is the biggest problem followed by oil getting on the primers. How often you clear and load is really what should be driving the question.

AWorthyOpponent
July 12, 2011, 10:15 PM
Both of the local sheriffs offices near me switch out carry ammo every 6 months. If its good enough for them, its good enough for me. I usually do the same with mine, firing off the rounds in a practice drill.

Jonah71
July 13, 2011, 09:05 AM
I fired some old lead rn.38 specials from the mid to late 80's last week. Everything went bang. And as far as I could tell, my old Security Six didn't suffer any damage.

MikeNice
July 13, 2011, 09:18 AM
I am a heavy sweater sometimes. I still don't worry about the ammo in my gun. In the auto the mag is surrounded by the gun. Minimal moisture is going to get in there. My second clip is caried in a nylon pouch. I am more worried about those bullets. There is more exposure to the elements.

When I unload my sd rounds in preparation for the range I wipe them down. I use a Remmington gun cloth or a cloth that has been sprayed with Birchwood Casey synthetic cleaner. I let it dry up pretty well then I wipe the bullets down to remove contamination. I would still rotate them out every couple of years. Honestly I'll probably shoot them off before I ever have to rotate them. It gives me an excuse to buy something different.

My revolver is more bothersome. The rounds are much more exposed in a revolver. They get the same treatment as the auto rounds. In fact the revolver is what started the process.

Deltaboy
July 13, 2011, 10:45 AM
I shoot up my carry ammo once a year. But I have shot MilSup 45 ammo that the boxed was dated 1930 and it all went boom. So as long as it has not gotten wet or soaked in cleaner or lube it should be fine. That just my 2 cents on this subject. :D

bigfatdave
July 13, 2011, 04:56 PM
I fired some old lead rn.38 specials from the mid to late 80's last week.And where have those rounds been this entire time?

Riding in an IWB holster getting jostled about, sweated on, heated/cooled and generally neglected?
Or were they in a nice box in a somewhat stable environment?

ChCx2744
July 13, 2011, 05:07 PM
My department used to have us shoot off what was in our mags and what was in our guns twice a year. I've pretty much stuck to the practice of switching out ammo twice a year, but I'm starting to dwindle down towards once a year. This year I'll be changing out my ammo at the one year mark, but that's just because I want to try out another brand.

WinThePennant
July 13, 2011, 05:21 PM
The easiest way to "rotate" your ammo is to hit the range at least once a month. First to go down range? The stuff you've been carrying around in your gun.

Really, though, ammo is made very well these days. Especially, the top name American stuff. Worry about something else, folks...

Jonah71
July 14, 2011, 07:40 AM
And where have those rounds been this entire time?

Riding in an IWB holster getting jostled about, sweated on, heated/cooled and generally neglected?
Or were they in a nice box in a somewhat stable environment?
In an old wooden box along with some misc. junk in a desk drawer of my desk at the house. I didn't expect all 6 of them to fire.

Mike1234567
July 14, 2011, 09:50 AM
I'm just echoing what others have said but... I never worry about ammo getting old because the first ammo I shoot at the range is what's already loaded in the mags so it's rotated fairly often.

Ex-MA Hole
July 15, 2011, 08:41 PM
My 99.9% carry gun is a 642. I shoot the snot out of it, but my five carry rounds and my spare strips get shot up and replaced every fall. I've just always done it that way.

My other carry gun is my LCP and I'm not using carry ammo per se, so that just gets shot when I go to the range,

rscalzo
July 15, 2011, 08:58 PM
I replaced all departmental carry ammo every year at the Spring qualification session. While ammo can and will last longer, we weren't going to take a chance.

A box or twenty or fifty at best is $40. My life is worth more than that.

ms6852
July 15, 2011, 09:09 PM
I shoot mine about every 2 to 3 months to get a feel for it, different recoil from my practice rounds.

The_Shootist
July 15, 2011, 09:34 PM
I refresh the carry ammo in my G19 (Remington GS 124 gr +P) about every 6 mos. Thats more to test fire for accuracy / familiarity than anything. Properly stored, I'd have confidence in modern SD ammo for 1-2 years. The time period for practical purposes is likely longer but why push it for defensive ammo that you might have to protect yourself with?

c1ogden
July 16, 2011, 05:48 PM
I shoot up my carry ammo on each qualification and replace it with fresh ammo.


"Have you ever had one of your "old" rounds misfire or be a dud?..."

Several times. When I first started for the sheriff's office you qualified in the academy and that was it. An officer who had been on five or so years was still carrying the ammo that he was issued in the academy. It had corrosion marks on it so I took it away from him and gave him fresh ammo from my personal supply. Two of the six that had been in his gun failed to fire.

About ten years ago I had two brand new, right out of the box rounds fail to fire. One jammed my Sig P226 and cost me a match. The primer had been installed backwards and when the firing pin hit it it trapped the pin so that it couldn't retract. This locked the slide up and it had to be hammered open. Another round failed to fire even though the firing pin had made a nice dent in the primer. I hit it again and it still didn't fire. Both rounds were CCI/Speer 9mm.

gamestalker
July 16, 2011, 08:15 PM
I've never had one single mis-fire with my reloads and that includes my carry ammo that has been around for decades. I change the carry ammo only after having shot it. My feelings on this is the powder and primer are better preserved by the sealed brass than in any other container. And the fact that it's been in my gun for years isn't going to change it's reliable function, under any circumstances.

gamestalker
July 16, 2011, 08:17 PM
Oh, I forgot to mention the only mis-fire I've ever experienced was with factory ammunition. In this respect, I've had countless mis-fires up until I began reloading over 30 yrs. ago.

Paulgibs
July 16, 2011, 10:53 PM
We sow lots of watermelon, pumpkin, honeydew and cantaloupe seeds near my home range. We can't nearly consume all of the crop. We and our friends use our SD rounds once a year to dispatch the extra melons. It's fun to see how the targets react, and it takes some of the sting out of the cost of replacing our supply of SD ammo.

The Bushmaster
July 17, 2011, 01:07 PM
Once a year just for the hell of it....

303tom
July 19, 2011, 10:02 AM
Every time I am out where no one gives a damn , I empty & reload , just to keep the feel ! Maybe 2 or 3 times , depends how I feel !

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