Whats your oldest dated surplus ammo


January 1, 2013, 08:49 PM
For me it was the 8mm mauser FMJs brasscased i got from CAI eight years ago made in Greece . I think they were stamped 1939. Surprisingly the boxes they came with were in pristine dusty condition. And i got plenty of those as CAI were selling them at huge bargain prices like $70 for 900 rds something to that effect. I ve shot some and they were accurate as modern ammo. With a strong recoil of course. The fact it was 1939 , right at the start of WW 2 , means a lot.

I m curious if surplus ammo shooters have come across ammo that dates back to the 1920s and 30s. I would assume they are non existent as those stockpiles had been used during WW2 .

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January 1, 2013, 09:08 PM
I have a box of .45 acp all dated 1918, and a decent amount of 1918 U.S.C.&C. .30-06 as well.

January 1, 2013, 09:26 PM
I've got some 8mm Mauser 196gr dated 1939

January 1, 2013, 09:31 PM
Currently it's some 30-06 M2 AP stamped DEN 43.

January 1, 2013, 09:49 PM
My 1939 Greek 8mm is the oldest I have in quanity. Have a few WW1 '06 rounds laying around.

January 1, 2013, 09:50 PM
I have a box of .276 Pedersen dated 1929, and a box of M1918 Cal .30 Auto Pistol ammo form 1918. Haven't shot either one yet, but I plan to. :)

January 1, 2013, 10:03 PM
I shot it all but saved the brass, clips and bandoliers to afew hundred rounds of 1952 FN made .303 .

January 1, 2013, 10:19 PM
I have a box of .276 Pedersen dated 1929, and a box of M1918 Cal .30 Auto Pistol ammo form 1918. Haven't shot either one yet, but I plan to. :)
I just wanted you to know that you are my favorite longhair :).
I look forward to seeing your vids pop up in my subscription list more than any other channel. My MOS in the Army is small arms repair and a machinist by trade. Your knowledge of firearm history AND mechanical understanding make you unique and heads above your peers.

January 1, 2013, 10:27 PM
A handful of 1944 dated 7.92Kurz
a box or two of 1939 dated 8x56R
The oldest i've had/shot was some 1920's dated 7.92x57 not sure of exact date or country of origin, I got my hands on it in my formative years of shooting/collecting and shot it all up due to not knowing any better.

January 1, 2013, 10:37 PM
.45 caliber gatling gun ammo from 1881.

January 1, 2013, 11:11 PM
1944 dated .30 Carbine from Western Cartridge Co.

January 1, 2013, 11:31 PM
I've got a couple hundred rounds of '20's Turkish 8mm. I've never shot any of it, more a curiosity for me.

January 2, 2013, 09:15 AM
I recently shot some UMC 1900 7mm Mauser ammo. I think I still have a few rounds left. Most of it shot fine.

January 2, 2013, 09:42 AM
1934 8mil

January 2, 2013, 10:39 AM
I have some 45 acp from 1919. It is in the mag of my 1918 1911...chris3

January 2, 2013, 11:00 AM
I have older, pre WW2 ammunition, but that was before I found out that ammunition has a shelf life and that old ammunition blows up guns.

I found the rule of thumb for safe lifetime of ammunition is 20 years for double based and 45 years for single based powders. Heat will dramatically reduce the lifetime, as you can find in this UN manual.

United Nations (UN) Manual

IATG 07.20 Surveillance and in-service proof


Paragraph 7.3, how temperature reduces the lifetime of ammunition.

Old ammunition will blow up guns through a number of ways. One is with the breakdown of the powder. Reports from blowups using WW2 US ammunition indicate that the powder had broken down to a dust. With an increased surface area it is reasonable to assume the pressure curve spiked. Another is combustion instability. As the powder ages the powder grains deteriorate. A smooth pressure curve is desired during combustion. If the pressure curve is irregular, because the grains are burning unevenly, interactions between out of phase pressure waves can cause pressures to spike. Another is the migration of nitroglycerine to the surface of double based powders. When the surface is rich with nitroglycerine the initial pressure wave will spike.

Section from the Propellant Management Guide:

Stabilizers are chemical ingredients added to propellant at time of manufacture to
decrease the rate of propellant degradation and reduce the probability of auto ignition during its expected useful life.

As nitrocellulose-based propellants decompose, they release nitrogen oxides. If the nitrogen oxides are left free to react in the propellant, they can react with the nitrate ester, causing further decomposition and additional release of nitrogen oxides. The reaction between the nitrate ester and the nitrogen oxides is exothermic (i.e., the reaction produces heat). Heat increases the rate of propellant decomposition. More importantly, the exothermic nature of the reaction creates a problem if sufficient heat is generated to initiate combustion. Chemical additives, referred to as stabilizers, are added to propellant formulations to react with free nitrogen oxides to prevent their attack on the nitrate esters in the propellant. The stabilizers are scavengers that act rather like sponges, and once they become “saturated” they are no longer able to remove nitrogen oxides from the propellant. Self-heating of the propellant can occur unabated at the “saturation” point without the ameliorating effect of the stabilizer. Once begun, the self-heating may become sufficient to cause auto ignition.

As NOx is released within the case it attacks the brass. Nitric acid gas is a by product of NOx. I had the case necks crack on 700 LC Match cases loaded with surplus powders. As the stabilizer is depleted in old powder more and more NOx gets released inside of the case. I have heard of corrosion between bullets and case necks causing blowups, that corrosion is probably due to NOx.

I am pondering about the best thing to do with my old surplus ammunition. I think one approach is to pull the bullets, dump the powder, and see if the cases have internal corrosion. Cases that are in good shape I may reload with fresh powder.

This powder is from a FA 11-1898 30-40 Krag cartridge. Obviously it is bad.



January 2, 2013, 11:57 AM
^ That is kinda scary, I did not know or more likely completely forgot that old ammo can be dangerous.

I am diggin this thread, you guys got so cool old ammo!
the oldest mil surp ammo in my collection is 2 rounds of .303 MK VII dated 1942.
They came with my jungle carbine, 3 of them, realized they were that old when inspecting the fired brass.:o

Art Eatman
January 2, 2013, 12:29 PM
Oldest? .45ACP. Headstamp 43 EC. Steel case.

I once shot a couple of boxes of .243 reloads from 1968; this was around 1992 I guess. Good groups, but two inches lower than new ammo of the same powder and bullet.

I inherited some .223 reloads of my uncle's. I dunno; maybe thirty years old when I shot them. From the bench, the groups were good and the POI was about the same as new stuff.

Generally, old powder in ancient loads doesn't burn as good as the new stuff. I've never heard nor read of any bad incidents from shooting it.

January 2, 2013, 12:31 PM
Don't want to de-rail a cool thread but I don't believe anything that comes from the UN, especially from the office of disarmament. That's just propaganda to get people to discard ammo and in their disillusioned eyes "save lives"

The oldest stuff I have is '50s HXP 30.06 for my Garand and '50s Bulgarian Tokarev

January 2, 2013, 01:46 PM
Not to say that the UN information correct or not but this is one reason I do like Real Black Powder in my muzzleloaders because that stuff tends to last a long time.

Oldest stuff I have is some. 44-40 ammo that's dated around 1886.

January 2, 2013, 01:49 PM
50's vintage berdan primed Yugo 8mm Mauser. I've had a couple misfires in hundreds of rounds, no signs of overpressure.

I shot a box of USGI steel cased 45 ACP that came back from Korea in '54 that was 'hot'. Don't recall the headstamp, could have been WW2 surplus.

January 2, 2013, 02:10 PM
Garand Blowup with WWII ball

I have an old shooting buddy who some years ago was shooting some WWII ball (don’t know whose) but his M-1 was disassembled in a rather rapid fashion. He was lucky only his pride was hurt. He said he took a round apart and found rust looking dust along with the powder. Bad powder. Just sayin…..The op rod can be rebuilt which might be a good way to go. Op Rods are getting harder to find and when you find one a premium price is required so it seems. Garands require grease. I’m not sure if you are aware of this. If you are, please no offence taken.

Garand Blowup with old US ammunition.

There was a thread on another forum titeled “What’s in your ammo can” and many guys had old surpluss ammo so I told this story. Ty (arizonaguide) asked that I come put it here also so here it is boys, draw your own conclutions.

Back in the mid 80s my Dad and a bunch of us went shooting in Arizona. Dad had a couple thousand rounds of WWII surplus .30M1 (30-06) ammo that looked great on the outside cut his M1 in half in his hands. He was kneeling with elbow on knee when the first round of this ammo went BOOM! We were all pelted with sand and M1 shrapnel.

When the dust cleared Dad was rolling around on his back with buttstock in one hand, for stock in the other, barrel and receiver hanging by the sling around his arm trying to yell “mortar” thinking he was back on Okinawa in battle. The blast had removed his ear muffs, hat, glasses, and broke the headlight in my truck 15 feet away but Dad was only shook up and scratched a bit once he got his wits back. It sheared off the bolt lugs, blew open the receiver front ring, pushed all the guts out the bottom of the magazine, and turned the middle of the stock to splinters.

After a couple hours of picking up M1 shrapnel we headed to the loading bench and started pulling bullets. Some of the powder was fine, some was stuck together in clumps, and some had to be dug out with a stick. It didn’t smell and was not dusty like powder usuley is when it’s gone bad. Put it in a pie tin and light it and it seemed a tad fast but not so you would think it could do that, wasent like lighting a pistol powder even. He had 2000 rounds of this stuff and nun of us were in any mood to play with it much after what we watched so it all went onto a very entertaining desert bon fire. I got the M1 splinters when Dad died last year and will post pix here below for your parousal and entertainment.

Anyway, I no longer play with any ammo I am not 100% sure has always been stored properly . . . cheap shooting ain’t worth the risk to me anymore! I still buy surpluss if the price in right but I unload and reload it with powder I am sure of or just use the brass.

She was a good shooting servasable Winchester M1 before this.










If you don't believe the UN, what about your military?

Nitrocellulose-base propellants are essentially unstable materials
that decompose on aging with the evolution of oxides of nitrogen. The
decomposition is autocatalytic and can lead to failure of the ammunition or disastrous explosions.


Heat, as you can see in the report, will age gunpowder


Combustion pressures will rise after high temperature storage.


Frankfort Arsenal 1962

3. Effects of Accelerated Storage Propellant and Primer Performance

To determine the effect of accelerated isothermal storage upon propellant and primer performance, sixty cartridges from each of lots E (WC 846) and G (R 1475) were removed from 150F storage after 26 and 42 weeks, respectively. The bullets were then removed from half the cartridges of each lot and from an equal number of each lot previously stored at 70F. The propellants were then interchanged, the bullets re-inserted, and the cases recrimped. Thus, four variations of stored components were obtained with each lot.

Chamber pressures yielded by ammunition incorporating these four variations were as follows. These values represent averages of 20 firings.


January 2, 2013, 03:45 PM
I don't believe anything the UN puts out. I have alot of 1930s era Turk 8mm that shoots just fine except for the 1938 ammo which is about 1/2 no fires or hang fires. If the outside of the case is not damaged or cracked, I will shoot it. If it doesn't go bang, I break it down for components and throw the powder in my garden....chris3

That M1 looks it fired out of battery to me. You notice there is no damage to the chamber. As far as the US ammo data, who stores ammo at 140-150 degrees? chris3

January 2, 2013, 04:09 PM
I have a few boxes of 8mm Hungarian/Steyr ammo (8x56r) around from 1938. Interestingly, about the half the boxes have ammo and enbloc clips dated January 1938 with the Austrian eagle/crest, the other half are dated from August of 1938 with Nazi/German eagle stamps. I guess it didn't take the Germans long to swap out the stamps after the Anschluss in March.

January 2, 2013, 04:13 PM
I've got some early 1940's British MkVIII ball ammo that I shoot in my Enfield. It's old enough that there is a noticeable delay between CLICK and BANG!

January 2, 2013, 04:20 PM
I have some RA 42 in '06 that I bought in the mid 60s. Shot a few clips in 2001 through an '03 Springfield, looks like I won't be shooting anymore of it. :)

January 2, 2013, 04:20 PM
my .303 is mostly 1917 and 1919 i bought a heap

shoot it often with no problems but it has been stored well

ol' scratch
January 2, 2013, 11:29 PM
My oldest single round is RA 1941 in 30-06. I have a mess of SL 1943 M2 AP in 1903 Springfield stripper clips and bandoleers.

ol' scratch
January 2, 2013, 11:33 PM
Don't want to de-rail a cool thread but I don't believe anything that comes from the UN, especially from the office of disarmament. That's just propaganda to get people to discard ammo and in their disillusioned eyes "save lives"

The oldest stuff I have is '50s HXP 30.06 for my Garand and '50s Bulgarian Tokarev
Are you sure it is HXP? I thought they only started making it in 1962.

Ignition Override
January 3, 2013, 01:30 AM
1943 .303, manufactured in England.

This was my first .303 ammo purchase, and one of the last batches for sale at Samco in April '09,
before all of their English and Paki (POF) .303 was gone. Strange timing and should have bought 2,000 rds. instead.

January 3, 2013, 07:22 AM
War2 7.35 Carcano, War2 .303 Enfield. Post war Garand and carbine, War1 M1 ball for display only.

Late 1850's paper /powder/lead charges for cap and ball Colt revolvers.

January 3, 2013, 09:49 AM
Are you sure it is HXP? I thought they only started making it in 1962.
It's the greek stuff from CMP still in the bandoliers. All from the mid fifties

January 3, 2013, 10:18 AM
I have a quantity of 7.62 Australian ball surplus in bandoliers on 5 round stripper clips packed in 1966. 1 MOA in my M1A out to 300 meters, which is a pleasant surprise. Shot a great deal of this back in the 00's.

January 3, 2013, 10:37 AM
Had a lot of U.S.C.&C. . GI 3006 ball from WW1 dated 1917 and all went off just fine split necks and all..... off the bench it would do 2" all day too.....

I scrapped the brass as it was not worth reloading but it did shoot well.

January 3, 2013, 10:43 AM
Don't want to de-rail a cool thread but I don't believe anything that comes from the UN, especially from the office of disarmament. That's just propaganda to get people to discard ammo and in their disillusioned eyes "save lives"

There is a darn good reason why the UN, Nato, are concerned about old ammunition. The stuff goes Kaboom. Nitric acid builds up in old gunpowder, creates heat, and the stuff blows up. It blows up inside the case or the shell.

There is a interesting article on at this NATO web page, the punch line is:


Since 2009, there have been more than 50 recorded incidents of unplanned explosions at munitions depots in 34 countries.

Incidentally a Hizbullah munitions depot when up Christmas Eve!


This is what an ammunition depot explosion looks like:


Just imagine what would have happened if all 6 million pounds of demilled propellant had been hit by lightening at Camp Minden Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant. http://rn-t.com/view/full_story/21095280/article-Explosives-company-faced-scrutiny-before-Louisiana-scare?instance=home_news_lead_story Might have made all the explosions prior seem like a fire cracker!

The October explosion wasn't the first at the Explo facility. A series of at least 10 explosions there in 2006 caused an evacuation of Doyline, shut down Interstate 20 and forced officials to move students to schools in a nearby town

These accounts are from the DECEMBER 2003 Propellant Management Guide:


a. Propellants and propelling charges that we store, transport and maintain warrant our special attention. Among commonly stored energetic materials, only nitrate ester-based propellants (principally nitrocellulose-based ones) have the propensity to spontaneously combust (self-ignite, autoignite) without warning while sitting in storage; catastrophic losses can result. Artillery and Small Arms propellants are perhaps the most dangerous materials that Army installations routinely handle and store. Propellant can be unpredictable, decomposing into an unstable condition within four or five years of manufacture. Inadequate propellant safety programs have contributed to several self-ignition incidents at military and commercial installations in the United States and abroad.

b. When grains, flakes, sticks or sheets of propellant inside a container ignite, sufficient heat and flame is produced to ignite the remaining propellant material in that container. If unstable propellant is present in even minimal quantities (e.g., a single container), it might combust and could lead to ignition of the entire contents of the storage structure. Propellant burns at a very rapid rate in a process that is known as deflagration. Deflagration differs significantly from detonation in that deflagration involves very rapid combustion that takes place on the surface of the propellant. Detonation, on the other hand, occurs due to a different process that involves a shock wave moving at supersonic speeds through the explosive material, thereby causing its nearly immediate decomposition. Simply put, deflagration operates on the basis of heat transfer, while detonation operates on the basis of a shock wave.

During the period 1984 through 1997, seven propellant autoignition events occurred at U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) installations.

1. 1984: Lake City AAP
IMR powder that was only 5 years old autoignited and the above ground magazine & its contents were destroyed. More than 100,000 lbs of powder deflagrated.

2. 1984: Lake City AAP
The same lot of IMR powder, a fragment quantity isolated and saved for critical production testing, autoignited two months after the previous fire. Only a small quantity of powder was lost, but another magazine was destroyed.

3. 1985: Blue Grass Army Depot
The local-stocks storage magazine use for demilitarization activities contained high explosives material as well as unmonitored M10 propellant powder. Autoignition of the powder and its resulting deflagration gradually ignited the other energetic materials present. The earth covered magazine and its contents were destroyed.

I only copied the first three examples as they involved gunpowder.

The reason your surplus ammunition was put out on the market is because it was at the end of a reasonable shelf life and was probably getting too dangerous to keep in their bunkers. It was cheap because the smart people did not want it anymore.

First world countries spend a lot of money figuring out which ammunition is still good, and which has gone bad. Collapsed communist countries and bankrupt third world countries either sell the stuff off to Americans, or they let the stuff explode in place.

This publication, minutes of a 2010 NATO meeting, the Bulgarian criteria for the usefulness of ammunition is of interest:

Environmental Impact of Munition and Propellant Disposal

2.2.3 Quantity of Conventional Ammunition in the Expired Term
Long experience from laboratory and range tests on ammunition has established that after 30 years of storage, they are not suitable for battle usage. On this basis, all unwarranted ammunition is divided into two groups – prior to 1975 and post 1975.


This also might be of interest:

Field-Portable Propellant Stability Test Equipment


The bottom line is that old surplus ammunition has its risks. I would not have to make this point if this was 20 year old gasoline as everyone has a lawn mower that almost blew a head gasket with old gas. But when it comes to that “life time buy” of cheap surplus that you are sitting on, the denial that your pile is actually a pig in the poke is understandable.

January 3, 2013, 10:51 AM
1930's turkish 8mm

January 3, 2013, 01:07 PM
I was give about 50 rds of 1926 6.5 Swedish mauser ctgs. All headstamped with the crown. Best shooting 6.5 I ever had. Kept 1 ctg.

January 3, 2013, 01:13 PM
I have 2 1/2 spam cans of 45 ACP that was made in 1940 and repacked in spammies in 41. I also have a number of 06 from 47 and up.

January 3, 2013, 05:36 PM
I have a clip of Frankfurt Arsenal 30-06, 1915.

January 4, 2013, 09:17 AM
In my cartridge collection I have some that go back as far as the early 1800`s...........

January 5, 2013, 08:33 PM
I have some H450 which I bought in 1973 for $1.75 per #. It still works just like it did in 1973. The biggest problem with older ammo is case neck splitting as the brass hardens with age, and mercuric primers (pre 1953), which are very corrosive.

January 5, 2013, 08:52 PM
I still have part of a box of Belgian 7.65x53 Mauser, dated 1896.

January 5, 2013, 09:38 PM
Not old but certainly the oldest 7.62X51 headstamp I have in my possession. Has anyone even seen a 7.62 headstamp pre 1960?

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