Cosmo's Winter Field Tests--Ammo Storage


May 4, 2004, 05:03 PM
Well the snow has finally left the compound in Willow, revealing among other things (which we shall NOT discuss) my ammo cache set up last fall. I put about 25 standard surplus ammo cans in a stack and covered above and below with tarps. Over the course of the winter, about six feet of snow covered the ammo dump, along with TWO TREES which my roommate managed to shoot so full of holes they fell over in a wind storm. Temps fell as low as FIFTY below zero during the winter, and stayed well below freezing for many months.

I'll post results as I have them, but so far here's what I've found:

Some of the cans are rusted, but none appear to have leaked even though the bottom ones were sitting in two inches of water.

Some of the ammo nevertheless got damp. A dry-zee-air pouch might be in order, as I suspect condensation not leaks.

So far the only ammo which seems to have been dammaged is a stock of CCI .22 LR, about 1/10th of which is now dud. Probably due to a lack of seal around the bullet.

Good results overall!

In contrast, the ammo I stored in the trailer for "safe keeping" was without exception damaged by corrosion and will need to be broken down. None of it can be fired, including a bandolier full of nice 12 Ga. slugs and a case of my favorite 8x57JS handloads.

The problem lies in the interaction of hot air from the trailer with cold air from outside. It created high humidity when coupled with moisture from everyday life inside the trailer rusted the bejesus out of everything not protected by a half inch of grease.

Likewise, all the rifles I kept stored outside came out fine, and those inside were badly damaged.

Moral of the story? Don't be afraid to cache your ammo outside, but don't cache it anywhere that will be subject to humidity and heat. Deep cold has no apparent negative impact on centerfire ammo.

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May 4, 2004, 05:19 PM
Thanks for the info. Good to know.:D

May 4, 2004, 07:54 PM
A tip for you.

The next time you dig a hole to bury some thing.......
Dig the hole about 8 inches to a foot deeper, fill the extra depth
in with small rocks and gravel. This will help keep your stash from
sitting in water. Also don't forget to pick a site with good drainage
to start with.


May 4, 2004, 07:58 PM
Sorry, I blew it.
I thought you buried your ammo.


May 5, 2004, 03:02 PM
I'm just now reading a book about the Norwegian arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen. On his 1893-96 attempt at drifting across the North Pole in a ship frozen in the ice, he brought only black powder ammunition for hunting and bear-defence, because he had considerable previous experience with black powder under arctic conditions, but no experience with the then new smokeless poweder in low temperatures.

He did however bring some rounds of smokeless rifle cartridges as a test to see if they would "survive" cold weather storage. I think this was done as a favour to the Danish Army because they had helped him with some specially loaded black powder ammo for the Krags he brought on the expedition.

Anyway, I don't have the book here, but if I recall correctly they stored the ammo on deck, probably in some sort of watertight container, for the three years the ship was in the ice. The temperature variation during these three years was, again IIRC, from minus 3 to minus 53 C (26 to minus 63 F). The ammo was then, for some reason or other, stored for more than 30 years in Denmark before it was tested and found to be in excellent shape.

May 5, 2004, 03:28 PM
I am glad that your cache came out ok, too bad about the .22 ammo. Good news is .22 is relatively cheap.

When I have allot of ammo laying around I like to store the boxes in a plastic tub. I get the kind that is easy to seal. They are usually not watertight, but they will keep most air out. I put the ammo in the tub then I seal it with some tape. I keep my surplus ammo in the basement and have never had any troubles with corrosion even with a slightly damp basement this spring.

May 5, 2004, 09:14 PM
I dont understand. Why was your ammo inside so corroded? How did the outside air mix with your inside air bad enough to foul the ammo?

Do I need to check my ammo which has been sitting in the floor for about 6 months?

May 6, 2004, 02:07 PM
The inside ammo was destroyed by a combination of moisture and heat, as near as I can tell. You'd run into the same problem in most hunting shacks and cabins, but only when they're occupied and have heat going.

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