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Ammunition Stability

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Phaethon, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. Phaethon

    Phaethon Well-Known Member

    I have a couple of milsurp rifles sitting around, and a bunch of milsurp ammunition to go with it. Sometimes when I handle the ammunition I get nervous, and once I accidentally dropped a few rounds on the floor and froze out of fear that they were going to explode.

    Perhaps my fears are unfounded, but when dealing with ammunition that was manufactured back in the 50's and 60's in communist controlled countries, how safe is this ammunition to handle casually? Would anyone dare put it in their pockets, for instance, or stack a few rounds on their night-table next to their bed? Is there only risk of an explosion if the primer itself is struck very hard?
  2. Mac's Precision

    Mac's Precision Well-Known Member

    Ammo is FAR more stable than you are suggesting.

    You can repeatedly throw loaded cartridges on the floor with out fear of ignition. I can't tell you the countless times loaded cartridges have been left in my pants pockets...ended up going through the washing machine...and done a full cycle in the dryer. They come out nice and clean! I have out of curiosity loaded them up....they fire just fine. Ammo is quite safe. The primer must be hit a good solid blow on center such that it will hit the anvil in the primer. I occasionally get guns in the shop with light primer strikes that have a legitimate dent in the primer and it fails to ignite. It needs a good smart strike to an adequate depth to light it.

  3. You might want to investigate how the various compounds in ammunition work and see if that puts your mind at ease. Surplus ammo isn't exactly the same as sweating dynamite.
  4. Average Joe

    Average Joe Well-Known Member

    I think you are being paranoid. Ammo is not that volatile.
  5. Freedom_fighter_in_IL

    Freedom_fighter_in_IL Well-Known Member

    Not to mention that Milsurp ammo has VERY hard primers.
  6. matrem

    matrem Well-Known Member


    They DON'T go boom, until they're supposed to!
  7. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    I don't keep ammunition on my bedside table.
    Not because I fear it going off by itself but because when I knocked it off, it would be unpleasant to walk on.
    In my pocket? Sure.
  8. Coolbreeze8804

    Coolbreeze8804 Well-Known Member

    Hmmm.... I'll probably get flamed for this, but. I've ben reloading for around 40 years now, and when I'm done with a batch I heave the whole batch into the vibrating case tumbler and let them run overnight so I have nice shiney stuff to box up the next day with no case lube on it. I have never had a round detonate.

    As a child my cousin and I would shoot with bb guns at 30-30 shells and every once in a while we'd get one good enough for it to go off. They kinda go pop and then burn up the powder. Lots of smoke, but not much flame or noise.

    I wouldn't be worried about your old ammo at all if it was me. It's really durable stuff.
  9. Patrice

    Patrice member

    Hhmmm...well, there has been a bullet or two that's gone off in the washer. [Oddly enough, if they make it through the washer, we've never had one go off in the dryer.]

    I hope I'm not contributing to the initial poster's fears??? Just thought I'd chime in with my 2-cents worth.:rolleyes:

    S000 far bullets in washer---possibly not good....dryer---so far so good...vacuuming under the edge of the bed---no negligent discharges yet.--Patrice:)
  10. Freedom_fighter_in_IL

    Freedom_fighter_in_IL Well-Known Member

    Beater bar on Vacuum + Primer on loaded round = UPSET wife!!
  11. medalguy

    medalguy Well-Known Member

    I'm shooting tons of ammo made in the 40's in my milsurp guns, never had a problem. I also reload and also tumble my loaded ammo to clean off any lube left over. Again never had a problem. Don't worry about it, it isn't going to explode sitting anywhere and is very unlikely to detonate if dropped unless you happen to hit the primer on a rock. What are the chances???
  12. Sherri

    Sherri Well-Known Member

    I was told that tumbling cartridges could alter the consistency of the powder (i.e. making it finer), which could affect how it burns. Is this not true?

    My neighbor gave me a box of her .45 brass and I tossed it into the tumbler without first looking it over. It scared me to death when I discovered 8 unfired rounds as I sorted through the brass several hours later. I hadn't thought through what happens when an unchambered round goes off. I'm less creeped out now, but still. :)
  13. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

    I put my loaded rifle rounds in the tumbler after they are completely done to remove the resizing lube. Never had one go off in the tumbler. Think of the tons of bulk pack ammunition that are trucked all over this country every day.
  14. Sherri

    Sherri Well-Known Member


    I think I'll take apart one of those .45's that got tumbled and compare the powder with one that hasn't been tumbled.

    Not arguing. Just curious.
  15. MinnMooney

    MinnMooney Well-Known Member

    Ammo is very stable and difficult to "accidently" have explode. I've seen many hunters unload many, many rifles & shotguns by ejecting all of the rounds onto the floor. I don't think that's a great practice for many reasons but I've never seen one explode.
  16. MinnMooney

    MinnMooney Well-Known Member

    I tumble my primed but not loaded brass to remove the lube. I don't want to take the chance on having the bullets pushed into the neck and change the COAL.
  17. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

    I tried that, but I ended up with media in the flash holes and that's a bear to get out with the primer already there. I've never had a problem with bullet setback.
  18. Sherri

    Sherri Well-Known Member

    On the issue of setback and COAL...

    I attended a defensive handgun training course where we went through a lot of ammunition over two days. I dumped multiple boxes of 50 into my pocket for magazine loading on the range.

    When I got home, I unloaded the unfired cartridges from my magazines, and found one that was shorter than the others. By a lot, enough to be noticed even by my novice eye. That gave me a good case of the creeps. I think I'll make a habit of looking over boxes of ammo before I dump them in my pocket.
  19. ljnowell

    ljnowell Well-Known Member

    If that worries you, you should see what ammo goes through in an autoloading rifle or pistol!
  20. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Well-Known Member

    If it helps at all, if you ever do manage to get ammunition to go off outside the gun at all, it's not at all likely to hurt you.

    The bullet itself is the heaviest part, which means the casing goes flying away.
    Without resistance against the other side, if doesn't get any velocity, and the relatively lightweight casing loses energy fast. The worst that would happen would likely be a nice little ring-shaped cut if the case mouth got bare skin.

    Ammo is so hard to set off accidentally (ever see how the military treats full cans in a truck?) that you'll never set one off by dropping it unless your floor is covered in upright nails to catch the primer.

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