Ammo Storage Safety?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Samuel79, Jan 10, 2011.

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  1. Samuel79

    Samuel79 Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
  2. ryanrichmond

    ryanrichmond Member

    Dec 25, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Mythbusters did a show once where they tested the heat tolerance of ammunition. If I remember correctly, they put the ammunition in an oven at 450 degrees until the ammunition finally popped and fizzled out. It didn't fire off like it would have had it been fired from a gun.

    ah found it:

    MYTH:::Bullets can explode with lethal force if they are stored inside a hot oven.:::MYTH

    The Mythbusters placed a .22 caliber, .44 caliber, and .50 caliber bullet inside an oven. All of the bullets exploded once the oven was hot enough, but none of them were able to penetrate the oven. Without a gun barrel to contain and direct the propellant gases, the bullets did not develop enough speed to pierce the glass or steel portions of the oven. The shell casings actually caused more damage than the bullets.

    Now in the event that you store your GUN (loaded) in hot temperatures

    MYTH:::::A gun can fire a bullet with lethal force if stored inside a hot oven.::::MYTH

    The Mythbusters placed a loaded .38 caliber revolver inside a hot oven pointing towards the oven door. Once the temperature was high enough, the gun automatically discharged and sent the bullet out of the oven, which could potentially kill anybody who happened to be standing in front of the oven.

    So to simplify: It takes a lot of heat to make bullet go pop. I know lots of people store ammunition in vehicles that can get up to 120 + degrees without incident. Now if left in a hot atmosphere for long periods of time (1 month - years), the powder can break down making your ammo less effective
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  3. yooper_sjd

    yooper_sjd Member

    Dec 25, 2006
    ammo can last along time in extreme temperature changes. storage in garage or spare room of the house is really of no big concern..... best to store in old ammo can. My early yrs in the service, the mid 80's....I remember shooting ammo from the vietnam era, and even .50 cal ammo produced during WWII. Even the big 16" guns on the battle ship had ammo manufactured back during the Korean conflict. Most military IS NOT stored in climate controlled bunkers. But will heat up and cool down with the seasons. I have personally seen ammo stored in MILVANS in conflict theaters were the inside temp would and did exceed 125 deg day time, with low of 60 or more at night. Wild temp swings like that will start to degrade the propellant charge. but the short term ammo storage your talking about...no problem! may want to just throw a dessicant pack in before closing the lid......
  4. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Member

    Sep 21, 2007
    Californicated Colorado
    It doesn't really do what you're thinking. More of a bunch of pops like firecrackers. Ammo that cooks off like this is nowhere near as dangerous as when the power is concentrated with in the chamber of a gun and directed behind the bullet, in only one direction.
    Nope. I'd keep it in the house where the temperature shouldn't move very far between 60° and 80°.
  5. Samuel79

    Samuel79 Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
  6. brboyer

    brboyer Member

    Mar 26, 2009
    Tampa Bay Florida
    If your only concern is safety, then you don't have to worry about rounds cooking off until temps hit more than 300 degrees.

    For the most part, even if they do cook-off, they are harmless.
  7. KBintheSLC

    KBintheSLC Member

    Jul 30, 2007
    Stalingrad, USA
    Welcome to THR!

    Just do what the military does... put it in mil-surp ammo cans with some desiccant and forget about it. They are fire retardant, water/air tight, and easy to transport if you have to grab and go. Loaded ammo does not "explode" in a fire.
  8. PandaBearBG

    PandaBearBG Member

    Aug 3, 2009
    Well to my own chagrin and less foresight in common sense and practicality, me and a couple of my friends were headed to this fine remote spot in the mountains, all rock and sparse scrub and dirt. 180 degrees of 100 foot high back stop only one way in and one way out, on top of a plateau that provided a safe and secure shooting spot for rifle pistol and skeet shooting. It's a popular place where the ground is littered in shells, casings, and various debris and wood for targets and plinking.

    One day we went early in the morning and there was a bone chilling wind on an already freezing day, but it was sort of a traditional holiday shoot we always did so we were shoooting anyways. Well it got so cold we were starting to shiver, and I had a couple extra road flares in the truck and say some shot up pallets around and dragged them to the fire pit out there. Problem was the fire pit was maybe 3 feet across and the epic pile of pallets and 2x4's were about 5 feet across, alittle over the stone ring, well pretty soon we had a very LARGE very WARM fire and it was hot enough you could feel it 25 feet away even in the wind. Well I guess there were stray rounds close to the pit because we heard some cracks and pops, but a bit weaker than the normal crack of a bullet and once we put 2 and 2 together we bolted down the hill til the rounds finished cooking off. It was sporadic and no more than a dozen or so rounds and we were down hill on a steep decline so we didn't feel that threatened. But one round was particularly loud and we heard the "whizz" of a bullet no more than 10-20 feet overhead! There was no mistake, it wasn't debris or shrapnel, that was a bullet. So yes a round can fire instead of pop or explode in a fire.

    As for storage, when I was overseas, ammo is subjected to extreme heat and rapid and dramatic temperature flux from night to day, and are fine. Home temperature is pretty steady well ammo effecting wise, but if you are paranoid (not always a bad thing, hehehe) build a nest of sand bags under and around it. But wherever for me is fine, ammo box with some dissacent.
  9. vynx

    vynx Member

    Sep 11, 2005
    When I was around 10 or 11 (1960's) I attended an NRA Hunters saftey class in the basement of a local midlle school.

    They cooked off some ammo with bunson burners - yep the same ones they used in science class.

    They cooked off 12 gauge shells, .22 lr & some other rounds all they coverred them with was a cardboard box and none of the rounds went through the cardboard.

    There was a little, very little brass stuck in the cardboard (inside) so we were warned not to throw ammo in campriofres because it might not go thru clothing but IT COULD TAKE YOUR EYE OUT!
  10. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2002
    Centennial, CO
    Store your ammo in a cool dry place, that likely rules out your garage.
  11. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    all over Virginia
    By the time it gets hot enough in your apartment for the ammo in your apartment to pose any risk to anyone, the conditions at the location where there may be persons at risk will be such that the dangers of your ammo causing them harm will be the least of their concerns.

    Store your ammo in ammo cans.

    Comply with your lease.

    Comply with your local fire code - which you probably CANNOT look up for free online, as most localities utilize commercial fire codes that you have to BUY if you want to actually read them (e.g. http://www.nfpa.org/catalog/product...d=109&SelectedTab=Table+of+Contents#TabAnchor )
  12. Erik M

    Erik M Member

    Jun 14, 2009
    Hails from Parts Unknown
    Bottom of the bedroom closet locked in steel pistol safes with a bag of desiccant thrown inside. Temperature never varies more than 65* - 75*
  13. frankge

    frankge Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Tampa, FL
    will ammo cans resist a fire for any length of time?
  14. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

    Dec 29, 2006
    Metal ammo cans will transfer heat just like a frying pan transfers heat from the burner.

    It will slow things down in a fire but not for long.
  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    Ammo in a fire test:
    What really happens to it?
    Here are photo's of some testing I did to answer the same question in my mind.

    Rounds were placed inside a loose 1" aluminum thin-wall tube for guidance, and set off into galvanized furnace duct sheet-metal.

    Test set-up:

    Impact, side one: (The aluminum Blaser .357 case head completely penetrated the sheet-metal)

    Impact, side two:

    Recovered rounds:

    Note: The thin-wall aluminum guidance tube was not even dented.
    Ammo loaded in magazines would almost certainly be fully contained inside the mags.

    In no case did any of the bullets have enough velocity or energy to hurt you.
    The other components are a whole different story!

    Primers & rim-fire cases are most dangerous, followed by pistol round case fragments.
    The .223 rifle round blew the primer out and the slow powder burned out through the flash hole without blowing the case or disloging the bullet.

    I think you would be in much more danger from exploding aerosol cans, paint thinner, lawn mower gas, and gas-grill propane tanks in the garage.

    Only a round actually chambered in a firearm would have enough velocity to hurt you when wearing FD bunker gear.
    It will have the full power of the firearm, just as if it had been fired normally. That's why it's not wise to store loaded fireams leaned in a corner, or a drawer pointed at chest level!!

    IMHO: All ammo should be stored in GI steel ammo cans.
    They will 100% contain ammo fragments in a house fire, while safely releasing the pressure.
    That's what they are designed to do!

  16. CZguy

    CZguy Member

    Mar 25, 2004
    Excellent test rcmodel, I had always wondered.
  17. Caliper_Mi

    Caliper_Mi Member

    Mar 1, 2009
    That's where most of mine resides. Need to get a few more...
  18. bandit5150

    bandit5150 Member

    Apr 26, 2009
    Ammo Storage

    As a firefighter and a shooter, I opted to store my ammo in a fire resistive file cabinet that I obtained for free. As it takes up a lot of space (30"w 36"d 48"h) it is located in the garage. It contains several thousand rounds of assorted ammunition.

    For what it's worth, in a fire situation, the temperature near on the floor is often tenable where just a few feet off of the floor may not be. As such, ammo cans on the floor of a closed closet may not be a bad option. Fires rarely start in a closet and the closed door might be enough to keep most of the heat out of the closet, at least until suppression efforts can be made.

    We are trained that shrapnel from a round cooking off may cause injury, but does not have the lethality that a chambered round would have. It would be interesting to see what an ammo can full of .223 subjected to flashover temperatures would do. Once rounds started cooking off, how high would the pressure inside the can be before failure and to what effect?

    As I live in a state where I can only buy one box of ammo at a time and must give a thumbprint to do so, I am loathe to waste a can of ammo to find out.
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