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How long will modern ammo last?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by SilentStalker, Oct 24, 2019.

  1. SilentStalker

    SilentStalker Member

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    So, with all of the vintage ammo threads and since I didn’t seem to get any answers I decided to start a thread on modern ammo storage. Assuming that you keep modern powders and primers in a good storage location how long would you suspect the ammo to last? I’ve read on here that some people are having issues with corrosion in less than 20-30 years. I’d suspect in ammo cans in a good storage location that ammo would last far longer than 20-30 years but since we can’t predict the future I don’t know. Anyone got any ideas on how long you could realistically store and use modern day ammo?
     
  2. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    I’d say that it all depends...:)

    And most of the variables you cannot control.

    I hope to not have any powder or primers last more than five years, if you know what I mean...;)

    It’s like food. New is good. Stale is bad. Some canned goods last for a very long time. Some is like fresh bread. The only way to tell if it’s spoiled is to monitor it. The only way to do that is keep it unloaded, in the container.

    Unless they look like some of @Slamfire’s photos!:D
     
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  3. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    I am in the process of shooting up commercial ammunition that is 25 - 30 years old that I have kept stored in military surplus ammo cans. Most of those years it has been stored inside the houses we have lived in. The original cardboard boxes and the ammunition in them are in like new condition and appearance. Since I have not touched the brass cases they are untarnished. All of it so far has gone bang the first time. In fact I have some PMC .223 ammunition that not only looks like new but is also delivering excellent accuracy. I am keeping the temperature in the vault between 60 - 70 degrees.

    My intention is too shoot up all of my Clinton era stuff and replace it with fresh factory stuff. I label the contents on the outside of the can, toss in a few silica gel packets, make sure the lid seals when I close it and forget about it. The only thing I ran into is I had a batch of ammo that I reloaded with about 10 year old Winchester Small Pistol primers not fire the first time they were shot. 2nd hit with the firing pin they went off. I don’t use my reloads for self-defense so no harm but a bit unnerving all the same.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
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  4. Larry Ashcraft

    Larry Ashcraft Moderator Staff Member

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    I have some 1952 Lake City 30 Carbine ammo that still works just fine. I also have some blue paper Peters 3" magnum ammo, it also works fine, and smells so good after firing.

    I also have some 1973 Dynamit Nobel large rifle primers I have been using for years. Every one has gone bang.
     
  5. John Joseph

    John Joseph Member

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    I'd say it not only depends on storage conditions, but also on the components. Powder that looses stability will fail faster than powder that is inherently more stable. Good virgin brass will probably last longer than defective brass that's prone to brittleness and/or corrosion.
    Personally I avoid keeping ammo longer than 40 years under ideal conditions, but even at age 40, I've had .22lrs and 12 ga that don't appear to have lost any steam.
    VMMV of course!
     
  6. Scooter22

    Scooter22 Member

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    Well you got me thinking. That could be good or bad. Obviously there are variables on how it was stored and made. So if it was stored and made properly I'm thinking the average lifetime based on today. IIRC the average life expectancy is somewhere around 80 for men. I'd think someone asking this question is in their 20s or later. Just a guess. So if you start putting ammo away then it will be 60 some years old when YOU are old. I have ammo from the 1930s that is in great shape and shoots fine. I check it like Slamfire points out. Some I download 10% to check the powder, case and to reduce recoil. Mainly 8x57. Sooo thats my take. BUT! There is a patent for manufacturing primers that will degrade with time and stop working. I have a copy saved somewhere. We never know if we may get some manufactures to go that route from anti gun pressure.
     
  7. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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  8. TikkaShooter

    TikkaShooter Member

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    I have a bunch of WWII 45 ACP and .30 Cal. Every year or so, I shoot some and it still goes bang. About 15-20 years ago when it was inexpensive, I bought 7.62N, Hirt, Venezuelan, SA, EG etc and they still go bang. However, civilian ammo is not sealed the same as military ammo.
    Recently, I have fired 9mm and .357 reloads from the late 70s or early 80s and no F2F; IMO, with old ammo, YMMV.
     
  9. John Joseph

    John Joseph Member

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    Good to know, but, with milsurp ammo storage conditions can sufffer the gamut from desert to tropical to arctic conditions, perhaps even all three!
    That makes it a roll of the dice even with milspec sealing unless you know how and where it's been stored.
     
  10. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    If its properly stored, a really long time. I got a case of WW2 45 ACP in about 2000 that worked just fine. I have seen (and used) ammunition and explosives that were older than me in afg, and didn't have any issues, except that some of the old C4 had lost a lot of its flexibility. It still blew up fine.
     
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  11. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I have non modern manufactured ammunition that was made before I was born and it still works.

    That said, I have also had “duds” with ammunition that was made in the same year I tried to fire it. To me that’s more than likely a manufacturing issue.
     
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  12. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I've always been under the impression that if stored properly it's likely to last a very long time. Sure hope that's true or I stand to loose some money on my defense ammo. I cycle it through but slowly.
     
  13. Lycidas Janwor

    Lycidas Janwor Member

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    A long time. I have a friend who actually suggested that as ammo ages, just like a fine wine, it gets better. Not saying I agree with this but if the ammo is stored in a cool, dry place and is not bothered, it will keep for a long, long time. Years, decades, maybe even centuries.

    Oh, and I suspect that ammo manufacturers will say that their ammo is only good for 10 years or so because it benefits them financially when you buy more ammo.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2019
  14. GAF

    GAF Member

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    I was given some .22 ammo, western brand ammo from the late 50`s early 60`s. it had been stored in the attic of an old garage for who knows how long. I pick out the few corroded round and threw them away. Shot the rest and never had one problem . It was accurate and all of it fired.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
  15. LaneP

    LaneP Member

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    I'm willing to bet multiple decades, particularly if stored in a cool environment and sealed against moisture and humidity intrusion. I'm far from the expert here but from all I've read, heat is the number one enemy of smokeless powder stability.
     
  16. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    I've got some .22 ammo from the late 50's early 60's. It has less fail to fires than modern Remington Thunderduds and Federal bulk.

    It was properly stored in hot attics and damp basements over a few moves. lol
     
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  17. Neo-Luddite

    Neo-Luddite Member

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    I regularly shoot ammo I purchased 25 years ago and some of that was already aged by several decades. Storage conditions are key. My other habit is to stock similar rounds from different sources should problems become apparent with age. You will likely reap what you so down the road...bargain basement ammo with shoddy quality control (xwon't ever get better. I have been told over the years and do believe that sealed Soviet ammo though corrosive was made to withstand pretty harsh storage conditions. I have also heard that corrosive primers may outlive their non-corrosive brethren. This is something to contemplate as well. Maybe I'll pass the word down through the generations to get the great (x5 or so) grandkids to test the theory out on our familial stockpile. 1) Diversify the sources you buy from 2) store well 3) test fire some on occasion.
     
  18. george29

    george29 Member

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    In 1978 I found Grandads WW1 era 1911 along with the ammo, it all went bang.
     
  19. Jeff H

    Jeff H Member

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    I still have some WW2 vintage AP rounds. Every time I pull them out, they go bang. I'll just go out on a limb and say that properly cared for ammo should be good for 50-100 years, no problem.
     
  20. Meeks36

    Meeks36 Member

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    I have a sneaky feeling that the older ammo will be around alot longer then modern. Like the saying goes they don't make it like they used to.
     
  21. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

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    past results does not guarantee future performance

    anecdotes of instances where antique ammo still works today may have little bearing on modern ammo, which may have different chemistry due to environmental and other influences, such as lead free primers, etc.

    i'd be interested in a test that involved shooting some of a batch of ammo over 2-3 years and watching the change to velocity. i wonder if the SD would open up and that might indicate some change over time in the powder/primer
     
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  22. Good Ol' Boy

    Good Ol' Boy Member

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    I've shot some of my dads Winchester .22 ammo from the 50-60's and not had a problem.

    He has some 9mm, .38 and .357 from the early 80's that I'm not as sure about.


    I think part of it has to do with the shape it's in. All of his ammo has been kept in an uncontrolled environment for decades.
     
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