Is my ammo still good?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by floritucky, Nov 27, 2020.

  1. floritucky

    floritucky Member

    Sep 23, 2012
    long story short. bad divorce 3 years ago and i had to put stuff in storage. thought it would be a couple months.... i just pulled it out after 3 years. it was climate controlled (though i dont know what temps) the bulk of my ammo was in that unit. mostly in ammo cans (though not all of it) but nothing was placed in the ammo cans to control humidity (i am in Florida, fyi). i have no idea what the shelf life for ammo is.

    secondly, i had 2 ammo cans that were actually in my parents garage (not climate controlled) that i didnt even know were there (I thought it was all in storage). so my question also pertains to 2 ammo cans that were not climate controlled for 3 years.

    we are talking rifle ammo, pistol ammo, shotgun, and .22

    safe to shoot? safe to trust to go bang? i really hope i didnt ruin it. a good penny worth and we all know the current ammo situation.

    I had to sell most (but not all) of my firearms at the time do to the situation and am trying to really get back into the hobby i enjoy.
    stillquietvoice likes this.
  2. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Member

    May 24, 2007
    Brandon, Florida
    Judge by looking at it.
    If the boxes aren't warped or humidity-damaged and nothing's corroded, it's good.
    I'm still shooting Russian ammunition packaged in the 60s and 80s, and I doubt it was stored any better.
  3. gunlaw

    gunlaw Member

    May 16, 2009
    If it looks good shoot it. I’ve shot WWI ammo. No problems. Last week shot some reloads from 2005.
    sparkyv and edwardware like this.
  4. EccentricInTexas

    EccentricInTexas Member

    Nov 12, 2020
    I have shot surplus ammo from 1930's with no real issues. It should be ok. About the only way it goes bad is when it gets wet.
    sparkyv likes this.
  5. hdwhit

    hdwhit Member

    Nov 16, 2015
    Salem, AR
    I re-loaded roughly 1,000 rounds of 223 Remington between 1981 and 1982. The bulk of it was stored in a garage in Northern Arkansas in ex-cigar cardboard boxes, the remainder was stored in Ziploc bags in a garage in North Texas.

    When, by 2014 (i.e. 32 years), I recovered sufficiently from a neurological condition, roughly 2% of the cases had suffered corrosion to the point I was afraid to shoot them. Every other case I have fired since has so far shot just fine - and despite the age of the powder, at between 92-98% of the velocity it had when it was loaded and test-fired in the 1980's.
    sparkyv likes this.
  6. pharmer

    pharmer Member

    Aug 30, 2004
    Santo las Nubes, Fl
    Climate controlled storage is generally between 52- 85 degrees F. Perfect for ammo storage. I'm shooting 15 y/o average ammo bought during "cheap" times. Shoot it and don't worry. I'll bet some sellers are sending 3 y/o ammo out routinely. Joe
    sparkyv likes this.
  7. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Member

    Jan 21, 2008
    I just ‘reclaimed’ a fair amount of old military 308 ammo. This is 1980’s vintage, in an unheated garage. I went through & wiped with an oily rag. For the handful with rough areas on the case I used fine steel wool.

    Was this time consuming, yes. I looked at it as easier & quicker that reloading 300 rounds. I have a few where I may just pull the bullets. These will be used for casual range shooting, previous of the same type have shot fine. The cases will be discarded.
  8. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    Hopewell Big Woods.
    Hot weather is not good for powders.. Shoot if no problem like hang fires.

    Bad powder will produce click/bang on firing. Hang fires. Had hang fires with very old 30-06 Gi surplus ammo.

    Pull bullets. Scrap powder & brass. Reuse modern primers & bullet. If powder has attacked base of bullet, clean with steel wool.
    Meeks36 likes this.
  9. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    South Western, OK
    Properly stored, small arms ammunition is good for 50 years or more. i'm shooting .30 caliber ball ammunition made during WWII: Every round fires.
    sparkyv, FL-NC and .308 Norma like this.
  10. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

    Jun 5, 2013
    Many of us have gone down that same rocky divorce road as well, it’s never fun and often very painful. I wish you the best and truly hope you’re able to put it all in the past and look forward to the future.

    When my ex moved out in 1996 I slowly replaced the space her car took up in my garage with tools and reloading stuff. Over the years it filled in quite nicely. :)

    My wife and I have been married for the past 17 years and we have three kids. Somehow she tolerates my shooting/gun habit and the kids’ motorcycle habits. I spent several years after the divorce sampling, but I’ve found out that she is the best person I’ve ever met ;).

    You’ll be fine to go out and shoot the ammo you stored... use the time at the range as another step to even greater tomorrow’s. :thumbup:

    Stay safe.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
    TomJ, bannockburn and .308 Norma like this.
  11. GAF

    GAF Member

    Feb 20, 2012

    Maybe 14 or 15 years ago I was given a few boxes of this. It had been stored in the attic of an old garage for who knows how long.
    Some round were corroded but not too many. I threw out the corroded rounds and shot the rest. Every round fired and it shot as well
    as the new ammo I had sitting on the bench.
    sparkyv, 1KPerDay and alsaqr like this.
  12. bdickens

    bdickens Member

    May 1, 2008
    Hockley , TX
    Ammunition is generally pretty robust.
    sparkyv likes this.
  13. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

    Jun 14, 2006
    Morgan County, Alabama
    Your ammo is bad. Send it all to me and I'll make sure it's disposed of safely! :evil:

    :D;) ........ :rofl:
  14. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

    Feb 10, 2016
    Fl panhandle
    My ammo lives in metal ammo cans in a job-box in a unheated/uncooled shed in Fl. Our ammo and explosives were stored in shipping containers in afg.- we could have stored meat in those things in the winter and steamed shrimp in them in the summer. No issues.
    shoobe01, sparkyv, Meeks36 and 2 others like this.
  15. Pat Riot
    • Contributing Member

    Pat Riot Contributing Member

    May 21, 2015
    Southern California
    Appearance will tell you a lot. If it looks okay without verdigris (green fuzz) it is probably just fine.
    sparkyv and bdickens like this.
  16. Palladan44

    Palladan44 Member

    Nov 7, 2020
    Ive done a lot of research on the topic, because ive wondered the same myself. Also have personal experience. Ammo when stored in ammo cans lasts a long long time. If it is also in the original packaging, and has been un handled, that is a big bonus. HEAT and MOISTURE are the 2 biggest enemies. In sealed ammo can, unless there was a flood i doubt moisture got to it. As long as it didnt get over 130 degrees farenheit for a consistent period.......youre fine. (Maybe on the dash of a hot black car parked in Tucson in summer could do it in theory)
    Heat like such can degrade primer compound and certain powders.

    Its important to leave Ammo untouched in the original packaging if youre not going to use it, or you risk tainting it with your salty fingerprints. (This is nipping at the bud here) (People who have seen green fingerprints on their ammo know what im talking about)
    Ammo that has been tainted by weather or handling can corrode to the point of not being able to be chambered in as little as a few years. Its important to keep "weathered" or "handled" ammo in the lineup so its fired next, because if it gets backlogged in your stockpile for many years it will corrode faster than Ammo that has not been touched, guaranteed. (Again, nipping at the bud)

    I use silica Gel dessicant in my ammo cans which helps absorb moisture in the can once you seal it.
    Buying silica gel packets is a little pricey if you have a big stock of ammo, so if you purchase the odorless cat litter, and put a tablespoon of this in a coffee filter, or small sock, and zip tie shut it serves the same function. Highly recommended to protect your ammo investment. Remember to do ammo can inspections (if youre going to peek in a long term storage) to do so during dry periods with low humidity (for me here in WI its in winter time) and change out the silica Gel packet if you want to maintain "optimal" storage conditions.
    Dont worry, your ammo is probably fine and will be for decades upon decades.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2020
    sparkyv likes this.
  17. Howland937

    Howland937 Member

    Mar 1, 2020
    South central Ohio
    I don't know when Federal stopped making their Lightning .22's, but I know it's been at least 15 years. I stocked up for a couple of rifles that love them, and still have a couple thousand. They're just as consistent and accurate as they ever were.

    I've got shotgun ammo that I know is 30 years old that still works fine.
    sparkyv likes this.
  18. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

    Aug 11, 2004
    Back on Puget Sound
    I just shot two boxes of old Remington Core-Lokt .30-06 (that I'd bought in the early '80s) when I went out to sight in my deer rifle. (The only reason I used it was I was actually caught a little short for hunting rounds, as I thought (1) my stock was better and (2) that the premium hunting rounds wouldn't be snapped up like the 9mm, .45 and .223/5.56 due to the panic buying and hoarding).

    The brass was a little tarnished, but the boxes displayed no sign of exposure to moisture or excessive humidity, primers looked fine.

    It all went bang.

    My local Sportsman's Warehouse had four boxes of ought-6 on the shelves today, Norma and Hornady premium stuff for 47 and 49 bucks a box. I had this vision of some old dude with his crusty old Garand shooting off a few rounds at $2.45 a pop...
    sparkyv and mjsdwash like this.
  19. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

    Oct 2, 2016
    Unless the ammo is corroded, you're fine. Shoot it. I left several pounds of 4895 and Winchester LR primers in my Dad's not climate controlled metal shed for 15 years. It all worked fine. My uncle gave me some 30-30 ammo from the 1950s that he bought at an estate sale. Out of 3 boxes, two rounds didn't fire on the first try, and both fired on the second try. As long it wasn't submerged in water, it will go bang.
    sparkyv likes this.
  20. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

    May 1, 2013
    Short of being stored underwater or in oil there isn't much that will completely kill ammo. Look at the ammo. Look for deformations in the case, corrosion, anything of what ammo shouldn't look like. If it was stored in cardboard boxes, those can be a great moisture indicator. Take a look at the box itself. Is it rusty inside? That is another moisture indicator. I have fired ammo that was decades old that was stored properly and kept dry. I have also thrown out ammo because I found it in a dripping, soggy box at the bottom of a truck tool box.
    sparkyv likes this.
  21. Ru4real

    Ru4real Member

    Apr 2, 2017
    Smell is the best way to tell. Bad ammunition has a distinct odor and you will know instantly it is bad.
  22. cslinger

    cslinger Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Nashville, TN
    The evil in me wants to tell you that it is extremely dangerous and I will dispose of properly for you. :evil:

    The Catholic school kid full of pesky morals and PITA ethics will tell you he has shot fairly crappy WWI ammo with the most common “problem” being a short hangfire or three.

    I simply cannot imagine you will see ANY issues with your ammo and anything out of the ordinary will not be anything dangerous. (A little weak, a little hot, a dud, a SHORT hangfire etc.) and I honestly don’t think you will have any of that.

    Short answer, your are good to go. But I am available to “properly dispose” of your ammo should you like. :)
    sparkyv likes this.
  23. caribou

    caribou Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    North West Alaska
    I wish I could keep enough ammo to have some 'old ammo'....LOL!!
    sparkyv and Howland937 like this.
  24. 3Crows

    3Crows Member

    Apr 22, 2018
    Wichita, Kansas
    It is fine.
  25. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

    Jan 14, 2011
    thats the normal price for the premium stuff give or take right? Its been a while, but the 8mm I shoot runs close to that. I only ask because I was at a Sportsman's warehouse a few weeks ago and prices were decent, though stock was near not existent, except .40 s/w.
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