Old Ammo

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Brubz, May 17, 2022.

  1. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

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    One caveat:
    A gun is a poor storage place for ammo. I've had ammo fail in less than a year, if left continuously in the gun. Personally,
    I'd conjecture the powder gets rattled out of the primer. But however it happens, ammo failure, IME, has been primarily
    caused by it's constantly being in the gun. Shoot your carry ammo, after a couple months.

    One guy I know kept the same ammo in his carry guns since the 70s. When his nephew and I went to shoot these old revolvers,
    we cycled 11 rounds, repeatedly, between both guns, and every single round failed to discharge.
     
  2. TRX

    TRX Member

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    I still have part of a box of 7.65x53 Mauser, dated 1891. Last time I shot some of it was 1994-ish. Still worked fine then, more than a century after manufacture. [note to self: it has been too long since the old Model 91 showed the tacticool range rats who's boss]

    Chlorate primers will last forever (as far as we know) even at extremes of temperature, unlike many non-corrosive primers. Potassium chlorate would be the perfect priming compound if not for that "corrosion" thing.

    The production of most powders involves processing with nitric acid. After that step, the powder is washed several times to remove the acid. Leftover acid breaks down the powder; that's the "sharp" smell you get from a can of bad powder. How much washing is done varies. It's not commercially feasible to remove *all* the acid, so there's always a point where the manufacturer decides it's washed enough. The acid is recovered and recycled. Chemical reaction speeds mostly follow temperature; the cooler the place the powder is stored, the longer it will take before the breakdown becomes serious. The powder is *always* breaking down after manufacture; the washing and cool temperatures just slow down the degradation. But even then, good-quality powder can still perform within original limits for multiple decades.
     
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  3. 1976B.L.Johns.

    1976B.L.Johns. Member

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    I think you meant 1981...
     
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  4. allisd17

    allisd17 Member

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    This must be one of those "YMMV" things. With milsurp ammo, I can't think of a single instance where I've had a non-corrosive primer fail, even going back to the 1940s. On the other hand, I have had LARGE numbers of failures with corrosive Berdan primers from the 1930s to the early 1960s.
     
  5. Paul7

    Paul7 Member

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    My understanding is our military still uses .50 cal. ammo from WWII, and BTW, M2s from before that.
     
  6. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    That stuff is incredibly dangerous. Send it to me for proper disposal before someone gets hurt.

    Joking aside, I never thought I would see 35Rem at the price it is now. I load my own ammo thankfully. Otherwise I would have had to drastically switch my hunting style by now.
     
  7. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

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    Back in the early '90s, we found some two boxes of military .45 ACP ball in a relative's basement after he died. His basement was so dry, we found an actual petrified mouse down there. You could read even the small print on the boxes. After some research, we found the lot had been produced in the late '40s. Little bit of green on the jackets and some staining on the brass, but it looked of recent manufacture. Wish I'd thought to take photos. My cousin and I shot it all up -- and every round ignited perfectly, and was reasonably accurate.
     
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  8. WheelGunMan

    WheelGunMan Member

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    I haven't found any 35Rem anywhere. I reload for my handguns and have decided to get a set of dies for my .35 and my .308. Luckily I
    have saved all the brass that I shot up.
     
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  9. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    Saving brass is always a good idea. I have enough bullets, powder, and even primers to make about 100 rounds of 35Rem. But no brass left. My focus this year is to get set up to load 9mm, 5.56, and maybe 38 S&W or 38 Special.
     
  10. 792mauser

    792mauser Member

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    It does degrade depending on conditions.

    I had some Turk 8mm mauser that was pushing 3500fps on the chrono. Almost had to beat the bolt open with a hammer to open the action on a couple of occasions.

    Broke those (2800) 2 cases down and dropped the powder about 20ish~ percent and got some fine plinking ammo.

    But Jesus that stuff was some HARSH recoiling ammo in a full length 98/22.
     
  11. 792mauser

    792mauser Member

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    And I've fired some 45-70 blackpowder ammunition through a trapdoor that was made before we had 45 states (1895).

    Some (3) 38LC from 1913 just to see if they still worked. Yes-ish. Really bad hang fires.
     
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  12. crstrode

    crstrode Member

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    Yes.
     
  13. Neo-Luddite

    Neo-Luddite Member

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    You don't want to bet your safety on old ammo, and you -do- need to listen for a soft 'pop' report, keep the weapon pointed down range for a few moments and clear it to ensure 1) not a delayed hangfire 2) or a projectile pushed into the barrel by a good primer but damaged powder. I really would bet ammo as you described will be just fine. I've personally shot old paper shotshells stored for decades in an old coffee can in an outbuilding and had no problems.
     
  14. jdsingleshot

    jdsingleshot Member

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    Nope. He said, "Still worked fine then, more than a century after manufacture."
     
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  15. 1976B.L.Johns.

    1976B.L.Johns. Member

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    Yup!
    I stand corrected.
     
  16. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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    Recently i fired some .30 caliber ball ammunition made in 1945. Every round fired.
     
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  17. 230RN
    • Contributing Member

    230RN Please Read the Preamble to the Bill Of Rights

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    A buddy of mine and I shot up a box of .38 S&W ammo with fulminate primers of which about 15% were duds or hangfires.

    Main thing to worry about is weak or no report which would indicate a bullet stuck in the barrel. Hatcher reports, in "Barrel Obstructions" that the problem here is that a regular round fired with a stuck bullet is suddenly stopped, resulting in either a "ringed" barrel as the two bullets impacted and spread out, or a ruptured barrel.

    But he also reports an incident where several bullets were stuck in a revolver (with that barrel gap) with no harm and shot normally after all the bullets were removed.

    He also reports that in the Ordnance Department's experimentation, occasionally a bullet would not make it out of the barrel of the test rifle, with no sound at all, not even the hiss of escaping gas, and the staff wondered if all that pressure was bottled up in the gun.

    Hatcher reports that they gingerly tapped the bolt handle open with a long stick and it opened up with a loud bang and smartly threw the empty shell out. The experiment had to be repeated several times, with, as Hatcher noted, "a lot of fun opening the bolt each time."

    Terry, 230RN

    REF:
    The Notebook, Ch 7, "Experiments with barrel obstructions," pp 180 ff.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2022
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