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What is the shelf life of ammunition?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by heavyshooter, Oct 16, 2008.

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  1. heavyshooter

    heavyshooter Member

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    When should I clear out my ammo box? Does ammunition have an expiration date?
     
  2. Fat Boy

    Fat Boy Member

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    planning to stock up for a long run???

    I don't know the answer; I have pulled the trigger on ammo that was several years old and all if it fired; on the other hand, I have had squib loads and misfires with brand new stuff recently....maybe reloading is the answer?
     
  3. planetmobius

    planetmobius Member

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    Ammo if stored properly has a shelf life of decades, if not longer. If you look in Shotgun news or other similar publications you can still find WWII vintage ammo for sale. I have purchased and fired some of this with no problems. I have also fired commercial ammo that is decades old with no greater instance of misfires or problems than current production. Some of it acquired from other people with unknown storage histories. I think the key is storage and I reccomend a cool and dry place.
     
  4. Dave R

    Dave R Member

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    That's it. There are lots of people shooting lots of suplus ammo that is decades old. Including me :D
     
  5. possum

    possum Member

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    until you can get to the range and shoot it.:)
     
  6. wally

    wally Member

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    I've shot plenty of ammo that was 50+ years old. Other that a few misfires (often go on the second hit) they still work. Not a good first choice for carry gun, but if TSHTF, quantity has a quality of its very own.

    --wally.
     
  7. Crazy Fingers

    Crazy Fingers member

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    I have plenty of old 8mm mauser ammo that was made in the early 30s. I have never had one failure on it. This kind of stuff will last forever if properly stored.

    However, some of the newer "Lead Free" primers seem to have a shelf life problem. This has been documented in 5.7x28 SS195LF ammunition.
     
  8. SteelyNirvana

    SteelyNirvana Member

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    I have some .22lr Winchester super X (Yellow box) ammo that was made I'd say in the early to mid 60's that my granddad had. I've fired about 100 rounds off here and there with no misfires or anything. The old stuff does seem to be a bit more powerful and louder than todays .22's.
     
  9. RONSTAR

    RONSTAR Member

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    Im sure you'll expire before your ammo does.
     
  10. yeti

    yeti Member

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    The 'trace' of WWII 30-06 tracer ammo isn't quite up to snuff any longer, but other than that it always seems to go bang.
     
  11. qajaq59

    qajaq59 Member

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    You'll notice that most of us are talking about military ammo. I've never really kept any of my reloads much more then a year before I shot them, so I can't say how long those would last. My guess is that it would be quite a while though.
     
  12. moooose102

    moooose102 Member

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    IF it is stored correctly, i would say a shelf life is 50-70 years. if it is stored under perfect conditions, ( primers and bullets sealed, and in a ammo can with a good seal, and in a fairly stable, normal temperature), you could get good results up to 100 years. but, if it has been in the back of your pick up truck in a tool box just bouncing around, in the hot sun, cold winters etc., maybe as little as 5-10 years. now if it was just thrown out in the weather, not protected at all, i would only give it a year or so, if that. just my opinion, as i have no facts on any of this. but i have shot my share of really old ammo, and it always goes bang. maybe not with the authority it once had, but still it does fire.
     
  13. 32winspl

    32winspl Member

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    When we have a get-together at an Uncle's place, we generally get the kids to shoot at 12ga hulls from about 50'. Our kids did it. We did it. The rifle is a WWll M1Carbine, and it's still shooting WWll surplus ammo.
    No failures to go bang yet.
     
  14. csmkersh

    csmkersh Member

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    planetmobius is correct. It depends on how its stored. I've shot .45ACP that the Army had in storage for 20 plus years and no problems. I've also shot .45ACP that was half that age but store in hot bunkers and you could see the bullet headed down range and plow up the dirt 10 yards short of your POA.

     
  15. 6_gunner

    6_gunner Member

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    Ammo will last almost indefinitely if stored properly. The surplus 7.62x54R ammo that I use in my Nagant dates to the 1970s or before, and I've never had any problems with it. Of course, that stuff spent most of its life in a sealed can. I've used .22 LR ammo and shotgun shells that have set unprotected on a shelf for twenty or more years with few problems.
     
  16. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

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    I read a very interesting and long article about a guy who's buying 45 year old Chinese ammo. from the Albanian's Warsaw Pact stockpiles (after NATO gave them $ to destroy it) for $20/thousand rounds and then shipping it as new to the Afghan army in fullfillment of a U.S. Army contract.

    The article stated that NATO standards require ammo. stockpiles to be tested after 10 years. The testing consists of test firing a statistical sampling of rounds through a chronograph to ensure the ammo. is still achieving it's rated velocity. Ammo stocks must be tested again every 10 years after.

    Apparently, just because it goes bang, doesn't mean that it is 100% up to snuff.

    Turns out, much of the 45 year old commie block ammo. was significantly degraded and the Afghan army doesn't want their lives depending on it.

    The Feds are investigating the guy (from FL) and have nixed him from future contracts.

    Turns out that Com. Bock ammo. is "non-standard" in the U.S. system and the army doesn't have "technical standards" for the procurement and testing of it.

    The same guy is now peddling the rest of his stockpile at gun shows and on the internet.

    His posted on THR last week and the mods. spotlighted him and deleted his threads.
     
  17. foghornl

    foghornl Member

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    I haver shot some WWII vintage stuff in my 1911's. Every last round of it went Bang! the first time.
     
  18. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Member

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    Stored in a dry place at a reasonable temp, ammo, in most cases will outlast it's owner.
    I'm shooting 45ACP ammo that was loaded in 1942-43. It has lost about 25 FPS muzzle velocity but it's interesting that it is the most accurate 45 ammo I've ever shot.

    I routinely shoot reloaded ammo that is over 15 years old and it's as good as the day I loaded it.
     
  19. Pat-inCO

    Pat-inCO Member

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    Properly stored, not much over fifty years. Improperly stored, thirty to sixty days.
     
  20. Phil DeGraves

    Phil DeGraves Member

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    I shot some .45 ACP ammo that was from WW1. Had a headstamp date of 1917. About 90% fired. But I had to clean my gun immediately afterward because they used corrosive primers.
    So the shelf life is directly proportional to yours (life, that is).
     
  21. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    It really depends on the chemicals the primer is made from, and the composition of the smokeless powder.

    Some of the 'green' ammo primers for example only lasted a couple years. While World War 1 ammo with primers of mercury fulminate would still fire today (as long as the powder was not exposed to the atmosphere.)

    Lead styphnate has proven very reliable as well. It is still currently used in many primers.

    I would steer clear of less proven primers on some ammo for the purposes of stocking up.

    There has been a move towards a number of different exotic priming compounds in the last 10 or so years. Some more reliable than others. Almost none of them have been used long enough to provide real world assurances of thier life expectancy.
    Some are preserved more with binders etc rather than a non hydroscopic primer chemical itself. Meaning some rounds of the exact same thing could last decades and others only a handful of years depending on some random circumstances and how a batch mixes.
    Some priming chemicals are much more promising.

    So the life expectancy of a lot of modern ammo is still questionable.
     
  22. polizei36

    polizei36 Member

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    CCW ammo...then to storeage...(consideration)

    You bring up a good point Moooose102.

    Here is another point to keep in mind. We carry SD ammo loaded in our CCW’s on a daily basis. Some of us unload that ammo and store it depending upon how the situation dictates (range time HP to ball ammo, change to a heavier bullet for winter conditions and vis-a-versa) .
    The ammo in this case is subjected to varying hot & cold temperatures on a daily basis. Both In and out of the house, room temperature to extreme temperature conditions as well as varying degrees of body temperatures which translate into the firearm and ammunition being exposed to humidity from your natural sweat.

    So If you carried your ammo once and are now storing it for a rainy day the shelf life could have been degraded due to some of the conditions mentioned above.

    IMHO only. :D

    Dave
     
  23. EShell

    EShell Member

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    I've got a lot of ammo I loaded myself between 1985 and now and it's all been shooting fine. I shot 100 rounds of .38 special yesterday that was loaded in '95.

    As stated above, it's all about proper storage.
     
  24. orionengnr

    orionengnr Member

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    About ten-fifteen years ago, I bought a 1600-rd wooden box of 9mm made in Sweden/Norway/somesuch in, IIRC, 1944s (through Shotgun News).

    I still have about 1/4 of it. Every round I've dropped the hammer on has fired just fine. Compared to today's prices, it was a bargain. Wish I'd have bought about 10x as much as I did... :rolleyes:
     
  25. Gun Slinger

    Gun Slinger member

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    Keep it in a controlled environment (most homes with AC and heat will so) sealed in ammo cans with a large dessicant packet and it'll last near forever. I have a ammo can full of .45ACP 230FMJ that was initially stored away by my grandfather in the late 1940's (looks very good, no corrrosion, clean and bright) and it still gives me 825 f.p.s. over the chronograph when I bother to test it.

    Considering that it is just a bit over 60 years old, I am convinced that in another 60 years it'll still be just fine if left the way it was stored.
     
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