Friday, September 19, 2014

Ammo Storage: Keep You Powder Dry!

Storing ammunition has been accomplished for centuries. Preparing for war anciently has been a lesson in “ammo” storage. Modern day ammunition has its own set of challenges for long term or short term storage.
Almost every person with a gun has ammunition storage of some kind. Whether it’s a couple of boxes or several cases storage is similar.
I’ve always had a “stash” of ammo. I have done this for many, many years way before the word “prepper” existed. I always felt I needed some ammunition put up for a rainy day. Now, it’s become an obsession with some. I was grateful to have what I have when the availability dropped and the prices soared. In having that storage I didn’t go crazy like some did. My only fear was that I would go through my stored ammo and have to start again. Fortunately I was able to keep up with my shooting regime and didn’t have to dip into the stash.
In a previous post I talked about the amount of ammunition I felt you should store. Having a ridiculous amount stored may save time and money, but I don’t think I need 10,000 rounds for my arsenal. (see blog Ammunition Storage: If you have to ask, buy more! 9/17/2014)
Here are some tips to help in the storage process.
Avoid Extreme Heat: Modern, factory-loaded rounds are designed to function reliably in conditions ranging from the arctic to the tropics. Therefore as long as you prevent exposure to extreme heat, high humidity and temperature fluctuations, your ammunition can be expected to last 10 years. In fact, as long as you store your ammo in normal room temperatures and low humidity your ammo can last for decades.
I was once at an Air Force where a bunker was being destroyed. I had the opportunity to enter the bunker that had not been entered in some time. We found a box of .308 rounds that were dated 1942. We took them out to the range and shot them through an M60. They shot flawlessly. They were stored in crates, in an underground bunker where it was a constant temperature. They were fine.
The breakdown in ammunition starts at about 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of the time you won’t see these temperatures. But in the trunk of a car you may. The case and bullets will be OK but the chemical properties of the gunpowder and the priming mixture can be affected by extreme (Over 100 degrees) temperatures. If you continue to expose your ammo to this it could make the ammo go “click” rather than “bang”.
Theoretically, extreme cold could eventually impact ammunition, but it isn’t worth your concern. High heat kills otherwise good ammo, and that’s the primary thing to avoid in regards to temperature. Rapid fluctuations could, however, also prove detrimental over time. So if you’re among the many Americans storing shells in garages, you should reconsider. During the Civil War they had a saying “Keep your powder dry”. Fluctuating temperature and high humidity can introduce moisture into your powder. If you have a basement that smells musty, it’s probably not a good place to store ammo.
If the case starts to become corroded it can change it’s shape. This could weaken the case and make it unsafe to shoot. Don’t use ammunition that has signs of corrosion.
Store your ammo off the floor in a sealed container. I like metal or plastic ammo cans that have a seal. Keeping a dehumidifier near your ammunition is a good idea.
Federal has a good answer to the storage problem. They sell a .22 Long Rifle Fresh Fire Pack. It has 325 rounds packed in a nitrogen-sealed can that locks out moisture. Then there is many Russian-made surplus “spam cans.” The steel cans are sealed against air and water. I store most of my ammunition in surplus ammo cans. They are metal and have a rubber seal in the lid. You can improve the seal by applying a very light coat of WD-40. The WD in WD-40 stands for water displacement. If you decide on surplus ammo cans make sure the cans you buy have good seals.
When you look at advances in chemical technology you see some of the greatest advances in ammunition and gunpowder. It has improved even from 10 years years ago. Our Grandparents did not have that type of progress.
If you can store your ammunition in a cool, dry place you should be able to store your ammunition for your Grandchildren and beyond.
Keep your powder dry!
Semper Paratus
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