Thursday, March 2, 2017

Your Precious "Metals": Storing Ammo

I believe in preparedness. Everything from food storage, to education, to spiritual preparedness. So naturally I store ammunition. I shoot on a regular basis and so I want to have ammo stored for emergencies and for day-to-day training and shooting. This can be a big investment. It can be your “precious metal.”
But to rely on these survival tactics you must:
Determine what you need to store.
Acquire those amounts confidentially
Store it to last as long as possible
Let me start out by saying ammo, does, in fact, have a shelf life. But unlike food, that has a shelf life measured in days or weeks, ammo’s shelf life is measured in years and decades.
It all depends on how you store it. If you store it right, ammo will easily outlive you, probably outlive your kids, and possibly even your grandkids. In the right conditions, modern ammo will last centuries.
But if you store your ammo improperly, degradation starts day one. Slowly at first, but over a few years or decades, you may find your ammo useless. And even if it still fires, the accuracy will likely be jeopardized.
Modern materials, design improvements, and automated manufacturing processing have helped to improve the shelf life of today’s ammo. And that’s great news for those of us who started stockpiling ammo over the last couple of decades.
When we talk about older ammo, I’m primarily referencing ammo that was manufactured pre-1930’s. After the 1930’s smokeless powder was introduced.
Older bullets had a much shorter shelf life unless they were meticulously stored, and regardless they are quickly reaching the end of their reliable shelf lives. Today, the risk vs. reward of shooting older ammo may not be worth it. And the risk vs. reward equation keeps getting worse as each year passes.
The bottom line is that your ammo stockpile is an investment in your future. You want to protect this investment as long as humanly possible. So let’s learn how to do that.
Properly storing your ammunition is not a complicated process. You just need to follow a couple simple storage principles and take meaningful action.
If you keep your ammo in a:
• Cool
• Dry
• Dark
place, you win.
You want to keep your ammunition cool. Not cold but cool. You also want to avoid storage locations that are hot.
Actually, constant high temps or consistent low temps are not the issue. It’s the extreme temperature swings that are the real concern.
The integrity of ammo is compromised if it’s subjected to extreme temperature cycles. It’s hard on ammo to go from 100 degrees to 0 degrees back to 100 degrees, year after year.
Why is this bad? These temperature swings tend to invite humidity. And as we’ll discuss shortly, humidity (and politicians) are the real threat to your ammunition.
That’s why garages, attics, unheated cabins, and vehicles are such poor ammo storage locations.
Now it’s highly dependent on your local climate, but for most of us, these storage locations move through extremes temperature seasonally. In winter, overnight temps can reach sub zero degrees in garages, attics, etc. And in the summer, north of 100 F.
Ammo stored in these conditions for just a couple of years won’t hurt it much. Your ammo won’t typically go bad in a matter of a couple of years. But if left in these locations over a series of decades the temperatures swings will take a significant toll on your ammunition’s shelf life.
So where should your ammo be stored?
Traditionally, basements are popular ammo storage locations.
Why? Because basements are located below ground level. Ground temperatures, change much less than air temperatures. So while air temps will change from 0 degrees to 100 degrees seasonally, ground temps 10 feet below the surface tend to stay in a range of 20 degrees.
So for example, if soil temps 10 feet underground averages 50 degrees, it may rise to 60 degrees in the summer and drop to 40 degrees in winter. This is significantly less variation than air temps.
And at 30 feet below the surface, temperatures swings become negligible. At this depth, ground temps stay constant regardless of the air temps .
So we can take advantage of the earth and support the “constant cool” principle of ammunition storage.
That’s why basements tend to be popular ammo storage locations, but they have their downsides too.
Moisture, or humidity, is even more dangerous to your ammunition than temperature swings.
Moisture is corrosive to metal. And ammo’s is made of metal (casings, primers, and the bullet). Hence, moisture exposure will eventually rust your ammo.
It will begin with small amounts of surface rust, which you can sand off, and your ammo will still fire, but even this may affect your ammo’s accuracy. And if this rust is allowed to fester it will eventually (over several decades) render your ammunition useless.
So you need to control moisture exposure to ammunition.
But guess which part of our homes tend to have the highest humidity levels? You’ve probably guessed it, basements.
When massive flooding occurs, which area will get wet first? Your basement.
So from a moisture standpoint, basements present a bit of a problem. However, there are solutions to help manage these risks.
First, if you do store your ammo in a basement, don’t set it on the floor. Keep it in cabinets or racks. The higher, the better.
That way if your basement does flood, your ammo will likely remain above the water level. And if your basement does flood to the ceiling, then you have other problems too.
Another way to manage the increased humidity in basement air is to get a good dehumidifier.
The third way to manage humidity is to store your ammo in rubber gasket military surplus ammo cans. The key is to ensure the rubber gaskets are in good shape and create an air tight seal when latched.
Essentially, you want complete control over the air inside the ammo can. When you isolate and control the ammo can air, you can now control the humidity.
This can be done with silica gel desiccants. Toss one of these desiccant packets into each air controlled ammo can and they will remove the moisture from the air.
The surrounding ammo can air that touches your precious ammo will be arid with little to no moisture.
UV light is also a destructive force. Over long periods of exposure, the sun’s light will break down nearly everything. You’ve seen this process with vehicles. Leaving a vehicle out in the sun for years will deteriorate the exterior metal and paint. Now compare that vehicle to one that’s stored in a garage when not in use.
Over extended periods of time, UV ray exposure will take a toll on your ammo. The good news is most indoor storage locations will do just fine.
So a closet, pantry, basement are all protected from UV rays. Plus, the inside of your ammo cans will be dark as well. So if you store your ammo in a windowless location in ammo cans, UV rays will not cause you any ammo problems.
Good ammo storage take organization and discipline. Remember you’re potentially stockpiling your ammo for decades. So it’s important to stay organized and maintain control of your ammo storage efforts.
It’s not set and forget. You need a maintenance process.
First, you should label your ammo cans. You want to identify what’s in your ammo can without opening it. Labels will help quickly inventory your stockpile and save you time in an emergency. If you need ammo right now for your 22 survival rifle, you don’t want to open several ammo cans to find which ones has your 22 in it.
Create a desiccant check schedule. Every few months, open up each ammo can and check your desiccants. Create an email reminder, write it on a calendar, or whatever, just make sure you check your ammo storage regularly.
Plan your storage
Decide on a cool, dry, dark and safe location.
Put a bit of thought into your ammo storage site based on what we discussed earlier in this article. The best advice I can provide is where NOT to store your ammo. Don’t store your ammo in:
• An unheated/cooled garage
• An unheated/cooled attic
• Your vehicle
Purchase high-quality ammo cans and put all your ammo into them.
I recommend you dedicate each ammo can to only one caliber size for sound organizational practices. Don’t mix your ammo. Then label each ammo can so you know exactly what’s inside without having to open it.
Add fresh desiccants to each ammo can.
Create a master schedule and reminders to check your ammo can’s desiccants.
And finally, it’s a good idea to keep all your ammo cans stashed away in a large gun safe. That way everything is double secure from intruders, fires, or kids.
Storing ammunition is also a hedge against prices, shortages, and just rising prices.
Semper Paratus
Check 6