With the high cost of ammunition, it makes sense to stock up whenever there’s a deal or sale. But while most munitions can last for decades, ammunition does have a shelf life. And if not stored properly, your stash can can get ruined quickly.
3 Factors Affecting Your Ammunition
Below are three key factors to consider when evaluating the ammunition you have on hand.
Many of us head to the range, then toss the ammunition in the back of the truck to head to work. That can lead the ammunition to get a lot of dings and dents. Even slight damage and wear and tear can compromise ammunitions’ integrity and cause issues.
Instead, place your ammo back in its case after shooting, and place it up front where it cannot get knocked around it minimize damage.
One of the main components in gunpowder today is nitroglycerin, which can be negatively affected by extreme temperatures, especially heat spikes. Most ammunition can perform just fine in hot climates–many are designed to perform in desert war zones, after all–but storage is a different issue. Keeping your ammunition in a hot a car while you run errands means your ammo is subjected to extreme temperatures. That can affect the ammo’s accuracy and even make it dangerous to use.
If you live in a hot area, minimize extra trips and keep your ammunition in a temperature-controlled area at all times to extend its shelf life.
Manufacturer's Recommended Shelf Life
Some ammunition can shoot reliably after 30 years in storage, but some manufacturers strongly caution against it. For example, Remington says explicitly that the shelf life of their ammunition is ten years, and extreme temperatures can shorten that life span.
When purchasing ammunition, make sure you note the manufacturer’s recommended shelf life.
Moisture and Humidity
One of the biggest issues affecting ammunition is corrosion on the shell casings. The moisture reacts with the casings, making it dangerous to shoot. A good deal of ammunition is ruined by keeping it stashed in a humid basement or attic in a cardboard box. Without protection from the elements, the ammo is damaged, making it not just a waste of money, but a danger to use.
Tips for Maximizing Your Ammo
To extend your ammunition’s shelf life, use the following tips for storage:
Keep Ammo Off the Floor
Keep your ammunition off the floor; ideally, it should be up on a shelf on in a cabinet. That way, it’s safe from water damage in case a hot water heater breaks, a flood hits, or there is some other leak.
Store Ammunition in a Cool, Dry Place
If your basement or attic tends to be humid, do not put your ammunition there. Instead, use a locked box in a closet or a gun safe instead. Just make sure it’s in an area that is temperature-regulated, so the ammo does not experience temperature spikes.
Invest in Ammo Cans on Boxes
Ammunition cans or boxes are relatively inexpensive and provide watertight, compact storage for your ammo. They can keep your ammunition dry, and because they’re very portable, you can easily grab it on the way to the range or on your way out of the house in case of an emergency.
Track Your Ammunition’s Age
Whenever you buy new ammunition, write down when you bought it and label the package. If you keep an ammo case, place the newest ammo in the back, and the oldest in the front, so you use the older munitions first. That system will help prevent you from losing track of some ammunition or forgetting when you bought a box in the first place.
Protecting Your Ammunition
If properly cared for, good ammunition can last for decades. Ensure that your ammo is kept cool and dry, and it will serve you well for years. These tips can help you prolong your ammunition’s life safely.