How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly sealed.

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vegasguy
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How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly sealed.

Post by vegasguy » Mon Dec 01, 2014 4:23 am

How long? Any ideas?

Could properly stored ammo last say 10,000 years?

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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by 400 Grains » Mon Dec 01, 2014 4:29 am

vegasguy wrote:How long? Any ideas?

Could properly stored ammo last say 10,000 years?
I've shot 100 year old ammunition that fired fine. Not sure about 10,000 years...... I'll let you know..... :wink:

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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by Redeyes » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:39 am

The only ammunition that still survives from 10,000 years ago are arrow heads, atlatl heads, javelin heads and sling stones. So if you have a sling your ammunition could last 10,000 years in a fireable condition. The rest will need some rebuilding but will be so obsolete that no one would seriously consider rebuilding it, except to use as museum exhibits and for anthropological studies.

ETA Cartridges using modern components will last a long time stored in a cool dry place. How long? It depends on how well the container they are stored in is sealed and how well the cartridges themselves are sealed. Rimfire is typically not sealed as well as centerfire and can develop issues fairly quickly when not stored properly. Steel case ammo rusts and can be unchamberable in a couple weeks after being left out in the elements.
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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by Gingerbread Man » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:12 am

I just shot some 20 year old ranger T that was oxidized and just stuck in a drawer.
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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by Zimmy » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:36 am

I have a lot of WWII surplus ammo that I shoot in .30-06, .38 SPL, and .45ACP. Some has been out of the sealed cans at least 40 years.

No problems with any of it.

However, I have seen old lead .22 bullets that had oxidized and gotten kinda crumbly. I don't know how long that took.
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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by raptor » Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:12 am

A lot depends upon the storage conditions and how well the ammo is sealed and with what.

If you store it in 100 feet of saltwater it will not last as long as if you keep it in a dry climate controlled environment.

I recently used some shotgun shells I bought in 1976 without any issues. They were stored unsealed in my home. I have also shot surplus ww-2 ammo recently and had no issues with it. I bought a lot of 5.56mm in the 80's and 90's and I am still using these without issues.

Now I have never chronograghed the stuff but it goes bang and if it does not hit the point of aim it is more likely me than the firearm or ammo causing that.

Here is the wild card to that. I am not sure modern primers and gunpowder is as stable or long lived as say the ones made in WW-2 or in the 70's. They may be better and more stable chemically or not. The only way to be sure is to wait a few decades.

Still I would bet a 50 +/- year shelf life is not unreasonable. Maybe even 100 +/- years. Now 10,000 years? Lets put that in perspective. The oldest Egyptian pyramids are about 4,600 +/- years old. My guess would be the metal casing (especially a steel case that was sealed properly) and the projectile would survive but whether or not it went bang is questionable.

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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by 12_Gauge_Chimp » Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:01 pm

Didn't Dave_M or Doc66 do a test on this at some point or am I just imagining it was them ?

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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by LowKey » Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:26 pm

12_Gauge_Chimp wrote:Didn't Dave_M or Doc66 do a test on this at some point or am I just imagining it was them ?
Dave isn't old enough to have tested this.
Doc66...maybe

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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by 12_Gauge_Chimp » Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:42 pm

LowKey wrote:
12_Gauge_Chimp wrote:Didn't Dave_M or Doc66 do a test on this at some point or am I just imagining it was them ?
Dave isn't old enough to have tested this.
Doc66...maybe

:rofl:
I remember Dave_M doing something with old ammo, but I'm probably thinking of when he fired some 7.62x39 stuff he found in the back of his truck (or someone's truck, not sure what Dave drives.) that had rusted pretty badly.

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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by DannusMaximus » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:00 pm

12_Gauge_Chimp wrote:
LowKey wrote:
12_Gauge_Chimp wrote:Didn't Dave_M or Doc66 do a test on this at some point or am I just imagining it was them ?
Dave isn't old enough to have tested this.
Doc66...maybe

:rofl:
I remember Dave_M doing something with old ammo, but I'm probably thinking of when he fired some 7.62x39 stuff he found in the back of his truck (or someone's truck, not sure what Dave drives.) that had rusted pretty badly.
Link to Dave's thread, methinks:

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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by gun toting monkeyboy » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:48 pm

I have used lots of surplus stuff that was 70+ years old without any issues. I have also used some surplus stuff that wouldn't go bang half the time that wasn't more than 50 years old. Back in the 1990s, I knew a guy that was using Austrian Werdnl ammunition loaded in the 1870s (1860s?) without any problems. A lot depends on how it was stored. A lot also depends on what kind of primer and propellent they used. I have opened up some WWI French ammo that was... interesting. The ammo can it was stored in had a peculiar odor when you opened it up, and I seriously doubt it was getting anywhere close to the original velocity. It still fired, and I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of it. But I don't think I would try any long range target shooting with it. I have opened up some Italian and Iraqi ammunition from roughly the same time period, and it was loaded with cordite. That still burned just as well as it probably did 70-80 years ago. And the black powder rounds I have seen never break down, propellent-wise. As seen by the number of people who still manage to blow themselves up messing with civil war ordinance.

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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by woodsghost » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:46 pm

What I have read is that corrosive primers are more stable (meaning they still go bang after a longer period of time). I expect a lot of WW2 surplus was corrosive. But honestly, I can't say for sure. I have not paid enough attention.

I seem to remember some Yugo 8mm which had a hard time firing, but I"m not sure that was not the weapon's fault. Could have been the firing pin or spring. Commercial ammo fires fine out of that rifle, as I understand from the owner. Also, simply re-cocking the firing pin almost always managed to set the round off. I think that stuff was from the 50's. Rifle was from the early 40's. My memory is that the ammo was sealed, but who knows how it was stored for the prior 50 years.

I have shot Herters from Cabela's, which was only a year or two old, but I think the warehouse stored it wrong, put it on sale, and moved it out the door. I had some issues, and so did a friend who bought some that same day, same place.

Com Bloc stuff from the 70's which has been hermetically sealed in a tin and has had the neck and primer sealed still goes bang just fine. They almost always use corrosive primers too.

My memory is that a lot of German WW2 steel cased 8mm went on the market about 10-15 years ago. My understanding is it has all gone bang, and people have pictures up on the internet of markings for identification. I noticed all those pics show sealed primers. I don't remember checking the necks.

The Point:

Ammo which is sealed will probably last longer. Ammo which has corrosive primers should last longer. As I understand, anyway. Properly stored ammo will last a pretty long time.

It seems to me Rex Applegate's "Kill or Get Killed" had references to how often to rotate ammunition stocks from the field, along with misfire rates, but I can't seem to find the references in the last 15 minutes, so I could be wrong. But my memory says ammo which went out in the field needed to be changed every 3-6 months. It was not that all the ammo would stop working all at once, but that the miss-fire rate went up enough that they would change out all the ammo.

While such information might not be fully applicable today, it still suggests that ammo carried out in the field and elements needs to be used, and that the lifespan might be measured in months.

Just some thoughts.
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Re: How long will ammo last? both exposed and properly seale

Post by Chris Aldren » Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:10 am

I have stored 9mm ammo for 15 years outside in an old refridgerator (temp. 40 degrees to 120 degrees pretty much desert weather) I made sure the seal on said fridge was good, and the ammo in surplus miltary cans. I had sold my 9 mm handgun and only recently acquired another 9 mm handgun. I took it out and shot well over 250 rounds thru my new 9mm pistol. no malfunctions,FTFs at all. 8-) :wink:

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