Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ammunition, and the storage thereof

I've been having a couple of interesting days sorting through my ammo stash, re-inventorying and re-packing everything so I know where I stand.  I've been astonished by how much I've accumulated in certain calibers and cartridges, particularly the ones I used to use to train disabled and handicapped shooters.  I won't have to buy ammo in those calibers for a few years, I should think.  Still, it's nice to have a decent-size reserve on hand, particularly if another 'ammo panic' follows the Presidential elections later this year.

I have to give a shout-out to a couple of suppliers (and no, they're not offering me any inducement, incentive or payment to mention them).  I needed more .30-caliber ammo cans, which I find very useful for storing smaller quantities of quality ammo, as well as practice ammo in bulk (putting the latter in .50-caliber cans can make them very heavy indeed - too much so for my fused spine's load limit).  After much shopping around the Internet and in local stores, I found the best current value for money came from in Ohio.  They offered brand-new .30-caliber metal cans for only $8.99 apiece.  Including shipping to Texas, they worked out to $13.51 each, which is only a couple of dollars more than the price of used, rusty and battered ammo cans at a local store.  I was happy to pay the difference to get factory-new production cans.  They arrived today, and are exactly as described - brand-new and unused, in perfect condition, and well packed against damage in transit.  I'll be buying from again.

When it comes to storing ammunition in bulk in ammo cans (i.e. not in the original boxes), I've found the anti-corrosion bags from ZCORR to be very useful indeed.  I bought 10 more of their .30-caliber ammo can liners this week, and have already filled more than half of them.  Each, inserted in the can empty, then filled, will hold 1,000 rounds of 9mm. ammo, or 750 rounds of .40 S&W, or comparable quantities of other calibers and cartridges, depending on size.  I also toss in a few silica gel desiccant bags. They seal water- and air-tight, so even if the seal on your ammo can is old and worn, its contents will still be protected.  They're very useful, and I highly recommend them from my own experience.

There are conflicting approaches to the conditions under which ammo should be stored.  Some (including myself) prefer to keep it in climate-controlled conditions, so that it doesn't get too hot, too cold or too humid/damp/moist/whatever.  Others argue this isn't necessary unless you're planning to keep it in stock for years, even decades, because quality ammo should be able to take normal summer and winter temperatures for a decade or more without degrading.  They point to military ammo storage in containers, in the middle of desert heat in Iraq and Afghanistan, as proof of that.  I'm not so sure.  I've known ammo to 'go bad' in very hot conditions during my previous military service.  Furthermore, degraded propellant can produce dangerously high or low pressures (high in that it can burst the breech;  low in that it can lodge a bullet in the barrel, a so-called 'squib load', which makes the next round you fire . . . interesting.)  I guess, if you plan to use it within five years, it probably doesn't matter much;  but I'll continue to store mine in the house, rather than in the heat/cold/whatever of the garage.  I just feel safer that way.

I'd dearly love to know, however, why I've ended up with odds and ends of ammo.  How did I come to have 37 rounds of 7.62x54R - a cartridge I haven't shot in years, and for which I don't currently have a rifle in my collection?  (Time to get one, maybe?  Ducks hurriedly to avoid swat from wife.)  And why 79 rounds of 8mm. Mauser, when I sold my rifle in that caliber even before my 2004 injury?  As for the half-box of 7mm. Remington Magnum, I've never owned a firearm chambered for it!  How on earth did it get into my stash?  Oh, well . . . I guess friends who shoot those cartridges and calibers are about to get lucky.



eriko said...

If you are packing bulk ammo or repacking ammo that is in low density packaging I can not recommend enough repack box and their boxes. They are caliber specific white card stock boxes that will stack and pack about as dense as you can get. I use them for storing reloads and loose packed bulk ammo. I am nothing but a happy customer.

shugyosha said...


Why are you so eager to get a Mosin-Nagant and conversely so ready to give your 7mm Rem. Mag. away?

Take care.

B5K said...

I second the wonderment one experiences upon finding ammunition for a weapon one doesn't own.

I cleaned out the trunk of my car last winter (after 6 months of neglecting it) and discovered a new box of .303 British. I do not own anything in that caliber, nor do my friends/family.

Randomly cleaning my place the year before, I found a single round of .25ACP under the bed. Again, I do not own anything that fires that caliber. Dated a gal 3 years ago that sometimes carried a tiny Colt 1908/Baby Browning (don't really recall which model). Still, I HAVE cleaned since we broke up.

Anonymous said...

Having those forgotten stashes happens to me too. Iron sights removed from when scoping (really fun figuring out which sight goes to which rifle), spare magazines, model specific slings - goes on and on. Have several boxes of Remington 'Yellow and Green' 240 grain.444 Marlin and one 265 grain box from rifle I sold back in 1995 for house money (still miss that old lever gun - mebbe its an omen !).

Inconsiderate Bastard said...

Peter, I'd be hesitant about disposing of any ammunition, despite not owning a firearm in whatever particular caliber it might be.

If it's a limited quantity not requiring much space to store, especially if it's a less common caliber (although 7MM Rem Mag rifles are pretty common, and some days it seems everyone has a Mosin), I'd hang onto it. There's a possibility that should social and economic conditions deteriorate sufficiently even the oddball calibers could have substantial trade value.

I know several people who have bought Makorovs because they were cheap, and who also possess fewer than 100 rounds of matching ammunition. I can walk into Billy Bob's Country Store fifty miles from civilization and quite probably find a couple dust-covered boxes of 9X19, 45ACP, .30-06, .2 3/4 inch 12 gauge, 38 Special, etc. on a shelf. Good luck doing that with Mak ammo, 303 Brit or 7.62X54R.

I've got a couple 50 caliber ammo cans in use just for keeping the "stranger" ammo I run across on hand. I see no need to warehouse quantities, but a box or two gifted from friends or purchased at ridiculously low prices from someone who has sold their gun in that caliber could be handy at some point.

Uncle Lar said...

I reload with several shooting buddies.
My equipment, my knowledge garnered over 45 years of the hobby, but with their components and participation.
I don't sell reloads, we make them together. And in exchange for my help every so often they stop by with a sack full of processed and frozen game.
They will also bring me grocery bags of scavenged brass and even the odd loaded rounds found at the range so I have piles of "stuff" that eventually gets sorted out of a quiet evening. Of course I get lots of steel and aluminum cases, berdan primed cases also. But there are still folks who will go to the public range, shoot boxes of new commercial ammo, and leave their brass there on the ground.
Of course I only use found brass for mild plinking loads, but every little bit helps.
Will note that I have most of a five gallon bucket of .40 S&W sitting ready to process courtesy of a few practice and qualifying sessions by guards at the state prison next county over. We always ask politely, and ever since I helped one of the fellows clear a jam they are most willing for us to hunt and gather. Sometimes they will even help.

clark myers said...

Suit yourself, and of course spam cans are a common storage method for (mostly) military dead storage. Also unopened spam cans may well have some extra trade value as being self-authenticating in unfortunate circumstances.

Just the same my own practice is to consider an ammo can full of loaded ammunition as containing assorted brass cases, bullets, and primers as high explosives and powder as a flammable solid. A closed and locked ammo can full of powder is a potential bomb in a fire. A closed and locked ammo can partially full of powder may still be a bomb in a fire. The US National Fire Code (commonly used locally along with most of the reloading companies - some of whom have included national fire code references in their loading manuals from time to time) - most emphatically suggests a soft side on powder lockers to avoid containing pressure. This because the pressure will build until the pressure ruptures the container. Better sooner rather than later. Hence for storage I prefer plastic dry boxes or unlatched ammo cans for me. Some like unlocked ice chests that might provide some thermal insulation and have some potential of being dragged or carried free in a house fire - touchy in these days of Freon recovery but an old child safe refrigerator also gives storage shelves and thermal insulation - bearing in mind that let it burn is the best way to deal with a powder flare. Currently my preference is roll-aways and top boxes bought right so that I can but mostly don't easily lock everything up.

Anonymous said...

I use new 1-gallon metal paint cans from the local hardware store.

- Charlie

IanH said...

I have a bunch of boxes of .45 auto that are in the original packaging that still function as manufactured. (1944 vintage)