Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Let’s start out with a simple fact: Contrary to what you may have heard, ammunition does have a shelf life and will go bad eventually.
Here’s another simple fact: Ammo is not cheap and adds up quickly, especially when you purchase ammunition in bulk. If you want to protect your investment, you’ll want to extend your ammunition’s shelf life for as long as possible.
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Proper ammunition storage should become an even greater concern for you when considering that ammo shortages happen fairly regularly. And one day, there could be a major disaster that severely reduces ammunition production for a long time.
For example, when new Federal gun control laws were thought to be a near-certain thing in late 2012 and early 2013, there was a massive shortage of ammunition in general, and the prices skyrocketed.
If there were to ever be a major disaster in the United States, such as an EMP attack or cataclysmic natural disaster or total economic collapse, there would almost certainly be a major ammunition shortage as well.
And even if a shortage never happens, failing to store the ammunition properly will result in it degrading or corroding, which will greatly impact performance and perhaps even result in it becoming unsafe to shoot at all.
This is why it’s not just enough to stockpile ammunition. You need to know how to stockpile it. The good news is that properly stored ammunition in the right conditions can last for decades while still retaining safety and performance.
With that in mind, here are some tips you can follow to ensure that your ammunition lasts for decades:
Rotate Your Ammo Out Regularly
Perhaps the number one piece of advice to follow for ammo shortage is to rotate it out. This means that if you buy a new box of ammo, think twice about shooting that ammo right now.
Instead, consider taking out an older box of ammo you’ve had for a while and shoot that, while placing the newer box into storage.
Store Your Ammo At Room Temperature
You need to be extremely selective about the location where you store any kind of ammunition. Anywhere outdoors, in a shed, garage, or damp basement will be an automatic no-go.
Even though ammunition today is manufactured to be used in extremely hot or cold conditions, storing your ammo in either of those temperatures over the long term will shorten its overall life. A golden rule of thumb to follow is to ensure that your ammo is stored at room temperature.
Ensure That Your Ammo Is Kept Dry
There is no greater threat to ammo than moisture and humidity. In fact, keeping your ammunition free of moisture and humidity is even more important than the actual temperature of the room.
Moisture will foul up your ammunition’s primers, it will make the powder inside absolutely useless, and it can corrode the bullets and the shell casings alike.
The good news is that these kinds of headaches can be avoided by simply storing your ammunition away in a location that is dry. Basements are often not a good location for storing ammo because they are often a room where moisture can easily collect.
Always choose the driest room possible at room temperature, and also consider placing a dehumidifier in the room as well to ensure that any and all moisture is kept completely out. You can also use a device such as a hygrometer to measure the humidity in a room as well.
Store The Ammo In A Dark Room
Another important rule for storing ammo is to keep it stored in a dark room. This isn’t as critically important as room temperature or the absence of moisture, but it’s still important.
Why keep your ammunition in a dark room? Because UV rays will be damaging to the ammunition (just as it can to your skin). Storing ammo away in a closet or safe will keep it cut off from UV rays forever.
Something else that will keep your ammo cut off from UV rays is storing it in a container, which is what we will talk about next.
Choose Your Containers Strategically
When storing ammunition, don’t just store the actual ammo or the boxes out in the open. Instead, place the boxes or individual rounds in a storage container.
The best kind of ammo storage container for overall value will be the green, metal military ammo cans. These are widely available, very inexpensive, and do a great job at keeping humidity and the elements out.
So long as the ammo cans are properly sealed, you can even put them completely underwater and the inside contents will remain completely dry.
Go with newer ammo cans in good condition and proper sealing. They should be free of cracks, dents, and other blemishes. When storing the ammo in these cans, place silica gel packets into them in order to help prevent moisture from ruining the ammo.
The best size of ammo can to get will be the .50 caliber size. These are large enough to hold fair amounts of ammunition (you can easily fit between five hundred to a thousand rounds of pistol ammo in one), but they will also not be so heavy when fully loaded so that they are no longer portable.
Prevent Unauthorized Access
You want to ensure that your ammunition is secured in a way to prevent unauthorized access, just as you would with firearms. After all, the last thing you should want is for your ammunition to wind up in the hands of children, criminals, or anyone else who shouldn’t get their hands on it. If you fail to prevent unauthorized access, then how can you keep your ammo over the long term?
The safest solution is to lock up your ammunition. Don’t bet on the idea that you can hide all of it somewhere nobody else can find it. A determined and experienced burglar will be able to find almost anything they want when they are searching hard for it (or otherwise, they could end up finding your ammo storage accidentally).
You should give strong consideration to storing your ammo in a metal cabinet or safe that is designed specifically for ammo storage. You can also take the added step of locking the room that the ammunition is in, or storing the ammunition in the ammo cans and then placing a lock over each of the cans.
Monitor Your Ammo
Last but certainly not least, remember to monitor your ammo as well. Write down the date you stored the ammo on a piece of paper and tape it to the outside of the can.
At least once every six months, you would be wise to take a visual look over your ammo and look for any signs of corrosion or imperfections. If you notice any ammo that has become seriously corroded, you will need to throw it out rather than risk shooing it.
Then you can replace the ammo rather than going years without looking at it, only to open it up later to see that the ammunition has been ruined and is no longer shootable.
As one final piece of advice, remember that you should use different kinds of ammunition as it was intended to be used. Cheap range ammo, for instance, isn’t designed to be particularly long-lasting and ensuring that it is kept in a totally moisture-free and dry environment becomes even more important.
Your carry ammunition should also be rotated out normally; the carry ammo you have in your everyday carry pistol now should not be the same ammo you have loaded in it a year or two from now. Also remember that any ammunition you take out into the field will most likely not be suitable for long term storage, because it’s been exposed to the elements.
The good news is that ammunition storage is not nearly as difficult or complicated as you may have previously thought it was, and if you follow the above tips that we have followed here, you can ensure that the ammo you buy today is still good to go ten or more years from now.
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