Ammunition Storage and it Problems

ammunition storage

Military ammunition cans work well, just be sure the gaskets are good.

Many preppers have an small arms ammunition storage area in their preps.  This seems to give some people heartburn and they complain about its dangers.  I spent many years as a fireman and an arson and bomb investigator.  During this time I attended many schools on the hazards of explosives and chemicals.  I have seen the results of ammunition burning on many occasions.  But I have never seen it cause a problem.

When ammunition burns in a fire unless it is in the chamber of a weapon, since it is not contained, the case ruptures and it only travels a short distance.  Even if you are close to it will not develop enough velocity to hurt you.

Ammunition storage really only has three main enemies, they are heat, moisture, and chemicals.

Over time excessive heat will break down both the primer compound and the powder. This can lead to unreliable ignition and less-than-optimum velocities. According to Rick Patterson, Managing Director of SAAMI, “In fact as long as your ammunition is stored at normal room temperatures with low humidity, it can function reliably for decades.”

SAAMI believes the breakdown begins around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. There are very few environments where stored ammo can reach those extremes, however the trunk of your vehicle is one of them. “Definitely avoid storing ammunition in a car on a hot sunny day—that’s probably the single most likely scenario that could cause problems for the average shooter,”

While cold won’t normally affect ammunition, it could create storage conditions that expose your ammo to moisture as a result of condensation from extreme temperature changes.  Moisture will lead to corrosion of the cartridge casings. This can cause failures to feed or case failure.

Chemicals such as organic solvents, ammonia, paint thinner, cleaners, and oils can penetrate the casings, damaging any ammunition which hasn’t been properly sealed particularly around the primers.  Ammo that has been exposed to chemicals may not function reliably.

Just keep your ammunition storage where it is room temperature, dry and protected from chemicals and it will last for decades.

Howard

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8 Responses to Ammunition Storage and it Problems

  1. LindaG says:

    I didn’t know ammo cans had seals. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. I’ll have to look.
    Any idea what the seal should look like?

    • admin says:

      The green military cans have a rubber gasket on the underside of the lid.
      Howard

    • Veteran Who Is Preparing says:

      If you are talking communist bloc spam cans they don’t have gaskets. They come sealed and can not be closed again after opening.

      On US green ammo cans the gasket is black and located under the lid. It should be in decent shape, not dried out and cracked.

  2. ke4sky says:

    On USGI cans, if you replace the gaskets with aluminized gasket material, as used in doors for food service microwave ovens, you can use the modified ammo cans as Faraday cages for storing small solid state electronics. Otherwise gift wrap them in aluminum foil.

    Howard’s info on ammo storage is spot-on. I inherited a useful supply of WW2-era .45 pistol and cal. .30 rifle ammunition which had been stored since war’s end in the original government metal containers, wrapped in tent canvas and raised on a wooden pallet above the concrete cellar floor of a house not far from Ft. Belvoir, VA. The ammo dated back to the 1930s and has been 100% reliable and sure-fire. Garand, and Winchester Model 12 trench gun were also stored, having been cleaned, preserved with ordinary SAE30 weight nondeteregent motor oil, wrapped in waxed paper, then stacked in cardboard cartons, also wrapped in tent canvas and poked into the cellar ceiling rafters and were in great shape, requiring only minimal cleaning to go to the range to instruct the frandkids about their inheritance. Common sense prevails over gadget fixation.

  3. Jrread says:

    I vacuum seal my ammo boxes with a foodsaver, and then store in good ammo cans! I have had no problems with this system. I think the vacuum sealing makes a great difference in longevity!
    🙂

    • Veteran Who Is Preparing says:

      Vacuum sealing does help, by providing an additional layer of protection from moisture. If you plan to do some “midnight gardening” and plant some ammo seeds this method is highly recommended before putting it in it’s container and then planting. I have seen people recommend putting in rust inhibitor chips for steel cased ammo or desiccant packs for brass cased. I personally do not know how the casings would be effected (if any) being in contact with the packs. If sealed during a dry day (low humidity) you probably could do without the packs. If you are doing it in a cold weather area (meaning you get snow) you may want to do it any way to reduce condensation even if it is just in the container for your seeds.

  4. TPSnodgrass says:

    Glad I’m not the only one, who uses the Foodsaver to seal up the ammo going INTO the green ammo cans!!! Wife thought I was nuts, until I opened up one of the cans after five long years…everything is still outstanding with that ammo. Actually, she was miffed because I purchased the “tube” of foodsaver bags for MY ammo, and not her preps! (Got another tube roll for her preps).

  5. Michael says:

    I use 30 caliber ammo cans with rubber gasket sold at harbor freight for 6.99 and I throw a moisture absorber packet thrown into the can and closed. Never had a problem with my ammo going bang. I have had some of the lead on bullets just stored in boxes on the shelf oxidizing and turnin green.

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