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Ammo shelf life?

2510 Views 16 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  twisted
Just how long can ammo sit in a drawer and still be trusted?
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I've used 38 special police issue ammunition recently that I've had for over 20 years and all 100 rounds went bang.
I have some Mil-Surp 7x57mm Mauser FMJ ammo, made in the early 50's with Cordite, that is still going bang. An extreme case to be sure. I only use it for plinking.
If the ammo has been stored decently (no extreme heat or moisture etc) I'd trust it for decades. That being said, I would much prefer recent production defensive ammo, just in case.

There has been multiple cases where someone had a magazine for a 1911 still loaded since WWII and had it fire without any issues.

My response was going to echo Steelhearts. Older ammo I'd be inclined to use for plinking and target practice but for defensive purposes I prefer fodder that's been manufactured in more recent times.
i found some 9mm ammo laying in a coffee cup at my dads.. it was made in early and mid 80's the cases was well tarnished from time..

it all went bang.. the stuff was 20+ years old.. and had no attention paid to the way it was stored..

i would imagine if you bought some ammo today and put it in your dresser draw it will probably outlast you.
Well, last couple years I been using up some of the shells laying around my dad's house. 410's that were paper, gee I would hate to guess how many years old. But I was away from here 35 years, and they were in the closet when I left. Some 16 guage, that I know were bought in the early 1960's,"because I bought them and left them and the gun with my grandmother". Everyone of them had not been carefully stored and everyone fired first lick.
If the ammo has been stored decently (no extreme heat or moisture etc) Steelheart

Quote i agree with Steelheart
I got a guatemalan battle pack of .223 sealed in a OD plastic bag that I've been intending to shoot for a decade now but just haven't to it I suspect it will be okay. Depends on how you store it. I've shot countless boxes of .22's thats been older than me with little or no misfires, and I am fairly old.
Ace said:
I got a guatemalan battle pack of .223 sealed in a OD plastic bag.
I am not gonna ask where you got a guatemalan battle pack. You did say you were old like me. Like I said earlier in this, I have fired OLD ones both shotgun and even some old 22LR and not had a misfire.

I do remember a friend of mine, in the 1960's, who got some old ammo from the bank he worked at, along with an old 32 cal revolver that the banks had provided to their guards. I have no way of knowing how old it was, but misfires, slow burns, being able to watch the bullet leave the barrel and only get 1/2 way to the target was wild. Now this stuff could have been very early 32 stuff before modern manufacturing.
Looks like it was 80's era still sealed, I bought it at a gun show I want to say back in 96-97, for about $30. Just kept it with the rest of my bulk ammo and never got around to using it. This was back when you could buy a case of hardball for around $200. Sure miss those days.
I agree with several others, that if the ammo has been properly stored the shelf life is very long. I have shot .303 rifle ammo that was made in the 40s it was cordite. But if I'm going to carry it for serious purposes, I want fresh ammo. Frank
So, since we've now found out that ammo made all the way back to the stone age MAY still fire. Let me pose a practical question

How long would you let defensive ammo sit around(in a drawer, in magazine, anywhere not sealed up) before getting a new box and using the older stuff at the range?
Your answers may vary greatly from person to person. I'll preface my reply by saying defensive ammo shouldn't be any different from other ammo in terms of longevity. That being said though, since this is ammo that may be needed to save my posterior one day, I'd exchange the old for new every 6 to 12 months.
if it's still in the box? 10 years, but i'd still use it if i had nothing else on hand even if it is was older.

but if you carry it it's subjected to more temperature fluctuation's.. also if you carry chambered being chambered repeatedly as well as loaded/unloaded from the mag can wear the case..
i had my 380 ammo for 11 years and had no problem.....they went bang.but a really good question
i have about 1k rounds of .30 cal fmj steel pinned twin cities arsenal ball ammo from the 40's and it was stored in a old navy wooden ammo box in a garage for 20+ years and everytime i use it i have never had a missfire and for the record the pile started at about 2k rounds when my dad first bought it back in the 70's. so i would have to say i trust this ammo with my life :)
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