Shelf Life of Ammunition
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:19 PM   #1
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Default Shelf Life of Ammunition

As a practical matter, most of us will never have to fire our weapons in defense of our homes or loved ones. Even so, if we got a weapon for home defense or personal protection, we'll be loading some kind of appropriate self defense ammo. That ammo is pretty expensive compared to plain FMJ practice rounds. You might run a few expensive magazines of the defense ammo to check feed and function. After that you'll just keep the defense ammo for defense.

Which brings me to my question: How long can you keep a couple magazines filled with defense ammo without risking a malfunction? And a related question: What can you do to extend that shelf life?


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Old 12-30-2011, 04:23 PM   #2
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Keep it dry and from extreme temps.... I often shoot old surplus ammo with out any difficultys... Some has even been from the 30's


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Old 12-30-2011, 07:06 PM   #3
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I know a guy who regularly fires .300 British ammo from the 40's. Keep it clean, dry and at a normal temp and it will last a lifetime if you want to keep it that long. My recommendation, cycle through your self defense stuff at least once a year. The cost spread out over a year won't hurt too bad unless you are talking about a stockpile rather than a couple mags of hollow points for home defense...lol
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Old 12-30-2011, 07:45 PM   #4
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If kept dry and clean it will outlast you. I shoot .45 ACP that has '42-'44 headstamps. I have shot a pile of it and have only had a couple of failures to fire. I have a feeling they would have failed to fire in '42 or '44 too.

Loaded, quality, magazines will remain functional for years as well. It is a myth that the springs take a set after a short time.

Any weapon used for self defense should be shot often enough to cycle through magazines and ammo, but I would not be concerned about "shelf life".

All that said, I did forget about a case of shotgun shells that I put in my barn for about five years. I live in Florida where heat and humidity is a serious issue. When I found them, I took out a couple of boxes that showed signs of weathering and sure enough I had enough failures to mark all of the boxes for only practice use.
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Last edited by Chainfire; 12-30-2011 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 12-30-2011, 08:10 PM   #5
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1920's and '30's 8x56r. 1940's 8x57, 1940's .303 brit. I still have some 20 year old reloaded hunting rounds for 8x57 and .303. I still use paper hulled shotgun ammo from the 1960's.
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Old 12-30-2011, 08:18 PM   #6
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Doh, I meant .303 Brit in my post. Not something I shoot...lol. Sorry for the misinfo.
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Old 12-30-2011, 08:27 PM   #7
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As said- dry, away from temp extremes- AND AWAY FROM WD-40! I shoot up and replace my social purpose ammo once a year, but I have 8mm ammo with Nazi waffenampt marks, and .303 Enfield from same era. Shoots fine.
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Old 12-30-2011, 08:32 PM   #8
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Like this?






The last 8x57 will never see a chamber!!!!!


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Last edited by jpattersonnh; 12-30-2011 at 08:34 PM.
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