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View Full Version : Bring back the cheap surplus ammo!


robertsig
October 2, 2012, 07:06 PM
If there was one type of rifle surplus ammo you could bring back and have it cheap again, what would it be? I know we'll never see it again, but since hindsight is 20/20 which is your pick?

.30-06, 8mm Mauser, .303 British, 7x57, 7.5x55, 6.5x55, 7.62x39, etc.


If I could buy only one to stockpile, it would have been 6.5x55 or 7x57. I like my .30 calibers, but those middle calibers are much easier to shoot.

rightside
October 2, 2012, 07:12 PM
I've been loading up on the 7.62x54r, as it's the only one still plentiful and cheap!
http://www.sgammo.com/catalog/rifle-ammunition/762x54r

PS-I really want some good(NO P.O.F.!) 303 British.

Slamfire
October 2, 2012, 07:52 PM
You should consider, when buying surplus ammunition, is that the stuff is on the market because it exceeded its shelf life. For the majority of shooters absolutely nothing bad has happened with their surplus, but every so often I have run across, either in print, or web accounts of guns that blew up with old ammunition. The stuff is cheap for a reason, and the original owner decided to get rid of this expensive stuff, precisely because it was too risky to issue to their Armies, or keep in storage.

I found this UN manual.: International Ammunition Technical Guideline, IATG 07.20, Surveillance and in-service proof. to be an interesting read, correct with its explanation of gunpowder deterioration and the tests used to determine stabilizer content. Table one was excellent in showing how temperature reduces the lifetime of gunpowder “propellant”.

If it was not copyrighted, I would have copied and pasted.

http://www.un.org/disarmament/convarms/Ammunition/IATG/docs/IATG07.20-Surveillance_and_In-Service%20Proof(V.1).pdf

Decide for yourselves what you want to pay for this stuff and whether you should be buying it for the long term.

couillon
October 2, 2012, 07:57 PM
Please bring back the cheap 6.5x55 prickskytte ammo. Why I did not stock up on more of it when I could I do not know. :(

michaelcj
October 2, 2012, 09:33 PM
7X57

RJay
October 2, 2012, 10:03 PM
Start another world war.

James K
October 2, 2012, 10:53 PM
"You should consider, when buying surplus ammunition, is that the stuff is on the market because it exceeded its shelf life."

Not necessarily. It could have been phased out in favor of a better/different caliber; the government that stockpiled it lost a war; the country needed money or hard currency more than it needed ammunition, etc.

Jim

rightside
October 3, 2012, 04:43 AM
I've never had any surplus blow up. I know it's surplus, so my expectations aren't to high. For me ,the cost savings for range ammo is to cheap to pass up, in most instances. It's almost always completely servicable if it's been sealed up. You do have to read up on others results and check out it's reputation before purchase if available. I find it to be worth the trouble.

BlueTrain
October 3, 2012, 06:03 AM
This thread and RJay's comment reminds me of a quote from an old movie:

"We got enough ammunition here to finish this war and start another one!"

Anybody want to make a guess?

jsmaye
October 3, 2012, 08:25 AM
The stuff is cheap for a reason

Actually, for more than one. As mentioned before, it might be a change in the primary caliber(s) of a particular country, a country could have needed hard currency, but also because the ammunition has already been "paid for" at least once.

chiefr
October 3, 2012, 09:19 AM
There are bargains out there on 8mm & 7.62x54. The stuff I have been shooting is well over 50 years old and I have not had any that did not go bang.

jsmaye nailed it -- it is cheap for a reason. Concur 100%

tahunua001
October 3, 2012, 09:27 AM
probably 8 mauser or 6.5 swede

Slamfire
October 3, 2012, 09:41 AM
"You should consider, when buying surplus ammunition, is that the stuff is on the market because it exceeded its shelf life."

Not necessarily. It could have been phased out in favor of a better/different caliber; the government that stockpiled it lost a war; the country needed money or hard currency more than it needed ammunition, etc.


Sure all those things, maybe even more pie in the sky ideas when you think of it. I expect all the nah sayers are totally plugged into the ammunition surveillance decision makers in those countries, especially as you are warranting the quality of surplus ammunition, right?

You going to pay to fix these guys' rifles?:

Garand Blowup with WWII ball
http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=7870113&postcount=13

I have an old shooting buddy who some years ago was shooting some WWII ball (don’t know whose) but his M-1 was disassembled in a rather rapid fashion. He was lucky only his pride was hurt. He said he took a round apart and found rust looking dust along with the powder. Bad powder. Just sayin…..The op rod can be rebuilt which might be a good way to go. Op Rods are getting harder to find and when you find one a premium price is required so it seems. Garands require grease. I’m not sure if you are aware of this. If you are, please no offence taken.

Garand Blowup with old US ammunition.
http://www.socnet.com/showthread.php?p=1344088

There was a thread on another forum titeled “What’s in your ammo can” and many guys had old surpluss ammo so I told this story. Ty (arizonaguide) asked that I come put it here also so here it is boys, draw your own conclutions.

Back in the mid 80s my Dad and a bunch of us went shooting in Arizona. Dad had a couple thousand rounds of WWII surplus .30M1 (30-06) ammo that looked great on the outside cut his M1 in half in his hands. He was kneeling with elbow on knee when the first round of this ammo went BOOM! We were all pelted with sand and M1 shrapnel.

When the dust cleared Dad was rolling around on his back with buttstock in one hand, for stock in the other, barrel and receiver hanging by the sling around his arm trying to yell “mortar” thinking he was back on Okinawa in battle. The blast had removed his ear muffs, hat, glasses, and broke the headlight in my truck 15 feet away but Dad was only shook up and scratched a bit once he got his wits back. It sheared off the bolt lugs, blew open the receiver front ring, pushed all the guts out the bottom of the magazine, and turned the middle of the stock to splinters.

After a couple hours of picking up M1 shrapnel we headed to the loading bench and started pulling bullets. Some of the powder was fine, some was stuck together in clumps, and some had to be dug out with a stick. It didn’t smell and was not dusty like powder usuley is when it’s gone bad. Put it in a pie tin and light it and it seemed a tad fast but not so you would think it could do that, wasent like lighting a pistol powder even. He had 2000 rounds of this stuff and nun of us were in any mood to play with it much after what we watched so it all went onto a very entertaining desert bon fire. I got the M1 splinters when Dad died last year and will post pix here below for your parousal and entertainment.

Anyway, I no longer play with any ammo I am not 100% sure has always been stored properly . . . cheap shooting ain’t worth the risk to me anymore! I still buy surpluss if the price in right but I unload and reload it with powder I am sure of or just use the brass.

She was a good shooting servasable Winchester M1 before this.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Blowups/M1%20Blowup%20WWII%20Ammunition/GarandBlownUpwithWWIIUS1.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Blowups/M1%20Blowup%20WWII%20Ammunition/GarandBlownUpwithWWIIUS2b.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Blowups/M1%20Blowup%20WWII%20Ammunition/GarandBlownUpwithWWIIUS2c.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Blowups/M1%20Blowup%20WWII%20Ammunition/GarandBlownUpwithWWIIUS4.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Blowups/M1%20Blowup%20WWII%20Ammunition/GarandBlownUpwithWWIIUS4c.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Blowups/M1%20Blowup%20WWII%20Ammunition/GarandBlownUpwithWWIIUS4d.jpg

noelf2
October 3, 2012, 12:24 PM
7.62x25 (you didn't include that one)

P5 Guy
October 3, 2012, 02:15 PM
.303BRIT by HXP
Both of the Mauser rifle 7mm & 8mm.

James K
October 3, 2012, 07:02 PM
Well, Slamfire, you should recognize one when you see the results. That is a pretty classic example of what happens in a true slamfire (firing out of battery). I doubt the age of the ammunition had anything to do with it.

Jim

Slamfire
October 4, 2012, 09:02 AM
Well, Slamfire, you should recognize one when you see the results. That is a pretty classic example of what happens in a true slamfire (firing out of battery). I doubt the age of the ammunition had anything to do with it.

Bolt damage, cracked receiver ring, is consistent with a high pressure event with the bolt in battery. The fact the receiver heel is still on the rifle, (remember that slamfire thread?) http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=491559&highlight=garand+slamfire shows the bolt did not cycle out of battery.

Maybe you can tell me why does not the age of ammunition matter?, what about previous storage conditions, do they matter either?

jsmaye
October 4, 2012, 09:16 AM
What is it you think extended storage does to ammunition? Make it more powerful or volatile (although increased volatility would make it more likely to fire out of battery, an event you say didn't happen)? Did they rule out a bore obstruction (my first guess, and one that would confirm your 'old ammo' concerns - a time-weakened round is fired, the bullet lodges in the barrel, the next round cycles and <Blam!> two half M-1s (M-1/2s) where a fine whole M-1 once stood.)

Slamfire
October 4, 2012, 09:27 AM
Did they rule out a bore obstruction (my first guess, and one that would confirm your 'old ammo' concerns - a time-weakened round is fired, the bullet lodges in the barrel, the next round cycles and <Blam!> two half M-1s (M-1/2s) where a fine whole M-1 once stood.)

You read that post, first round in chamber blew the rifle, the poster is ruling out a bore obstruction or a bullet in the barrel from a previous round, things that would cause an over pressure event.

The first post in the series clearly identifies old powder as the issue.

What is it you think extended storage does to ammunition?

Well, first I would like to read the opinions of the "experts" on this.

James K
October 4, 2012, 02:19 PM
On the contrary, that receiver damage is entirely consistent with firing out of battery. The unsupported case head blew off, releasing high pressure gas into the action. The bolt was partially locked, just enough that the left bolt lug failed, causing the action to twist, cracking the receiver ring.

Rapid bolt movement in a slamfire situation might or might not crack the receiver heel, depending on how much partial bolt lug engagement slowed the bolt.

High pressure failure in an M1 rifle acts quite differently.

Jim

Slamfire
October 4, 2012, 03:44 PM
On the contrary, that receiver damage is entirely consistent with firing out of battery. The unsupported case head blew off, releasing high pressure gas into the action. The bolt was partially locked, just enough that the left bolt lug failed, causing the action to twist, cracking the receiver ring.

Rapid bolt movement in a slamfire situation might or might not crack the receiver heel, depending on how much partial bolt lug engagement slowed the bolt.

High pressure failure in an M1 rifle acts quite differently.

Just about as credible an answer and theory as you gave in the other thread, on how it could not possibly be an out of battery slamfire.

Still waiting for your expert answer on whether the age of ammunition matters and whether previous storage conditions, matter.

Buzzcook
October 4, 2012, 04:41 PM
I have yet to see old ammo be over pressure simply because of its age. IN my experience failures in old ammunition result in FTF or squibs.

The powder in the vast majority of .30-06 ammo was pretty stable stuff. iirc it was made by DOW and is very similar to H-4895.

It seems more likely that round had a double load of powder. Pretty much the same reason a new round would have a catastrophic accident.

Some .30-06 rounds were made specifically for the .30 cal. machine gun. Not sure if it was a higher pressure round than the standard rifle cartridge. If it was that might explain the Garand blowing up.

jhenry
October 4, 2012, 04:55 PM
I would love to see the super inexpensive British surplus 303 on the market again.

James K
October 4, 2012, 10:46 PM
Maybe they could retool Radway Green and crank out a few billion rounds of .303 just for the "surplus" market. Might drop a line to BAE (which now runs the place) and see if they would be interested. But I guarantee it wouldn't be "cheaper than dirt".

Jim

Rainbow Demon
October 4, 2012, 10:55 PM
Some of the ingrediants used to forestall degradation of smokeless propellents have been found to last only 25 years under normal storage conditions. Storage in cool dry environments increase the useful life of propellents, but not in a consistent manner.
Cordite had an estimated shelf life of over thirty years, and some of this ammo has remained good for far longer. Cordite being extruded into sticks hard surfaced ans the surface moisture resistent may be the reason. The primers are the most common problem. The cordite requires a hot primer, the primer can degrade but still have enough flame to ignite as a momemtary hangfire.
Storage at temperatures over 125 degrees for any length of time causes the sticks to sweat nitroglycerin that pools in the case or soaks into the over the charge card disc if not well sealed.
Alternative cordite formulas were easier to produce in wartime, but were found to have a shelf life of around ten years. Most if not all ammo using these alternate propellents were either relegated to training or dumped in the sea after WW1.
Britain dumped hundreds of millions of degraded rounds in the North sea after each World War. Millions more rounds were sold to manufacturers of wood glues and furniture finishes the propellents broken down for their chemical components, the brass and bullets then sold as scrap, sometimes bought up by small firms who remanufactured the ammo using new primers and powders.

I don't trust surplus ammo, even that no more than 20 years old. I've found terribly degraded 7.62 NATO ammo with the headstamp of a often recommended manufacturer.

Only use I'd have for surplus ammo is to break it down for components.

Slamfire
October 5, 2012, 09:08 AM
Some of the ingrediants used to forestall degradation of smokeless propellents have been found to last only 25 years under normal storage conditions. Storage in cool dry environments increase the useful life of propellents, but not in a consistent manner.

Cordite had an estimated shelf life of over thirty years, and some of this ammo has remained good for far longer. Cordite being extruded into sticks hard surfaced ans the surface moisture resistent may be the reason. The primers are the most common problem. The cordite requires a hot primer, the primer can degrade but still have enough flame to ignite as a momemtary hangfire.

Storage at temperatures over 125 degrees for any length of time causes the sticks to sweat nitroglycerin that pools in the case or soaks into the over the charge card disc if not well sealed.

Alternative cordite formulas were easier to produce in wartime, but were found to have a shelf life of around ten years. Most if not all ammo using these alternate propellents were either relegated to training or dumped in the sea after WW1.

Britain dumped hundreds of millions of degraded rounds in the North sea after each World War. Millions more rounds were sold to manufacturers of wood glues and furniture finishes the propellents broken down for their chemical components, the brass and bullets then sold as scrap, sometimes bought up by small firms who remanufactured the ammo using new primers and powders.

I don't trust surplus ammo, even that no more than 20 years old. I've found terribly degraded 7.62 NATO ammo with the headstamp of a often recommended manufacturer.

Only use I'd have for surplus ammo is to break it down for components.


Temperature accelerates the migration of nitrogylcerine (NG), but it is the action of the polar molecule H2O that wicks it to the surface of the grain.

When the nitroglycerine is wicked to the surface, it changes the burn rate. In double based powders the nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine are mixed as evenly as possible, but when the surface becomes NG rich, the pressure curve spikes.

Even though some of the "experts" served in the Army, maybe they did not have a need to know, or probably just did not care to find out, but the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all have stockpile surveillance programs, which covers all propellants, to weed out and get rid of the older stuff. It causes a major scandal when a facility goes up in flames and explosions, http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=13c_1205681217 and it creates paperwork when a soldier is injured with old ordnance.

Rocket motor propellant is usually a double based powder with more herbs and spices, and if you talk to the community, old motors have a history of going kaboom!. The shelf life is 20 years, then the things have to be re certified by X rays and visual inspection to determine if the propellant has collapsed, or if there is NG pooling on the surface. Recertification is expensive and is not 100% successful, because the motors are past their design life and many have to be scrapped anyway, and the frequency of inspection increases because propellant naturally breaks down. Any one remember which law of thermodynamics applies?

Still, I am waiting for the "experts" to tell me how single based propellants are not effected by age and storage conditions.

robertsig
October 5, 2012, 09:52 AM
How about modern ammo? If Federal or Winchester ammo is stored safely for 20+ years, will it still perform just as good in 2032?

Slamfire
October 5, 2012, 02:28 PM
How about modern ammo? If Federal or Winchester ammo is stored safely for 20+ years, will it still perform just as good in 2032?

The short answer is yes.

I have chronographed older LC Match and compared against new loads, the older stuff has greater velocity standard deviations and extreme spreads, but it went bang. I have done the same with old Eley Match, it is evident just from what I can see over the screens is that powder deterioration in the case is real and you can see it in older ammunition.

A longer answer is "depends primarily on storage conditions". The greatest factor is heat. Take a look at table 1 in that UN document, heat ages gunpowder, the more heat, the worse. If the ammunition is kept around 20 C to 30 C, not much change in shelf life, but elevated temperatures due to geography and exposure to sunlight, the ammunition shelf life is dramatically reduced.

The Insensitive Munitions expert I learned this from told me the best storage conditions are unchanging artic. A constant cold temperature and no water in the air.

So the general advice of "keep it cool and keep it dry" is good.

I am ignoring vibration. Per ammunition specialists, ammunition stored in tracked vehicles becomes unreliable if not dangerous. The vibration environment in a tank or personnel carrier is high amplitude and high frequency, simply horrible on everything. I believe it breaks the powder down. But unless you live in an Urban Assault Vehicle, I doubt this will be a concern.

Ignition Override
October 12, 2012, 08:32 PM
Either British .303, or some really cheap gunpowder. It must be impossible for Tula or other Russian producers to earn a decent profit on Berdan-primed .303, as they do with such 7.62x39.

What most shooters don't realize is that a Brit/Euro "arms control" organization has a website which describes tax money spent to persuade various nations to destroy stockpiles of both military rifles and ammo-not just AK-47s etc.
I forgot to bookmark the site.

An Aussie guy has a friend in South Africa. About two years ago the friend walked into a gun shop in South Africa.
He witnessed the staff-under govt. orders-destroying both L. Enfield bolt action rifles and Brens.

As to why the British and Euro socialist politicians are so fearful that war lords or criminals want obsolete, full-length, heavy rifles from WW2 baffles me....until I remember that those types of politicians don't use logic. They only prey on their subjects' ignorance by using inflammatory, vague, emotional rhetoric.
The Antonov 12 (NATO designation "Cub") turboprops flying around Africa crewed by Russians, Ukrainians etc must be carrying many crates of those clunky, obsolete bolt-action rifles....:rolleyes:

TX Hunter
October 14, 2012, 09:30 AM
The hobby of Surplus Rifles is what got me into Hand Loading. Then into Cartridge Conversion, I love the Surplus Rifles even more for it. :)

Romeo 33 Delta
October 15, 2012, 09:32 PM
TX Hunter ... familiar story. The real answer to long time shooting of Milsurps is going to have to be reloading ... or folks like Privi for a limited number of calibers. I've gone both routes, but my major emphasis is reloading. While in the earliest days I had to resort to doing my own cartridge conversions exclusively, I've been a big fan and customer of Dave Gullo at Buffalo Arms from the time he was working out of his kitchen (and we both have a good laugh about those early days). Yes, custom brass can be pricey ... but if you are careful about picking up your fired brass and reasonable about pressures when reloading ... I've gone 10+ reloadings from the same cases. Since he came on the scene, shooting Milsurp rifles and pistols in long gone calibers has been made easy. That and having a die maker like Dave Davison and his son, Brian. If you want to shoot a wierd caliber ... CH4D is the place to go. Heck, with his help I can now even shoot my Troop Trials P-13 in .276 Enfield ... talk about RARE BIRD! I remember fondly the good old days of Paragon (and have a ton of 7.62X51 still), the days of cheap CMP .30-06 and .30 Carbine, good old HXP 303! Sadly, those days are gone forever and you gotta' believe that there are limited supplies of other calibers. Notice how rarely you see 7.62 X 45 Czech is today?

Sure, I don't expect 7.62 X 54R or 7.62 X 39 or 7.62 X 51 NATO or even 7.92 X 57 to do the vanishing act any time soon since the first three are currently in use and there seems to be good East European sources for the fourth ... but the days of .10/round have left the station.

Cheapshooter
October 15, 2012, 10:08 PM
Love to find the 1000 rounds of 5.56 surplus I got a Knob Creek several years ago for $125. More of the 8X56R Hungarian surplus Nazi stuff I bought for $1.95/ 10 rounds on stripper clips when I bought my 2 M95 Steyrs. More 303 Britt surplus would be good as well.

Gunplummer
October 15, 2012, 10:49 PM
I never bought 8MM WWII ammo when there was plenty around. Most was loaded by slave labor and they were not exactly happy campers. Other stuff I shot plenty.

TX Hunter
October 17, 2012, 11:26 AM
Sounds like you love to load for these old guns too. My next big plunge is going to cast bullets. Its ever bit as fun to make your own ammo as it is to shoot it.

Kentucky-75
October 17, 2012, 12:19 PM
Re: Cheap Ammo

Here is to the good old days...2nd quarter 2005 Catalog AIM Surplus Ohio

800 rd can 7.62 X 54R Czech 147 gr $59.95
380 rd can 8mm Romanian $32.95
1,224 rd can 7.62 X 25 Romanian Surplus $119.95
376 rd can 30.06 Korean on Garrand Clips $66.95
50 rd box 45 acp 230grn FMJ $6.95
500 rd case 45 acp 230grn FMJ $65.00
1000 rd case 9mm 145grn hollow point $100.00


Russian Nagant 91/30 $69.95 with accessories
Yugo SKS Shooter Grade $99.95

TX Hunter
October 17, 2012, 12:59 PM
If you cant understand the love of a surplus Bolt Action, You wont be able to comprehend an explanation. Your right about the SKS its a fine Weapon indeed.

Romeo 33 Delta
October 17, 2012, 06:02 PM
TX Hunter ... you hit that nail on the head! It was an Italian M-1891/38 TS carbine with bayonet and sling that my Dad sent back from Italy ... new, unfired that got me into Milsurps ... reloading ... wildcatting. Every reloader I've ever talked to can remember the first time he took HIS ammo out to the range and shot it. That FIRST round is ALWAYS priceless! Milsurps and old sporters (Savage 1920s and Newtons) and old target rifles (the 50s) have always been my weakness ... and my first love!:D

TX Hunter
October 17, 2012, 09:02 PM
Ive got two Rifles that I enjoy Shooting, one is a Remington 1903 A3, It gets the new factory cartridges, then I Convert the fired brass to 8x57 Mauser and fire it in my 24 47 Yugo. Got a pretty good stash for now, I load fairly light on the Yugo, but am able to hit a Milk Jug consistently at 200 yards with my hand loads, and 100 yard two liters are no problem at all.
Love the Rifles, and loading loading the ammo for them.
There are others I load for, but those are my favorite two. :)

Ignition Override
October 19, 2012, 12:54 AM
Gunplummer:
During WW2, some of the Czech or Slovakian ammo plant workers produced some randomly selected dud rounds, hoping to save the lives of some Allied troops and flight crews.

They were very careful to avoid any systematic sabotage of ammo.