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Old October 4, 2012, 10:55 PM   #25
Rainbow Demon
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Join Date: September 27, 2012
Posts: 397
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.
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