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Old June 30, 2010, 08:11 PM   #1
Super-Dave
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Ammunition in long term storage?

If ammunition is sealed in an air tight case and is kept dry and moisture free, does temperature have any detremental affect on it?

Will the heat of summer or the cold of winter damage it or make it less reliable in anyway?

Summer heat in a car in Florida might hit 150 degrees. Winter cold in Alaska could hit -70 degrees.
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Old June 30, 2010, 08:40 PM   #2
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It should be fine and dandy. Moisture is the main thing to worry about. Otherwise ammo will last many many years.
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Old June 30, 2010, 09:03 PM   #3
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Ammo is best kept moisture free in a constant temperature and humidity. Extremes in both temp and humidity will cause moisture and corrosion.
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Old June 30, 2010, 10:07 PM   #4
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From the SAAMI website:
http://saami.org/specifications_and_...Ammunition.pdf
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Old July 1, 2010, 09:16 AM   #5
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i recently opened a sealed can of .30 caliber ball ammo that was packed at Lake City in 1943. No one knows where that ammo was stored before i got in tin 1966. Since then it has been in MD, WV and in OK for the past 25 years. The ammo is pristine and very accurate.
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Old July 1, 2010, 09:59 AM   #6
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The saami site only warns against extreme heat over 150 degrees.

If your ammo is in a container sealed and moisture free will heat over 150 degrees damage it?

If so what exactly does it do?
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Old July 1, 2010, 10:06 AM   #7
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Damage (if any) will probably show up as a gradual breakdown of the powder and a reduction in potency - the cartridges won't suddenly turn into "dud" rounds at a specific temperature.
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Old July 1, 2010, 11:24 AM   #8
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You could always do a test at home. Oven-ammo= results. If you choose to do so please report the results.
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Old July 1, 2010, 09:43 PM   #9
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Don, from a "Saftey Officer" that sounds incredibly... unsafe. The auto-ignition temperature for smokeless powder is something like 190 degrees--if someone did attempt to "bake test" ammo at 150 degrees, and either the powder was a little sensitive or their oven wasn't so accurate, you could have the round go "blam."
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Old July 1, 2010, 09:46 PM   #10
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The auto-ignition temperature for smokeless propellants is around 190 degrees Centigrade (about 375 °F), so baking it at 150 °F still gives you a pretty wide safety margin.
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Old July 2, 2010, 12:33 AM   #11
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Humidity breaks down primers.

Temperature swings and high temperatures break down powder.


Your primers should be fine, if the ammunition is sealed well.

The powder however, won't be worth much if you expose it to the conditions you described. Cold temperatures have little effect on powder, as long as it's a fairly stable temperature. High temperatures and temperature swings will really give it hell, though.

With loaded ammunition, humidity is really only an issue with corrosion risk. Temperature is what needs to be carefully controlled.
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Old July 3, 2010, 08:09 AM   #12
Don P
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Quote:
Don, from a "Saftey Officer" that sounds incredibly... unsafe. The auto-ignition temperature for smokeless powder is something like 190 degrees--if someone did attempt to "bake test" ammo at 150 degrees, and either the powder was a little sensitive or their oven wasn't so accurate, you could have the round go "blam."
First off before condemning me "safety officer" click on and open the link provided in post #4. Without the round having the benefit of a gun barrel to contain its ignition blam is not going to happen as you think.
point being what about WW II and the varying temps at the various campaign's around the globe?
Africa in the heat, Europe in winter, The South Pacific.
What about the officer on patrol or performing his duties in the blazing sun of the south with temps at 90-100 and his side arm being directly exposed to the sun beating down on a black gun absorbing heat?
Again my point if ammo could not withstand the varying temps we would all be in trouble as CCW and our military would be useless only being able to fight a war in ideal conditions with regards to temperature
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Last edited by Don P; July 3, 2010 at 08:28 AM.
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Old July 3, 2010, 08:30 AM   #13
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Ammunition must be nearly indestructible.
I've used old ammo, that was kept in cardboard boxes in a relative's garage and basement for thirty to forty years with no complaint.
Our basement flooded, just about covering a bunch of pistol reloads and it, too, all worked just fine.
No telling what lives military surplus has had and most of it works as intended.
Even rounds that have been forgotten in jeans pockets and gone through the washing machine work.
Wish everything was as resilient as ammo.
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Old July 4, 2010, 12:15 PM   #14
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I have some Belgian 7.65x53. The box is labeled in French and German, and the date is 1895.

Shot fine last time I used some...

Powder *can* break down over time, and some priming mixtures will lose their potency over time. But as was mentioned earlier in the thread, the failure mode is to get weak, then finally fail to fire.

If the report sounds odd when you fire the first shot, it would be a good idea to visually check that the barrel is clear before taking another shot.
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Old July 4, 2010, 03:21 PM   #15
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Quote:
But as was mentioned earlier in the thread, the failure mode is to get weak, then finally fail to fire.
...Not always.

Some powders can break down in a way that increases their burn rate, before starting the downward slide to failed ignition. If some one catches that ammo during its volatile period, they may be seeking medical attention.
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Old July 5, 2010, 12:34 PM   #16
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The last time I shot the M-2 .50 cal (1998), we opened sardine cans that had been sealed and marked with dates ranging from 1948 - 1950. Every round was a banger and we had no problems.

The military does not store ammunition in conditioned storage bunkers. I have no idea when the above mentioned ammo was sent to Korea, but we shipped it to Saudi Arabia. Talk about extreme temperature shifts.

Like others said, I would be more concerned with the moisture (Humidity) when it comes to long term storage. So long as it is sealed, I would trust it.
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Old July 6, 2010, 09:32 AM   #17
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"Humidity breaks down primers."

How many decades does it take? I regularly shoot old ammo that has been stored indoors, but with no AC, and it's humid as can be here subtropical central Virginia.

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Old July 6, 2010, 02:43 PM   #18
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Just myself I would not do a oven test. Try putting it in the weapon and firing it first. Or take one apart and check the powder etc. Oven test that is a good one.
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Old July 7, 2010, 12:36 AM   #19
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Quote:
point being what about WW II and the varying temps at the various campaign's around the globe?
Africa in the heat, Europe in winter, The South Pacific.
What about the officer on patrol or performing his duties in the blazing sun of the south with temps at 90-100 and his side arm being directly exposed to the sun beating down on a black gun absorbing heat?
Again my point if ammo could not withstand the varying temps we would all be in trouble as CCW and our military would be useless only being able to fight a war in ideal conditions with regards to temperature
I believe you are mixing a couple different things. And that is the effect of temperature on storage, and on use. And, you are leaving out the time factor.

Exposure to high temps has an effect on ammo. So does low temps. The difference is what the effect is, and how it manifests itself.

It has long been known that ammo fired in high temps produces more pressure, and in very low temps lower pressure than ammo fired at moderate temps (~70 degrees). Some powders are much more sensitive to this than others. Some early ball powders were very sensitive to temp.

If you look at the great English double rifle cartridges from the Ivory Hunter era, you see that they are all fairly low pressure rounds (by modern magnum standards) and have fairly tapered cases, to ease extraction in the tropical heat.

Dedicated handloaders know that if you work up your max loads in the summer, you will be safe in the winter, however, the reverse is not necessarily true.

Ammo stored exposed to wide temp extremes (especially high heat) does tend to break down, over time. The key is the time needed, and the specific reaction of the individual lot of powder used. It does not happen overnight. It might not happen over years. All one can say with certainty is that it has been known to happen some times, with some ammo.

How much is enough to affect any particular lot of ammo? How long will it take? I don't know. And I think anyone who says they do is guessing. But we know it has happened, and the only known reason is the storage conditions, and the stability of the powder itself.

The Navy, for generations, stored the powder used for battleship guns in barges on the Potomac river. They would test, periodically, and when the specs were exceeded, it was replaced.

Some lots of military ammo have been stored for years, under water! Many times the reason surplus ammo fails is that wartime production takes shortcuts and the ammo never was as stable as civilian or peacetime produced ammo. Especially ammo made by nations that wound up on the losing side!
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Old July 7, 2010, 07:07 AM   #20
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Ammo

I've had ammo 20 or more years old and it shot fine every year I load new ammo to hunt with That way there is no doubt that I will have a dud, although I have never had one, old or new but I don't want to take the chance. I also re-sight my rifles in every year to make sure they are still on the money. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. lou
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Old July 8, 2010, 09:15 AM   #21
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Id love to see someone do the oven test. I would shoulder the test myself but my room mate just forbade me from doing it when I mentioned the test and since he shares the rent I have to respect his wishes

But seriously.. that would be some awesome data. And even if you did auto-ignite the ammo it wouldn't go bam, it would go sizzle. Without the pressure-building confines of a chamber and barrel the rounds just cook out of the casings with minimal collateral.

Just avoid 375 degrees F and you're good
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