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Old May 24, 2013, 06:05 PM   #1
jetjim
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How Long Does Ammo Last?

I own a 40 S&W Semi-Auto handgun, and when I bought it 2 years ago, I also bought a box of Ammo. The Ammo is 20 Cartridges of Hornady Critical Defense bullets.

I've never fired any of them, and have had them in a drawer with my 40 S&W for 2 years. I live in a very dry climate (the high desert).

My question is, how long should this Ammo last? I only use my 40 S&W for home defense. Should I buy a new box of Ammo, or am I still good with the box of that I have? Thanks.
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Old May 24, 2013, 06:27 PM   #2
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Jetjim, your box of ammo is fine, but if you bought a pistol two years ago and you've never fired it, two-year-old ammo is the least of your problems. You really need to get some training (the more the better) and to practice regularly. Sign up for some pistol classes, and buy more ammo. Use it up, and buy more; keep doing this.

Just owning a pistol won't make you safer; you need know how to use it and what to do in defensive situations.

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Old May 24, 2013, 06:45 PM   #3
jetjim
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I have fired the pistol a couple of times in the past 2 years at a firing range. However, those times, I used the ammo that I purchased at the range just for target practice. You are correct that I need to fire the pistol more. I'll have to fit that in another time, for I had a total hip replacement back in February, and have another one scheduled next month for the other hip.

I had training a few years ago when I purchased a different pistol. I still remember it, so I think I am ok with that. Thank you very much for your help. I appreciate your advice, and am glad I'm good to go with my current ammo.
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Old May 24, 2013, 06:46 PM   #4
Brian Pfleuger
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If you waited 25 times longer, your ammo would still be fine.
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Old May 24, 2013, 06:56 PM   #5
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Re: How Long Does Ammo Last?

The ammo will last longer than you will.
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Old May 24, 2013, 06:59 PM   #6
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I think it might be a problem with black powder but not so much with today's bullets. You can still buy old surplus ammo from who knows when that is fine.
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Old May 24, 2013, 07:09 PM   #7
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I just shot off some 12 gauge shells that my father had in a dresser drawer for 30 years. My father used to shoot off WWII 30-06 surplus all the time in the 70's. Ammo has a good shelf life, two years is nothing unless you store it at the bottom of a pool or in your bathtub.
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Old May 24, 2013, 07:34 PM   #8
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I have some .45ECP with a headstamp of EC 43. Works just fine.

I have some .243 reloads from 1968; they still give tight groups.

I have some .223 reloads I inherited from my uncle in 1979, 1/2 MOA.

As long as ammo is stored in the proverbial "cool, dry place", generally under 85ºF, it will keep for a truly long time.
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Old May 24, 2013, 07:44 PM   #9
Brian Pfleuger
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How Long Does Ammo Last?

Art, if you got ammo that old, you don't do enough shooting!
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Old May 24, 2013, 09:59 PM   #10
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My years of experience has been....

I have found that even my old old ammunition still fires. Its usefulness usually ends once it has been fired. Then it goes back into the pile destined to reloaded again. Have fun...

Lemmon from rural of South Carolina.
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Old May 24, 2013, 10:59 PM   #11
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Recently fired the last of my .30 caliber ball ammo dated 1942: Every round went bang. Still have thousands of .30 caliber rounds made in 43 and later.

My made in the 1880s .45/70 and .45/55 Army ammo started having misfires in the 1970s. Could not get one round to fire when i tried it earlier this year.
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Old May 24, 2013, 11:30 PM   #12
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I have some commie 7.62x25 ammo made in the early 1950's. Every round goes "bang" and shoots perfectly -- except the necks split so I can't reload the brass. (that problem is peculiar to old bottleneck cartridges that were never annealed; it won't be a problem with straight cases like .40S&W or 9mm or .38 Special even after many years)

If you never get around to shooting your "Critical Defense" ammo, it will outlive you.
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Old May 25, 2013, 12:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
If you never get around to shooting your "Critical Defense" ammo, it will outlive you.
That said, it's a good idea to get in some practice with the ammo you plan to use for self-defense.
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Old May 25, 2013, 12:28 AM   #14
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That's advice worth repeating. The fact that the gun works well with one type of ammunition is not a guarantee that it will work well with all types of ammunition.

I generally like to put 100-200 rounds of a particular loading through a pistol before I'm comfortable relying on it for self-defense.
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Old May 25, 2013, 02:07 AM   #15
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I have a quick question . I'm about to start reloading and like what has been said here . People say ammo will last 50+ years . I here guys say your grand kids will love shooting it after your gone . you know stuff like that .

While reading about powders and researching how to reload . I have read a lot that powder does not last for ever and in some cases 40 years is pushing it . Why do people keep saying ammo will last 50 to 100 years or even longer . Does something happen to the powder when it's in the case that helps it last longer ? Why doesn't an unopened thing of powder last as long as a loaded bullet ?
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Old May 25, 2013, 05:43 AM   #16
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Quote:
Why doesn't an unopened thing of powder last as long as a loaded bullet?
Nothing lasts forever, but smokeless powder is pretty stable as long as it's stored properly.

I'm curious what sources you're finding that indicate that smokeless powder (even in unopened containers) stored under proper conditions could deteriorate in 40 years.

http://www.exteriorballistics.com/re...ropstorage.cfm

"The shelf life of modern smokeless propellant is virtually indefinite, given proper conditions."

http://www.rifleshootermag.com/2012/...er-shelf-life/

"When properly stored, an unopened container of smokeless powder has an indefinite shelf life, but once it is opened, the stabilizers it contains begin to slowly but surely weaken. Even then it can still last for a very long time."

http://www.saami.org/specifications_...ess_Powder.pdf

"Although modern smokeless powders contain stabilizers and are
basically free from deterioration under proper storage conditions..."
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Old May 25, 2013, 06:49 AM   #17
Mike Irwin
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Back in the 1980s a friend and I fired a bunch of ammo out of his rifle that had been loaded in the 70s...

The 1870s.

.56-56 Spencer.

Not all of it fired, but about 70% of it did.
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Old May 25, 2013, 08:27 AM   #18
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This is a question I always wondered about as well. I'm glad my suspicions have been confirmed. Although the only old ammo i've ever shot came from a spam can sealed in the 70's. Any ammo ive had other than that hasnt lasted more than 6 months without burning a hole in my pocket or target as it were.
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Old May 25, 2013, 12:24 PM   #19
Metal god
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Quote:
I'm curious what sources you're finding that indicate that smokeless powder (even in unopened containers) stored under proper conditions could deteriorate in 40 years.
Right off hand I don't remember . I've read a lot of different books , articles , and talked with people so not sure of the exact source . I will go back and try to find out for you . I do want to correct something as well and further explain . By me saying 40 years would be pushing it was wrong . what I should have said is some powders will start showing signs of deterioration after that length of time . I also do recall it having something to do with the type . Not sure if it's a single/double based thing or how it's made in general . Stick powder is different then flake and there shelf life may be different . I remember something about the stabilizers are used up at the 40 to 50 year mark and deterioration is more likely .

Like I said I've read a bunch of stuff and what I got out of it was ammo does not necessarily last 75 years even if stored properly . I did not retain everything I read so I may be cross contaminating my thoughts . I do plan on reading more and in fact just ordered the Sierra manual and I am looking foreward to reading it .
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Old May 26, 2013, 08:06 AM   #20
Mike Irwin
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At its very heart, smokeless powder is an unstable chemical composition.

If it were 100% stable, it wouldn't burn with any of the properties that make it useful as gun powder.

All smokeless powders have stabilizers and neutralizers added that prolong the shelf life of these powders.

Over time, as the powder ages, those neutralizers and stabilizers are consumed.

Once they are consumed, the powder can begin to deteriorate.

How the powder is stored can have a profound effect on how long it will last.

Storing powder in a cool, dark, dry environment is FAR better than storing in a hot place like an attic or unconditioned shed.
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Old May 26, 2013, 11:37 AM   #21
coldbeer
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I have some 30-06 ammo my dads friend handloaded back in the 50's. I've been weary of shooting it, but now I think I'll go ahead and start using it.
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Old May 26, 2013, 05:52 PM   #22
WIL TERRY
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SOME WHILE AGO we shot 10M rounds of 303brit through a BREN gun. It was ammunition made in 1904 and not a round malfed.
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Old May 28, 2013, 05:22 AM   #23
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A couple of months ago I had to qualify with a revolver. With the ammo shortage and all I used some really old ammo I reloaded as a kid, like 35 years ago! It all shot just fine, no issues out of about 110 rounds.
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Old May 28, 2013, 06:05 AM   #24
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re:

I remember reading an account of some crated .50 Browning ammunition being found in a desert in Africa. If memory serves me, this was in the mid-80s.

The desert isn't exactly a stable environment, reaching scorching temperatures during the day, and freezing at night.

The ammunition not only fired without fail, but when it was chronographed, it was in line with ordnance spec requirements, both as to velocity and consistency.
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Old May 28, 2013, 06:46 AM   #25
BigTex308
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Re: How Long Does Ammo Last?

I have military surplus .30-06 ammo from the 60s that shoots great.

keep it dry and it will outlast you




Ike
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