View Full Version : Shelf life for shotgun shells?

April 1, 2005, 11:49 AM
Hi all. I have a Mossberg 500 in my home as my primary defense weapon. It's loaded with 4 rounds of 00 buck. They've been in there for about 3 years. I've cleaned and oiled the gun annually but I'm wondering how long the shells are good for?

Also, how long will the spring retain it's springiness while having 4 shells on it? Thank you.

April 1, 2005, 12:57 PM
The spring will be fine, and as long as you're not soaking the shells, they'll be fine too.

Expanding and contracting and cycles of that are what "tires" a spring out, not keeping it expanded or contracted.

April 1, 2005, 01:22 PM
Third, thanks for the peace of mind. Appreciate it. :)

April 1, 2005, 03:08 PM
No problem.... I worried the same thing! :D

April 1, 2005, 03:37 PM
Hmm what about Federal 00 Buckshot, 2 3/4" magnums that are about 15-20 years old? Are they even safe to shoot? Ran acrossed a box in my dad's collection a while back, and he has no clue how old they are or anything. Though, the price tag says he paid 9.95 for 6 shells :eek:

April 1, 2005, 04:24 PM
If they haven't gotten soaked in water/exposed to extremes in humidity or temperature, they'll probably be fine. Ammunition is tough stuff.

April 1, 2005, 04:37 PM
The ammo will be good nearly forever if it's kept dry. You may want to check the rounds loaded in the tube thou. I can't tell you how many times I've inspected a shotgun in a patrol unit and found the tube full of rounds that have become so distorted they had no chance of chambering. The combination of heat and the mag spring turns them into something that looks like someone melted and squished them.

April 2, 2005, 08:56 AM
When you clean and oil the gun why not change the shells? About every six months I would change the shells, just rotate them with the shells from the last six months or whatever time frame you want.

April 3, 2005, 02:08 PM
I agree with some aspects of what someone posted earlier.

It is NECESSARY to inspect your cartridges at regular intervals within the firearm, and your stock supply (unless the stock is placed in a dry, closed place.

Some of the problems encountered, especially with steel heads is corrosion, also the primer seal and ring around it can lose its integrity due to rust, which in the long run due to moisture ingress can make the reliability of your round questionable.
And trust me, you want to make sure that thing goes off when you need it rather than realise, Hmmm this thing doesn't seem to work, when in a sticky situation.

Prevention in this case is better than cure.

(reminds me of a case when cocking the slide of a semi-auto, the slide didn't go forward fully and the trigger wouldn't go off. I was thinking...if I had to shoot someone to save myself, I would have been a goner..(and yes I know it's a shotgun forum..)

Dave McC
April 3, 2005, 03:29 PM
I suggest changing out the ammo at least every six months. Let the first shots of a practice session be the ammo that has been in or on the weapon. Good way to find out if it needs changing more often.

Death from Afar
April 13, 2005, 03:49 PM
As far as shelf life of shells go, I once had a pleasent morning a few weeks back with a few boxes of about 1970's vintage paper shells that my grnadfather had. Its hard to describe, but paper cartridges do have a very pleasent smell :eek: to them after you have fired them.

I would definatly change the shells in the mag of your shotgun every two months or so. In (fortunatly) rare cases, the pressure of the magazine spring can "mash" a plastic shotshell creating a jam that you have to see to belive. I think this is normally caused by el cheapo magazine extensions, but why take the risk. Dont throw the shells away- put them in a box and use them for target practice one day.

April 18, 2005, 01:25 AM
I had some Steel Shot 12 gauge in a .50 cal Ammo Can for about Five years. When I opened can I noticed several were slightly swollen. The steel shot had rusted together. Would have been harmful to screw-in chokes or most barrels.

Another time I had some lead #6 20 gauge shells (Federal) that had oxidized and split plastic part of shell.

I am very careful with storage of ammo and now "rotate" my supply...use oldest first after inspecting.