View Full Version : Super old Ammo find...

July 21, 2008, 05:26 PM
It was a hot (typical) summer day in central florida about 10 or so years back...
I was a pest control tech and wood destroying organisms inspector. I was doing a an inspection of a home that had previously been attacked by termites to make sure the problem was eliminated. I had completed my indoor and outdoor portions and all that was left was the attic. Up there at well over 120 degrees I was drippin' sweat in seconds and find several boxes about 2X2X2 foot in size over filled with boxes of shotgun ammo. Many if not most was paper type. Some boxes had failed and shells were in plain sight. I noticed oily looking stains seeped out in the powder section. I asked the couple about it and they informed me they had not been up there in about 20 years and the guy had not shot in more like 30 years. They asked if I wanted the shells... NO WAY BUD... I wouldn't even touch them as I don't know how unstable they could be. They asked how to handle it. I told them I would be glad to set it up... I called the next morning as it was past office hours to the FD and told them of my find and that I felt it may make a nice training op for the PD bomb squad. They thought that would be wise as well and it was set up for the next day which was saturday And I got to be there to watch... The bomb squad guys were quick to let me know the attic was hotter in their suits than it was for me in mine. They told me it was estimated at 250-300 pounds or some such high number. They took the blast wagon around the corner from the subdivision to a safe location and blew up the ammo to render it safe to finish disposal...

dogtown tom
July 21, 2008, 07:35 PM
Since when do shotgun shells become "unstable"? That would be big news to cartridge collectors!

They don't because they are loaded with a propellant (smokeless powder) or if really old, black powder (which doesn't produce oil). Old shotgun shells just lose reliability due to excess heat or moisture. They won't blow up.

Very old dynamite may "seep" and become unstable- and that's why it sees little use compared to more modern explosives. Dynamite however is a terrible propellant for shotgun shells- gives REALLY big patterns.:D

I think it worries me that a PD bomb squad wouldn't know how "not dangerous" old shotgun shells would be. Unless they just wanted to blow something up.:eek:

B. Lahey
July 21, 2008, 07:49 PM
The juice was not nitro, like it would be with old, degraded dynamite. It was just grease from the oiled paper of the shells.

You had this guy's ammo stash blown up for no reason at all.

My grandfather used ancient paper shells well into the 90's, he had a bunch and they work fine. Old shotgun shells are in no way dangerous.

Nervous nellies like you are the reason bomb squads eat up so much of police budgets in cities that have never had to deal with explosives, and probably never will have to deal with explosives. They do, however, have to deal with people worried about lost luggage laying around and old boxes of shotgun shells.

You should be ashamed of yourself for wasting public funds and messing with an honorable old shooter for no reason at all.

July 21, 2008, 08:10 PM
I would have been heading to the range with the good ones and dismantling the ones that didnt look good and reusing the shot if it wasnt oxidized too bad.:cool: And it may have been melted wax from the sealer they used on them to make waterproof.
I just used some papers the other day and they worked fine. lol, I would have taken the shells and asked if he had the gun they fit in.
You know those bomb squad guys were smiling all the way to the range to do a little shooting with your find.

July 21, 2008, 09:04 PM
There is NO WAY on Al Gores little hot planet that old shotshells are going to be "unstable" . Just NO WAY..The oil you saw was probably the wax in the paper hull melting out or surfacing. I knew an old farmer that had stored some 60% dynamite in a brown paper bag in his barn. After a couple of years being there the stuff had less power than a M-80 firecracker as all the nitro has bled out and evaporated. Gunpowder contains NO Nitro in a liquid form, it can't leak or leach out.
You simply just didn't know what you were looking at or understand what smokeless powder is about.

July 21, 2008, 09:20 PM

July 21, 2008, 09:54 PM
As I stated i did not know if they had become or could become unstable... I do know he had no desire to have them in his attic, no one to give them to and I was not interested in ammo that was not in obviously good condition. I now would have liked to have it to sell to collectors. Considering he was well pleased to have a free removal of the heavy stuff from his hot attic and the PD was glad to get a training day for the bomb squad it was good all around. The FD boss did feel that the quantity of ammo over the garage where the furnace, dryer, water heater lawn mower and gasoline were kept would not do anyone any good in the event of a fire... So an owner asks how to get rid of unwanted ammo and I get a bashin'? How f'ed up is that?

B. Lahey
July 21, 2008, 10:25 PM
So an owner asks how to get rid of unwanted ammo and I get a bashin'?

They asked if I wanted the shells... NO WAY BUD... I wouldn't even touch them as I don't know how unstable they could be.

Sounds to me like he wanted to give them away until you freaked out for no reason and suggested the freaking bomb squad. Why the heck couldn't you have posted "hey, there's an old guy with hundreds of boxes of old ammo, anyone want it?" or just asked if they were dangerous?

But no. You had to have it destroyed because you know less about ammunition than most housecats and you wanted to impose your obscene miscalculations on a well-meaning old shooter.

What a waste.

July 21, 2008, 10:40 PM
I do not freak out... For one thing I owned a .410 for the night stand and that was it... I owned a box of ammo for it and needed no paper shells of unknown age or reliability. I knew this customer pretty well and on more than one occasion had done tasks for him as he had informed me he had no local relatives to ask. He had long since forgotten it even existed.
I assure you that NO HOUSE CAT knows what I know of ammo and you do not know my level of knowledge. I admit I did not know if it was blackpowder, smokeless and if either could be unstable but I do know that had I hauled it down for him he would have put it in the trash... or possibly hauled it to the dump as they had a hazmat area. I also know that I did not intend to spend more time in a hot attic for some old shot shells I did not need. I did not have knowledge of gun forums or any type of forum for that matter... Heck i did not even have the internet or computer then... Had I stayed in the area I assure you I would have liked to be first in line to buy his gun cabinet full of nice (in my standards anyway) shot guns and rifles that he had not fired in near 30 years.

July 21, 2008, 11:11 PM
Could you imagine the look on the neighbors faces when they saw the bomb squad across the street from them taking out boxes in a blast keg. :eek::eek::eek:

July 23, 2008, 03:37 PM
If you thought this was a "super" ammo find why did you have it distroyed? Sounds like the .410 and factory ammo is about your speed.

July 23, 2008, 04:02 PM
I found some old strike anywhere matches once, they must have been pre WWII. Maybe I should have called the bomb squad to dispose of them just to be safe.

July 23, 2008, 05:11 PM
Ummmm.... DUH... SUPER OLD....
I don't own a .410 That was a gimme from a buddy for home security following the loss of my guns in a burglary. Once I got my 500 back from the PD I disposed of that ol' .410.
Factory ammo has always suited me just fine.
Man, ISC, You found 200+ pounds of matches...:confused:
I reckon since they do not contain projectiles they may have just been some good kindling.
ISC, Maybe you should have gone to matchescollector.com forums and sought a collector...
If I knew then what I know now I woulda grabbed them up and saved them for 10+ years to sell.

July 23, 2008, 11:20 PM
I think you made a wise decision. There was no real possibility of the rounds becoming unstable, but if you were not interested in them, calling the PD was the best bet. Even though they were not really dangerous, they could have been damaged and could have gotten wet or damp with time. They were most likely not a windfall to anyone.

gordo b.
July 23, 2008, 11:31 PM
Dunno about this:confused: I have a couple questions to check out your references:
Do you agree with Al Gore ?
Are you voting for Obama?

July 24, 2008, 04:12 AM
ME? I vote republican/2A... If I was a fan of AL HORE I woulda had the innernet right?:rolleyes: With the price of lead I could have emptied them and saved the shot until 2008 and sold it fer a mint!:D

July 24, 2008, 09:19 PM
I just reread my original post where I said you didn't know what you were looking at or understand . It was not meant as a slam. Lots of people don't know, no harm, no foul. You did what you thought best and yes, the shot you could have reclaimed would be enough to retire on now. :D

July 24, 2008, 09:27 PM
You should have kept that .410, Their great fun guns. You said the loss of your guns, Why did you get only your Model 500 back from the PD?

July 24, 2008, 10:31 PM
No one would want to own this .410;) It was only for HD. I only owned it knowing I was living the "judged by 12 vs carried by 6" rule...
Of the many guns stolen the 500 came home because the ffl dealer went under and had to turn over the 4473's to the batf. The gun was used in a crime so it was held for 10 years than numbers got run before destruction and the bright lady in there noted the perp and owner were 2 different names. All my Ser. #s were in a tin box that was also stolen so I had no way to help the police track the rest down...

July 24, 2008, 11:14 PM
Man, I would've loved to have found that stuff. I collect old ammo & ammo boxes.