View Full Version : Safe to fire old ammo?

Bennett Richards
December 2, 2000, 03:07 AM
Hi guys,

Believe it or not I just opened a box in my garage. Lo and behold I find a bunch of 12G shell that have to have been there for at least 30 years.

The shells are red paper hulls, most low brass. They look fine.

Is it safe to fire them?



Dave McC
December 2, 2000, 07:39 AM
Ben, old shells of proper length and charge for a shotgun can be kept indefinitely if kept dry and cool. How warm does that garage get in summer?

Even if it's in Death Valley, the shells should be safe to fire, but they may not shoot as uniformly.Remember, when an unusual report is heard, discontinue firing immediately and check your weapon...

If you've doubts about using those,recycle the lead, and then spray WD 40 in the empty cases to kill the primers and powder. They can then be landfilled.

December 2, 2000, 01:20 PM

Take them to a gun show you may find a dealer that's sells collectable ammo. You won't get rich but maybe you can get enough $$ for a new box of shells. If you have the orginal box it will be better yet.


Art Eatman
December 2, 2000, 03:31 PM
Decades ago, before the time of litgation whether it's justified or not, ammo makers would actually talk about such things. The gist of it is that heat will cause gunpowder to deteriorate--but it becomes less powerful in the deterioration. In other words, less pressure, lesser performance--and, actually, safer, in the sense of any explosive capability.

A number of people have commented about handloading powders that if there is no orange-ish dust in some ancient powder, it is good to go for use.

So, you could cut open a shell just above the line of the brass. If no such dust, good to shoot.

Turk's comment is quite good; you possibly might turn a profit!


December 2, 2000, 04:10 PM
Greetings from Texas. Unless these shells were properly stored, shooting them could be unpredictable, and certainly not worth the risk vs. the couple of bucks saved. Cutting them up for components isn't a good idea either, all that can be used is the shot, and the shot in a box of shells is a helluva lot cheaper than what the shells would bring from a collector.
Trade or sell them to somebody that appreciates vintage shells, and replace them with something safe and modern. Thanks, OL