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Old April 1, 2013, 12:25 PM   #1
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Atlantic Ocean may ruin reloads

Given a few hundred rounds that were drowned by hurricane Sandy salt water surge, so research was called for to determine if salt water can run ammunition.

First conclusion: yes it does.

Methodology: rinse in fresh water (get the green stuff off), wipe, dry. Head to the range and shoot it up. About 200 rounds with 45% no bang and one squib.

Cartridge: .38 special.

Second conclusion: lime green colored stuff indicates leaching of lead styphnate and resultant primer damage and no bang.

Third conclusion: pull the bullet, pop out primer, clean and reload.

Fourth conclusion: throw out the entire batch of salty ammo.

Next project will determine if commie cartridges suffer the same level of Atlantic Ocean ruination. A few hundred 7.62 X 54 require the same testing as above. A plus is no light green stuff on the commie ammo.
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Old April 1, 2013, 01:12 PM   #2
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I would have thought the reload ammo would have survived the submersion better than that. Anyway to tell if it leaked around the primer or the case mouth?

I hope you bugged out with your firearms and most of your ammo OK beforehand.
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Old April 1, 2013, 03:39 PM   #3
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I think I would disassemble the ammo, tumble the brass, melt the bullets, and toss the salt water primers...
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Old April 1, 2013, 04:12 PM   #4
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Thanks for the concern Pilgrim. This stuff belonged to my disabled brother who did not bug out despite mandatory evacuation. His home flooded to 15 inches and a good portion of his ammo and some firearms stayed submerged for several hours. I spent the past 2 1/2 months in south New Jersey rebuilding his home plus volunteer work with Mennonite and Amish workers. They are very caring and giving volunteers.

The reloads that were in leaky plastic bags were covered with the lime green slime from primers. Can not determine if the necks or the primer pockets leaked.

By the way, I live in southeast LA and we listen and obey evac orders.
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Old April 1, 2013, 04:42 PM   #5
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Though I don't recall seeing it in its pure form, the Wikipedia entry says lead styphnate is yellow to brown. If you got slimy green around the cases, it is probably verdis gris from reaction between the brass and salt water, or it may be nickel chloride (which is also green) from salt reacting with the nickel plating on the primer cups or with nickel on nickel plated cases.

Most military primers are not nickel-plated and steel military cases have a varnish on them. Also, military ammo tends to have both primer sealant and bullet sealant, making it harder to damage by submersion. Special ops divers have to carry the stuff without damage, though presumably they don't do this for days at a time.

Bottom line is that military ammo is good bugout ammo from the water exposure standpoint. You can, however, seal your handloads. Nail polish is often suggested, but I don't really know how well it seals. Permatex makes a UV setting primer sealant, which sunlight may be adequate to seal (need to ask them). There are also a number of moisture sealant sprays out there and roofing sealants. There's also a clear silicone-based sealant with toluene as its solvent that's made for repairing wet suits. I acquired some from a dive shop years ago and it looked fine on primers, but I never wound up getting the ammo I tried it on wet enough to challenge its function. Some experiments may be in order.
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Old April 1, 2013, 05:25 PM   #6
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Did you shoot any of the ammo before it was submerged in the same firearm? No test results are conclusive if there was not a control.
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Old April 2, 2013, 12:29 AM   #7
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My brother's submerged reloaded ammo and primed cases showed the lime green stuff along with duller verdigris. Submerged empty and unprimed cases showed only verdigris. The contrast between these greens is unmistakable. I pulled a bullet from one of the well crimped .38 special rounds and water certainly infiltrated the casing causing powder clumping and a damp primer with a hint of the nasty green stuff.

Military ammo - the commie stuff and .30 Carbine - showed no lime green gunk probably because the military seals ammo a bit better.

No, I had no chance to shoot any of his reloads. He lives in NJ and I live in gun friendly LA.
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