If you are hoarding or only keeping what you need on hand don’t let your investment rust away. READ MORE
Storing ammunition is at least as important as properly storing your firearms. After all, the firearm is no better than a stick or a club without ammunition. While many of us like to have an adequate supply of ammunition for a SHTF situation this isn’t my primary motivation. I am more concerned with an adequate supply of ammunition for training and recreation than for possible use in a societal break down. I have had to curtail my personal training and firearms classes during shortages because I simply could not obtain enough ammunition. There was considerable price gouging at times and I no longer patronize those outlets. Finding twenty nine boxes of ammunition when you really need fifty is discouraging. (Fifty students, fifty rounds each, every class for months is a lot ammunition.) Conversely I walked into Academy Sports a few months ago and saw several pallets of Winchester 9mm ball for $6.99 per fifty cartridges. I estimated 20,000 rounds on the floor. The shortage, it appeared, was over. Now it is back. These things run in cycles — even if the current shortage is short lived, we may see another shortage, particularly around election time.
What are your needs?
I don’t hoard things for their own sake. I like to have a few months supply of the ammunition I really need on hand. When I taught handgun marksmanship and tactical movement students seemed never to bring enough ammunition and others brought gun and ammunition combinations that were not proofed and they malfunctioned. I have learned quite a bit about ammunition storage. As an example I have handloaded my handgun ammunition for more than forty years and cannot recall a misfire cartridge due to storage issues. Ammunition isn’t quite in the category with silver and gold but may be more precious and useful if you need it. It is expensive enough that you should respect the investment and take steps to store it properly. This is more important the greater the amount of ammunition you store. Some like to burn up their ammunition on the weekend and call on Monday and replace it. That’s fine, a minimal inventory works for some of us. I am not comfortable with that program. Buying in bulk and keeping ahead on the ammunition supply is important.
I don’t know if we will face a societal upheaval and you will need that ammunition. I certainly hope not. But if you are in a bad situation the ammunition you have expended in training is the single greatest predictor of survival. My goal for ammunition storage is have a good supply for practice, hunting, and personal defense use as well as training family members. This demands the ammunition be stored properly. I store ammunition in the original box. Sometimes I simply put it on the shelf in the shipping box it arrived in. (Online is so easy!) Unless I am certain I am going to the range the next day or so I never open the boxes and pour the contents into a metal can. Sure, having those 500 9mms in an ammo can is cool enough but they are far more subject to damage from handling and the elements. Also, in the event that you trade one firearm and caliber for another, it isn’t usually possible to trade ammunition as well unless it is in the original box. For most of us, purchasing large quantities of ammunition — a case of five hundred to one thousand cartridges — and storing it properly is important.
I have fired ammunition more than one hundred years old with good results. During my police career I saw ammunition improperly stored in cruiser trunks and in the basement of the PD that became corroded and useless in a few months. Storage is everything for shelf life. Ammunition manufactured since World War One or so was designed to last for centuries. Winchester was given a military contract in 1916 based on one bad primer in 100,000 — and the standard is higher today. I would never purchase older ammunition save as a lark or to feed some non critical use antique. I don’t trust surplus ammunition — there are too many storage and quality issues. Not to mention corrosive primers. Purchasing good quality ammunition means it will last much longer. Quality case mouth seal and primer seal is important for both storage and critical use. My handloads do not have this seal but as I mentioned I have not had misfires, because I store ammo properly. The keys are cool, dry and dark. Cool not cold. A closet in the home is ideal. Stack the original boxes on shelves, on the floor, or in a large MTM plastic box. Heat itself isn’t that destructive in normal ranges but it may cause humidity and condensation. We have all had our glasses or cameras fog up when moving from an air conditioned home to a hot back yard. You don’t want your ammunition supply to be subjected to these highs and lows. Moisture will attack gun powder. In my experience far more failures to fire are related to powder contamination than primer failure. (Don’t store solvents and cleaning compounds with ammunition!) In some instances the cartridge case may even become corroded. This is dangerous as they may lose some of their integrity. Just remember that moisture and humidity are the enemy. Normal fluctuations in household temperatures are okay. I would avoid extremes such as basement storage or storage in the attic. This is especially important with lead bullet loads. Many of them — and some jacketed loads — feature a lubricant on the bullet, in grease grooves. This grease will melt out of the grooves into the powder if the ammunition becomes too hot.
Get in Order
Getting the ammunition in the proper order is important. I fire mostly 9mm and .45 ACP handguns. I also use the .223 and .308 rifle. The 12 gauge shotgun is my to go gun. We all need a .22 — then there is the .357 Magnum and the .45 Auto Rim and .45 Colt — so organization is important. Two thousand .45 ACP cartridges are on hand tonight and one hundred .45 Auto Rim, and that’s plenty. I keep handgun ammunition separated by training and service loads. Shotgun shells are more difficult to store and I do not have nearly as many. They are in one corner of the designated closet. My home is one hundred fifteen years old the ammunition storage was once a food larder. Works for me.
Other points — I keep firearms in a safe. While a couple may be loaded for various reasons I do not normally store ammunition in the safe. Some like to have an ammunition supply in loaded magazines. That’s okay if they are stored properly. Take these magazines, fire them in practice, and rotate the supply. If loaded down from 30 to 26 or 20 to 18 rounds quality AR 15 magazines will run forever. Pistol magazines from MecGar are much the same. Glock magazines loaded to full capacity never give trouble. If you need a stack of magazines loaded at the ready for emergency your zip code is probably written in Cyrillic or located abound Bosnia. These tips, points and cautions will work well for most of us and keep the ammunition supply fresh and uncontaminated.