Long-Term Ammo Storage Tips: The 3 Watchwords
Modern primers and gun powder, if properly stored, have a nearly infinite shelf life. These items need to be stored with the three watchwords of care; cool, dry and dark.
Long-Term Ammo Storage Tips: Cool
By cool we mean stable temperature in the 50 to 80 degree Fahrenheit range. Extreme high temperature can cause the deterioration of gun powders over long exposure; we’ve seen it time and again, ammo left on the dashboard and heated to extreme temperatures or frozen and re-heated.
Long-Term Ammo Storage Tips: Dry
“Keep your powder dry” is a phrase all shooters have heard and comes from the days when flintlock firearms ruled the field; it is just as important today as it was 200 years ago. Temperature swings from very low to high and back again cause condensation within modern brass-cased cartridges and renders ammunition inert. It doesn’t take much moisture to ruin a primer and this is one reason I usually don’t recommend the basement for ammo storage, unless some type of dehumidifier is present to balance the humidity.
Long-Term Ammo Storage Tips: Dark
While the sun is the engine that drives all life it can be the worst enemy of ammunition and gunpowder by virtue of its heating ability. I keep my ammunition in cabinets away from sun exposure for this reason.
For obvious reasons don’t leave your ammo on the dashboard of the truck. If you have a window in your handloading room make sure the sun doesn’t settle on your supply of powder and primers while you’re away.
Long-Term Ammo Storage Tips: Neoprene Seal Rings
If you are going to put your ammunition away for a period of time look into the military surplus ammo cans with the neoprene seal rings, these work great if they are kept in a dry environment and protected from sudden swings in temperature. The military powder cans that have the same rubber seal rings also work great, but don’t hold a heck of a lot.
I’m reminded of the Confederate command that stored a few hundred muskets for future use in caves in southwest Virginia, a damp and gunmetal-unfriendly environment, that were lost and later discovered in the early 1940s, still operational and indeed in wonderful condition.
The guns were heavily greased before storage, metal and wood, and stored in wooden barrels sealed with a mixture of wax and tallow. Gunpowder kegs had been stored within larger wooden barrels, also sealed with the wax/tallow, and the outside of the kegs themselves had been coated with the wax/tallow mixture.
The powder was just as good as the day it was stored.