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Thread: Ammo shelf life

  1. #1
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    Ammo shelf life

    Does anyone know for sure if *any* ammo makers are currently using components (powder or primers) that have a known shorter shelf life than what was used in the past? Is this even possible? I donít know.
    Last edited by Biggy; 08-21-19 at 11:41.

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    I can't say with 100% certainty, but going to say no, or at least not intentionally, based on a few observations.

    Looking at powders available for handloading and how most of the same types of powder available decades ago are still for sale with no substantial changes in load data for a given cartridge makes me doubt anything has changed.

    Potassium chlorate primers properly manufactured and stored with anything resembling reasonable care are believed to be good for all eternity, but early non-corrosive primers could be iffy. Switzerland was the first to issue non-corrosive ammunition around 1911 Going off memory from a 1990's written article about that ammunition was any produced up until some specific date in the 30s or 40s was all but guaranteed to be inert and had been for some time.

    Never really seen much info on purely commercially produced non-corrosive primer longevity, but US companies started in 1922 and had completely switched to non-corrosive by 1930 with the exception of 1 primer type used in Winchester .30-06 and .300 H&H match ammunition in to the early 1960's because it was considered to produce more accurate ammunition.

    I don't recall reading about longevity issues with US produced .30 Carbine ammo(first non-corrosive US issue ammo, no issue ammo made was corrosive) or other early US produced non-corrosive issued ammo, but apparently there was some consistency issues (real or imagined) because the US also produced and issued .30-06 and 7.62x51mm match ammo using a corrosive primer up until the late 1950's, slightly after standard ammo was switched.

    My experience with older non-corrosive ammo that dudnt look like it came off a ship wreck has been almost universally good, but crap happens occasionally.

    I got in on the Portuguese 7.62x51 that got imported around 2002-05? and bought it in clean/dry sealed packs that seemed to indicate dates ranging from 1974 up 1980. Most of it was great, but some lots from 1976 (IIRC...I do know it was not the oldest) had some dud primers. Local friends experienced the same and we saw similar reports online concerning the same lots. So not sure if there were always issues with that year, or if it was an age issue.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biggy View Post
    Does anyone know for sure if *any* ammo makers are currently using components (powder or primers) that have a known shorter shelf life than what was used in the past? Is this even possible? I don’t know.
    Any commercial American ammo made today - if kept clean, dry, and in a temperate climate - will outlive your great-grandchildren. For reference.
    - Either you're part of the problem or you're part of the solution or you're just part of the landscape - Sam (Robert DeNiro) in, "Ronin" -

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    Avoid lead-free primers if you are looking for longevity.

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    Good to keep your ammo in GI ammo cans. Moisture is not your friend pertaining to ammunition... a lot of manufacturers use a sealant around the primers which minimizes the risk, but keep the bad stuff out. Ammo cans also has a handle to make easier carry during bugout situations. Check the cans lid to make sure it has a serviceable rubber gasket on the lid. Some military surplus stores don’t do a great job of inspecting the ones they bought. The cans can be used for tool kit and or spare parts kit or even a mobile solvent gun cleaning tank. I got a few larger ones that I modified to faraday cages.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vicious_cb View Post
    Avoid lead-free primers if you are looking for longevity.
    This. Lead-free primer formulations are pretty new, and have had some sketchy track records - they have a history of not tolerating hot, humid environments, delayed ignition, and potentially short life spans.

    Yes, there's (eeek!) lead in conventional noncorrosive primer compounds. But if you maintain good ventilation in indoor shooting, and don't, you know, lick your empty brass, you're probably not going to have any real accumulation of lead that can be measured at the firing line.

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