Storing Your Ammunition

Hungarian-made Fiocchi 45 ACP Ammunition

It’s never a bad idea to have a decent inventory of ammunition for your firearms. When you are first starting out, you may have enough 9mm and 5.56mm on hand for a few range trips and to top off your magazines for defensive purposes. You figure you can always go down to the gun shop or order from Lucky Gunner if you run low. But that’s when things are calm…

As of late, things haven’t been calm, of course. A pandemic, civil unrest, and if you’re a certain part of the country, hurricane season. Each and every one of them a potential and perhaps actual disruption in the supply chain of just about everything, including ammunition. 200 rounds of 5.56mm might seem like a lot, but in an emergency, that’s pushing the needle towards empty. So yes, it’s a great idea to stockpile, in good times and bad.

However, things are cyclical. Good times pass away, but then so do the bad. You’ll bulk-purchase all that ammo - but it’s not a good idea to just leave it lying around. And just going to the range and tearing through your stash is counterproductive and wasteful. While the shelf life of ammo can be measured in decades, and even centuries, certain things can throw off that robustness and reliability. You have to store it safely, and properly.

How To Store Ammunition Properly

Ammunition used to be a pretty perishable item. Prior to the development of smokeless powder, ammunition and it’s components didn’t last long unless it was meticulously and carefully stored. Fortunately, after the commercialization of the aforementioned smokeless powder, ammunition became a much more durable product. A box of .45 ACP from World War II, if properly stored, will chamber and fire in your modern GLOCK 30 with little to no problems whatsoever. That’s right, ammo that’s probably older than your parents will still go “bang”, somewhat reliably. Modern ammunition, especially if it is designed for law enforcement and military use, is even more durable. But again, that doesn’t mean you can just leave it on your back porch for the next decade.

The Enemies Of Ammunition

Other than meddlesome politicians and their acolytes of course, ammo has three main enemies: humidity, temperature, and light.

Think about what ammunition is made of. For the most part, it’s metallic components. Brass, lead, copper, aluminum, and so on. And even with modern coatings and treatments, ammo is still susceptible to rust and corrosion. Corrosion can warp the casing making the ammo more likely to jam, or worse.

Temperature itself isn’t an enemy of ammo, per se, but temperature variations can be. A sudden dip in temperature can cause condensation, which of course can lead to corrosion. While it’s OK to leave ammo in the trunk of your car over a short period of time, leaving a spare mag in the glovebox over the course of say, a few years, can lead to problems.

When it comes to light, ordinary household illuminaton doesn’t present a problem, but prolonged exposure to sunlight can. We’ve all seen what direct sunlight can do to objects left outdoors. Colors fade, objects become brittle. And your ammo is no exception.

So, when storing your ammo, it’s a good idea to think cool, dark, and dry

If your ammo storage location is a combination of those three factors, you’re off to a real good start.

Cool, Dark, And Dry Ammo Storage

The first thing most people will think about when they think of cool, dark, and dry, is, of course - the basement. However, this isn’t exactly the best option, at least at first glance.

Basements Are Humid And Can Flood

Moisture soaks into the ground, and the cool and dark environment of a basement invites humidity. Also, during a flood, water will seek the lowest point, which is, you guessed it, the basement. However, one may not be able to store their ammunition in another location in the home. If you’re going to store your ammunition in a basement, a wise investment would be some high shelving, along with a dehumidifier. You’ll have the cool, dark, and dry part down pat. Plus the elevated shelves may buy you precious time to bring your ammunition to higher ground in the event of a flood.

If You Don’t Have A Basement

Not all of us are fortunate to live in a home with a proper basement. Here in South Florida, basements are actually very hard to come by, and for good reason - we’re at sea level, and it’s not usually recommended to have accessible space below the water table. An acceptable alternative is a large walk-in closet, away from windows and external doors, with a good, constant temperature. Build out some shelves, and you’re all set.

Dessicants and Ammo Cans

Whether you’re storing it in the basement, or in a properly-prepared closet arrangement, you can’t go wrong with keeping your inventory in ammo cans and cases. Surplus ones are easy to come by at just about any gun show or ammo shop, and can be ordered online, as well. A decent one will be relatively airtight. Also worth considering are Pelican cases, such as the suitcased-sized 1560. A little pricey, sure, but it may be a worthwhile investment if you’re like me and isolate your “prime choice“ ammo.

Also worth picking up are accessories to combat moistue, most notably those little silica gel packets, aka dessicants. You can buy them in bulk on Amazon, scavenge them from various shipped items, and even “rechargeable” ones are a thing. They’ll keep things even drier, and extend your ammo’s life further.

Bulk Ammo In-Stock

Inspect And Rotate Your Inventory

With a proper plan of attack, you can keep your ammo fresh and ready to go for decades and perhaps longer. Inspect and rotate your ammo when possible. Look for obvious signs of corrosion and other aging, and rotate out some old stock, i.e. shoot it, and replace with factory-fresh ammunition.

It’s entirely conceivable, with properly-stored modern ammo, that your inventory could last a lifetime, or longer. In a very real sense, your ammo inventory could be an investment for the future.

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