How Long Does Ammo Last?

how long does ammo last

We all know how tempting it can be to stock up on ammunition, especially if there are sales, but do we all know precisely how long they last? In general, ammunition doesn’t go bad with any sense of urgency. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know for when you plan to stock up on some extra bullets.

How Long Does Ammo Last?

Merchant speaking, ammunition will last about ten whole years. However, there are so many stories about keeping hundred-year-old ammo in their gun cabinet that has worked flawlessly even if the humidity is incorrect. The fact is, the life of ammo is relative and can be so fickle, you’ll never know if the bullet works after so many years without triggering it.

The ammo shelf life is based on the quality of the manufacturer’s loading procedures and the components, which include the powder and primer type as well as the proper sealing. Something to note, too, is that after manufacturing, a round’s shelf life really comes down to the conditions to where they are stored.

A popular belief among long-standing gun owners is that ammo is like good wine. It would be best if you stored it in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Ammunition Storage

A few good things to keep in mind when thinking about storage for your ammo for the long haul are the following:

  • To avoid infiltrating the cartridges, it would be best if you did not store ammo with or anywhere near oils or solvents.
  • Never store ammo in scorching temperatures.
  • Drastic temperature changes can affect the cartridges, so be aware of any moisture.
  • Do not jostle or move it around a lot.
  • Make sure to have airtight canisters or an o-ring sealed container for your ammo when in a humid environment.

The most considerable risk to shooting age old ammunition is not the failure to fire. It is actually the risk that you will fire the shot, but it does not have sufficient force to move out of the barrel. There are numerous reasons as to why this is disastrous, but we mention the top two reasons below. 

  • The bullet becomes lodged in the barrel, and now it is an interference for the next shot.
  • If you shoot your firearm with other rounds lodged in the barrel, you can destroy the firearm or seriously harm yourself.
  • Say you do some rounds with your firearm, and it sounds off; carefully unload the gun and run a rod down the barrel to make sure there is no obstruction penetrated in there.
ammo storage

Different Ammo and Different Ammo Shelf Life

In today’s era of ammo, our modern ammunition designs come already sealed to protect against any corrosion or moisture the bullets may come in contact with. Ammunition that has corroded that was produced decades and decades ago can still perform and go “bang” today. Also, ammunition that is reported as” non-corrosive” typically has a much shorter shelf life.

Full metal jackets and brass-lined ammunition are not susceptible to any lead depravity. It is also known that the steel case ammunition produced can be more vulnerable to corrosion compared to others like brass. However, if properly cared for, steel ammunition can last a very long time. Modern lead-free primers are suspected to slightly shorter lives, around 25 years.

A wise man once told me that if you accepted any ammunition that gets engulfed or infiltrated by humidity and moisture, you should only use these up at a range, or you should clearly mark them for disposal.

Ammo for Concealed Carry

While it is not challenging to preserve ammunition in a storage vessel for a lifetime, however, if you do own a concealed carry firearm, then you should know these particular precautions.

For ammunition, it is recommended that it be rotated out a few times throughout the year. This is because of the regular exposure to the elements can cause some harmful complications. A few of those are the following.

  • Indentations from the feed ramp
  • Excess lubrication spotted

How to Safely Recycle Unwanted or Unusable Ammunition

Let us say that you need to dispose of unwanted ammunition. Where do you go? Well, there are several options available to you.

First Call, Police Station

You can always check with your local police department if they are willing to relieve you of the unwanted or unusable ammo. But do not call 911, they do not have the ability to aid you in this, so you will have to call the station’s local phone number.

Typically, the police stations are happy to accept ammo that is brought in in small quantities. If you have anything more significant, they can help direct you where to take it.

Your Local Hazardous Waste Drop-Off

The second place to call is your local hazardous waste drop-off location. If you find out that they do not collect ammo there, you should ask them about their specific collection events dates. Sometimes hazardous areas will not accept ammo on a regular daily basis, and they most often will have dedicated dates where they do take it.

Check With Your Local Gun Range

dispose of ammo at gun range

As I have mentioned above, you can head to your local gun range for proper disposal. They may not take a significant load off your hands, but if you have a few duds, then the most likely will be happy to oblige. 

Final Say

So, the takeaway with storing your ammunition for the best outcome in shelf life is to should keep your charges in a nice dry place away from any cleaning or chemical solvents, and, if you do this, ammo can easily last 10 years and steel ammunition can even last up to 25 years.