Ammunition Storage & Shelf Life
It's obvious to most that the quality of your ammunition is just as important as the quality of your rifle. Whether you prefer to hand-load, or you'd rather make an investment in a top loaded ammo brand like Hornady, you want to do your best to keep your ammo in fighting form. Depending on the climate where you live, this can be trivial, or a significant challenge.
While it's true that modern ammunition has a much longer shelf life than older types, it's still possible for the environment to degrade your ammo. This mainly becomes a problem if you want to stockpile ammunition — and what precision shooter doesn't? If you're always on the lookout for new and better things, you might find yourself wanting to try different ammo with different rifles in search of the sweetest combination possible, which could mean a lot of ammo sitting around unused for a period of time. Not only do you need to keep it organized, you also need to keep it in good condition until you're ready to use it, even if that day isn't coming anytime soon.
Here are three proven tips for extending the shelf life of your ammo.
1. Limit Oxygen Exposure
We may rely on air to breathe and keep us alive, but it can sure wreak havoc on metal. Even the highest-quality brass can get corroded if conditions are poor enough, and lead and some primers can degrade too. A tightly-sealed container like an ammo can will help to limit the movements of air around your ammunition.
2. Keep Humidity Low
Moisture is another big problem with extending the life of pretty much any metallic object, ammunition included. High humidity means more moisture in the air, which makes the degrading effects of oxygen even worse. Keep your sealed, clean ammo cans in a climate-controlled structure with an air conditioner or dehumidifier to draw that moisture away. Packing rounds in sawdust is also helpful. Also, if you have some ammo that's been exposed to a lot of moisture during an outdoor shooting activity like hunting or a tactical competition, it's a good idea to use it as soon as possible before it becomes further compromised.
3. Keep Cool
The effects of oxygen and moisture are greatly increased in hotter temperatures, thanks to an increase in the rate of evaporation. This is why air conditioning is so great for ammo storage, especially in warm climates — it covers both humidity and temperature. Always store your ammunition in a cool place. And we're talking cool, not cold — you don't want condensation to form when you bring your ammo out into the hot, sweaty outdoors.
So, to sum it up: keep your ammunition in sealed cans, in a cool, dark place that's as dry as possible. Your goals are to minimize air exposure and movement, minimize humidity, and keep cool but not frigid. Following these simple rules will keep your ammunition in good order for long past its listed shelf life — over 10 years.
If you have any questions about how to further optimize your precision shooting equipment, feel free to get in touch with us here at OTM Tactical.