Friday, August 28, 2015

Ammunition Storage

& is used with permission.
Since we seem to be on a roll regarding the stockpiling of goods for trade, I thought I'd mention my favorite precious metals:  Steel, brass, and lead.

There's an old, tasteless prepper joke that goes something like this:

Q:  What's a box of .22LR worth post-SHTF?
A:  Your daughter's virginity.

That joke can be interpreted several ways, none of them very flattering. But the point remains that ammunition will be an important commodity post-disaster, especially if the catastrophe is extensive enough that immediate rebuilding isn't possible. It also makes an excellent trade good because, stored properly, it can last for decades. 

There are three factors which affect stored ammunition: high heat, high humidity, and temperature variations. 

According to the Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturing Institute's (SAAMI) guidelines for storage, ammunition begins to degrade past 150° F. Autoignition isn't an issue -- it takes much higher temperatures for modern gunpower to spontaneously combust -- but performance degradation such that your expensive ammunition goes "click" instead of "bang" is a concern. 

High humidity is also bad for ammunition, as moisture can seep into the cartridge and degrade the powder or the primer. It can also cause corrosion of the brass cartridge, resulting in an improperly-seated bullet or a casing that ruptures when shot. Humidity of 50% or more is too much; 30% or less humidity is ideal for ammunition storage. And, of course, keep all ammunition away from liquids of all kinds. 

Temperature Variations
Frequent heating and cooling cause objects to expand and contract. Cartridges exposed to this on a daily basis (such as in the desert) will frequently have bullets which come unseated. 

Proper Ammunition Storage
Functioning World War 2 ammunition has been found in bunkers throughout Europe, and much of that wasn't even stored properly. If 70 year old cartridges left on the ground can still fire, then modern ammunition properly stored ought to last as long  as you need it to. 

Keep it out of sunlight
Sunlight itself won't hurt ammunition, but being exposed to thermal radiation will heat it up and cause long-term damage.

Keep it in a cool, dry place
Don't store it in the trunk of your car, or in your uninsulated garage. Basements are fine, so long as they're dry (stack the ammunition out of reach of any water). Other good places are in the backs of closets, under beds. and of course in gun safes. 

Keep it in its original container
The plastic cradle and cardboard box serve as a first layer of defense against environmental changes. And if you happen to have a "spam can" of ammunition, keep it sealed -- those cans are watertight and ammunition inside can last forever if properly maintained. 

Use dessicants
Save those little "do not eat" satchets you get in packages or in pill bottles; they absorb moisture. Throw some in with your unsealed ammo. 

Use a vault or storage boxes
If you're fortunate to own a climate-controlled gun vault, then by all means keep your unsealed ammunition inside it. If you aren't, then use water-resistant ammo cans and anti-corrosion bags

Follow these tips, and your ammunition will last a long time, either to be used as intended or trades for other goods and services. And speaking of trading, read Chaplain Tim's article about the dilemma involved in "Do I trade ammo to this person who might use it against me?"

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