With some hunting seasons already winding down—firearms deer seasons in many areas are already a memory—and others finishing up in the next few weeks—such as waterfowl and some small game seasons—it’s going to be time for field guns and favorite rifles to be cleaned and stored until time to warm up for next season.
But what about the ammo? Do you give much thought about the best way to store your ammunition over these extended periods of time? You should. While most modern ammunition fortunately doesn’t require too much care to ensure it stays as ready to fire as the day you bought it, it does require some care. For any load, moisture and high heat, are the primary enemies. Here are just a few key concerns to keep in mind when storing your ammunition for the off-season.
Keep it Dry – Humidity or seeping water, such as in some garages or basements, can be a real problem, particularly when moisture is allowed to soak into boxes and hold water against primers, cartridges and the shotgun shell brass. This can lead to rapid corrosion that can render shells inoperable and even dangerous to fire as it weakens the wall of the cartridges/shells or around the edge of primers.
Store ammunition in its original packaging and stack it off the ground on a shelf or inside plastic ammo boxes where it is protected from water. If storing in an area, such as a garage or basement where humidity is an issue, you may also want to try using a dehumidifier or when stored inside a cabinet, refillable moisture absorbing products. If using these, be sure to check it often and change it out as necessary.
Keep It Away from Heat – High heat—generally above 150 to 160 degrees—can begin to break down the potency of gunpowder. This means don’t store in attics, the trunk of your car, or for that matter, even inside your car during the hot summer months. Avoid widely fluctuating temperatures as well, which translates to making your optimal storage area inside your home where heating and air conditioning will keep temps, and humidity, in check.
Keep It Organized—If not storing ammunition in its original packaging where it is clearly marked and organized with the proper caliber/gauge and load information, be sure to store it in plastic ammo boxes made to store shotgun shells or rifle/handgun cartridges and be sure to mark them on the outside. Don’t leave ammo piled in a jacket pocket or backpack during the offseason bullets can become deformed, shotgun shells can lose the identifying lettering and numbering on the hull, and ammo can be more exposed to the unpredictable elements.
With proper storage, ammunition can last for decades.