Ammo Storage: How To Avoid Common Amateur Mistakes (The way that maintains your precious ammo investment for years, decades, and centuries to come)
Have you taken steps to protect your ammo storage?
Are you treating it like the critical survival investment it is?
I sure hope so because…
If you can afford stock ammo, you owe it to yourself to store it properly.
You should treat your ammunition stockpile like you treat a precious metal.
Both investments that require good practices to maintain for the long haul.
If you don’t properly maintain your ammo, if you neglect it, your ammo’s useful shelf life can be cut short.
Which is a travesty, because ammo will be the lifeblood when SHTF.
Remember, in a long-term survival scenario, he who has the most firepower; often wins.
Ammo is arguably the most important item you can stockpile.
It provides the ability to hunt, barter, defense your home and family, intimidates others, etc. And these are all critical survival and preparedness tactics.
A lot of the popularity of firearms is due to the fact that anyone can use them effectively, not only the strong and agile. The young, the old, men, women and child can take up firearms in defense of home and family and do so effectively.
But to rely on these survival tactics you must:
- Purchasing large quantities of ammo
- Store it for the long haul
It’s obvious, but worth saying again, “guns are worthless without ammunition.”
At this point, you’re probably asking a simple question –
How fast can poorly stored ammo become compromised?
Ammunition Shelf Life
Let me start out by saying ammo, does, in fact, have a shelf life.
But unlike food, that has a shelf life measured in days or weeks, ammo’s shelf life is measured in years and decades.
It all depends on how you store it.
If you store it right, ammo will easily outlive you, probably outlive your kids, and possibly even your grandkids.
In near ideal conditions, modern ammo will last centuries.
But if you store your ammo in improperly, degradation starts day one.
Slowly at first, but over a few years or decades, you may find your ammo useless.
And even if it still fires, the accuracy will likely be jeopardized.
Old Ammo vs. New Ammo
Modern materials, design improvements, and automated manufacturing processing have helped to improve the shelf life of today’s ammo.
And that’s great news for those of us who started stockpiling ammo over the last couple of decades.
When we talk about older ammo, I’m primarily referencing ammo that was manufactured pre-1930s. After the 1930’s smokeless powder was introduced.
Older bullets had a much shorter shelf life unless they were meticulously stored, and regardless they are quickly reaching the end of their reliable shelf lives.
Today, the risk vs. reward of shooting older ammo may not be worth it.
And the risk vs. reward equation keeps getting worse as each year passes.
The bottom line is your ammo stockpile is an investment in your future.
You want to protect this investment as long as humanly possible. So let’s learn how to do that.
How To Store Ammo
Properly storing your ammunition is not complicated.
You only need to follow a couple of simple storage principles and take meaningful action.
Yes, that’s it.
Here’s the first primary storage principle:
Store your ammunition in a cool, dry, dark location.
Let’s break that down; if you keep your ammo in a
place, you win.
Follow this, and you’ll extend your ammunition stockpile from decades to centuries.
Now, once we begin analyzing these principles, we discover there’s a bit more to it.
So let’s deep dive into each of these ammo storage principles.
Keep Your Ammo Cool
You want to keep your ammunition cool. Not cold but cool.
You also want to avoid storage locations that are hot.
To be honest, constant warm temps or consistent cool temps is not the issue.
It’s the extreme temperature swings that are the real concern.
The integrity of ammo is compromised if it’s subjected to extreme temperature cycles. It’s hard on ammo to go from 100 degrees to 0 degrees back to 100 degrees, year after year.
Why is this bad?
These temperature swings tend to invite humidity.
And as we’ll discuss shortly, humidity is the real threat to your ammunition.
That’s why garages, attics, unheated cabins, and vehicles are such poor ammo storage locations.
Now it’s highly dependent on your local climate, but for most of us, these storage locations move through extremes temperature seasonally.
In winter, overnight temps can reach sub-zero degrees in garages, attics, etc. And in the summer, north of 100 F.
Ammo stored in these conditions for just a couple of years won’t hurt it much.
Your ammo won’t typically go bad in a matter of a couple of years.
But if left in these locations over a series of decades the temperatures swings will begin taking a significant toll on your ammunition’s shelf life.
So where should your ammo be stored?
Traditionally, basements are popular ammo storage locations.
Why? Because basements are located below ground level.
Ground temperatures, change much less than air temperatures.
So while air temps will change from 0 degrees to 100 degrees seasonally, ground temps 10 feet below the surface tend to stay in a range of 20 degrees.
So for example, if soil temps 10 feet underground averages 50 degrees, it may rise to 60 degrees in the summer and drop to 40 degrees in winter.
This is significantly less variation than air temps.
And at 30 feet below the surface, temperatures swings become negligible.
At this depth, ground temps stay constant regardless of the air temps.
So we can take advantage of the earth and support the “constant cool” principle of ammunition storage.
That’s why basements tend to be popular ammo storage locations, but they have their downsides too.
Which we’ll cover next…
Keep your Ammo Dry
Moisture (a.k.a. humidity) is even more dangerous to your ammunition than temperature swings.
Moisture is corrosive to metal. And ammo’s is made of metal (casings, primers, and the bullet).
Hence, moisture exposure will eventually rust your ammo.
It will begin with small amounts of surface rust, which you can sand off, and your ammo will still fire, but even this may affect your ammo’s accuracy.
And if this rust is allowed to fester it will eventually (over several decades) render your ammunition useless.
So we need to control moisture exposure to our ammunition.
But guess which part of our homes tend to have the highest humidity levels?
You’ve probably guessed it, basements.
Rain soaks into the ground. Ground contacts your home’s foundation. This ground moisture is dangerous to foundations if allowed to accumulate.
That’s why it’s so important to ensure your gutters and downspouts are working properly to avoid foundation problems (i.e. cracking, settling heaving, etc.)
Many homes have sump pumps to help manage basement moisture issues.
Basements and humidity are a big concern for your ammo.
When massive flooding occurs, which area will get wet first?
So from a moisture standpoint, basements present a bit of a problem. However, there are solutions to help manage these risks.
First, if you do store your ammo in a basement, don’t set it on the floor.
Keep it in cabinets or racks. The higher, the better.
That way if your basement does flood, your ammo will likely remain above the water level.
Another way to manage the increased humidity in basement air is to get a good dehumidifier.
This dehumidifier unit will continuously pull moisture out a damp basement.
Best Ammo Cans
The third way to manage humidity is to store your ammo in rubber gasket ammo cans.
The key is to ensure the rubber gaskets are in good shape and create an airtight seal when latched.
That’s why I steer clear of used ammo cans. I don’t trust used seals. They are often dried out and cracked.
It’s not worth the risk to me. Fresh seals ensure a quality airtight seal.
Quality ammo cans will completely isolate the internal air (inside the can) from the external air (outside the can).
So let’s go over a few of the best ammo cans on the market today.
Solid Tactical 50 Cal Ammo Can
This excellent ammo can is both air and watertight and you can be confident because each is individually tested before being sold.
The Solid Tactical Ammo Can also comes with 3 desiccant packs. That way, you can add your ammo immediately and the desiccant packs will remove all moisture from inside the can.
This can is tough as hell since it’s made out of steel and it comes with a money-back guarantee!
Redneck Convent Metal Ammo Case Can
This ammo can come with a “worry-free seal” that will ensure your ammunition stays dry and clean from dust dirt and debris. Giving you peace of mind protection.
This Redneck Convent Metal Ammo Can also comes with a hinged lid with a locking latch for easy transportation. Its constructed from heavy gauge steel and a rubber gasket.
Finally, it comes in a classic camo green color which an ideal color in my opinion!
More About Dessicants
Good ammo cans keep the air inside the can from co-mingling with the air outside the ammo can. Allowing for complete control over the air inside the ammo can.
When you isolate and control the ammo can air, you can now 100% control the humidity.
How so? Using something called a desiccant.
With Silica Gel Dehumidifier Desiccants.
Toss one of these desiccant canisters into each air controlled ammo can and they will remove the moisture from the air.
Silica Gel Desiccants use particle physics (osmosis) to attract air moisture particles.
By trapping the moisture into the desiccant, the remaining air inside the ammo can will be dry.
So the surrounding ammo can air that touches your precious ammo will be arid with little to no moisture.
And as we discussed earlier, moisture is what causes metals to corrode.
So by removing moisture from a controlled box of air, you eliminate ammo corrosion.
It’s simple math.
- No moisture equals no rust
- No rust equals no corrosion
- And eliminating ammo corrosion, extends your ammo’s shelf life, reliability, and accuracy
Keep your Ammo In the Dark
UV light is also a destructive force.
Over long periods of exposure, the sun’s harmful UV rays will break down nearly everything.
You’ve seen this process with vehicles. Leaving a vehicle out in the sun for years will deteriorate the exterior metal and paint.
Now compare that vehicle to one that’s stored in a garage when not in use.
Over long periods of time, UV ray exposure will take a toll on your ammo.
The good news is most indoor storage locations will do just fine.
So a closet, pantry, basement are all protected from UV rays. Plus, the inside of your ammo cans will be dark as well.
So if you store your ammo in a windowless location in ammo cans, UV rays will not cause you any ammo problems.
Organization Matters…A Lot
Good ammo storage take organization and discipline.
Remember you’re potentially stockpiling your ammo for decades.
So it’s important to stay organized and maintain control of your ammo storage efforts.
It’s not set and forget. You must maintain a process.
First, you should label your ammo cans.
You want to identify what’s in your ammo can without opening it.
Labels will help quickly inventory your stockpile and save you time in an emergency.
If you need ammo right now for your 22 survival rifle, you want to avoid dumping out several ammo cans on the floor to find which one has your 22 LR’s.
So get yourself a quality labeler.
A labeler is one of my favorite prepping tools.
It comes in handy for more than just your ammo.
It’s also a perfect tool for food stockpiles and rotation practices. It also helps keep my gear and survival supplies organized.
I also label key areas of my home for emergencies.
I’ve labeled the main water shutoff valve, the natural gas shut off valve, etc.
As the head of household, it’s my responsibility to know how to find and shut these components off in emergencies.
But for my family, it’s less intuitive.
But by adding labels, it’s easy to walk them through the process and for them to recall and find them in an emergency.
I can’t assume I will be available when emergencies happen.
Worth every penny for my peace of mind.
Next, create a desiccant check schedule.
Every few months, open up each ammo can and check your desiccants.
Create an email reminder, write it on a calendar, or whatever, just make sure you check your ammo storage regularly.
In this process, you’ll occasionally find desiccants that need a recharge.
I like these particular desiccants for four reasons.
1 – First, they’re designed for up to a 3 square foot area.
3 square feet is more than enough for a regular-sized ammo can.
So I can standardize on one desiccant style and size for all my ammo cans.
I prefer to use universal parts and components whenever possible.
It’s always a headache to use several styles of desiccants and then have to keep track of backups for each can. No thanks.
2 – Second, they include a color code.
If you see an orange color, they are still doing their job.
If it’s no longer orange but clear, it’s time to recharge them. This color-coding makes it stupid simple.
Open your ammo can, look at the desiccant color, note the ones with clear color and replace.
3 – Third, they are rechargeable.
They pull moisture from the air continuously until they “fill up”.
At some point, the desiccant can no longer draw more moisture from the air because it’s reached its moisture capacity.
It’s at this time that the color turns clear. But they are not one and done.
You get to reuse them over and over again.
These desiccants just need 3 hours in an oven at 300 degrees to reset them.
So these amazing desiccants are a nice little investment and worth every penny.
4 – Fourth, they don’t use cancer-causing chemicals agents.
They don’t use the nasty chemical Cobalt Chloride.
This chemical has become classified as Group 2B, which states Cobalt Chloride is possibly carcinogenic to humans.
No way I’m handling a carcinogen and putting them in my oven.
With these desiccants, you never have to worry about that.
Ammo Storage Action Plan
1 – Decide on a cool, dry, dark and safe location.
Put a bit of thought into your ammo storage site based on what we discussed earlier in this article.
The best advice I can provide is where NOT to store your ammo.
Don’t store your ammo in:
- An unheated/cooled garage
- An unheated/cooled attic
- Your vehicle
2 – Purchase high-quality ammo cans and put all your ammo into them.
I recommend you dedicate each ammo can to only one caliber size for sound organizational practices.
Don’t mix and match.
Then label each ammo can so you know exactly what’s inside without having to open it.
3 – Add fresh desiccants to each ammo can.
4 – Create a master schedule and reminders to check your ammo can’s desiccants.
Then just replace and recharge as necessary.
See that wasn’t so hard!
Here’s a short video overview of your ammo storage plan:
And finally, it’s a good idea to keep all your ammo cans stashed away in a large gun safe. That way everything is double secure from intruders, fires, or kids.
You are now on your way to protecting your ammo storage investment the right way.
The way that maintains your precious ammo investment for years, decades, and centuries to come.
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