Long Term Ammunition Storage
One of the most popular trends in the shooting industry is the desire for long-term storage of small arms ammunition. Ammunition will be one of the first resources to be in short supply if something major ever does happen. Food, clean drinking water, ammunition, and fuel are at the top of the list of the consumable products that will surely be in high demand if times turn tough.
As with long-term storage of almost any item, try to focus on storing ammunition in cool, dark and dry areas. The number one concern with extended ammunition storage is moisture and humidity, which can lead to corrosion. In general, ammunition must be protected from moisture and should also be protected from temperature extremes.
In most cases, you can adequately store modern ammunition in their original paper boxes for several years inside your house, which typically has a controlled humidity level. However, this does not address the challenges of storing ammunition for 3-5 years or longer. If you plan on storing it for any longer time periods, than you need to take a several precautions:
- Store your ammunition in a low humidity location. Humidity is the enemy and it will kill your ammunition with corrosion, thus making the rounds dangerous to fire. One of the best methods for extending the service life is to use ammo cans. If you have good ammo cans and pack your ammo well you can easily have your ammunition survive very long term storage.
When using ammo cans, the key to success is to lower the humidity in all the packing material before sealing the your ammunition in an airtight ammo can. If you are storing loose ammunition this is not really an issue since there is nothing to trap humidity, but air. If you are storing your ammunition in cardboard boxes inside the ammo can you will need to get the humidity out of the cardboard before sealing the can for storage. The easiest way is to use a dehumidifier, you probably have on inside your gun safe to protect your guns. Placing the ammo and container (unsealed and open) inside the safe several days will draw the moisture out of all the packing material to ensure you start with the proper humidity conditions. Also, make sure that the ammunition itself is clean, dry, and wiped off, especially if you have handled it with your hands. Next take a few new desiccant packets and place them in the ammo can. The great thing about using silica gel desiccant packets is that they can be recycled and reused by simply putting them in a dehydrator or in a kitchen oven on a 150 F degree setting for a few hours, which will remove the humidity and moisture for reuse. In addition, add a humidity sensor card to provide a quick visual inspection as you conduct periodic checks of your ammo. All you need to do now is seal the ammo can and it should give you years of successful storage.
Another method to fighting the humidity problem is to vacuum seal your ammunition to help protect it from water, rusting or even burying it underground. Use a desiccant packet in your vacuum sealing process for added protection.
- Rotate your ammunition whenever possible. It is important to note not to store you ammunition longer than necessary. Rotation, just like long-term food storage, is the second key to successfully storing ammo. Rotate your ammunition as often as possible and make sure you mark dates on your ammo cans so you use the oldest ammo first.
- Now that you have your ammunition sealed and stored you will need to conduct periodic checks every 12 to 24 months. This step will only take a few seconds if you placed a humidity sensor card in the ammo can during step number one. Simply, inspect the card to ensure the humidity is less than 30%. You can also remove the existing desiccant packets and replace with new (or recycled) desiccant packets. Doing periodic checks will make sure your stocks are ready when you need them.