Imagine having a medical emergency at home and dashing around trying to find your first aid kit. Mouse droppings fall off the top as you crack open the brittle plastic. It is full of bandages with yellow paper wrappers and an unopened antibiotic ointment tube that expired in 2006. It’s still good isn’t it? No, it’s not. You have invested a lot in preparing for the future by stocking up on emergency supplies, but your efforts are useless if your supplies are expired or degraded. When stored properly, ammo can last for decades, but in the wrong environment it starts to degrade within hours. Here are some pointers to ensure it stays in good condition:
Start Out Right
You wouldn’t buy unfamiliar ammo for your family because you know the value of quality. Your arsenal should be stocked with only new ammo of known background. Avoid surplus, old, or suspiciously cheap cartridges in damaged boxes or containers with irregular seals.
Keep It Dry
Humidity is the greatest threat to ammunition and must be avoided, literally at all cost. Basements are notorious for dampness. Store your ammo in new containers that are watertight and airtight with intact gasket seals, and place them in cabinets on high shelving. An increasing number of people are using vacuum sealers for added protection. Dehumidifiers from reliable manufacturers are an effective tool in reducing moisture. Desiccants are small packets often accompanying foods and other products also help maintain dryness. Clay desiccants are effective but expensive. More economical, silica gel often come with color-coded moisture indicators. Avoid anything made with cobalt chloride because it is toxic and possibly carcinogenic. When your desiccant has absorbed its maximum amount of moisture, you can reuse it after heating it for a few hours in a 300 degree oven, then storing it in an airtight container.
Keep It Cool
Temperature extremes are damaging, but the moderate temperatures found in well-constructed basements are ideal. Excessive heat causes changes in the rounds as well as the gaskets sealing the containers. It also melts some lubricants in lead bullet loads which then leaches into the powder. Cars and attics are unsafe.
Keep It In The Dark
Exposure to ultraviolet light is destructive, not only to ammunition, but also to its packaging. Store all of your ammo in areas that are less prone to light like closets or rooms that are used less frequently in your home.
Keep It Safe
Check the space to ensure that no flammable materials such as solvents and strong cleaning compounds are nearby.
Keep It Organized
Organization in advance saves time. When possible, keep the original packaging and arrange it inside MTM-type ammo crates or cans of similar size. Use a label maker to clearly identify everything and the purchase date since paper labels can become torn or faded.
Keep Yourself Vigilant
Check the desiccant in each ammo can every few months, examine for corrosion at the same time, and keep track on a durable master scheduling calendar. Rotate your supplies so the older ammo is used first.