Is Old Ammunition Safe to Shoot?

Is Old Ammunition Safe to Shoot?


As a longtime firearms teacher and head of a gun rights group, folks ask me all types of questions. All questions have advantage, particularly for people who find themselves new to weapons. Among these questions, people will ask concerning the security of shooting outdated ammunition. I inform them that on the whole, outdated factory-loaded ammunition ought to be completely secure to shoot.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

The ammo gods showered me with outdated ammo not too long ago. A outdated good friend and fellow teacher cleaned out his storage area and located multiple hundred rounds of outdated .22 Blazer ammo. Yeah, it seems slightly tough. At the identical time, I’ve shot loads of outdated .22s and so they normally operate fairly properly. I wouldn’t use them for a match or competitors, however for plinking or skills-building? You guess.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

Another good friend stumbled on a large assortment of outdated shotgun shells at a sale. It was greater than he might use so he shared the wealth. In truth, he shared bins and bins of shotshells, a couple of hundred kilos price.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

I cheerfully accepted the windfall, as I do know outdated shotgun ammunition additionally does properly, no matter age.  Unless shotgun shells are saved on the backside of Lake Michigan after an unlucky boating accident, shotgun ammo tends to forgive house owners who retailer them in less-than-ideal circumstances.

If you could have outdated shotgun shells that don’t hearth reliably, take into account giving them to a reloader to recycle the parts. Or promote them to somebody you don’t like. Lots of police departments will take undesirable ammunition for disposal, too.

While most skilled shooters will merrily get rid of (that’s spelled s-h-o-o-t) your “old” factory-loaded ammo, I keep away from different folks’s reloads. You most likely ought to too, except you already know the one who made them and belief them together with your well being, well-being and fingers.

Shooting another person’s reloads carries an became greater danger of issues. People with consideration deficit dysfunction typically don’t make good reloaders. I’ve “inherited” reloads on numerous events in my life.  Today, I move them on to different reloaders to recycle the parts. Those people will normally discard the powder (it makes nice backyard fertilizer) and typically the primers, after which reload the circumstances with contemporary, identified powder and the unique bullet.

Why don’t I like reloads?  In brief, squibs. Squibs occur when the individual or machine fabricating the cartridge failed to incorporate a powder cost within the spherical. The primer will push the bullet into the barrel, what place it is going to stay stay. If the squib goes undetected and a shooter then fires the subsequent spherical right into a now-obstructed barrel, dangerous issues will occur. It can lead to severe damage to each the gun and shooter.

i’ve shot over 200,000 rounds in my life and the one squibs I’ve skilled got here whereas shooting the home-rolled stuff. Specifically, all of them got here from outdated people who ought to have stopped reloading lengthy earlier than they lastly did.

In the final occasion, the person did not cost each third or fourth spherical with powder. I used a handful of them to make a malfunction video to indicate our college students precisely what a squib load seems, feels and feels like. And then I discarded the remaining.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

Jeremy S. for TTAG

Unfortunately, squibs can wreck your barrel and probably your firearm as properly. Barrel obstructions virtually all the time destroy shotgun barrels, typically inflicting accidents, too. A barrel obstruction in a high-powered rifle could cause a sudden and catastrophic disassembly of the receiver and chamber and injury to all issues close by – together with the shooter’s hands, arms and face.

Conversely, if a reloader double-charged the powder in a shell, that may additionally trigger an undesirable, speedy discombobulation of issues in your gun.

If you think you’ve inherited reloads, my recommendation stays to move them on to a reloader for the parts. How do you establish reloads? First off, rimfire ammunition is nearly all the time manufacturing facility made.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

With American-made centerfire rifle and pistol rounds and shotgun shells, manufacturing facility bins normally function an excellent clue. At the identical time, one should examine the person shells in every container. Do all of them share the identical headstamps and colour (nickel vs. brass)? Are the primers of uniform colour?  Are all of them the identical gauge or caliber (see above).

Do the headstamps match the container? For occasion, do the headstamps say Winchester within the Winchester container? Or do you could have Remington rounds in a CCI or Fiocchi container?

If all the pieces seems constant and the case headstamps are uniform and match the kind on the container, the ammo might be manufacturing facility loaded. Furthermore, if the cartridges lack scratches, or different indicators they’ve been loaded, fired or all the above, that additionally suggests manufacturing facility ammo.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

In shotgun shells, do the shells all share the identical colour and print on the perimeters?  Is the brass base of the shells uniform in height? Do the shells all seem like manufacturing facility crimped? If so, that points to manufacturing facility ammo.  Watch for any shells that seem like they’ve already been fired after which reloaded (and re-crimped) just like the shell on the left above.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

Any rounds that show indicators of tampering just like the 12-gauge shell above, proper ought to discover their means into the trash.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

With all ammunition, all method of shells can discover their means right into a container. Compare the shells for consistency – and gauge. If unsure, move on them. Or on the very least, set up them. Don’t feed 16-gauge shells into your 12-gauge shotgun.

I discussed American-made ammo above. Old international ammo can even shoot in fashionable firearms of the suitable caliber. However, some outdated international ammo could show corrosive to a point. For those that clean their gun earlier than the solar units, no downside. For others, like me, chances are you’ll discover a mild patina of rust in your barrel two weeks later. Lesson realized.

Remember, when you encounter outdated ammunition, don’t use it for self-defense except you haven’t any different ammo out there. Don’t purchase somebody’s outdated ammo to guard your self and your loved ones. Even when you discover some outdated .357 Magnum hollow-points.

Storing your ammo

Ammunition cans


When shopping for ammunition, American or in any other case, it is best to retailer it in air-tight containers. Military surplus ammo cans make nice ammo storage containers to your ammo bins. Regardless of container kind, label the skin of the container, too. You’ll thank your self later.

For those that have quite a lot of rounds, ammunition cans make nice organizers as properly. Ideally, preserve your ammo cans saved in a cool, dry place.

If you could have a formidable ammo fort, don’t stack it too tall and deep if there’s a standard wood flooring beneath. Excessive weight, like quite a few circumstances of seven.62×51 NATO, 5.56×45 (.223), 9mm Luger, .45 ACP and .38 Special could cause flooring joists to sag over time. Ask me how I do know.

In common, outdated factory-loaded ammo sometimes will retain its performance for a protracted, very long time. Yes, even when it doesn’t look fairly on the skin. One could encounter a number of duds with actually outdated or poorly-stored ammo, however by and huge, it is going to go bang each time. To keep further secure although, attempt to keep away from reloaded ammo to scale back risks from another person’s home-made errors.


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