Who else wants to have peace of mind and therefore, have bought packs of ammo?
Perhaps due to social tension and impending legal restrictions, you worry things might get real ugly any time soon and want some kind of protection. Well, you never know, right?
Perhaps you’re a licensed hunter just looking forward to that next big game season. That venison steak is too good to miss, isn’t it?
Or someone in between. You stockpile both for self-defense now and to feed your family in the apocalyptic world. A tactical prepper… why not?
So, you paid your bank a visit. Sometime later, there you have those boxes with 50,000 rounds of ammo (I trust your rationale and math on this one) sitting in your house.
Where and how are you gonna store them to ensure every ammo stays in good condition until you or your grandchildren need them?
You see, knowing the right way to store ammo is just as important as knowing how to fire a gun. I tell you, the last thing you want is to stockpile trucks of ammo for your favorite firearm only to find them rusted and their powder had turned into molds years later.
Wasted! If that happens and ammo is no longer sold, how’s your archery?
Well, I know you prefer Rambo over Robin Hood... probably.
That’s why today, we’ll make sure you’re not ruining (or about to) your priced ammo. You’ll learn the dos and don’ts of ammo storage plus some expert tips and recommendations.
So, let’s fire away!
Know what ammo to store
Now, ammo comes in various sizes, designs, and materials. But if we’re to break them down, it all comes down to your purpose⸺ what are you gonna use it for?
For hunting purposes, almost any ammo and gun can be used. Of course, the bigger your target animal or game is, the bigger you’d go with the caliber size and power.
And as for self-defense, while some rounds work better than others, any round can be repurposed for the sake of protecting yourself and your family.
Ultimately, focus on which type of firearm you have and are proficient with.
If you want versatility and can handle different types of firearms, then here are 5 recommended ammunition calibers you should focus on stockpiling.
1. The .22 Long Rifle
Due to its small profile, you can store thousands of rounds without taking much space. It’s relatively quiet. It will suffice for hunting small games (birds, rabbits, squirrels, etc.) because you wanna just kill the animal, not burst it into pieces. And if needed, good enough to intercept an attacker.
The best part? You can buy a lot without breaking the bank.
2. The 9mm
This caliber has been the common standard for pistols/handguns. Although it’s not one shot one kill nor good at long-range applications, it’s great for up close and personal self-defense.
And since it’s the most popular caliber for its cheap price and light recoil, it’s an excellent barter item when crap hits the fan.
3. The 5.56mm or .223
Unlike other calibers of the same range, 5.56mm is lighter with almost non-existent recoil. It’s the perfect caliber for deer hunting. And when loaded in an AR-15, both young and small-frame hunters will find shooting a child’s play.
When it comes to self-defense, it’s very good both at close range and intermediate distances (about a hundred yards away).
4. The 6.5 Creedmoor
Now, if you’re intending to hunt much bigger games like moose or elk from afar, then 6.5 Creedmoor is your go-to. Not to mention it’s adequate for large predators like black bears. Hunters, competitive shooters, and even the military love it because it’s as versatile as it is effective.
Self-defense-wise? The cartridge can stay accurate and supersonic for up to ±1000 yards. What’s more? TheU.S. Department of Defense chose 6.5 Creedmoor for their military long-range sniper platform. That is saying a lot!
5. The 12 Gauge
A shotgun is probably the most versatile firearm in the world. It’s great for taking down really big animals (both games and predators), home defense, breaching structures, and what have you.
And when you’re surrounded by zombies, a 12-gauge shotgun will be your best bet.
How NOT to store your ammo
Now that you have purchased loads of ammo based on your skill and preference, it’s time we talk about the next critical step⸺ storage.
Here’s the thing… ammo doesn’t “expire”. Many manufacturers may claim a 10-year shelf life but that’s just the minimum estimate. If done right, it can last indefinitely. If stored improperly, however, expect it to last no longer than most celebrity marriages will.
That said, let’s start with the don’ts.
1. Don’t be fooled by the price
This applies to both worlds⸺ expensive doesn’t always mean “quality”, and cheap doesn’t always mean “junk”.
Instead, focus on the manufacturer (credible), retailer (expert in handling and storage), and product labels (easy-to-understand, recently made, and certified).
2. Don’t haphazardly throw ammo in drawers
Remember that cartridges are like batteries⸺ contains toxic chemicals and can explode at high temperature. So, when it’s mixed up with other random stuff and within anyone’s reach, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
3. Don’t store ammo in your car on a hot sunny day
Rick Patterson, Managing Director of Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI), explains:
"With extremely high temperatures, you get rapid degradation of the ammunition components. The case and cartridges are relatively inert in terms of temperature, but the chemical properties of the gunpowder and priming mixture can be affected... Over time, you'll see a drop in performance, perhaps to the point of going click rather than bang."
4. Don’t store ammo just in their cardboard factory boxes
Cardboard boxes absorb moisture. They’re not waterproof. They’re not sturdy hence, can’t protect the ammo against weight and impact. (More on containers later)
5. Don’t mix different ammo calibers all together
Doing so may not cause any chemical reaction, but good luck finding the right ammo for your firearm in an emergency.
6. Don’t store guns and ammo in the same container
When not in use, guns and ammo should be placed on different planets. This will prevent unauthorized access and accidental discharge. You don’t want your kids to find your gun with the ammo available, do you?
7. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Now that you’ve separated your ammo from your guns, place the ammo containers in various locations strategically.
Maybe 9mm in your closet. Some 6.5 Creedmoor in your hunting cabin. And a box of each caliber in your house’s secret room. Just make sure to remember the placements afterward.
8. Don’t be enticed by the aesthetic of vintage boxes
Though it may look cool to store ammo in that antique wooden box used in The French Revolution, don’t. It’s wood. It’s not airtight. It lacks security. (Sorry grandpa)
(No worries… I’ll tell you an alternative later that’s way better).
Remember, function over fashion.
The safe and proper way to store your ammo
According toSAAMI’s storage guideline, ammo should be stored in a cool, dry location away from solvents and other chemicals, heat sources, or open flames.
Planning to stockpile ammo for your grandchildren? Then you’ll find our article on How To Properly Store Your Ammunition for 10 Years or More very helpful.
1. Store ammo somewhere cool
Not cold but cool. For this, you wanna keep your ammo away from extreme temperatures. Too hot and it will explode. Too cold and it will cause the powder to break down.
As mentioned, keep it away from heat sources. That includes direct sunlight, hot ceiling, fireplace, motor exhaust, and whatnot.
More importantly, you wanna keep the temperature at constant room temperature or a bit cooler. Now, why did I say “constant”?
Because fluctuation in temperature creates humidity. And water beats metal in the long run. So, keep the temperature in check and keep the surroundings dry… let’s talk about the latter.
2. Store ammo somewhere dry
Water is metal’s kryptonite. When your ammo gets exposed to moisture, bad things happen⸺ rust, mold, powder damage.
Hence, keep them away from water sources and drainage. If you’re in a hurricane or flood-prone area, put them on a high shelf or second floor or higher away from doors and windows.
- Keep storage containers off the floor. Place it on a wooden pallet. Doing so will keep it safe from liquid spills and ground temperature.
- To prevent moisture build-up within the container, throw in a desiccant or dehumidifier into each container and your ammo won’t forsake you.
- Contain in layers. Here’s the trick:
First, keep your ammo sealed in its original packaging. Second, put it in a vacuum-sealed bag (or ziplock). Then, place that bag in a bottle or metal container. And lastly, lock it in a certified secure gun/ammo safe.
There you have your onion bulwark no water molecule shall dare intrude.
3. Store ammo somewhere secure… gun/ammo safe preferably
Again, placing your ammo inside a drawer or cabinet won’t suffice. In fact, it’s not even advisable. Instead, go for somewhere hidden and secure.
And by secure I mean water-resistant, fire-resistant, dust-resistant, burglar-resistant⸺ resistant to the bad stuff, basically.
For this, a military ammunition/cartridge box or an air-tight Tupperware will do… if you live in a crime-free world which you don’t. How easy would it be for burglars to just grab your box and go?
That’s why, as a pro tip earlier, the last step you should do when storing ammo is to lock it in an expertly certified safe. Not only are you saving your precious ammo from the elements and criminals, but also abiding by legal requirements concerning firearm and ammunition storage, if any.
4. Other pro tips
- As much as possible, keep your original packaging label next to your stored ammo. Do this and you won’t have to guess the ammo specifications in the future.
- Sort your ammo by caliber, purpose, or storage date. Stay organized and you’ll be more efficient. Plus, you’ll be able to keep track of your ammo’s age. Keep your stockpile fresh⸺ first in, first out.
- Label every container. You’re not Rain Man with x-ray eyes, are you?
- Buy in bulk to save on cost. Consider it as an investment⸺ a hedge against inflation (in an optimistic tactical perspective).
- Inspect every cartridge before use. There should be no signs of physical damage (corrosion, dents, scratches) and not “feels different” from the rest or what you’re used to. Otherwise, chuck it. Better safe than sorry.
Protect the ammo that will protect you
It’s simple… guns are useless without working ammo. But more ammo doesn’t automatically mean more chances of survival⸺ quality over quantity, skill over greed.
And for ammo to work for you, not against you, you have to give it some care and attention.
So, store your ammo the right way and you may never have to bite the bullet!
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