Storing Ammunition

#1
I've been storing my ammo for as long as I can remember in GI ammo cans (loose out of their boxes). A few days ago I opened one and noticed a 15 round stripper clip of 5.45x39 (wolf steel case) were all rusted to hell - theyve been sitting in there for a couple years. I do not keep dessicant packs in my cans because they pretty much stay in my house or car all the time here. I checked all my other cans and they were fine. I'm curious as to how this happened, all my cans are in pretty good shape and the seals are intact.
Should I line the cans with something, or store the ammo differently?
 
#2
Was it an older can that maybe had some rust inside of it?

Not sure about this, but seems like rust "spreads" and begets more rust?


And obviously, steel case ammo would be more prone to this than brass.
 
#3
As with many folks, I use ammo cans to store boxed and loose ammo.
- Ammo cans are stored in the most temperature and humidity stable closet in my home.
- Each ammo can is lined with cardboard on four sides and bottom. My thought is IF any moisture/humidity enters the can, it will gravitate to the cardboard. Ammo remains in original packaging until use, or as practical. BTW, Post Office has lots of free boxes in there lobby.
- Every couple years I wipe the ammo can rubber gasket/seal with a rag, then apply a thin coat of Vaseline to keep the rubber gasket/seal moist.
- Every year I open each ammo can to check material condition of ammo…
- Over the years I have been fortunate to not lose any rounds to rust/corrosion.
- Ammo cans with any damage to "water tight integrity", or inability to achieve a "tight seal" are not used for ammo. As a prior Squid/Navy, these sorts of things commonly on my mind.

Just my thoughts and logic. May be helpful to someone.

Brad
 
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#4
Was it an older can that maybe had some rust inside of it?

Not sure about this, but seems like rust "spreads" and begets more rust?


And obviously, steel case ammo would be more prone to this than brass.
No rust on it, and pretty clean overall minus some dust.
Thanks ka. I might start storing them in their original boxes instead of loose
 

NYECOGunsmith

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#5
It takes oxygen plus water in any form (vapor, liquid, ice which will eventually become a liquid again) to form rust.

Rust (oxidation, it forms on all metals , not just ferrous ones) requires reaction with oxygen in all metals, and in some, like those that are ferrous (iron based) it generally requires water as well.

But once all the oxygen or water is used in the conversion of the iron to hydrated iron oxide (rust) , the process stops.

Aluminum that has had the surface removed so that it is bright and shiny will quickly develop a layer of aluminum oxide on it, some alloys will do so within 60 seconds, this protects it and the oxidation process stops, no matter how much oxygen is present.

But ferrous metals, as long as there is oxygen and water present , will continue to rust until nothing is left, they don't form that protective layer., they just keep getting eaten away.

If you wanted to ensure no rust on steel stripper clips, steel cased ammo, etc. you can give them a light wipe down with a silicone treated cloth, put a moisture absorbing packet in the can, and then just before you seal the air tight can, give it a blast from a can of "Bloxygen", which is ultra pure , totally inert argon in a spray can.

That will drive the moisture and oxygen out of the can, then seal it quickly and as long as it is air tight, you will be good to go for decades, as long as the can doesn't rust from the outside, or get exposed to heat that is.

You could also use nitrogen gas to do the same thing.

Or store the ammo in vacuum sealed containers, sucking all the air (and moisture) out after sealing it. But you need a container with a valve that you can let air back into when you do that, so that you can open it, and it has to be a very sturdy container, as it won't take much of a draw down vacuum wise to collapse a flimsy container, even a GI ammo can, can be collapsed with enough of a vacuum applied to it.
 

jay

uber Member
#6
If it was just clip among many...maybe just that one had a layer of something acidic or salty? (Sweat, juice, etc). Or that one had no lube / oxygen barrier layer and all the others did?
 
#7
If it was just clip among many...maybe just that one had a layer of something acidic or salty? (Sweat, juice, etc). Or that one had no lube / oxygen barrier layer and all the others did?
Thats a good possibility, maybe a tiny bit of moisture was on the clip and sweated into the primers? All the others were good. Good info nyeco, I will keep that in mind.
 
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NYECOGunsmith

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#8
You could also, for long term storage purposes, seal ammo, stripper clips, etc all, which have been given a light coat of oil or silicon on the steel components, in vacuum bags.

You can buy machines at Wal Mart that are made for sealing food for long term storage. Then put that sealed bag inside an air tight ammo box, along with a moisture absorbing packet, and giving it a shot of Bloxygen before sealing it up.

That should probably guarantee problem free storage for many years.
 

Earthquake

Obsessed Member
#9
Also let the ammo temperature stabilize before you put it in the can, say you bought the ammo in the winter and it has been in the trunk of your car all day or night and its cold when it goes in the can it might condensate a tiny bit, 50° ammo goes in the 70° can.

Casey
 

jay

uber Member
#10
Diito on the temperature equalization before storing tip. And vacuum bagging IMHO is way more "durable" than storing in gasket sealed containers. If you can store gasket sealed containers in temperature stable conditions then that's a big plus but temperature swings will make the pressure inside go both higher and lower than outside the container and eventually many of these containers will go through the cycle of bleeding a bit out then sucking a bit in. In extreme conditions, warm relatively humid sucked in :coolgleamA: air will condense out liquid water when cooled down and whoa! Magic puddles.

In less extreme conditions you have new moisture and oxygen coming in to feed existing rust.

So yeah - vacuuming bagging for the win.
 
#11
Diito on the temperature equalization before storing tip. And vacuum bagging IMHO is way more "durable" than storing in gasket sealed containers. If you can store gasket sealed containers in temperature stable conditions then that's a big plus but temperature swings will make the pressure inside go both higher and lower than outside the container and eventually many of these containers will go through the cycle of bleeding a bit out then sucking a bit in. In extreme conditions, warm relatively humid sucked in :coolgleamA: air will condense out liquid water when cooled down and whoa! Magic puddles.

In less extreme conditions you have new moisture and oxygen coming in to feed existing rust.

So yeah - vacuuming bagging for the win.
Just be careful with bullet setback with vacuum sealing

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#13
just listen to nyeco, he has been storing ammo for 3000+ years, so he knows his s**t!
I wouldn't doubt it, I use the same vacuum sealing method myself, it's good as long as you don't overdo the vacuuming and cause setback

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#14
Plenty of knowledge, logic and wisdom in NYECO (and others) thoughts and recommendations regarding optimum storage of ammunition. Educational.

As a side note. Just last week, or the week before a post disparaged NS as a source for technical information. I’ve only been with NS a bit over two years and have read numerous posts based on technical knowledge, detailed experience, and both a general and specific willingness to assist NS members with small arms issues…
- IMHO, NS is a valued resource (technical and hands on knowledge) for all, available simply for the asking.

Interesting conundrum to consider and manage the concept of excessive vacuum WRT the bullet. Believe NYECO recommendation most ideal, in particular when moisture, temperature swings and less than ideal storage is available.


With above in mind, the military stores small arms ammunition in magazines around the world in ammo cans for years, decades, without vacuum sealing, nitrogen, etc. Nor does the military use desiccant in small arms ammunition cans. They do place a humidity indicator in ammo cans that reflect highest humidity in the can. I recall 20%, 30% and 40%. If humidity gets to either value, it turns pink. Again, as I recall 30% thresh hold (in the can) for concern by military. Otherwise they are blue and OK.

40+ years Active and civilian Naval Ordnance service. Very, very rare small arms ammo was discovered with corrosion. Exception were normally when ammo was in outside storage or a storage magazine was inadvertently flooded. (Squids do that occasionally)


Thus far, for my use, typical home HVAC, ammo cans in most environmentally stable carpeted closet in the house. Only metal (no plastic) ammo cans in excellent condition used. Ammo cans have good gaskets, and ability to seal securely. Ammo remains in original box or loose / bulk ammo never touches metal can (cardboard lined ammo can).

Perhaps thus far I have been lucky, no corrosion on my ammo that I’ve noted over the years. If that changes, I’ll apply NYECO recommendations, with particular attention to bullet setback. Many variables to consider and apply best ammo storage solution for individuals and their local environment, realities for them.

Brad
 

NYECOGunsmith

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#15
I agree whole heartedly with everything you said, Brad.

I should have noted that my statements in regards to ammo storage were for extreme conditions.

In a previous life, I/we frequently had to store caches of ammunition, weapons, etc. and by vacuum packing them, with desiccant, in air tight containers purged with an inert gas, we were going all out to ensure that everything would survive the environment where the goods were being cached.

Stored like that, as long as the container doesn't rust through, you could store it under water (we did that a few times) for years with no ill effects.

As for my having been storing ammo for 3,000 plus years, it goes back longer than that, every time you step on some gravel, GW, you are walking on my ammo storage from the "real old days", it holds up just fine, rain, shine, wind, snow, floods, no problem at all. When you are ready to load your sling or catapult or trebuchet, the ammo is good to go no matter how long it has been stored!

Not long before I retired, I fired a number of magazines through a Thompson SMG, a BAR, an M1 Carbine, a M3 Grease Gun, and a 1911(different mags GW, different mags!) that had been loaded early in WWII and left in storage for 60+ years.

All fed without malfunction, all the rounds fired on the first primer strike.

I have several cases of 1914 through 1917 vintage 30's06 ammo, and once in a while I fire a few rounds of it, none has ever failed to go off on the first try. It has always been stored in a cool, dry environment, and I expect it may well be good for another 100 years. It's in wooden crates inside cardboard boxes, GI ammo.

Coiled springs only take ONE set, that is the one that occurs the first time they are compressed, and the spring designer takes that into consideration when selecting the wire diameter for the spring, the coil spacing, the amount of energy required to be stored, and the compressed as well as expanded lengths.

They do get some what shorter (or longer, depending on the spring type) with use, but what wears out a coiled spring is the number of compression and expansion cycles it goes through, not being left compressed for a long period of time.

Flat springs, and V- springs, are another matter altogether however.

Those will take a set and fail if left compressed for a long period of time.

Leaving your buffalo hide or giant prehistoric ground sloth "Davy and Goliath" sling out in the rain or sun will cause it to take a set, however, which is why I made mine out of Stegosaurus hide, doesn't take a set no matter how hot, cold or wet it gets.
 

28kfps

Very Active Member
#16
Every couple years I wipe the ammo can rubber gasket/seal with a rag, then apply a thin coat of Vaseline to keep the rubber gasket/seal moist.

Just my thoughts and logic. May be helpful to someone.

Brad
Just for information Vaseline and other types of petroleum lubes will in time soften and dissolve many types of rubber seals. A very thin film of silicon grease is what you want to use.
 
#17
Just for information Vaseline and other types of petroleum lubes will in time soften and dissolve many types of rubber seals. A very thin film of silicon grease is what you want to use.

Thank you for that info regarding silicone grease is a better choice.

Brad