Do Bullets Go Bad??

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by vampyre, May 10, 2007.

  1. vampyre

    vampyre New Member

    May 9, 2007
    Question.... Do Bullets go Bad? I recently was given 5 boxes of 9mm winchester 115gr target/range ammo. I was told they are about 4-5 years old. I know most gun shops say you should cycle out your older ammo about every year or so, but will this ammo still be good? I haven't had time to go to the range yet to find out..... Im using a Springfield XD 9mm (4" service)


  2. Pat Hurley

    Pat Hurley Former Guest

    Sep 30, 2006
    Naples, Florida
    We recently had this debate Vampyre, but it had more to do with long exposure to high heat than age alone. The consensus seemed to be that most ammo (barring long term exposure to high heat or excessive moisture) will age well, and likely fire without flaw after 10 or 20 years or more.

    I remain a little skeptical but this is not my area of expertise. And besides, I have great faith in the IQ and experience of this esteemed group of gunners.

  3. williamd

    williamd New Member

    Mar 21, 2007
    Technically ... bullets will not go bad. They are just lead and/or copper.

    Now as to loaded ammunition. If it is stored well it will last years. I have personally stored reloads for over 10 years and they work just fine. I sealed the primer nad bullet (at case neck) off with fingernail polish, other things will work, and wrapped in plastic or put in plastic bags then in ammo box. Probably did not need the wrap/bags. Have used decade old 22RF from original cardboard boxes and 22RF is pretty loosely made.

    Plus, how many of us have obtained surplus ammo that has dated back several decades? Works just fine, doesn't it.
  4. Rommelvon

    Rommelvon New Member

    Aug 6, 2006
    Goldsboro, NC
    I shoot a ton of milsurp ammo, never had a problem, even with ammo 20 years old, as long as there is no corrosion,rusting should be fine
  5. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    We recently shot some military surplus ammo in my son-in-laws mil surp rifle that was from the 1930's. That's 70 years old! Not one misfire or blooper.

    Military ammo in the past used corrosive primers and they did that because the storage life of corrosive primers was greater than commercial primers of the time. But chemistry has progressed and the US military, for example, no longer uses corrosdive primers because non-corrosive primers (like used in commercial ammo) are now up to long storage times.

    Normally anything over 50 years old I'll not shoot since I have no idea how the ammo was stored. I'll not shoot corroded ammo either or any ammo that shows signs of mishandling. Ammo that is less than 30 years old is normally good stuff. Even US mil surp ammo from the 1950's (when the US changed to non-corrosive primers) is good stuff. I have ammo I personally reloaded over 10 years ago that performs as well as ammo I reloaded yesterday. If old ammo has been stored away from heat and moisture there is no reason to suspect it to be any different than ammo loaded yesterday.

    But if there is any doubt at all don't shoot old ammo unless you ascertain that every bullet indeed cleared the barrel at firing. The risk is a blooper load that doesn't get out the end of the barrel and the subsequence round runs into the back of it. I have seen pictures of revolvers (cut open for inspection) with six bullets packed train fashion in the bulged barrel. Not good for the gun or shooter. Safety first!

  6. Crpdeth

    Crpdeth Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2002
    Location location

    I'd have to agree with those that say "store them properly and they'll out live you". But why not go ahead and rotate the older stuff out when you target practice? Just to be on the safe side.

    Love the name BTW.

  7. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    The milsurp ammo I use for my M95 Straight pull rifles are headstamped 1938 (complete with eagle and swastika!) and they are bright, shiny, and sure fire...but I have found ratty looking milsurp that shoots fine, and bright shiny looking brass 1980s Albanian that is CRAP, you can't always tell by looking.

    But FYI, an interesting purchase I made a few years ago was a couple of boxes of the US 42 rd boxes of 1941-42 mixed headstamped .45acp military hardball that made it's way to the USSR via the Murmansk/Archangel lend-lease convoys early in WWII, was stored by the Soviets in salt-mines (because they couldn't use it:p ) and then sold back to us as surplus in 2002 or so for like $7 a about old and "well-traveled," as well as stored and shipped in VARIED conditions....and now I wish I had bought MORE of it!

    While most of it I've put away for collecting purposes, (the headstamps are NEAT, just about all the WWII manufacturers except Evansville represented!)) I DID fire two mags of the more common stuff and it went bang every time, and gave about the same accuracy I get from new hardball....

    The other thing is I'm not so sure just HOW dangerous it would be to fire any ammo that is "questionable," in an otherwise safe rifle or regards to blowing up the gun...I don't think there is any chance of any "chemical reaction" or "aging" that will turn it into an explosive or anything....

    The only real problem with old milsurp that can be dangerous is that there ARE some pistol rounds (usually European or Russian) especially out there that WERE designed for use with SMGs at higher pressures, which you shouldn't fire through pistols, and also a (very) few rifle rounds designed fo MGs, but not as many....get to know your headstamps for any milsurp rifle or pistol ammo you shoot....

    As for COMMERCIAL ammo, I have fired MANY old rounds with no problems, the biggest problem I've found is with old shotgun paper loads...some have swelled and don't fit the chamber or cycle through the action, and some 'bloop" when fired because the crimps open too sure to check for a stuck wad before firing again, this CAN happen, even with NEW ammo....

    You may get failures to fire, hang-fires (Keep it pointed DOWNRANGE for a while after any failure to fire!) and split cases causing gas leakage or blowing (ALWAYS wear glasses! it HAS happened to me with "NEWER" milsurp even...) and other problems which would preclude it as "defensive use" or hunting ammo, but my advice, is use any questionable stuff on the range and have fun!

    Unless of course you are shooting a GLock, then shooting any commercial ammo more than 30 days old would probably void your warranty too....:D
    Last edited: May 11, 2007
    jsjj388 likes this.
  8. idocdave

    idocdave New Member

    Dec 16, 2006
    I have some 30+ year old 22 rimfire that shoots as good as it did when new, I don't have as much as I did thats why I know that it's still good. I did have one brick go bad but Federal replaced it free of charge and that one was 30 years old also.
  9. Mosin_Nagant_Fan

    Mosin_Nagant_Fan Active Member

    Jan 18, 2007
    Montgomery, AL
    I use 20-30+ year old ammo for my Mosin-Nagant and out of 300-400 rounds, only had 1 bad round. I shoot it twice and it never fired.

    New, boxer primed, ammo generally won't go bad because bad because it has a weather seal over the primer.

    It's all how it is made and where & how you store it.
  10. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    iv'e never had any problems with old ammunition firing, like everyone has stated, if theyre properly stored(kept cool and dry) they will usually last longer than you would need them to, however, i have had problems with old brass cased ammunition splitting upon firing due to the brass becoming brittle during storage(caused by temperature changes and/or moisture) but that goes back to storing it properly. be safe and have fun
    Last edited: May 11, 2007
  11. MRMIKE08075

    MRMIKE08075 Active Member

    Aug 26, 2005
    New Jersey
    some of you may be aware that i own a decent pile of vintage military firearms...

    often new ammo is impossible to find, or very expensive...

    yes, ammo can and does detoriate over time...

    exposure to moisture, extreme heat, extreme cold, certain oils, chemicals, and corrosion all have a negative effect on ammunition...

    if you are concerned about ammo used for self defense or concealed carry i strongly advise rotating it out with new amo frequantly (at least once a year)...

    if you are talking about hunting ammo, i would test a sample at the beginning of the season when you sight in your gun just to be safe...

    but for general fun, plinking, target practice, and other non competitive shooting disciplines its not so important...

    if its rusted, swelled, smells bad, in turning green, or no longer fits well in your gun that dispose of it.


    old ammo still can shoot

    i routinely fire centerfire ammo that is 50-121 years old...

    sometimes you get a hangfire, a slowfire, a dud, a squib load, flintlocking, etc...

    you should be aware of the safe procedures involving gun handling when these problems occur...

    safety 1st, and common sense ought to steer you clear of trouble.

    best regards, mike.
  12. Ursus

    Ursus Active Member

    I won't and can't add nothing to improve this post.
    Last edited: May 11, 2007
  13. vampyre

    vampyre New Member

    May 9, 2007

    Thanks everyone for some great replys. I will make it to the range this weekend and will let you know. I am sure, after what everyone has said, it will be fine... especially in my new XD9. I love it! It eats anything.

    Thanks all, good to be part of a well educated forum.
  14. Crpdeth

    Crpdeth Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2002
    Location location
    Re: THANK YOU!

    We're glad you are here. :)

  15. vampyre

    vampyre New Member

    May 9, 2007
    OK. Thanks to all. Just a quick update. I went to the range and all 5 boxes of ammo (4-5 years old) shot without issue. There was no difference between this ammo and the other "new" boxes I bought that same day as far as firing! (Just for those wondering.) Thanks!
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