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How long do cartridges last, generally?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by GAJAY, Feb 7, 2010.

  1. GAJAY

    GAJAY New Member

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    I've got some that are at least 16 years old. This is for a .32 pistol (I guess it would be classified as a Saturday night special) that I usually carry in my car for the unlikely event I'd ever need it for protection. I also have some .22 long rifle ones that are of similar age. They all still look good. I recall watching an episode of Adam 12 where one of the cops said he hadn't changed his cartridges in 6 months and it was time to change....
  2. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Ammo lasts for years, unless you seriously abuse it in its storage. People are shooting surplus WW1 and WW2 Russian ammo, all the time. I've got stuff I loaded 20 years ago, and it still shoots. I'm still shooting 22 ammo I bought in 1981.
  3. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Oh, and there's no sucha thing as a "Saturday Night Special". That's a stupidity anti-gunners made up to scare people.
  4. OcelotZ3

    OcelotZ3 Former Guest

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    I've personall shot ammo my dad had that was 50-60 years old. Works fine if stored dry.
  5. Gabob

    Gabob Well-Known Member

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    Should be OK indefinately if not sujected to high temperature . I loaded some in early 60's for my uncle. After his death 20 years later the lead was oxidized and discolored but they shot just fine
  6. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    I regularly shoot WW II vintage ammo with no problems at all. As long as it is stored in reasonable conditions, out of the sun and high heat, it is good almost indefinitely. There might be some degredation of accuracy due to slight changes in pressure after many years if you are a precision bench-rest shooter, but for most of us you can't tell the difference. I consider 20 year ammo "fresh"!
  7. old semperfi

    old semperfi Active Member

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    i live in southern indiana,old country boy at hear
    well so far everybody is right,except for those that are wrong.ammo that is kept in a firearm in a place(such as inside your car) should be used with some regularity.what i mean is if the temp and humidity varies everytime you turn on heat or air in vehicle ammo could degrade after a while.now,how long a while i dont know,i refresh my truck gun ammo every couple of months.i take gun out fire ammo that was in it then clean and reoil all parts.i then reload and am ready again.i know this maybe anal to some but if i need to pull a gun from my vehicle i hope to GOD it goes off when i need it.the choice is yours old semperfi
  8. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

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    Most of my .303 hard ball is 1917 manufacture

    i've shot maybe 3000 rnd's of it and have plenty more to go it was stored in a tin shed for over 70 years till i bought it , i've shot 1902 man dated stuff too without issues ( but not a lot i admit, just some stuff i was given in a trade) and shot ( or tryed too) stuff not stored well and had green corrosion on it then cleaned up dated 1945

    its how its stored

    rimfire i have some 1958 stuff that shoots fine if a tad "hot" for my liking but still good ammo for hunting and plinking but seeing i used bolt actions it's no real issue but would not try it in semi auto /blowback actions

    cheers

    jack
  9. Popgunner

    Popgunner New Member

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    Ammo is usually shootable many years after it was made. Milsurp ammo with corrossive primers from the 30's is mostly dead because the primers will eat themselves. Corrossive primed ammo from the 40's & newer still seems to shoot. Ammo that has non-corrossive primers & "modern" powders should be shootable as long as the brass case holds up. Usually the first thing to go on the cases is that the neck will crack. The US military starts surplusing ammo as it reaches 5 years of age because the case necks may be more prone to splitting but lately military ammo is shot up about as fast as it can be produced. Even ammo with cracked necks is shootable for plinking. The turk 8mm surplus shows up with cracked necks but still shoots.
    Handloaded ammo that has low temp grease lube on cast bullets can go inert if the gun/ammo is left in the car in hot temps. The grease can melt & run back & destroy the primer. I've had that happen.
  10. Popeye

    Popeye New Member

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    In 1991 I purchased 50,000 rounds of .303 British surplus ammunition. It is all headstamped 1909. I'm still shooting it with no serious problems. Maybe four in one hundred rounds exhibit a click ... bang.
  11. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    There is no good answer because fixed ammunition has not been around long enough. A few years ago, I fired some .45-70 from the 1880s and it fired OK.

    The old corrosive primers were very stable, but the early non-corrosive primers were not as good. That is the reason the Army chose to keep corrosive primers through WWII. The GIs had to clean their rifles, but that was a lot better than having the ammuntion fail in combat.

    After non-corrosive primers had improved, and proven themselves in carbine ammunition, the Army transitioned to non-corrosive primers starting in 1950.

    Jim
  12. LurpyGeek

    LurpyGeek Active Member

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    Not sure, I've never kept them around long enough to find out.

    jk

    My father and I recently shot some 7mm Mauser that he hand loaded in the '60s. Worked great. Brass was a little brittle.
  13. Gabob

    Gabob Well-Known Member

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    One exception is US issue 30-06 loaded at Frankford Arsenal in 1933. The brass is subject to "season Checks" or" season Cracks " I had a sack full of this given to me in the 1960s. Bright shiny ammo. I was shooting a 1903A3 from high kneeling position at 200 yards when one blew out. Knocked me flat of my back and rifle took off like a rocket and stuck up in the sandy soil about ten feet in front of me. Blew out magazine plate anda small splinter from stock. I had powder blown into my forehead and thumb. Was semi concious for a few seconds. The brass had a 1/16 " wide split from primer pocket to about an inch up the side. I inspected rest of the ammo and found five more with hairline splits in the same area. Read later in the Rifleman about the brass from 1933 being defective and spliting with age
  14. jondar

    jondar New Member

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    Once mid 1990's a friend and I were using metal detectors in a section of the city I worked in which had been condemned.Underthe front steps of an ancient house I found a .38 S&W revolver cartridge. IIRC the head stamp was UMC. Brought it home wiped it off with a rag. Case seemed OK. I had a 3rd Model Iver Johnson in that caliber, chambered it, thought no way this is going to fire, POW! little cloud of white amoke. Sure enough, black powder loading. Treat them all like they're live.
  15. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Hi, Gabob,

    Yep, and the M1903 doesn't handle gas very well.

    Jim
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