Powder/Primer shelf life????

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Rogeritall, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. Rogeritall

    Rogeritall Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Messages:
    182
    Location:
    Indiana
    First time poster, long time shooter... I just bought a bunch of reloading equipment off of a buddy of mine, and he tells me "don't buy any primers, or powder, I got you covered". Turns out the powder is a half jug of Win 748, and the primers are CCI 400's (200 count) small rifle primers. But, it turns out they are both 10 years old.

    Now I'm brand new to reloading, as a matter of fact I have yet to reload anything, just getting set up. My question would be do any of you think that it would even be worth my trouble to test load a half dozen .223's, or so, to even see if they fire. (I don't have a Chronograph to check velocity), or would you... thank my friend kindly, and just dispose of the old supplies in a safe manner, and get all fresh powder, primers, and so on.

    How old is too old????
  2. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    4,942
    Location:
    SW Fort Worth
    Welcome to TFF and a great question to ask before starting out. As long as they were stored properly, they'll be just fine.

    Did he happen to pass along and reloading manuals too? When you start your load work-ups, you should always load only a few and test them. You do not want to load up 100 or more and then find out that they're not suitable for what you're after. Your thought process of load up a half dozen and test is a wise one!

    If the powder has turned greenish or smells bad, then use it for fertilizer. You can always prime a few cases and then just try them to see if they go bang. Not sure if you can pop off a couple primers outside where you live, but certainly don't do it indoors if you happen to be married.;):D
  3. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    8,561
    Primers should be fine. You can always pop one with a hammer on a concrete floor and if it pops they are good (that is my redneck way of checking them especially when I buy them from a friend that can't tell me anything about them. I put one on the ground and smack it with a hammer. If it pops they are good). As for powder, I have some that is much older then 10 years and it is fine. If the powder smells like ammonia, it is bad. If not, load it up. Do like you stated. Load a few and test them.

    Welcome to the forum.
  4. Rogeritall

    Rogeritall Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Messages:
    182
    Location:
    Indiana
    My buddy is still looking all over his house and finding things his wife hid for him... No reloading manuals yet, but he seems to think he has them there somewhere.

    Yep, I plan on working is small batches starting out, and I can test fire some primed shells in the back yard to see if they sound strong, my wife enjoys shooting so she won't mind. So, maybe I'll use some of it after all, at least to work through my early mistakes. :) Thank you both for your fast replies.
  5. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    18,240
    Location:
    Heart Of Texas
    Theyll live longer than you.. And he aint got you very covered.

    Covered is 30 or 40 pounds of powder and 20K or so primers.. ;)

    If powder starts to turn from not being stored properly it will begin stinking of ammonia. But you have to literally keep it somewhere like the back deck of your car in the summer to get it that way..

    IF kept cool and dry it will last decades
  6. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    8,561
    Hey Roger, if you really want to find out if those primers are still good, make sure your cat is close by when you smack the primer with a hammer. That's there's funny, I don't care who you are. :D

    Your welcome for the quick reply and also, we'll need a range report,,, or a cat report. Which ever we can get.
  7. aa1911

    aa1911 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,193
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    you could send the primers to me and I'll test every one of them for you and send them back once complete! just kidding, welcome aboard and like said, 10 years is nothing. I have .45 ACP rounds from 1928 that still shoots perfect! (OK, I don't really shoot it but had to try a couple)
  8. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Messages:
    6,305
    Location:
    Hesperia, CA
    Rogeritall:

    My son-in-law does not reload and he collects military arms. He buys up surplus ammo of various ages from around the world. The oldest I have seen him shoot is WWII (1940's) Mauser ammo.

    I read that the makers of Bullseye (one of the oldest smokeless powders still in production) keeps a jar of Bullseye from that period to compare to todays production. I think the Bullseye in the jar is nearly 100 years old (??).

    But how it was stored is super important. Another factor is what is actually in the container? Did he make a mistake and drop in some other powder? I had a friend that did that by mistake. The key was that not all the grains of powder were the same shape and the color of them was different. Personally I would not use the powder but you can decide for yourself if you want to risk it, based on knowing your friend and his habits.

    Also buy the latest manuals. Don't use old manuals as often the load data changes as the test instrumentation gets better over time and old loads turn out to be over or maybe even under loaded.

    Safety first!

    LDBennett
  9. ozo

    ozo Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Messages:
    3,309
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    Elvis ain't laughin'......

    Attached Files:

  10. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    8,561
    Ya, I understand ozo, my cat Ruger is my bud. He actually thinks I am the cats meow and lives to be with me. But, one day the grand kids wanted me to pop a primer with the hammer. I did, not realizing that Ruger was on my bench hanging out. Needless to say, he was out of there when the primer went off.

    Here is one of his pics.

    Attached Files:

  11. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    18,240
    Location:
    Heart Of Texas
    I miss Frank.. :(
  12. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    8,561
    Tell us (your gonna lose JLA) about Frank.
  13. zant

    zant Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    435
    Location:
    S.Al
    I'm still reloading with the original H4831 and some of my primer boxes(LRMag) are marked .99....
  14. judgecrater

    judgecrater New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Messages:
    19
    Unless it was stored in really poor conditions, it lasts just about forever. A friend gave me a pound of Bullseye with a price tag for $1.95. Now that is old. I have use it all. Worked fine. Been using some primers I have had for over 25 years, works fine.
  15. gary0529

    gary0529 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2007
    Messages:
    82
    Location:
    Northwestern Va.
    In a word, just about forever.
    I have 30-06 ammunition I reloaded as a kid in the late 50's and I will pull 2 or 3 out every year just to test.
    Every one still fires just fine.
    Like JLA noted unless you really try to destroy the stuff intentionally it will usually work just fine.

    As to "got you covered"--not hardly. I consider 20# of most used powders and 10000 primers my baseline.

    Just sayin'

    Gary
  16. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    18,240
    Location:
    Heart Of Texas
    Frank was my cat. I hate cats, but Frank grew on me. he had a neat personality and would sit on my shoulder like a damn parrot. Neighborhood strays ate him.
  17. Rogeritall

    Rogeritall Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Messages:
    182
    Location:
    Indiana
    Sorry to hear about your loss JLA... Yeah, it's funny how a cat can grow on a person sometimes. I never considered myself a cat person, but this is one that has shared my home for about 16 years now named Ms. Priscilla. When she's gone I'll likely never get another cat... My wife took the photo of her.

    [​IMG]

    As far as the reloading is going, I've just about got everything set up and gathered together to start. I've already polished and prepared about 100 rounds of .223 brass, and hopefully today I'll do up a small batch of test ammo. It won't be long before I'm into the swing of things now... I hope. :) Spare time is more difficult to make then the ammunition probably will be.
  18. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    18,240
    Location:
    Heart Of Texas
    Aint that the truth..
  19. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Messages:
    8,023
    Location:
    florida
    think about all that 50-80 year milsurp ammo that gets shot every day.. :)


    FWIW.. I keep all my powder cans in sealed contaners or ziplock bags ( IE.. the entire powder coantiner in a ziplock, in the case of 1# cans.. or the larger in sealed plastic tubs, container intact.

    I keep all my dies in ziplocks.. as well as primers. I'm starting a campaign to ziplock ALL my boxed and bulk ammo.

    long term thinking here.. :)

    my stuff stays in climate control.. but it never hurts...
  20. Zhurh

    Zhurh Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2010
    Messages:
    2,078
    Location:
    Upper Yukon, Alaska
    I keep my primers in several plastic dry boat boxes with rubber seals around lid, in a dry area (in an old blanket chest) in basement. Interior Alaska is dry country, my humidity meter stays from 35% to 45% humidity which I consider dry, plus we have a woodstove in basement, runs 10 months/year; no mold in this basement. Yet, my dessicant (alum) tins go from blue to pink every 6 months, and I dry them out in over, back to blue. Should I have any concerns? Any better idears to keep primers dry for long term storage? No joke, want to keep these primers good for my grandkids, so they won't want for ammo when the caribou show up.

    Also, I have friends who keep powder outside in sheds in old military boxes. Now it gets minus 65 come January and goes up to plus 90 come June. If screw lids are tight, are powder jugs safe from humidity? I'd like to keep powder outside rather than in basement. Currently, I have it in a heavy metal job master type chest.

    Whatcha all think?
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Powder/Primers now kept behind the counter? Dec 8, 2012
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Why Does 115gr.9mm Always Sells Out First And 124gr.Seems To Remain On The Shelf Sep 21, 2013
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Primer Shelf Life Apr 20, 2013
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Powder Shelf Life? Apr 7, 2009
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Powder Shelf Life Nov 24, 2006