Powder/Primer shelf life????

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

  1. Rogeritall

    Rogeritall Member

    Sep 17, 2012
    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 Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2009
    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

    Jan 1, 2012
    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

    Sep 17, 2012
    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

    Feb 26, 2007
    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

    Jan 1, 2012
    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 Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2010
    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

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA

    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!

  9. ozo

    ozo Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    Nashville TN
    Elvis ain't laughin'......

    Attached Files:

  10. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2012
    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

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    I miss Frank.. :(
  12. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2012
    Tell us (your gonna lose JLA) about Frank.
  13. zant

    zant Well-Known Member

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

    judgecrater New Member

    Jul 26, 2010
    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 Active Member

    Apr 15, 2007
    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'

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