How to Store Ammo

metal ammo box for storage
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How to Store Ammo

Just like with gun storage, a prime piece of the puzzle when taking care of your ammunition is how you store it. It's an area in which a little forethought goes a long way, yet it's often overlooked. Storing ammo correctly can help it last for years if not decades. Store it wrong, and the ammo may only be good a few short weeks or months.

Without the ammunition to shoot, a gun is useless. That's why it's important to take good care of your ammunition. Find out more about storing ammo in the guide below to ensure a satisfactory shooting experience each time you load your gun.

Choosing the Right Ammo Storage Location

The first step in ensuring your ammunition is properly stored is selecting a location. Choose a location large enough to accommodate everything you need to store and an area that remains cool and dry.

Why Keep Ammo in a Cool, Dry Place?

By and large, the two biggest enemies for the health of your ammunition are heat and moisture. While heat can lead to expansion, causing loosening of overall construction and other damage, the heat itself is not usually enough to ruin ammunition. However, constantly changing temperatures that go from extremes of cold to high heat can certainly lead to damage — especially when combined with any moisture. This combination can lead to loosened seals, wet powder, ruined primers, and corrosion, among other issues. Keeping ammo in a cool (but not cold) location minimizes these issues.

It's also a good idea to place ammo within waterproof containers. Something that has a rubber seal that keeps the elements outside goes a long way toward protecting the functionality of your ammunition.

You'll also want to avoid storing ammo on basement floors. If the basement is the only location you can store ammo, consider placing it on shelving to keep it off of the floor and away from any moisture buildup or potential flooding.

Consider a Dedicated Space for Ammo

If you have the ability, an area with its own climate control would be ideal for storing ammo. Creating a space specifically for ammo storage, with shelves and its own thermostat, is worth considering if it's a viable option given your budget and home. Consider adding a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the surrounding air and you'll likely never have to worry about the state of your ammunition.

Even if you don't have the ability to set up a dedicated climate-controlled area, either temperature or humidity control still work wonders on their own, so do what you're able to protect your ammo.

Other Tips for Eliminating Moisture

Another option to keep your ammunition free of moisture is to store it with some kind of moisture absorber. Silica packs, similar to those found in food packaging, work well to absorb ambient moisture and keep ammo dry. You can place these in ammo boxes or other containers as well as in bags of loose ammunition as a precaution in case mild moisture manages to get in.

In addition to silica, you can purchase moisture absorbers, also called desiccants. You can find desiccants that physically absorb moisture, such as clay sodium bentonite and calcium bentonite. While these aren't cheap, they can be worth the investment depending on your situation.

A final option for moisture absorption on a budget is the DIY method. You can mix uncooked rice and salt and keep containers of it with your ammunition. The rice absorbs moisture and the salt keeps the rice from spoiling. Just don't eat the rice once you're ready to replace it.

Keeping Your Ammo Organized

box of bullets spilling out

One thing to keep in mind when storing your ammunition, whether in separate containers or the original boxes it came in, is to mark it in some way. It's a good idea to label containers with what kind of ammunition is inside because original boxes can fade or become discolored over time.

Labels also let you see quickly what type of ammo you have without opening up various containers. You obviously wouldn't want to open boxes in any kind of adverse conditions, and constantly opening and closing containers to see what kind of ammo is inside isn't preferable.

Other information to consider adding to container labels includes:

  • How many rounds are inside
  • When the ammo was last checked
  • Whether it's range ammo or defense ammo
  • Any other information you may find useful or want to know at a glance

To make it easy and further protect the information, consider writing the data on a piece of paper and placing that inside a sealable bag. Tape the bag to the outside of your storage container.

Should You Store Ammo in the Original Container?

ammo stored in original container

Storing your ammo in the container it came in can be a great choice, especially if it came in a can. Ammo cans are valued surplus items for a reason: They're excellent storage containers.

Sometimes, for various reasons, this is simply not possible to do. As a result, you may have loose rounds that you need to keep. Clearly, just leaving them loose, even if you keep your ammo on shelves, is a good way to lose them. Consider storing them grouped together for better organization. A good method is a zippered food storage bag. Typically, those are fairly watertight and are quite handy in a pinch. Simply put the rounds in the bag and seal them up. Many of these bags come with labels you can write on with a permanent marker for better organization, and you can shelve them or put them in other containers to keep them safe.

The Final Word on Ammo Storage

Better quality ammunition tends to last longer. Some manufacturers even seal the primer with a sealant or coating. This addition prevents moisture penetration and extends the life of your ammunition. Unfortunately, the sealed primer method is not always used or economical for every round produced, so check your ammunition to see if the primers are sealed.

If you take the time to properly store it, your ammunition will be there when you need it for years to come.

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William Radel
If stored properly, the Military considers the shelf life of small arms ammunition to be 99 years..Keep shooting..
My dad had thousands of rounds from the 60’s store in ammo cans. I shot them all 50 years later with no problems.
Warren Waldrip
Thank You for the great information
Good little article.
Bryon Christoffersen
Good article, ty for sharing.
Rosa Perez
I bought Ammo but forgot to order medal container
Can i store ammunition unopened by vacuum bags? Long term
I do
Yes - vacuum sealed - no air and no water vapor - one of the best ways.
romulo santos
is a safe ok for storage?
romulo santos
gun safe
Adalberto Erazo
Great information
Ed Cooper
This was a good article about ammo, lot of which was common sense, but there was a lot of great ideas, some you probably wouldn't think about till it's too late. I know I'll come in put my ammo in ammo box and throw them in the back of my closet. I still wonder about ammo in the cardboard boxes they come in, most of the time I put them in different containers, even vacuum sealed sometimes. Bulk ammo in cardboard boxes, I wouldn't think it would be safe. Would it? Anyway I thought this was a good article on ammo. Hope to read more about it sometime. Thanks Ed
Paulo Vasconcelos
Very important information.
William Skinner
What about storing a 50 round box of good quality HP 9mm in your glove compartment of the car along with a couple filled clips? Can they get too hot and explode? Will they fail to fire after a few weeks? Comments? I’m new to this.
Donald Rawlinson
Great article on this subject: Question at the end, if the magazine is 180 degrees will you be able to handle it and put it in the weapon? Oh by the way, clips hold your pants up, magazines in weaponry are used to hold rounds. Stay safe. Test the spring tension on those magazines from time to time or my may have feed problems when you don't want them.
Glenn Hoffman
It would have to reach over 400 degrees in the car to detonate dont thi k thats possible but the changing temperature from hot and cold in the glove box will probably destroy the ammo quickly
Bill F
I read an article that you should not have ammo in your glove box. Because if stopped by the police then you might open the glove box to get you insurance papers/registration. If the police see the ammo then he can search your vehicle and which you might not want them to do. Also, keep loaded magazines separate from your gun in the car. This probably does not apply if you have CCW.
Austin E
It is extremely unlikely the heat would reach a point where the ammo would explode. Constant high temps can more quickly degrade the ammo, though. If you keep loaded mags and ammo in your car, it would probably be a good idea to rotate it out every 6-12 months depending on the environment.
Eric williams
Good info. But i was wondering about vacuum sealed bag? I would think that would be goid for keeping moisture out.
David Walters
Eric, Please see my comment below about vacuum sealing ammo. Best, David
Richard Delucia
I use plastic ammo boxes, they hold 50 / 100 rounds each. I don’t know if that’s good or bad ? Please advise.
Clayton Gusky
I take all my ammo out of the original boxes and put it loosely in metal ammo cans with 2 desiccant packets and a little cardboard strip that tells me the moisture content of the can. When the moisture gets too high, I replace the desiccant. I keep the cans stacked in the corner floor of my bedroom. Seems to work for me. All my ammo always looks brand new and fires well.
David Walters
We use a vacuum sealer. Works great. Whether the ammunition is loose or still in its box, and no matter how much loose or how large the boxed ammo is (within reason and provided the bag isn't too large for your vacuum sealer), you can find vacuum seal bags in a variety of sizes to use for ammo storage. We also add uncooked rice to the bag before sealing. It works great as a desiccant and you can use it in vacuum seal bags for loose ammo or boxed ammo. But, DO NOT LOAD UP YOUR MAGAZINES AND THEN STORE THEM IN THE VACUUM BAG WITH RICE AS THE RICE WILL INVARIABLY ENTER THE VOIDS AROUND THE LOADED AMMO AND ENCOURAGE FAILURES TO FEED (FTF). Best and Keep Shooting, David
Michael Casselman
Thanks for the info !
mike valentini
how do i sell bullets ?