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
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?
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.