Your firearms are worthless without good ammo, and your ammunition will be worthless without proper ammo storage. There are a few tricks to keeping your ammo in storage long-term while ensuring that it is safe and viable when you need it, no matter how far down the road that day may be.
There are three main destructive forces when it comes to ammo storage: heat, moisture, and chemicals.
● Heat will, over time, break down both the primer compound and the powder. This will lead to unreliable ignition and less-than-optimum velocities. While cold won’t affect ammunition, storage conditions should not expose your ammo to moisture-inducing condensation as a result of extreme temperature changes.
● Moisture will lead to corrosion of the cartridge casings. Casing corrosion will make the rounds too unstable to fire properly, rendering them useless at best and dangerous at worst.
● Chemicals such as solvents, cleaners, and oils can penetrate the casings, damaging any ammo which hasn’t been properly sealed.
The paper boxes that ammunition is sold in are fine for short-term storage, provided your ammo is kept in a safe area away from excessive heat or moisture. Silica or desiccant packets can be tossed in to help absorb excess humidity and protect your investment.
Any paper-based ammunition storage is not ideal for anything longer than a year or two. For ammo storage which will keep your goods usable in the long-term, ammunition boxes are the way to go.
● Metal ammunition boxes, like the typical style issued by the military, are good for stacking and space saving.
● Plastic ammunition boxes are often watertight, though they may not be as heavy-duty as their metal counterparts.
Ammo can be vacuum sealed prior to placing it in storage boxes for additional protection from moisture and corrosion. Loose ammo doesn’t trap humidity as much as ammo in its cardboard box, but a few desiccant packets should also be tossed in for good measure. Ammo stored in its original cardboard packaging needs a little extra help, however. If you have a gun safe with a dehumidifier, the ammo (with packing material) can be placed inside for several days to draw the moisture out before sealing up for long-term storage.
Ammo storage best practices
Finally, no matter which type of ammunition storage box you use, there are a few added precautions you should follow. First, be sure to label the outside of your container with any pertinent information, such as cartridge caliber and the date. Dating the box externally will make it easy to rotate your stock, another good practice which will help you get the most out of your storage system. Conduct periodic checks to look for any signs of corrosion. A humidity sensor card added to your ammo storage container will offer a quick visual reference that will make your spot-checks fairly painless. Try to conduct your checks at times of the year which are more dry than humid, in an effort to reduce the likelihood of potential moisture contamination to your entire ammo storage area.