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Old 05-07-2018, 08:07 AM
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Just curious- How old do you let your carry ammo get before you replace it?

I had my first squib ever yesterday, lodging a .38 Gold Dot in my 442. I was using up some older ammo that I keep in a separate box. If I remember correctly, those five Gold Dots Might have gotten wet at some point. Still, it was an eye opener! The first round didn't ignite at all, even with a good primer hit, the 2nd squibbed. The other 3 went off (after I removed the slug), but it seemed like there was a bit of a delay (Maybe just me being paranoid.)

I tested the revolver out afterward with some target ammo. All good.

So I'm wondering, what is your timeframe? Every year? Every other?
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:08 AM
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I shoot off my carry rounds once a year. I've never had one that didn't function properly.

I once left a gun in my vehicle which has a storage compartment under the front passenger seat. Ice chest on the rear seat leaked, and the compartment filled with water. I forgot about the gun being there for a couple of days. When I found it the gun was sitting submerged. After drying, cleaning, and oiling the gun I took it to the range and fired the ammo off. Every round fired properly even though it had been submerged for two days. That was during an ammo shortage, and the only carry ammo I was able to find locally was MagTech Guardian Gold. I've never shot any other carry ammo that has been submerged, so who knows what would happen. I have fired a couple of FMJ rounds that went through the washing machine - same results.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:16 AM
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I think once a year is a good schedule unless the ammo gets sprayed with something like WD-40 or gets soaked.

I try to purchase carry ammo with sealed primers. This is not always possible with the loads I want to use. I may be wrong but it does not appear to me that BuffaloBore seals primers. I think that for what their ammo costs per round they could do that.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:41 AM
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I suppose I should add:

What's the max age of ammo you would carry? Not just what's been in the gun.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:58 AM
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Keep it cool and dry............ it will last a long long time.

If ammo were to get wet..... it would immediately get marked and go into the range bag.... for testing ( over time)

I won't re-chamber a round in an auto... to avoid pushing the bullet back into the case...... as I've read it will increase the pressure.


I recently found some .38/357 reloads from the late 80s...... all preformed as expected. I tend to buy ammo when I find it cheap or just available; never had an issue with centerfire ammo. Actually still have some of my Dad's old duty ammo..... "Police Only" +P + .38s from ??????..... well he retired in 1977.......it still goes bang!


Just last week had a lot of Failure to fire on some Winchester 333 pack bulk ammo I got during the last shortage.... about 1 in 10 FTF in a CZ Kadet or a Ruger 10/22 with good strikes.

All that said; I use to shoot my carry ammo when I qualified (every 6 months) ........ these days a every year or so seem GTG !
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Old 05-07-2018, 10:00 AM
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I never rotate any. Ammo doesn't rot.

I suspect that your squib load was a squib load when you put it in the gun.
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Old 05-07-2018, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petepeterson View Post
I suppose I should add:

What's the max age of ammo you would carry? Not just what's been in the gun.
Speer says 10 years if stored properly - dry, less than 100F.
Speer¬ģ Bullet Points: Ammunition Shelf Life - YouTube

Federal says the same.
Federal Premium Ammunition - FAQ

I don't go 10, but I also don't just burn it off after a year to replace it either. Works for me, but not trying to convince anyone to do what they do differently.
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Old 05-07-2018, 10:39 AM
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This is a complete non issue for me.

In nearly 60 years of shooting, Iíve never had a squib or failure to fire that could even remotely be connected to the age of the ammo.

OPís squib and ftf were not related to the age of the ammo: heíd have had the same results if heíd used that ammo the day it was manufactured.

Iíve killed deer with 30-40 Kraig ammo manufactured at the turn of the 20th century. My son killed his first deer with 270 ammo Iíd handloaded when I was 14: 30 years before my son killed his first deer with it. I have a large stash of WW II era 45 acp ammo that Iíve carried and shot (without problem) periodically. All that ammo, some as much as 100 years old, works just fine.

I know that many departments routinely have LEOs use new ammo at some established interval, but that practice is much more related to tradition than empirical evidence that such a practice is desirable.

While I donít endorse using ammo that is obviously damaged or that you know has been stored in a barrel of sea water for months, my experience is that if the ammo looks good it works just fine.

Folks who engage in a ritual of changing out ammo are either letting their OCD run wild or have too much time on their hands.

To answer OPís questions: I donít rotate carry ammo and I place no age limits on my carry ammo.
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Old 05-07-2018, 02:26 PM
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Guys still use WWII match .45 in Bullseye.

The problem isn't "how old". It's how long it's been carried around, in what environments, and in the case of autoloaders, how beaten-up the top round is.
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Old 05-07-2018, 04:59 PM
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I once bought a bunch of factory ammo that had been stored in a barn in Idaho for ten years. It never got wet, but it did experience heat to well over 100 degrees and cold down to below zero. It all worked fine.

There used the be a requirement in the FBI to keep a 50 round box of handgun ammo in the glove compartment of your G-ride. Every inspection someone would check each car and initial the box. The same box would ride in one car for a few years, then get swapped into another car. Some boxes were covered in initials. When we finally disallowed .38 revolvers around 2000, I rounded up a bunch of these heavily-graffitied beat-to-hell boxes of 147 grain +P+ Hydra Shoks (and some 158 LSWCHP) and put them to good use. Despite being exposed to crazy temperature variations they all shot fine.

I donít really rotate carry ammo.
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Old 05-07-2018, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sigp220.45 View Post
When we finally disallowed .38 revolvers around 2000, I rounded up a bunch of these heavily-graffitied beat-to-hell boxes of 147 grain +P+ Hydra Shoks (and some 158 LSWCHP) and put them to good use. Despite being exposed to crazy temperature variations they all shot fine.

I donít really rotate carry ammo.
I've got a bunch of that 147 grain that's easily as old, probably bought on the same BPA. Just shot 60 rounds last Monday, and they were all good as new. It was a little different feel going through a 442 than the 66-2 2.5" that I used to get paid to run it in . . .
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Old 05-07-2018, 07:10 PM
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As some folks have noted, storage conditions can make a difference. I'd hesitate to shoot (for self preservation) stuff that lived in some glove box for years/decades.

On the other hand, back in the 1960's I fired factory ammo loaded in the late 1890s (.30-40 Krag). All fired, a few case necks split. About the same time fired off a broken box of .45 loaded in 1917, worked fine. Storage conditions of the Krag ammo were hideous.

Carry loads are another matter. Once a year is probably good insurance. I'll admit to stretching that when certain ammo was hard/impossible to get. With semi's, if chambered 4-5 times, I'd put that in the practice box, especially if in .40. I'l admit to stretching that in other calibers with a straight line feed. A lot depends upon your carry conditions, both frequency and heat/moisture.

I've got a small stash of French .45 ball ammo loaded about 1950. I bought it for $1/100 back when. It's corrosive, accurate and probably the prettiest .45 ammo I've ever seen. I expect it'll work if I ever need it.

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Old 05-07-2018, 07:38 PM
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I have handgun ammo I loaded in the 80's that still functions fine. But my carry ammo is usually only factory, stored in my gun room under ideal conditions.
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Old 05-07-2018, 07:43 PM
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I replace mine once a year. It works for me.
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Old 05-07-2018, 07:48 PM
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I generally aim to replace carry ammo every year, but I've gone as long as 2 years before replacing them. Ammo that's been stored well, I'd be ok with using it for defensive purposes up to 2 or 3 years, but I'd probably pull a few random rounds and shoot them. Better still, just buy a new box and reserve old ammo for range use.

Will 10+ year-old ammo work if needed? Probably. Personally, I'd try not to use ammo more than 2 or 3 years old if possible. Same reason I like to change mag springs every couple of years, or change my car's oil at recommended intervals even if I know it can go longer. Cheap insurance/peace-of-mind.
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Old 05-07-2018, 08:42 PM
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6 months in the guns is my general rule. Then they get shot up and new ammo goes in.

To keep everything in perspective, I did an accuracy test about a year ago using a 1944 production Remington-Rand M1911A-1 pistol (73 years old at the time), shooting FC-63 ammo (Federal Cartridge, 1963 production GI ball ammo, 54 years old at the time). 21 rounds (3 magazines) fired at 25 feet, 1/2 scale B27 Silhouette target, possible score of 210-21X, my score was 205-5X. No malfunctions, no problems, just perfect performance.

Still have 5 full boxes of the FC-63 GI ball ammo, and I wouldn't hesitate to load it up for defensive use.

YMMV
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:13 PM
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i do shoot off carry EDC ammo maybe once a year. if i clean the weapon, clean the mag., have the length of the rds. written in a notebook, check the length of every rd. before i reload the mag. i know loading the 1st. rd. might move the bullet back into the brass. the most any of the bullets have moved back is a few .000's.over the years i've been takeing notes because of the info read on the forum. check them w/ micrometers for +/_ dimensions of the round.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petepeterson View Post
Just curious- How old do you let your carry ammo get before you replace it?
I don't replace it. If it's a semi-auto, I might remove the ammo and restack it in the mag once in a while.

The revolvers I keep loaded in various locations in the house are usually in drawers or camouflaged under an open magazine or a towel or something. Never crosses my mind to swap out the ammo. Never.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:59 PM
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I have some magazines for my S&W Model 469 that I have kept fully loaded with Winchester Silvertips since about 1993. I would bet my life on them firing and functioning in my gun 100%.

What is this "rotation" of which is spoken?
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Old 05-07-2018, 11:01 PM
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Because of tradition (habit) I shoot up whatever is in the magazine twice annually. It is more a matter of reminding myself how the gun performs with the "performance" ammo I keep for SD purposes than using up "stale" ammo.

We were required to shoot duty ammo on the range (18 rounds - the six in the revolver and 2 reloads from the belt) at qualification). OTOH, our guns and ammo were exposed to rain, snow, dust and oil (gotta be clean for inspection!) I don't ever recall having a round of factory duty ammo FTF.

Although I still have some 30-odd year old fed stuff lying around I don't see carrying the oldest ammo I own as a badge of honor. Now that Winchester has produced another run of .357 Silvertips I may just shoot up the last 12 I was saving from 1988.
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Old 05-07-2018, 11:47 PM
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To celebrate the 100 year anniversary of my Smith & Wesson and Colt Army 1917s, I fed each revolver one half moon-clip loaded with 1917 head stamped Frankford Arsenal .45 ACP.

My slow-fire trepidation was for naught, as each round of century old ammunition faithfully ignited.
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Old 05-07-2018, 11:53 PM
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OK, I'll be the odd man out. I change my carry ammo every time I practice with my carry gun. This is at least once a month to as often as every week. I do this because I use the ammo that's in the mags when I get to the range.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gamecock View Post
Ammo doesn't rot.
This is a misnomer and could be a dangerous practice. Black powder does expire. This is why I'll never use anyone's reloads but mine. Yes, I have seen guys that got mixed up and used the wrong powder.

Further, it's not the age that's the problem, but the handling. Water and oil can migrate past the crimp and contaminate the powder or primer. I've heard that oil from your fingers can do this from being handled a lot, but I'm having a hard time believing it. There's just not enough oil on your hands to be a problem.

Still, handling is a concern. Sweat from your body can be problematic. Oil in your gun can be problematic.

If it's a self-defense gun, changing the ammo through practice can only be a good thing.
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Old 05-08-2018, 08:37 AM
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I'm certainly not saying changing out ammo is a waste but I have shot ammo that was at least 50 years old and it fired just fine. Before my dad passed away he had some 300 H&H mag and 38 specials from the 50s tucked away in an old chest. Each one of them went bang. Now if ammo gets wet that's a different story. I imagine there are as many opinions on this as there are on open/concealed carry.
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Old 05-08-2018, 08:53 AM
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Ammo has an indefinite shelf life and I've used ammo from WWII with no ill effects. When this topic comes up, I mention cleaning out my father's Jeep Wagoneer following his passing where I discovered a 12-round leather belt loop carrier containing my hand loaded .30-06 ammo encased in verdigris and buried in the wheel well. He hadn't hunted in at least 14 years prior to his passing and that ammo endured all that time in alternating northeast winters and summers, not to mention his salt-water surf fishing, which he did nearly until his last breath.

I cleaned up the ammo and all fired without incident as though it was loaded yesterday. I'm inclined to think that ammo a mere year or two old might suffer from a factory defect rather than storage or carry issues.
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Old 05-08-2018, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rastoff View Post
...Black powder does expire...
THAT'S mighty old carry ammo you have there.
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Old 05-08-2018, 12:50 PM
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Whilst we're telling all these stories about old ammo without issue, I need to pass on one of another type from Charlie Petty. It seems there was an old coot who kept a box of .30-30 in his pickup for his truck gun for quite awhile. Well, after some time, he fired one and the rifle kinda disassembled itself.

When an independent lab broke down a couple remaining rounds (yes there was a lawsuit involved), it seems the long term vibration turned the powder into....well, flour or something similar. Burning rate was pretty much instantaneous. The ammo company was found without fault.

Moral of the story is apparently don't get cheap- it can be really expensive.
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Old 05-08-2018, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petepeterson View Post
Just curious- How old do you let your carry ammo get before you replace it?

I had my first squib ever yesterday, lodging a .38 Gold Dot in my 442. I was using up some older ammo that I keep in a separate box. If I remember correctly, those five Gold Dots Might have gotten wet at some point.
two things...

ONE... if I suspect any of my carry ammo is "bad" then into the range bucket it goes, not in a carry gun.

TWO.... a dud or "squib" could happen with any ammo, new or old...

which leads me to why I feel revolvers shine... In a self defense shooting, if you do get a dud, most people and I've seen experienced shooters do this at the range when they're not even under any stress is they have that knee jerk reaction of pulling the trigger again. Nothing happens. why? because with an autoloader you have clear the round by racking the slide. And that takes lots of practice and plenty of ongoing training.

With a revolver if you get a dud, just simply pulling the trigger again the cylinder will rotate to the next round..

Carry a revolver guys!

Last edited by RGVshooter; 05-08-2018 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 05-08-2018, 03:51 PM
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@ the OP.

Hopefully you train regurlaly with your carry pistol.

Whenever you do. Spend the rounds you have been carrying first.

Reload the piece with fresh rounds. Repeat at least once every two months.

You won't have any problems (unless you are really cheap on buying the ammo that may save your life) with the ammo, and as a bonus, if your life will ever depend on your abilty with a handgun, you may find that training useful.
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Old 05-08-2018, 05:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RGVshooter View Post
two things...

ONE... if I suspect any of my carry ammo is "bad" then into the range bucket it goes, not in a carry gun.

TWO.... a dud or "squib" could happen with any ammo, new or old...

which leads me to why I feel revolvers shine... In a self defense shooting, if you do get a dud, most people and I've seen experienced shooters do this at the range when they're not even under any stress is they have that knee jerk reaction of pulling the trigger again. Nothing happens. why? because with an autoloader you have clear the round by racking the slide. And that takes lots of practice and plenty of ongoing training.

With a revolver if you get a dud, just simply pulling the trigger again the cylinder will rotate to the next round..

Carry a revolver guys!
I was using a revolver. First round was a dud, 2nd a squib. Revolver or auto, I was holding a light rock.

Fortunately, the rounds were out of the "range bucket." I'm guessing they got wet. They weren't very old though.
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Old 05-08-2018, 11:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomkinsSP View Post
THAT'S mighty old carry ammo you have there.
Black powder is still made. People still make mistakes. Yes, I have seen at least one person use black powder when he should have used smokeless. But I said that before.
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Old 05-09-2018, 07:53 AM
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Thanks for the reminder. My agency issued new carry ammo annually and I have stuck to that schedule since retirement in 1997.
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Old 05-09-2018, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Rastoff View Post
Black powder is still made. People still make mistakes. Yes, I have seen at least one person use black powder when he should have used smokeless. But I said that before.
I was just suggesting that a commercially produced BP round is getting up there in age.

Yes, boutiques make them today, I have made a few myself for a 120 year old Owls Head. The smokescreen it produces could have uses in a SD situation.

BP breaks down. Nitrocellulose breaks down. Last I heard a carefully stored control batch of the Original Original pre-Dupont Bullseye exists and is useable. Dual bases being oh, so much more stable.
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Old 05-10-2018, 06:18 AM
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Ammo does in fact ďgo offĒ. The deciding factor used to be the primers, as the chemicals used were quite corrosive and as a result would degrade over time. Nowadays itís the breakdown of the stabilizers in the propellant. To what result the degradation affects the ammo is very subjective but as a rule of thumb we generally give small arms ammo a shelf life of 25 years.

Now that does not mean that it will be faulty after 25 years, Iíve personally used ammo a lot older than that with no problems, itís just that manufactures will not guarantee their product past that date. Funnily enough the acceptance figure for small arms ammo can be as low as 98%. 98% may seem high until you realise that that means one round in every box could fail! In reality, quality is very much higher.

In the military we insist that Operational ammo is swapped out every 6 months, a practice I continue into civvy street. We are not permitted to carry expanding ammo in Personal Protection Weapons so every 6 months I buy 200 rds of FMJ of the same batch. Shoot 100, so that Iím happy with its and my performance. I then fill my carry magazines and the reminder is locked away separated from my usual practice ammo, hopefully never required to be produced for evidential purposes.

Last edited by Flying Felix; 05-10-2018 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:47 AM
Ivan the Butcher Ivan the Butcher is online now
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Columbus, Ohio PD issues new ammo that is fresh from the factory every 6 months. You used to issued enough for your weapon, spare mags and two full boxes (50rds. each). The boxes and duty ammo were collected and used for qualification. After they went to Speer (well before 2000) the issued boxed ammo was not performing as per spec. The Ammo road around in the cruiser trunk, got hot & cold and lots of vibration. The powder started getting ground smaller and the pressure went up! They went back to Federal ammo for a while, I have no idea what they carry now.

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Old 05-10-2018, 11:50 AM
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After a 20-ish year stretch of not shooting much (kids, etc...) I'm using up my older ammo.
Everything works fine so far.

The 22LR is also 'good as new' - the FTF's seem just as 'occasional' as when it was new, but that is to be expected with some bulk 22LR.

I store everything in a climate-controlled place.
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Old 05-13-2018, 12:02 AM
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All my ammo is kept in a temperature/humidity controlled environment. I have 10+ year old ammo I would have no problem trusting my life on.
The 15 rounds I carry for self defense (In my snub nose revolver and 2 speed strips) and 17 rounds for my 9mm Shield (Two-8 round mags and 1 in the chamber) depending on which gun I carry, gets shot up at the range every 6 months or so to keep my skill level up along with a box of 50 target ammo and more carry ammo.
This keeps ammo in my carry gun fresh. JMO.

Stay SAFE and shoot often!

Last edited by Execpro; 05-13-2018 at 12:06 AM.
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Old 05-23-2018, 09:25 PM
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I shoot both my practice ammo and the carry ammo I use often
enough I have never had to worry about old ammo .. the one time my Compact got completely wet the ammo was put in the bad ammo bucket at the range ..

I jumped in a pool after a 18 month old that had fallen in and was under water .. all turned out well but no time to even think about removing my Compact before jumping in when it happened ..
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Old 06-15-2018, 05:14 AM
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Although I do shoot up my carry ammo after a year or so and put in fresh, I have NEVER EVER had a "vintage" round fail to fire. I hunt with Shot Shells inherited from my Dad, some of which are paper hulls and must be at least 65 or so years old. They never fail!

I also fired some .45 acp rounds that were loaded into 3 1911 WWll vintage GI Mag's. I do not know how old the ammo was but it did have the dome shaped primers so I am assuming it was at least from the 1950's. All worked perfectly and I do not even know how or where they were stored or carried.

Just to err on the side of caution it's not a bad idea to rotate out ammo after a year or so and if nothing else it gets you to fore your Service Rounds for practice!
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Old 06-15-2018, 07:52 AM
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Wild Bill Hickock emptied his guns every morning by shooting them.
Then he would clean them and reload with fresh ammunition. He told
a friend: "I ain't ready to go yet, and I am not taking any chances when
I draw and pull I must be sure..."

I don't reload with fresh ammo quite as often as Wild Bill, but whenever
I practice I shoot up the personal defense ammo in the gun and reload with fresh.
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:02 AM
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Our agency issued us a new box of 50 rounds every 6 months. In retirement I have stuck to that schedule.

But as to the ammo in my carry gun, at the end of the week - every week - I take the top round out of the mag and the round in the tube and throw them in a coffee can to use on the next range trip.

That way I avoid bullet set back. Not so much an issue with 9mm or 45 factory ammo, but old habits die hard. Regards 18DAI
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