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Do bullets become less reliable or unuseable after many years?

Do bullets become less reliable or unuseable after many years?


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Old 10-30-10, 12:31 PM
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Do bullets become less reliable or unuseable after many years?

I have some ammo that has been sitting in a drawer for about 20 years. I don't go target shooting anymore but keep a gun in the house for self-defence. I suspect that the bullets should be disposed of at this point due to age. Am I correct? If so, how does one go about safely disposing of bullets.
 
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Old 10-30-10, 01:49 PM
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If you know your 20 yr. ammo has been stored in a cool, dry place, and protected against direct exposure to sunlight, it should be fine. Possible exceptions are the old paper shotgun shells and .22 caliber rim fire cartridges. To clarify, Iím talking about inside the home where temperature and humidity is controlled. I would be more skeptical if the ammo had been stored in an attic, garage, or shed. Ammo can last a long time as evidenced by the US Army using .50 caliber shells during Desert Storm which had been stockpiled from WWII.

Since your dealing w/ a potential life or death situation, if you havenít fired your weapon and ammo in 20+ yrs., you might want to visit a firing range to assure that you, your weapon, and ammo are capable of reacting in a rapid response situation. This way youíre productively using your old ammo, and can freshen-up with a new box.

If for some reason that doesnít work for you, find someone who you know that could use the ammo for practice shooting to avoid an unsafe alternative like dumping in the trash or disposing of it in a way where it ends up in the hands of people not lawfully able to buy weapons or ammo. Some police stations will accept old weapons and ammo for people wanting to dispose of them.
 
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Old 10-30-10, 02:02 PM
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I hope you have not had the same ammo sitting in your gun for 20 years.

In addition to Rob's post the only long term problem I've seen is ammunition that has been handled, especially if by sweaty hands. Finger prints and cleaning solvents can lead to corrosion if given a long enough time. I have seen a revolver with cartridges corroded solidly into the cylinder. A particularly bad situation if you have a shell corroded into the chamber of a home defense automatic.
 
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Old 10-30-10, 03:13 PM
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And in almost every case..there are much better alternatives for defense ammunition than there was 20 yrs ago. More effective bullet, less recoil, lower flash, etc etc etc.
 
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Old 10-31-10, 05:00 AM
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Thanks for the responses. Since I would like to buy a new box of bullets, I might bring my old ammo and see if the gun shop will dispose of the old bullets. I have considered throwing the bullets in the ocean or burying them in a deep hole, but figured there was a better way. Sometimes the police can be helpful (it's a tough, thankless job) but that's not always the case.
 
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Old 10-31-10, 12:35 PM
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911 and dial-a-prayer all go the same switchboard. Odd, a few months ago I "disposed" of two boxes of Super Vel's in my .45 auto. Tells you how old they were! Not a misfire in the bunch.
Be prepared. As Vic says, Life is short.
 
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Old 10-31-10, 12:37 PM
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Super Vels? You probably could have sold those as antiques! I think I'd have kept them as mementos of better days!
 
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Old 11-08-10, 05:25 AM
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What I have experienced firing really old ammo was a loss of power do to the gun powder. Which degrades over time. Or so I've discovered in my personal experiences over the years at the outdoor ranges of which I am a member of.

Example:
I have an old Winchester octagon barrel 32-20 rifle. Bought this gem around 1970-1971 used. Gun came with several boxes of ammo. I also made a purchase of several boxes of new ammo at the time.

The old ammo fired well. But the power wasn't there. Fact of the matter was, you could visually see, with your eye, the bullet as it traveled down range. Follow the bullet to the target. Actually see the trajectory from muzzle to target!

New ammo fires perfectly. If you can get it new that is. Not available without ordering. I have the spent cartridges reloaded. However, stopped using the old ammo. Not because of it's loss of power. Don't want any round to get stuck in the barrel. Rifle is much to valuable. Slightly more so as a result of having original ammo as well.

Bottom line. Any ammo intended for personal defense should be as new as possible. Older ammo best used for target practice on a target range, IMO. Disposal by using it well before it gets "OLD" is the best method IMO.

Once ammo is old, some gun shops will take it as a donation for display. Or take it to a local gun show in your area. Might find a collector or buyer there.
 
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Old 11-24-10, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob R. View Post
Possible exceptions are the old paper shotgun shells and .22 caliber rim fire cartridges. .

Why is that?
I had some 17hmr that were old and 30% did not fire.
 
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Old 11-25-10, 03:18 AM
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The .17 HMR was introduced in 2002 so I doubt old age was the problem. It could have been a bad batch of ammo.
 
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Old 11-25-10, 05:09 AM
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For rim fire cartridges, the chance for misfires is heightened by the way theyíre manufactured. Cheaply priced rim fire ammo seem to have more misfires. This article probably tells you more than you want to know . . . http://www.americanrifleman.org/arti...le-22-rimfire/.

I recently forgot to remove some .22 rim fire ammo from a shirt pocket, and they ended up in the washer . . . none of them would fire. When turkey hunting in the Everglades, it was fairly common to have to wade through various depths of water in order to get to the other side of a long cypress slough and the birds also liked to roost in large cypress trees that are standing over water. Many climbing predators donít like swimming through water, and turkeys are alerted by sounds of water that donít exist if roosting in pines on a dry prairie. Sometimes the water would be deep, and extra shotgun shells would be submerged in water until making the crossing. I never had a misfire of this ammo although I wouldnít want to store it for years. Plastic shotgun shells overcame the problem of paper shells that would swell if getting wet or if subject to high humidity for a number of years.
 
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Old 11-25-10, 05:43 AM
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Once again, over the last few weeks, I managed to escape from daily life and make it up to both outdoor gun clubs I am a member of. One club one week and the other club 2 weeks later.

Took the old 32-20 rifle both times also. And fired some really "OLD" reloads. Results. Fair.

Suspect the powder degraded as a result of time and age. Ammo fired is well over 40 years old. Noticeably less power then the newer reloaded ammo that I fired a few rounds of. IMO, gun powder degrades.

Fired a few "NEW" rounds right after the old reloads. Noticeable difference. The power was there. Noticed by the recoil and muzzle blast. Amazing difference.

Summation:
Even for target practice, nothing like new ammo. For any accuracy one needs NEW ammo. For personal defense, should that be the case, use new ammo. Dispose of old ammo at your local firing range, indoor or outdoor. Or donate the old ammo to the gun club, gun shop, if they will take it or the local police station. Whom will dispose of it properly and safely.
 
 

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