Does Ammunition Expire?


( – For many preppers, stockpiling ammunition is a common practice. Fears of tyrannical government takeovers, the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) scenarios or simply ammo shortages (as we have seen this year already) drive the urge to keep large quantities of ammo on hand at all times. But there is one question that often comes up regarding ammo stockpiles: will ammo go bad?

To dive into this question, Sportsman’s Warehouse has provided the following video:

As Dan Kidder explains in the video, if ammunition is stored correctly, it will not expire. However, if the rounds aren’t kept in a controlled environment, temperature fluctuations and moisture can wreak havoc on them over time. According to, other factors play a role in the life expectancy of ammunition as well, such as the manufacturing quality and powder/primer type.

Fluctuating temperatures can cause condensation to build up on the inside of the shell, which eventually causes the brass to oxidize. The color will change from shiny brass to a dull grey to a green — a good indicator that the bullet has been compromised. These rounds are still safe to shoot, however, they will make the gun dirty rather quickly.

A white, chalk-like appearance is cause for more concern. This is a sign of corrosion which weakens the case walls of the round. This can lead the casing to split. Moisture buildup in the casing can also lead to a squib, where the primer fires but the powder doesn’t. A squib can lodge the bullet in the barrel of the firearm. Should another round be fired, the gun could explode.

To keep your ammunition safe from moisture and temperature fluctuations, the best bet is to store it in a climate-controlled location. If humidity is an issue in your area, dehumidifiers are an option, or you can use silica gel packs to help absorb the moisture. Storing ammunition in airtight, sealed canisters will help keep it safe as well (the video provides a variety of options for this method). Avoid areas that are hit with prolonged sunlight or are prone to higher levels of moisture, such as a basement.

Survival can come down to having the correct gear, which is why it’s so important to ensure it is in proper working condition. If you’re going to spend the time and money acquiring the necessary equipment to prepare for the worst, you want it to work when needed.

For more information on gear maintenance, click here.

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