How to Store Ammo

Storing your ammo properly is just as important as storing your firearms properly. Failing to store ammo correctly raises the risk of deterioration and malfunction. You can extend the shelf life of your ammunition for 10 years or longer by following the guidelines discussed below. Check out Powder Valley’s comprehensive ammo guide for more information.

We’ll start by looking at your ammunition’s three biggest enemies. If you know what causes ammo to go bad in the first place, then you’ll have a better idea of how to protect it over the long-term.


Three problems that can destroy your ammo

Successful ammunition storage starts by avoiding the following hazards:

  1. Heat: Extreme temperatures can trigger changes in gunpowder that cause ammo to go bad. What temperatures count as “extreme?” Generally, anything above 150°F is considered risky. This means you should never store ammunition in the trunk of your car or any other place where temperatures can spike, such as a closed garage that isn’t climate controlled.
  2. Light: Believe it or not, bright sunlight can cause ammunition to degrade. For this reason, it’s best to keep your spare cartridges in a dark or shaded environment.
  3. Humidity: There are countless stories of shooters reaching for a treasured box of vintage ammo, only to find that excess moisture has caused the casings to corrode. If you must store ammunition in moist surroundings, then it’s a good idea to run a humidifier continuously.

Now that we’ve explored the three biggest threats to your ammunition, let’s consider ways to keep your ammo reliably stored for as long as possible.

Sealed containers

This category covers a broad range of products, from ammo cans with O-ring seals to vacuum-packed steel canisters filled with nitrogen instead of oxygen.

Each of these options has its share of advantages. Still, there’s no need to go to extremes to guard your ammunition from air and humidity. Something as simple as a freezer storage bag with excess air squeezed out can do you good service for a decade or longer. Add a few packs of silica gel (desiccant) for added assurance.

Commercial buckets with lids

Plastic or metal buckets with tight-fitting lids are great for stashing those freezer bags filled with spare rounds.

Avoid any container with cracks, holes, or dents. Remember to keep them out of the sun to prevent damage from UV rays.

One word of caution: filling a large container with ammunition can make it too heavy for the average person to easily manage. For this reason, we recommend against using 5-gallon buckets or anything bigger.

New one-gallon paint cans are a better choice for ammo storage. They’re available from most hardware and home improvement stores at a modest price. Make sure the lid is fitted on snugly and you’ve got a fantastic place to store your ammunition.

How long does ammo last?

Properly stored ammo should last a minimum of 10 years. Many rounds can work flawlessly after several decades of storage.

Still, it’s a good idea to label each package of ammo with the date of storage and use your oldest rounds first. While modern ammunition is more durable than ever before, the fact remains that fresher is better.

Discover the benefits of reloading with Powder Valley. Our website has all the supplies you’ll need to get started. Browse our wide selection of the most in-demand brands and place your order today. We’ll help you to shoot more and pay less than ever before.

Not sure what kind of ammo is right for you? Our guide to ammunition is a great place to start.