Getting to The Bottom of Whether Old Ammunition is Still Good
As responsible gun owners, it’s essential to ensure the safety of our ammunition. Over time, ammunition can degrade, potentially compromising its reliability and performance. In this “How to Check if your Old Ammo is Still Good” article, we will provide expert tips on checking if your old ammo is still good so you can confidently use it or dispose of it properly.
Table of contents
- Getting to The Bottom of Whether Old Ammunition is Still Good
- Check the Expiration Date
- Inspect the Brass
- Check the Primer
- Look for Signs of Moisture
- The Smell Test
- Understand Different Types of Bad Ammo
- What Can Happen if Your Ammo is Bad
- How to Tell if Ammo is Bad Review
- Conclusion: How to Check if your Old Ammo is Still Good
- FAQS: How to Check if Your Old Ammo is Still Good
Check the Expiration Date
Well, it would be nice if ammo had an expiration date on the casing, but it doesn’t. The reality is that if you don’t log your ammunition, there’s a strong likelihood that you may forget how old it even is. It’s important to note that no timeframe is foolproof. Factors such as heat, humidity, and light exposure can all affect the quality and condition of the ammunition, even if it
is fairly new. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider other factors when determining your ammo’s condition.
Inspecting the overall appearance of the rounds is a great place to start. Look for any corrosion, discoloration, or damage on the brass casings. If the ammunition has been properly stored in a dry and controlled environment, it will likely remain in good condition even for extended periods. On the other hand, if there are noticeable signs of degradation, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dispose of the rounds.
To ensure the reliability and safety of your ammunition, it’s vital to consider all relevant factors. By taking a closer look at the physical condition of the rounds, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not they are still suitable for use.
|Factors to Consider
|Signs of Good Condition
|Signs of Bad Condition
|No visible signs of degradation
|Visible signs of corrosion or damage
|Brass casings are clean and undamaged
|Ammo stored in high heat, humidity or exposed to light
|Ammo stored in a cool, dry, and controlled environment
|Ammo stored in high heat, humidity, or exposed to light
Inspect the Brass
When determining the condition of your old ammunition, inspecting the brass casing is important. The brass casing is the outer shell that holds all the round components together. By examining the condition of the brass, you can get a good indication of the overall integrity of the ammunition.
Look for any signs of corrosion, such as greenish or reddish discoloration on the
brass. Corrosion can weaken the casing and potentially lead to malfunctions when firing. Additionally, check for any dents, scratches, or other physical damage on the brass. These can also affect the performance and reliability of the ammunition.
If the brass casing appears in good condition, the rest of the cartridge is likely in good shape. However, remember that visual inspection alone may not always reveal internal issues with the ammunition. Therefore, it is always recommended to exercise caution and consider other factors when evaluating the condition of old ammo.
Check the Primer
When inspecting old ammunition, after the casing, it’s a good idea to examine the primer. The primer is responsible for igniting the gunpowder, and if it is not in proper condition, the ammunition may not be reliable. To check the primer, look through the opening at the back of the brass casing. It should be flat and seated properly. Any signs of deformation or irregularities may indicate that the ammo has degraded.
Inspecting the primer is an important step because it gives you insight into the overall condition of the ammunition. If the primer appears damaged or compromised, it could suggest that the ammo is no longer safe to use. By carefully examining the primer, you can make an informed decision about the reliability of your old ammunition.
Table: Common Primer Issues
|A loose or partially dislodged primer from the brass casing may prevent proper ignition of the gunpowder.
|Cracked or Split Primer
|If the primer has visible cracks or splits, it could indicate deterioration and an increased risk of misfires.
|A primer that is loose or partially dislodged from the brass casing may prevent proper ignition of the gunpowder.
|Indented or Crushed Primer
|If the primer shows signs of indentation or crushing, it may have been subjected to excessive pressure, compromising its reliability.
Examining the primer is just one aspect of evaluating the condition of old ammunition. It is always recommended to consider multiple factors and perform a thorough inspection before using any questionable rounds. You can ensure a reliable and secure shooting experience by prioritizing safety and proper ammunition storage practices.
Look for Signs of Moisture
Proper ammunition storage is essential for maintaining the quality and safety of your ammo. One of the key factors to consider is moisture. Moisture can harm ammunition, causing corrosion, rust, and clumping of the gunpowder. To ensure the reliability of your old ammo, inspecting for signs of moisture is important.
Inspect the brass casing: Check the brass casing for any wet appearance. Moisture can leave visible marks on the casing, indicating potential damage to the ammunition.
Inspect the powder: Open a casing and carefully examine the gunpowder. Look for any clumping, discoloration, or unusual texture, which may indicate moisture absorption in the ammo box.
If you find any signs of moisture, it’s best to dispose of the rounds. Using ammo compromised by moisture can lead to unreliable performance and potentially unsafe conditions.
Dangers of Moisture in Ammo
Moisture can cause the gunpowder to degrade, affecting its ignition and overall performance. Corrosion and rust can weaken the brass casing, leading to potential failures and malfunctions when firing the ammunition. Additionally, moisture can contribute to mildew growth and other contaminants, compromising the rounds’ safety and reliability.
|Effects of Moisture in Ammo
|Corrosion and rust on brass casing
|Failure to chamber properly, misfires
|Clumping and degradation of gunpowder
|Unreliable ignition, inconsistent performance
|Mildew and contaminants
|Potential health hazards, reduced ammo lifespan
Maintaining proper ammunition storage conditions and regularly inspecting for signs of moisture can ensure your ammunition’s longevity, reliability, and safety.
The Smell Test
Another way to determine if your old ammunition is still good is to give it a smell test. Fresh gunpowder has a distinctive, acrid smell. If the powder smells sour or musty, it may be a sign that the ammo is no longer good. However, it’s important to note that some ammo types are designed to have a minimal smell, so it’s best to use your judgment and dispose of any rounds you’re unsure about.
When conducting the smell test, handle the ammunition safely and avoid direct contact with your nose or face. Bring the rounds close to your nose and gently whiff to detect unusual odors. If the powder smells off or if you detect any other unpleasant smells, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dispose of the rounds.
Remember, the smell test should be used as a supplemental method to determine the condition of your old ammo. It’s always better to prioritize safety and dispose of any ammunition showing degradation.
Understand Different Types of Bad Ammo
When it comes to ammunition, it’s important to be aware of the different types of bad ammo. Whether it’s old ammo, suspect hand-loads or reloads, defective ammo, improperly stored ammo, or damaged rounds, each type carries its risks and signs of degradation.
Suspect hand-loads or reloads are ammunition rounds individuals have reloaded instead of manufactured. These rounds can vary in quality and may not meet the same standards as factory-loaded ammunition. Inspecting these rounds carefully for any signs of improper assembly or inconsistent measurements is crucial.
Defective ammo can occur during manufacturing, leading to rounds that may not function as intended. This can include issues with the primer, bullet seating, or overall quality control. It’s important to check for any abnormalities or inconsistencies in the ammunition and avoid using rounds that appear defective.
|Type of Bad Ammo
|Signs of Degradation
|Corrosion, pitting, and damage on brass casing
|Unreliable performance, potential misfires
|Suspect Hand-Loads or Reloads
|Inconsistent measurements, improper assembly
|Potential for overpressure or malfunction
|Abnormalities in primer, bullet seating, or overall quality
|Potential for misfires or dangerous malfunctions
|Improperly Stored Ammo
|Exposure to heat, humidity, extreme temperatures
|Decreased shelf life, potential degradation of components
|Dents, cracks, or other visible damage
|Increased risk of malfunction or catastrophic failure
Improperly stored ammo refers to rounds exposed to unfavorable storage conditions, such as high humidity, extreme temperatures, or direct sunlight. These conditions can accelerate ammo degradation and reduce its overall shelf life.
Damaged rounds can occur from mishandling or accidents, resulting in dents, cracks, or other visible damage. These rounds should not be used, as they pose an increased risk of malfunction or catastrophic failure when fired.
What Can Happen if Your Ammo is Bad
Using old or compromised ammunition can have dangerous consequences. Firing bad ammo can lead to misfires, explosive crystals, acidic reactions, jellification, and other malfunctions that jeopardize your safety.
When ammunition degrades, it becomes less reliable and can cause unpredictable outcomes when fired. Misfires can occur when the primer fails to ignite the gunpowder, resulting in a round that fails to discharge. This can be a significant safety concern, especially in critical situations where you rely on your firearm’s functionality.
Explosive crystals or other chemical reactions within deteriorating ammo can cause the cartridge to rupture or explode upon firing. This can cause severe injury or even death to the shooter or anyone nearby. The pressure buildup from these reactions can exceed the safe limits of the firearm, leading to catastrophic failures that can permanently damage the gun and pose a grave risk to the shooter.
Jellification is another potential issue with old or degraded ammo. Over time, the gunpowder can absorb moisture and clump together, forming a jelly-like substance. When fired, the clumped gunpowder may not burn properly, resulting in inconsistent velocities and accuracy. This can lead to erratic bullet trajectories and the potential for dangerous ricochets.
The Importance of Prioritizing Safety
It cannot be emphasized enough that using bad ammo is not worth the risk to your safety. Ammunition degradation can occur due to inadequate storage conditions, exposure to moisture, or simply the passage of time. As we’ve reviewed, keeping a log of ammo and regularly inspecting your ammunition is ideal. Dispose of any rounds that show signs of being compromised.
Always follow proper ammunition storage practices, keeping your ammo in a cool, dry, and secure location. Avoid exposure to excessive heat, humidity, and direct sunlight. Additionally, be cautious with reloaded or hand-loaded ammunition as it may have been improperly assembled or contain defects that make it unsafe to use.
By prioritizing your safety and properly maintaining your ammunition supply, you can ensure reliable performance when you need it and minimize the risk of accidents or malfunctions. Remember, your life and the lives of those around you may depend on the quality and reliability of your ammunition, so always err on the side of caution.
|Potential Risks of Bad Ammo
|Failure to discharge, compromising self-defense or other critical situations
|Explosive crystals or chemical reactions
|Ruptured or exploded cartridges, severe injury, and firearm damage
|Inconsistent velocities, erratic bullet trajectories, and potential for dangerous ricochets
How to Tell if Ammo is Bad Review
When determining the condition of your ammunition, there are several indicators to look out for. By examining your ammo’s physical appearance and characteristics, you can assess whether it is still safe to use. Here are some key factors to consider:
- External Damage: Inspect the rounds for signs of damage, such as dents, discoloration, or corrosion. These are red flags that indicate potential degradation of the ammunition.
- Length and Depth: Using calipers, measure the overall length, seating depth, and projectile length of the rounds. Any significant deviations from the standard measurements could indicate issues with the ammo.
- Brass Casing: Examine the brass casing for signs of corrosion, pitting, or other damage. A well-maintained casing usually suggests the rest of the cartridge is in good condition.
- Primer Condition: Check the primer through the opening at the back of the brass casing. The primer should be flat and properly seated. If it appears raised or dislodged, the ammo may not be reliable.
- Moisture Signs: Look for any indications of moisture, such as a wet appearance on the brass casing or powder. Moisture can cause corrosion, rust, and clumping of the gunpowder, compromising the performance and reliability of the ammo.
- Smell Test: Fresh gunpowder has a distinct acrid smell. If the powder smells sour or musty, it could be a sign of degradation. However, some types of ammo have a minimal odor, so trust your judgment and dispose of any rounds that seem off.
By considering these factors, you can make an informed assessment of the condition of your old ammo. When in doubt, prioritize safety and dispose of any rounds that show signs of being bad. It’s always better to be cautious and ensure the reliability of your ammunition.
|What to Look For
|Dents, discoloration, corrosion
|Length and Depth
|Measurements deviating from standard
|Corrosion, pitting, or damage
|Raised or dislodged primer
|A sour or musty odor
|Sour or musty odor
Proper ammunition inspection is crucial for maintaining your firearms’ safety and reliability. Regularly assess the condition of your ammo, especially if it has been stored for an extended period. By following these guidelines, you can make informed decisions about the usability of your ammunition and ensure a secure shooting experience.
Conclusion: How to Check if your Old Ammo is Still Good
Proper ammunition storage and regular inspection are essential to ensuring ammunition safety. Following these practices, you can prevent ammo degradation and potential risks associated with using old or compromised rounds.
Always store your ammunition in a cool, dry place to minimize heat, humidity, and light exposure. Inspect the brass casing for any signs of corrosion or damage, and check the primer to ensure it is flat and properly seated.
Familiarize yourself with the different types of bad ammo and the associated risks. From old ammo to improperly stored rounds, understanding these risks can help you make informed decisions about the usability of your ammunition.
Remember, your safety should always be the top priority. If you notice any obvious damage, discoloration, or abnormalities, it’s best not to fire the ammo. Dispose of any rounds that show signs of being bad, and enjoy shooting with the peace of mind from prioritizing safety.
FAQS: How to Check if Your Old Ammo is Still Good
There are several factors to consider when determining the condition of your old ammo. Inspecting the brass casing, checking the primer, looking for signs of moisture, and giving it a smell test are all important steps in assessing the quality of your ammunition.
The condition of the brass casing can give you a clue about the overall condition of the ammunition. Look for signs of corrosion, pitting, dents, or other damage. If the brass casing is in good condition, the rest of the cartridge is likely in good condition.
The primer is responsible for igniting the gunpowder. Check the primer through the opening at the back of the brass casing. It should be flat and seated properly. If it’s not, the ammunition may not be reliable.
Moisture can cause corrosion, rust, and clumping of the gunpowder, which can affect the ammo’s performance. Inspect the brass casing and the powder for any signs of moisture, such as a wet appearance. If you see any, it’s best to dispose of the rounds.
Bad ammo can come in different forms, such as old ammo, suspect hand-loads or reloads, defective ammo, improperly stored ammo, or damaged rounds. Each type has different signs and risks associated with it. It’s important to know these different types to ensure your safety.
Look for obvious damage, discoloration, corrosion, or other signs of degradation outside the rounds. You can also use calipers to check the overall length, seating depth, and projectile length for abnormalities. Trust your gut; if something seems off, it’s best not to fire the ammo.