Is Old Ammunition Safe to Shoot?

Old ammunition safe to shoot

As a longtime firearms instructor and head of a gun rights group, people ask me all sorts of questions. All questions have merit, especially for people who are new to guns. Among these questions, folks will ask about the safety of shooting old ammunition. I tell them that in general, old factory-loaded ammunition should be perfectly safe to shoot.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

The ammo gods showered me with old ammo recently. A old friend and fellow instructor cleaned out his garage and found several hundred rounds of old .22 Blazer ammo. Yeah, it looks a little rough. At the same time, I’ve shot plenty of old .22s and they usually function pretty well. I wouldn’t use them for a match or competition, but for plinking or skills-building? You bet.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

Another friend came upon a massive collection of old shotgun shells at a sale. It was more than he could use so he shared the wealth. In fact, he shared boxes and boxes of shotshells, about a hundred pounds worth.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

I cheerfully accepted the windfall, as I know old shotgun ammunition also does well, regardless of age.  Unless shotgun shells are kept at the bottom of Lake Michigan after an unfortunate boating accident, shotgun ammo tends to forgive owners who store them in less-than-ideal conditions.

If you have old shotgun shells that don’t fire reliably, consider giving them to a reloader to recycle the components. Or sell them to someone you don’t like. Lots of police departments will take unwanted ammunition for disposal, too.

While most experienced shooters will merrily dispose of (that’s spelled s-h-o-o-t) your “old” factory-loaded ammo, I avoid other people’s reloads. You probably should too, unless you know the person who made them and trust them with your health, well-being and fingers.

Shooting someone else’s reloads carries an increased risk of problems. People with attention deficit disorder sometimes don’t make good reloaders. I’ve “inherited” reloads on a number of occasions in my life.  Today, I pass them on to other reloaders to recycle the components. Those folks will usually discard the powder (it makes great garden fertilizer) and sometimes the primers, and then reload the cases with fresh, known powder and the original bullet.

Why don’t I like reloads?  In short, squibs. Squibs happen when the person or machine fabricating the cartridge failed to include a powder charge in the round. The primer will push the bullet into the barrel, where it will remain remain. If the squib goes undetected and a shooter then fires the next round into a now-obstructed barrel, bad things will happen. It can result in serious injury to both the gun and shooter.

I have shot over 200,000 rounds in my life and the only squibs I’ve experienced came while shooting the home-rolled stuff. Specifically, they all came from old folks who should have stopped reloading long before they finally did.

In the last instance, the man failed to charge every third or fourth round with powder. I used a handful of them to make a malfunction video to show our students exactly what a squib load looks, feels and sounds like. And then I discarded the rest.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

Jeremy S. for TTAG

Unfortunately, squibs can wreck your barrel and potentially your firearm as well. Barrel obstructions almost always destroy shotgun barrels, sometimes causing injuries, too. A barrel obstruction in a high-powered rifle can cause a sudden and catastrophic disassembly of the receiver and chamber and damage to all things nearby – including the shooter’s hands, arms and face.

Conversely, if a reloader double-charged the powder in a shell, that can also cause an unwanted, rapid discombobulation of things in your gun.

If you suspect you’ve inherited reloads, my advice remains to pass them on to a reloader for the components. How do you identify reloads? First off, rimfire ammunition is virtually always factory made.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

With American-made centerfire rifle and pistol rounds and shotgun shells, factory boxes usually serve as a good clue. At the same time, one must inspect the individual shells in each box. Do they all share the same headstamps and color (nickel vs. brass)? Are the primers of uniform color?  Are they all the same gauge or caliber (see above).

Do the headstamps match the box? For instance, do the headstamps say Winchester in the Winchester box? Or do you have Remington rounds in a CCI or Fiocchi box?

If everything looks consistent and the case headstamps are uniform and match the brand on the box, the ammo is probably factory loaded. Furthermore, if the cartridges lack scratches, or other signs they have been loaded, fired or all of the above, that also suggests factory ammo.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

In shotgun shells, do the shells all share the same color and print on the sides?  Is the brass base of the shells uniform in height? Do the shells all appear to be factory crimped? If so, that points to factory ammo.  Watch for any shells that look like they’ve already been fired and then reloaded (and re-crimped) like the shell on the left above.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

Any rounds that show signs of tampering like the 12-gauge shell above, right should find their way into the trash.

Is old ammunition safe to shoot?

With all ammunition, all manner of shells can find their way into a box. Compare the shells for consistency – and gauge. If in doubt, pass on them. Or at the very least, organize them. Don’t feed 16-gauge shells into your 12-gauge shotgun.

I mentioned American-made ammo above. Old foreign ammo will also shoot in modern firearms of the appropriate caliber. However, some old foreign ammo may prove corrosive to some degree. For those who clean their gun before the sun sets, no problem. For others, like me, you may find a light patina of rust on your barrel two weeks later. Lesson learned.

Remember, if you encounter old ammunition, do not use it for self-defense unless you have no other ammo available. Don’t buy someone’s old ammo to protect yourself and your family. Even if you find some old .357 Magnum hollow-points.

Storing your ammo

Ammunition cans

Bigstock

When buying ammunition, American or otherwise, you should store it in air-tight containers. Military surplus ammo cans make great ammo storage containers for your ammo boxes. Regardless of container type, label the outside of the container, too. You’ll thank yourself later.

For those who have more than a few rounds, ammunition cans make great organizers as well. Ideally, keep your ammo cans stored in a cool, dry place.

If you have an impressive ammo fort, don’t stack it too tall and deep if there’s a conventional wood floor underneath. Excessive weight, like numerous cases of 7.62×51 NATO, 5.56×45 (.223), 9mm Luger, .45 ACP and .38 Special can cause floor joists to sag over time. Ask me how I know.

In general, old factory-loaded ammo typically will retain its functionality for a long, long time. Yes, even if it doesn’t look pretty on the outside. One may encounter a few duds with really old or poorly-stored ammo, but by and large, it will go bang every time. To stay extra safe though, try to avoid reloaded ammo to reduce dangers from someone else’s home-made mistakes.

comments

  1. avatar enuf says:

    No, old ammo is never safe to shoot. How old? Well, how much do you have? What calibers? What loads? I’ll compare that to my own list of what’s on hand and let you know what to ship to me for Safety Inspection.

    1. avatar Missouri_Mule Instructor says:

      Old ammo was not my problem this summer. I work at a Scout Camp teaching basic rifle and pistol every summer. We go through 10 to 15,000 rounds of .22 lr every summer. We have a few misfires with .22 lr as expected. However, this year we experienced three squib loads with lead .22 bullets stuck near the end of rifle barrels. With more than 2.5 billion rounds of .22 lr manufactured each year some duds are expected (I can’t find current production numbers) but squibs were disturbing and not seen before.

  2. avatar Kendahl says:

    Early in World War Two, US troops used ammunition left over from World War One. When I got back into shooting in 2015, I first used up the ammunition I had reloaded in the mid 1980s. Unless ammunition has gotten wet, especially with a solvent, it lasts for decades.

    1. avatar arc - the annoying one says:

      100 year old cartridges from the west can be used today if they were stored in a desk drawer / original box. Modern ammo lasts pretty much indefinitely if its stored well and as you said, isn’t in contact with cleaning agents or solvents.

    2. avatar Ron says:

      I forgot where I read it and would love a source, but supposedly the US made so much .50 cal during WW2 that US soldiers were still using it in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this stockpile didn’t run out until very recently.

      On a similar note, the US is still issuing out the Operation Downfall Purple Hearts to this very day to veterans of every war since WW2. Back when the invasion of Japan was being planned, before the A bomb was fully ready to go, the casualties predicted were astronomical. The US had so many Purple Hearts produced for the operation that because it never occurred, they’re still issuing them today.

  3. avatar BOBO says:

    Old ammo is just fine!

    Only last month I shot 1943 issued 30 carbine ammo in my 1943 issued M1 carbine!
    Worked fine!

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      Amazingly I have some of the same ammo purchased in the 1980’s. It still goes bang without fail. My Carbine was manufactured by Underwood in ’44. Bought it in the late 70’s from a private citizen who had it since just after the war. Damn fine weapon.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        I myself just (finally) shot the last of my ammo that was 25+ years old, stuff that I inherited from a deceased relative and had been in plain ‘ol garage drawers for who-knows-how-long. Now I’m able to jump forward into my “modern” stash I began about a decade ago and has been properly stored, so it should be just fine for a long time to come.

        There have only been two groups of old ammo (both from that inheritance) I ever had to dispose of. First was some .22LR lead bullet cartridges that looked exactly like those in the photos above. I opened the box, the first bullet squibbed, I cleared the barrel, the next bullet also squibbed, and I tossed the remainder. The second was a box of .308 reloads in which the primers had gone bad. I’ll never shoot old ammo again if it wasn’t properly stored.

        Darkman, I read what you wrote today on that other site regarding career choices. Good to hear you’ve made some wise decisions over your lifetime. I’m probably about 15-20 behind you (guessing at your age bracket by what you’ve written), but have done mostly the same and am positioned rather well while most of my friends and relatives are struggling. Decisions have consequences.

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          Not quite sure what you were referring to on that last, but it warmed my heart to hear that some people are prepping for their future.

          Been doing the same since 1987.

      2. avatar Darkman says:

        @Tom in Oregon. Ammoland. Article on trade schools.

    2. avatar jwm says:

      The only time I’ve had problems with surplus ammo was a case of late ww2 german slave labor produced 8mm ball. This stuff had shiny bullets that looked nickle plated. Out of the hundreds of rounds in that case I got frequent hang fires. No complete duds but a lot of hang fires. Just kept the mauser pointed down range until the boom.

      I got some Rumanian produced 7.62×54 from the commie days in paper packets with string ties. Not at all uncommon with east bloc ammo. But out of ten packets of 20 rounds each there were probably at least 10-15 rounds that the projectile had separated from the case. Loose bullets and powder in the packets when they were opened.

      I got some 9mm ball from a gun show once. This stuff was in some horrible looking cardboard boxes that looked like they had been run through a dish washer. Guy that sold them said he ‘thought’ they were Egyptian sub machine gun ammo. Only had 3 boxes and he was practically giving them away. I had a p89 Ruger so I took them. I rattled the stalls at an indoor range with them and there must have been a 3 foot flame coming out of my Ruger. But they worked.

      1. avatar mylyle says:

        Not much of an exaggeration on the fireball with Egyptian ammo. It was imported in the 80s with Helwan pistols. The stuff was loaded just under nuclear fusion pressures

      2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Haha. I know about the flame.
        I’ve got a half dozen boxes of Uzi black tip that’s supposed to be for sub-guns only.

        I asked a Glock rep about it during an armorers course, (after gifting him a box), he said the hotter the better!
        So I used it whenever me or my team were finalists in important matches dropping steel plates.
        Holy sh!t, that stuff is really hot! But man, oh, man, does it ring steel!

    3. avatar Southern Cross says:

      I use Turkish 8×57 that was made in 1950 and 1951. Goes bang every time. It is corrosive ammo, so I clean with Sweets 7.62 solvent every time I use it.

    4. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      Well, yeah, the old ammo times the old gun cancels out and it’s just like it was new ammo! 😉

  4. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I’ve got ammo from WWII, and Vietnam.
    The Vietnam stuff I may never shoot. It’s military .38 spl ball that I got from my dad. Cool boxes too.
    The old “keep cool and dry” is sage advice.

    1. avatar Geoff "Ammo. LOTS of ammo..." PR says:

      I’ve got Vietnam-era 7.62×39 that came out of spam cans in the late 80s. Looks factory-fresh. I’m going to assume it’s corrosive if I ever shoot it…

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Good call on the corrosive angle. I shot a case of South American 7.62 out of my 51 one weekend.
        That sh!t is nasty. I did the boiling water, wore out chamber and bore brushes, clp, frog lube, brake cleaner, WD-40, etc, before I was satisfied.

        Think I’ll save the rest for end times. I’ve got enough clean reloads to plink till my hearts content. Talk about a flame thrower!

  5. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Unless obviously water damaged, I’d say yes.

    I have some 1940s 38 ammo that shoots fine.

    The exception would be 22 long rifle. Its hit or miss.

    I have shot really old 22 and had good results but a coup,e of years ago, I was firing some old Sam’s club Thunderbolt and at least 2/10 rounds was a “squibish”.

    They made it out the barrel on rifles but the report was noticeably lighter and you could sometime see the bullets as it traveled.

    These are now relegated to revolvers and not when teaching newbs to shoot.

    I also occasionally have a paper shell that is a had swollen and difficult to chamber. Shoot fine but can be a bitch to remove.

    It also looks like the author raided my shotshell stash. I have an ass-load of 1970s Winchester shotshells in 6, 7.5, and 8 shot. Shoot them every year. No problems.

    1. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

      I’ve had bad luck with brand new .22 Remington Thunderbolt in my SW MP 15-22. I don’t own a chronograph but the report lets me know it is extremely inconsistent. I won’t buy or shoot it anymore.

      I like the armscorr copper washed 36 Rn HP for cheap practice ammo and it will be about the same price or cheaper as Remington when ammo inventories catch up with demand.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Yeah. Thunderbolt has always been kinda iffy, I suppose.

        My Winchester SuperX from the 70s does well. As do Stangers and YellerJackets.

    2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      I tossed all the old lead bullet .22LR from my inventory a while back. I now only shoot copper jacketed. Had lots of various problems with the lead variety over the years, but haven’t had a single problem (FTF, misfeed, squib, et al) with copper jacket.

      1. avatar Geoff "Ammo. LOTS of ammo..." PR says:

        The new .22lr copper-plated stuff has a *heavy* copper plate, on bullet fragments I’ve recovered from the backstop, they were more like a thin copper-jacket in thickness.

        I’ve had .22lr from years past that the copper plate was so thin it was easily scraped-off with a fingernail. Not the new stuff from CCI and Federal. Nice, thick plate that will not easily scrape off.

        The ammo fairy is such a nice fairy when she visits leaving heavy goodies on the front porch to discover… 🙂

    3. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      Sam’s club Thunderbolt and at least 2/10 rounds was a “squibish”.

      As other’s have said, it was probably the “Thunderbolt” label, not the age. I ruptured an eardrum thanks to some defective Thunderbolt. Hate that stuff.

  6. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    In my experience everything the author said is spot on. After researching the headstamp and satisfying myself it was non-corrosive I bought 900 +/- of M-2 in en bloc clips. It was perfect. Conversely a friend bought 1000 rds of 7.62 NATO. Middle East origin. Mixed headstamps. I advised against it. Told him some could be corrosive and to clean his rifle immediately after shooting. He didn’t listen. A few days after his first trip to the range with it his HK-91 had a pitted bore. Old ammo can be very safe and perform as well as the day it was manufactured. Just know what you’re looking at.

  7. avatar Geoff "Ammo. LOTS of ammo..." PR says:

    I had a problem in the late 80s shooting some 50s and 60s vintage paper-cartridge shotgun shells that were stored in a damp location, a garage. A bit swelled-looking. Even after drying them out thoroughly, they didn’t easily chamber. I cut them open and burned the powder, I just didn’t trust them.

    I currently have some match-grade Eley .22lr from the late 80s that was a bit ‘frosty’ appearing, but I just cleaned them with 0000 steel wool and put them back in the stockpile…

    1. avatar jwm says:

      When I was a kid we routinely hunted with those paper shotshells. They had a thin wax coating on the paper to help them. But they were very open to moisture damage. Especially waterfowling in bad weather.

      I had one of those shells come apart on me in the action of a pump gun. Had to do quite a bit of wiggling and jiggling to clear that mess out of the gun.

    2. avatar Specialist38 says:

      I have told you can run paler shells through one of the dies for reloading to smooth them up……if they are not too bad.

      I dont know firsthand as I never done that.

    3. avatar Jake Logan says:

      I also had a problem in the early 80’s trying to shoot old paper cartridge shotgun shells, They were stored indoors and the paper was not swollen. They would fit easily into the chamber, but when the primer was struck by the firing pin, they would not go BOOM.

  8. avatar Tec's Dad says:

    35 Years ago I bought 5000 rounds of WWII vintage Kynoch 9mm ammo in 32 round boxes, I have one box left and will keep it unfired…this stuff was bought to compliment my STEN MkII…it worked well…I do not remember the dates on the brass but this stuff was old 35 years ago…proper storage is very important.

  9. avatar tdiinva says:

    I saw a video where a box of depression era Remington rimfire ammo was shot with no failures. That is better than some modern Remington rimfire ammo.

  10. avatar Ing says:

    I’ve picked up .22lr rounds that looked like they’d been sitting on the ground at the range through at least an entire winter and summer — the brass and lead both weathered black — cleaned the dirt off, and fired them just fine. (It’s not an established range, just a place in Southern Utah where the dirtheads go to play.) I’d say about 80% that I’ve picked up that way are still good to go, even after sitting outdoors for who knows how long.

    During the great ammo drought of 2013, our Schwan’s delivery guy took pity on us and delivered about 10 pounds of .22lr range leftovers (no idea how many rounds; they were in a one-gallon freezer bag) just because he liked talking guns with us. All of the ones-and-twosies he’d been sweeping into an ammo can after range trips for years and years, including just about every imaginable load from all sorts of manufacturers.

    I nursed that stash for a good 4 years. It was disconcerting sometimes to get a light subsonic round right after a hot varmint round (are we sure that actually left the barrel…?) but every one of them went bang as they should. No problems at all.

  11. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Recently shot up some hand loads from the late 1980’s,perfomed like I’d just reloaded it, of course it’s fine to shoot.

  12. avatar John Davies says:

    Reloads are perfectly fine, if you know the guy that did the work AND if he appears to be functioning 100%. OTH I would use a precise digital reloading scale to weigh and sort the rounds individually. If you find one with no or a double powder charge, it will be obvious. If the weights are all over the place, the reloader had no quality control and you should not shoot them, just disassemble for parts.

    This isn’t rocket science. It just requires your full attention.

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      Loaded them myself, so yeah I know the reloader,I also know a hand full of folks who I trust there loading skills and would without a second thought shoot anything they loaded.

  13. avatar John Davies says:

    One reason “older” reloaders (me) switch to Trail Boss for plinking/ cowboy ammo is that it is physically impossible to double charge a case. That won’t stop a no-powder round, but at least it stops a double charge that is so much worse. Even when I was all here mentally and my fingers worked properly, I was VERY leery of using small charges of fast powder in calibers that were designed for much bigger charges of slow powder.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I’ve seen those no powder loads lock a couple of revolvers up when the bullet lodged in the forcing cone/chamber. I had a factory loaded .25acp go squib and lodge in the barrel of a pocket pistol once. Used a lot of those words you’re not supposed to use while clearing that.

      1. avatar Geoff “Ammo. LOTS of ammo…” PR says:

        I’d love to see a TTAG article on clearing a squib jammed partway down a barrel.

        Can it be done safely at home? Oil the bore first and a wood dowel and tap it out?

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Wooden dowel or aluminum rod and beat the shit out of it.

          Jacketed squibs are much harder to clear, IMO.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Gently tap it out. Takes a while. Careful not to mess the muzzle or the rifling up. In the case of the auto the barrel was fixed to the frame so I stripped it and worked from the back. Didn’t want to risk scarring the muzzle.

          The revolvers leave you little choice. There’s not enough space in the frame window to work a rod. You have to come from the front.

          Slow and easy is my mantra when doing this sort of thing.

        3. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Jwm.
          No offense. In my experience a jacketed slug ain’t coming out of a 38 or 357 barrel by tapping.

          I have used dowels and also aluminum rods with a cupped point (no idea what they were originally used for).

          Careful not to smack the muzzle with the mallet. Never seen an issue with the several revolvers after the fact.

          Lead bullets come out much easier as there is less friction.

          Haven’t had to pound one out of a revolver since my father in law stopped reloading.😉

          I did have to extract a Colibri 22 from a Winchester 67 a few years back. Not enough oats to push it out of a rifle barrel (CBees work fine).

          YMMV

        4. avatar jwm says:

          The only jacketed slug I tapped out was the .25 acp. It took a while but it came out. I was concerned with damaging the barrel, I was using a metal rod, and since it was a cheaper make of pistol I wasn’t real trusting of the way the barrel was fixed to the frame. Took it slow and easy.

          On revolvers the only time I’ve seen the problem was with lead bullet target ammo. One was a reload for sure. It was mine. A lead round nose in .38. I honestly don’t remember what the other loads that caused the problems were, factory or reload. I know the .25 acp was factory fresh.

        5. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          Do not use a wooden dowel to take a squib out of a barrel.

          I would recommend a brass rod. Dowels can splinter and make the job much more difficult when you have to take it to a gunsmith.

          One of the ways a gunsmith removes a squib is a special little widget that gets put into the tailstock of a lathe that allows a gunsmith to pump grease out of a grease gun into the bore and force the bullet out. Grease guns can generate some pretty high pressures.

      2. avatar Dave G. says:

        Dyspeptic Gunsmith:

        Your description of removing a squib using a grease gun made me curious, and I went looking on the Internet. Of course, after charging the device with the grease gun, the fellow in the video uses a screw-driven piston to apply the hydraulic pressure. Is that what you were describing?

        https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=gadget+using+grease+gun+to+remove+squibs&&view=detail&mid=B9A1173094D092367778B9A1173094D092367778&rvsmid=7A78871137C4AF5C26197A78871137C4AF5C2619&FORM=VDQVAP

  14. avatar RCC says:

    I fired old 1940 three inch mortar rounds (Out of 81 mm with adapter) during training in the 1980’s. It went down range nicely.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Now THATS plinking!

  15. avatar Matt in Oklahoma says:

    Still busting out WW2 30-06

  16. avatar Paul D says:

    I shot 10 rounds of 7.62×51 ammo in my Century C308 last month, that I bought in two five round clips. I don’t know how old they were, but they were all clean. When I fired round #6, it was followed immediately by round #7, as in BUH-BANG! I suspect the primer in #7 may have been protruding just a bit. My friends said they didn’t know I could double tap that fast. I said that I didn’t.

    None of the remaining rounds would do the same. Darn it.

  17. avatar Geoff "Trolls, the other white meat" PR says:

    Good news!

    “Arrest Made In Viral Hate Crime Against 7-Year-Old With MAGA Hat”

    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/watch-biden-supporters-steal-7-year-old-boys-maga-hat-attack-his-mother

  18. avatar Shawn says:

    I still have a tin of unopened 7.62X54R Bulgarian yellow tip from 1954. I still have some left from another tin I opened years ago. It shoots fine but you have to inspect the casings for cracks or loose bullets. I’ve found two out of 600.

  19. I have ammo from 10 years back but they are in the original boxes. I never have put them in ammo cases .

  20. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Where ammo is stored in heat, the issue of single vs. double base powder has some bearing on how well it will survive elevated temps.

    1. avatar Geoff "Ammo. Lots of ammo" PR says:

      By ‘heat’, do you mean like inside a parked car in summertime Florida heat?

      My carry ammo never gets exposed to that longer than a month or two max, and is rotated out at the range…

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        Yes, I mean that level of heat.

        Double base powders can see the nitroglycerine in them cooked out of the powder compound in high storage heat.

        Apparently, this is still news in the shooting community, but the research has been paid for with our tax dollars a long, long time ago:

        https://psemc.com/double-base-propellant-decomposition/

        https://semspub.epa.gov/work/06/9530612.pdf

  21. avatar billy says:

    If there’s more rust on it than it’s components, no. If it’s been living in water for a decade or more, no. If it’s been outside over 100 degrees for years, again, no.

  22. avatar UpInArms says:

    Only one time I have had a squib. It was the first cartridge out of a brand-new box of Sellier & Beloit .380 ammo. I heard the “poof” instead of the bang, took the pistol down and tried to get a probe through the barrel — no go. Took me near an hour to get the bullet out.

    I threw out the other 49 cartridges. Haven’t used S&B ammo since.

    1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      S&B tends to be good stuff. I wouldn’t write them off because of that.

      1. avatar Dave G. says:

        I’ve used S&B in my replica M1 carbine. No complaints.

  23. avatar possum says:

    I sure hope it’s safe to shoot because I’ve got a sink a boat of yellow box Norinco 7.62X39. Shot some old .44 reloads the other day, one was a hangfire and the other was a pffffttt, two out of a fifty aint bad. Had a box of 6.5 Carcano, dated 1954, got in a trade, so questionable care, all but one out of twenty went bang( carcanno’s suck, don’t know how what’s his name killed Kennedy with one) , it just came to me, Lee Harvey Oswald, for some reason I had Wiley Coyote stuck in my head?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Possums ain’t as fast or smart alecky as road runners. They have to be extra wary of coyotes.

  24. avatar MikeJH121 says:

    Ended Up with a rectangular tin box, sealed with a lead strip, of 7.62x54R. The date code was 1946. Still have the tin, the ammo though shot fine outta my Mosie, Still have a few boxes left. It was a total of 300 rounds complete with original stripper clips. So far not 1 failure. Got about 10 spam cans 440rds, they are all from the early 80’s. got those when they were $90 per can.

    1. avatar Richard Kudrna says:

      Today I fired about 100 cartridges of mostly British and Canadian 303 dated from 1903 to 1944. Not only did the over 100 year old ammo fire, I made cloverleafs at 50 yards.
      Some of the boxer primed Canadian 1943 did not fire. I suspect that these were lead azide and all the others were chlorate.
      I even fired a few crimped blanks and sone gallery rounds with cast lead. Very strong smell.

  25. avatar anyway says:

    I was popping off some Remington Mohawk .22LR yesterday that my grandpa bought in the late 60s. It functioned fine in my AR-7 and was plenty accurate at the 15 or so yards that we were shooting at.

  26. avatar GS650G says:

    I’ve a load of .308 surplus made in 1979 that not only works but has good consistent performance. The federal SMK is better but not for the price. Old shotgun shells might be a problem because the case isn’t sealed as well as a brass bullet. I use the rounds carried in the previous season for practice and buy a new set each year.

    This year that’s going to cost more and might take a bit of searching.

  27. avatar The Rookie says:

    The real question is, is ammo safe to shoot after it’s been at the bottom of lake due to the frighteningly commonplace “boating accident” we POTG seem to encounter?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I always seal my ammo in concrete lined steel drums before I go boating.

      If the .gov thinks its good enuf to drop radioactive waste in the oceans that way it ought to be good for the dozen or so bullets I got.

    2. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      How would anyone know? That stuff is gone for good, right?

  28. avatar Anthony O. says:

    My cutoff for ammo depends on a couple factors.
    1. Just how old are we talking? I’d start here and if its 50+ years move on to

    2. Where was it made? American commercial ammo/surplus and/or Warsaw pact is probably ok if it passes visual inspection (the physical damage of the case isn’t really the threat, its that damage, especially rust/oxidation, indicates poor storage conditions that may have compromised the primer or caused the powder to degrade). Iranian? Turkish? Ethiopian? Pakistani? Be careful, which brings us to

    3. What are you shooting it in? Military bolt actions are probably fine even if the ammo is squirelly as long as you watch for hangfires, semi-auto rifles/handguns should proceed with caution, no aluminum frames on pistols until you have shot some of that specific lot number, and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES LOAD IT INTO A MACHINE GUN. Turkish 8mm surplus is notorious for this exact reason. Somebody needs cheap blammo for their/their buddies belt fed MG and gets themselves hurt and/or damages or even destroys their very expensive toy.

  29. avatar DeltaJ802 says:

    Thanks for the tips! I recently inherited a 1905 Winchester 94 in .32-40. The rounds that came with it look about 40-50 years old, and I’m sure some people have experienced the hell of trying to find new rounds for sale. This at least gives me a little peace of mind of using these antique Remington Kleanbore’s

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