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Thread: How often do you guys rotate out your personal defense ammo?

  1. #1
    KeithC. is offline Member
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    How often do you guys rotate out your personal defense ammo?

    I found some .22 mini mags in a jar that are 35 years old and a little bit moldy, but they still worked fine. So just what is the life span of center-fire ammo? When do you quit trusting it for personal carry and replace it with fresh?

    Does storage in a hot car matter or shorten the useful shelf life?

    Thanks!

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    EvilTwin is offline Banned
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    I have self loaded rounds that are 25 years old that work just fine...

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    KeithC. is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilTwin View Post
    I have self loaded rounds that are 25 years old that work just fine...
    Hmmmm. I forgot about those. I have some .45 acp from 1983 and .44 magnum from 1984. They are cast bullets and did not want the leading.

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    hillman's Avatar
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    I have .357 and .44 magnum ammo from around 1980 - that I ought to shoot up, so I can use the cases with bullets I want to try out. I don't expect problems. Many years ago my dad bought a Winchester Model 1895 in .35 Winchester along with some ammo that must have been pretty old. He discarded the obviously corroded cartridges, shot the rest with no problems. I remember that those cases were brown with tarnish.

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    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by KeithC. View Post
    ...Does storage in a hot car matter or shorten the useful shelf life?

    Thanks!
    Yes, it surely does.

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    SouthernBoy is online now Senior Member
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    Best way to store your defensive ammunition is in a location where the temperature is constant, not too warm and not too cold, and not humid. It can last for years like this but a lot of people do recommend that you cycle your defensive stuff every 5 years or so. This may be a bit soon, frankly I don't know whether or not it is, but if you live in a place where there are extremes, you might want to adhere to some sort of program like this.

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    GCBHM is offline Senior Member
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    I typically keep mine stored like the SouthernBoy said, in a dry, constantly controlled climate area. No particular time frame, but I do tend to try and keep a 90-180 day cycle on the ammunition I carry.

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    rex
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    Ammo can last many decades if it doesn't see both temp extremes or moisture, I have a few boxes of 50 year old 30-06 that shoots just fine. Ammo even decades older than that have been found and shot with no problems.

    On carry ammo I shoot it up when some setback sets in or the HP is beat up, older HydraShocks through a 1911 would swage the HP cavity down quite a bit before scary setback was reached. This gun would also feed the old "reliability test" Speer 200gr flying ashtrays. My current carry gun has had the same ammo in it for 5 years and I see no need to throw away a perfectly good $1+ round that isn't corroded, beat up or shortened.

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    DJ Niner's Avatar
    DJ Niner is offline HGF Forum Moderator
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    EDITED TO ADD: Total lifespan of centerfire ammo, stored under ideal conditions, is probably longer then YOUR lifespan. I personally won't shoot anything that is corroded, but if it's just a little green on the brass case and I can wipe it off with a dry rag, then I'll probably use it -- for limited practice purposes. Not for carry, and not for rapid-fire practice/training.

    I change-out EDC stuff every 6 months or so. If it's a spare mag kept in a vehicle glovebox or trunck, then I may let it ride for a year, but no more than that. Temps here can vary from -30 to 100+ F, and I just don't trust anything left longer than 6 months to a year.

    I used to rotate EDC stuff on a 3-month schedule, so the 6-month/1-year spans are a relaxation of my earlier system.
    "Placement is power" -- seen in an article by Stephen A. Camp
    (RIP, Mr. Camp; you will be remembered, and missed)

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    Niland is offline Junior Member
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    How often do you guys rotate out your personal defense ammo?

    Not to hijack, but can I hear some more thoughts on EDC ammo? There seems to be a consensus on the stored stuff, but stuff in the mag and in the chamber? It gets a lot of wear and tear and is exposed to residual gun oil and dirt and temperature and humidity, sweat, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Thought? And thanks DJ Niner for starting us out.

  11. #11
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    NickAcker23 is offline Junior Member
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    I generally swap my carry ammo out every 6 months... but as to why I don't know honestly so I am very interested by this thread to hopefully learn some more info on when I should be doing this.

  12. #12
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is offline Senior Member
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    If your in-the-chamber cartridge has been ejected and rechambered a few times, there's a chance of bullet setback, which leads to a chance of higher-than-safe chamber pressure.

    When I eject a carry cartridge, it goes to the bottom of the in-the-gun magazine, so a new one goes into the chamber when I reload the gun. After all the cartridges in the magazine have been chambered once, I use them for practice and start all over again with new cartridges.

    I'm probably overdoing the safety stuff, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. You could probably safely rechamber a cartridge two or three times, without a worry.
    CeltKnight likes this.

  13. #13
    Niland is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    If your in-the-chamber cartridge has been ejected and rechambered a few times, there's a chance of bullet setback, which leads to a chance of higher-than-safe chamber pressure.

    When I eject a carry cartridge, it goes to the bottom of the in-the-gun magazine, so a new one goes into the chamber when I reload the gun. After all the cartridges in the magazine have been chambered once, I use them for practice and start all over again with new cartridges.

    I'm probably overdoing the safety stuff, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. You could probably safely rechamber a cartridge two or three times, without a worry.
    I like the way you are thinking. I run each through the chamber a half a dozen or so times. Weekly cleans for the EDC gun and range trips cause the cycles. When I decide the rounds had it, I slip it in with ball ammo so it comes up unexpectedly at the range. Sometimes I'll collect a few and shoot them at the range for practice rounds. They say you should practice with your EDC SD rounds frequently. I run 45ACP, and often can't tell the SD rounds from the ball ammo.

    Just wondering what everyone else does...you guys frequently have great ideas.

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    Shipwreck is offline HGF Forum Moderator
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    I change ammo out every six months for weapons kept in the car or my carry ammo. Guns in the house... Hardly ever.. Just check for setback if you rechamber the same round a lot.

    I use the self defense ammo I take out of the guns every six months for practice later at the range

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    It's recommended after every divorce.

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    CeltKnight is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    If your in-the-chamber cartridge has been ejected and rechambered a few times, there's a chance of bullet setback, which leads to a chance of higher-than-safe chamber pressure.

    When I eject a carry cartridge, it goes to the bottom of the in-the-gun magazine, so a new one goes into the chamber when I reload the gun. After all the cartridges in the magazine have been chambered once, I use them for practice and start all over again with new cartridges.

    I'm probably overdoing the safety stuff, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. You could probably safely rechamber a cartridge two or three times, without a worry.
    I don't do it after just one chambering (usually). But I DO inspect each round that comes out of the chamber. I look for deformations, wear on the rim, and I compare it to a previously unchambered round from the mag (usually next one up) to make sure there is no immediately discernible set-back. Back in my new-to-carrying firearms days when a box of (then) top-o'the-line self defense rounds meant serious budget planning I discovered .380 Silvertips (NOT what I use now when using a .380 ... but that's just me, YMMV) they were horrible about setting back into their case after just one or two times being chambered. Scary, especially given the heat we get up to in Coastal Alabama when out totin' in the sun.

    Anyway, after I've chambered and unchambered a round a few times (two or three normally), there are usually some very light but easily seen scuff marks on the case. Nothing dangerous, just enough to show it wasn't sitting quietly in the magazine or box. At that point, so long as the rim is good, the case mouth is good, the overall length looks good, it goes on the bottom of the mag. When it comes back up to the top, time for it to be relegated to practice ammo. Some pistols seem to "beat up" their rounds much worse than others.

    As for revolvers, I check OAL with fresh rounds and so long as all is good with them, rim, and case (which should be fine but pays to give 'em a glance) they can be used for a long time. FWIW, with the exception of my pistols carried on duty back in the day, my other carry pistols and revolvers are on me and, trust me, MY Pale, red-haired, heat-loathing butt is normally in climate controlled conditions as much as I can be!

  18. #18
    jeager106 is offline Junior Member
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    When I was still teaching and in charge of firearms training I set policy to swap out ammo in the handgun every 6 months when revolvers were standard issue.
    We implimented what I called prefered carry with caliber guidelines. Nothing less potent than the .308 auto, nothing more powerful
    than the ballistics of the .357 magnum. Officers would buy firearms that fit written guidelines and the agency would supply ammunition.
    With hi cap autos swapping ammo every 6 months was getting expensive. I cousulted with Mass Ayoob and settled on swapping out ammo 1 X per year.
    For the individual swapping ammo every 6 months wasn't a big expense but for 55 officers it became problematic.
    I swap my ammo every 6 months and as others have said, used the swapped out ammo for practice.
    Some of the premium ammo in 20 & 25 round packs can run over a dollar a round.
    I don't use reloaded ammo for serious social purposes, factory ammo only.
    I like to test hollow point ammo for expansion sometimes in b-gel, more often in gallon plastic jugs of water and found all the premium ammo performs very well and as advertised. The best value I've found for carry ammo is Remington 100 pack of
    the 230 grain . 45 a.c.p. h.p. It costs about $52 bucks per 100, or just a hair over 50 cents a shot. I like Federal HST in 9mm, .40 and .45 & it's packaged in 50 round packs but is almost 2 X the cost of Remingtons 100 pack in .45 a.c.p.
    I've not seen other calibers offered by Remington in 100 packs.
    Just my random drivel.

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