PDA

View Full Version : Ammo shelf life Question


Al
12-22-2008, 05:01 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm new here although I've been lurking for a few weeks off and on.

I inherited a bunch of guns and all the re-loading equipment for them from my Dad when he passed on. Some of the gunpowder and primers I know to be 8 -10 years old. Also all the smokless powder for the muzzle loaders is that old. It's all been well stored and an examination of containers shows no deterioration. I want to start re-loading for these guns and since there is quit a bit here, I would like to use what I have rather than throw it out.

Any help on shelf life would be appreciated. I want to be as safe as possible.

Thanks
Al

docsoos
12-22-2008, 09:23 AM
Welcome to the Forum, Al! ;D

As long as the storage conditions were proper (very low humidity, moderate to cool temperatures), and the powder cans were capped tightly, the components should be fine.

If the storage conditions are unknown, I would start out loading some low-pressure loads, and step it up from there if all looks as it should.

About 14 years ago, a colleague I worked with was dying of cancer, and he sold me ALL of his powder/primers/bullets/casting equipment, etc. for a song, because he had no children to leave it to that were interested in it, and he wanted somebody to use it that would appreciate it.

I have used some powder and primers that were purchased from him that were at least 25-30 years old, with excellent results, but I did know that he stored these components in the most optimum conditions possible. Caution is the watchword here.

Enjoy yourself, and be safe. I'm sure that if you need any help with your reloading endeavours, I and the other forum members here would be glad to assist you in any way possible.

Again, welcome to the Forum!

DocSoos

kawalekm
12-22-2008, 12:10 PM
Don't worry Al, 10 years is nothing in regards to ammo quality. I routinely shoot mil-surplus ammo that is dated 1980's or earlier. Every single shot still goes bang. As for reloading, I am just getting around to using rotated stocks of powder and primers that is dated from 1997 and before. That stock still seems as good as the day I bought it.

Now, like suggested above, you want to put together your own test loads first, incrementally increasing the powder charge to determine what shoots best in your particular guns. Eventually, you will consume all your available powder or primers and go to the store to buy more. It is prudent to fire some test loads again with the new lots of powder/primers just to confirm that they still perform as originally tested. Then, you are good to go.

Enjoy your new hobby. I expect you will find it very worthwhile.
Michael

DM
12-22-2008, 12:17 PM
Hi everyone,

I'm new here although I've been lurking for a few weeks off and on.

I inherited a bunch of guns and all the re-loading equipment for them from my Dad when he passed on. Some of the gunpowder and primers I know to be 8 -10 years old. Also all the smokless powder for the muzzle loaders is that old. It's all been well stored and an examination of containers shows no deterioration. I want to start re-loading for these guns and since there is quit a bit here, I would like to use what I have rather than throw it out.

Any help on shelf life would be appreciated. I want to be as safe as possible.

Thanks
Al

Chances are that the powder is just fine, but when powder goes bad, it gets a bad smell. It also makes a lot of fine dust, and many times gets a reddish tint to it...

Like was already said, if it was stored properly, it should be just fine.

DM

Al
12-22-2008, 01:24 PM
Thanks all for answering. :)

While at my Dad's house, the stuff was always stored in it's original containers then in ammo cans and then in a closet in an unheated room.
The same at my house except the closet I keep it in, is in an unheated garage. I assume that's ok to store it like that.

As soon as I get some brass for the different calibers, I'm going to give this a shot. All my re-loading manuals are old so I'll have to get a couple new ones (current). I've been reading and surfing the web for a couple years about how to re-load but I sure wish I had sat down with my Dad and learned how to do it.

Thanks again and I'm sure I'll be asking questions.

Al

kawalekm
12-23-2008, 01:08 PM
HI Al
Keep those old manuals! The data in them is just as good today as it was 20 years ago. The main purpose for newer manuals is to cover the new cartridges, powders, and bullets that have come along since the last once has been published. If all you want to reload is a 150 grain soft-point in 30-06 with IMR-4895, then 20 year old data is just as good as current data. Just remember to always load the starting weights for every lot of powder/bullet/primer and work up the load that works best with your components.

By the way, what manuals do you have, and which cartridges do you want to reload?
Michael

Al
12-25-2008, 05:14 AM
Howdy,

Been kinda busy here.

I have Metallic cartridge reloading 3rd edition by M.L. McPherson,
Hornady handbook of cartridge reloading Vol 1 4th edition,
Speer Reloading rifle & pistol manual no. 12.

Those are the one's I can find at the moment. I know I got a couple more around and ther's more old ones at my Dad's house packed away.

I'll be re-loading 22-250, .223, 6.5 swede, 45/70 gvmt and maybe some 7.62 for the SKS. I got a couple hundred rounds for the SKS on hand but it's old surplus from Yugaslovia or somewhere and I'm not going to re-load it.

For the first three cal's, I have the bullets, powder & primers. I just got to get some brass. Fore the 45/70 I need everything but the powder. I'll worry about the SKS when I shoot up the ammo I got and then decide whether I want to re-load it.

Al

P.S. I have at least two sets of dies for each caliber listed. A couple of them three sets. I'm not sure why my Dad bought all them different sets but he did. Their Lee and RCBS dies.

kawalekm
12-25-2008, 01:03 PM
Looks like you've got enough information to get started. I pick up a lot of books at my local flea market and have obtained Speer's 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th manuals; Lyman's 45th, 46th, 47th, 48th, and the 49th. Got all of them except the most recent for just a dollar or two. Let me know what cartridge/bullet/powder combinations you want and I can look them up for you.

I buy most of my brass from Midway, that is, what I don't pick up off the ground at the range. Come January Midway will have Winchester .223 and .22-250 brass on sale. Here's a link.
http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/BrowseCategories.aspx?tabId=1&categoryId=9013&cate goryString=9315***652***670***

I can think of two reasons why Dad had more than one die set. At some point he had more than one rifle to reload in that caliber and he had an individual set of dies for each rifle to size the brass perfectly. He may also have wanted to compare the accuracy of one die set to another and found that one brand performed better than others. Alternatively, he may have just been very forgetful or was a complusive buyer! Sorry!

Good luck with reloading,
Michael

Al
12-25-2008, 03:11 PM
Merry Christmas all,

Ya, I think I have what I need. I just have to take the plunge and get going. I have to iron out some possible issues with the 22-250 I think before I start re-loading it. I'm having feed problems with it no matter what ammo I'm using and I know my Dad said he was having problems finding oal and couldn't get the bullet close enough to the lands. Might be some throat erosian I think he said.
Btw, his records that I have found are all mixed up and very cryptic to me. I'm sure he knew excactly what he had written but I'm sure not going to try and load going off his records. I'll just start from scratch on all calibers and as suggested, start at min loads and work up to the sweet spot.

Thanks for the link. It sure looks like ammo and supplies are in demand and getting pricey.

Al

martialcanine45cal
12-28-2008, 08:23 PM
Al,

I generally obtain my brass/bullets from either Midway or Natchez, and my powder/primers and bullets from Powder Valley, Inc.

As all others have said, the components should be good and you are definitely right to play it safe by loading at the lower levels and establishing your own records.

Perhaps the most important lesson to take away from this is - for all of us reloaders - to encourage people to take up the hobby and pass on our knowledge of reloading through mentoring. My dad did not reload and I was brought into it by a friend. I will be passing it on to someone else at some point.

docsoos
12-29-2008, 04:17 PM
Good to see that you're getting into it right away, Al!

Two things:

1. The 7.62 x 39 mm ammo for the SKS/AK, if it's ComBloc steel cases, can't really be reloaded. The steel cases are hell on the dies, and besides, most all of it I've seen is "Berdan-primed" anyway (two flash-holes in the primer pocket versus one flash-hole for "Boxer" primed cases). You'll break a de-priming pin trying to get the primer out of the pocket of a Berdan-primed case, so beware! If you really want to reload this caliber, most all of the brass manufacturers make good-quality 7.62 x 39 brass that is "Boxer-primed".

2. The OAL issues with the .22-250 could possibly be a couple of issues. Does it chamber hard with factory ammo? If so, then there may possibly be a chamber issue. If not, it may be that your Dad just NECK-SIZED the cases, to "tighten up" the chamber fit, and improve accuracy (re: concentricity) with the bore axis. Neck-sized cases are "fire-formed" to the chamber they were fired from, and may not fit in another rifle, or chamber extremely hard, if at all.

There are a couple of ways to check the proper overall length for your particular rifle: one, Ferro-Safe makes an alloy that can make a perfect cast of your chamber, that can be withdrawn after cooling, and measured for exact dimensions with a set of mikes, including the exact bullet ogive to rifling length.

Two, I have a "cheat" method I use for OAL (ballpark accuracy ONLY!) that an old reloading buddy showed me: full-length resize a new brass case; EVER SO SLIGHTLY, expand the case mouth, so a bullet of the type you are planning to use fits fairly snug in the case mouth, but can still be moved with moderate pressure; gently chamber the round, withdraw the round gently, and see if there are any rifling marks on the bullet ogive. If there are, then measure that case OAL, and BACK OFF THE SEATING DEPTH THREE OR FOUR THOUSANDTHS OF AN INCH, load as normal, crimp tight, and check grouping. If accuracy is mediocre, lengthen OAL by .001" at a time, but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should the bullet be seated to actually touch the rifling when chambered. Excessive pressures will result, with unsavory results for both rifle and shooter!

PLEASE NOTE: The standard disclaimer applies here, you are responsible for your own safety, and if you are not comfortable with doing the aforementioned procedure, then by all means, DON'T. Just a little "food for thought" to help solve your problem.

BTW.....The .22-250 is my FAVORITE caliber for Varmints! My handloads with 40-grain V-Max and Ballistic Tip bullets approach 4600 Feet Per Second velocity, and print 5/8" groups at 150 yards, if I do my part. Good Luck!

Have a Great Day!

DocSoos

Al
12-30-2008, 12:40 AM
Thanks for the info everyone.

As far as the SKS ammo goes, I probably will just shoot what I have for now and not worry about re-loading that anytime soon. I don't really like it much anyway so I won't be shooting it much.

I'm going to run a box of factory ammo through the 22-250 and see how it goes but if I remember right, it doesn't feed right no matter what the ammo. What I'm talking about is when I throw the bolt, the ejecting shell sticks sometimes and then the loading shell wants to go nose up and not into the chamber. It's as if it's not "routing" in where it's supposed to go. (for lack of a better word).
I hope I'm making sense. Tha's the best I can splain it. I may bust it down, check, clean and lube and then re-assemble everything.
When I had the gun it didn't do that and then my dad had it for a couple of years shooting it and re-loading for it and then I got it back after he died and was having problems with it since.
I have a sneaking suspision he may have accidently goofed something up and didn't know it or forgot to tell me or something.

That rifle is my first, other than a couple of .22's and cost me a fortune at the time. I'ts a Kimber stainless steel with composit stock built on a Mauser action. One way or the other I got to get it fixed and shooting right. ;D

Hope every one had a good Christmas!!

Al

docsoos
12-30-2008, 09:48 AM
Hmmmm.........

If I'm understanding you correctly, the empty brass is not ejecting, but rather staying clamped to the bolt face? Could be a broken or bent ejector......

Also, if the feeding round doesn't align with the chamber properly, it could be the extractor that clamps the base of the round as it's stripped out of the magazine is bent/misshapen/broken. Or possibly a weak or broken magazine spring. Just a few things to check....

Good Luck!

DocSoos

Al
12-31-2008, 01:58 AM
Thanks DocSoos, I'll look into that.

The shells don't quite stay stuck in the bolt face but unless you wrack the bolt hard, they want to stay stuck and sometime end up kind of cockeyed and stuck and I have to wrassle them out.

Hopefully in the next few days I can go put some rounds down range and see exactly what's going on there. I to, suspect the mag spring but I can't seem to get my mag plate off anymore. It's always been hard but I can't get it off at all now.

I'll post a new topic after that if I have probs and need help. We're getting off the ammo shelf life question a bit and I think that's been answered very well.

Thanks All

Al

blackpowderbill
01-18-2009, 11:09 AM
Al,
Load a handfull of cartridges and see how they shoot!
If everything looks Ok then load em up.
I strongly suggest reading all the warnings of excessive case pressure. This is a very important aspect of reloading that is often over looked.

I have shot ammo that my friends would not pick up. I worked fine for a round of skeet.

I shot some 30/40 krag in Nov that was reloaded almost 20 years ago. I have powder I know is 15+ yrs old in unopened cans.

bpb

jdb
01-26-2009, 02:04 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm new here although I've been lurking for a few weeks off and on.

I inherited a bunch of guns and all the re-loading equipment for them from my Dad when he passed on. Some of the gunpowder and primers I know to be 8 -10 years old. Also all the smokless powder for the muzzle loaders is that old. It's all been well stored and an examination of containers shows no deterioration. I want to start re-loading for these guns and since there is quit a bit here, I would like to use what I have rather than throw it out.

Any help on shelf life would be appreciated. I want to be as safe as possible.

Thanks
Al

jdb
01-26-2009, 02:13 AM
HI Al,
you stated all the smokeless powder for the muzzle loaders is old is that old. !! !please dont use smokless in your muzzle loader uneless it was made for it . only black powder or a BP substitute
So you can be safe.
Safest Regards JDB.