Ammo Durability

Since I started my life with guns, I’ve been told by instructors, fellow shooters, and everyone in between that you must cycle out your carry ammo every few months. It was explained to me that temperature shifts and moisture that your carry ammunition is subjected to will destabilize the ammo, compromising its reliability.

Last fall, Teen Bot dropped a Ruger 22/45 magazine at the farm that was loaded with ten rounds of CCI Quiet. This magazine remained lost until Jennifer found it under some grass that one of my cousins had recently mowed. The magazine was dirty and rusty. I had my son clean it up at home, and then on a whim I dusted off the ammo that had come out of it, and loaded those same ten rounds back into the magazine. I really expected failures. Here’s the video:

Please do not in any way take this as advice to not change out your ammo. I am still a firm believer in keeping your carry ammo fresh. However, it makes me question the popular wisdom that you can’t get your ammo wet, and it will go bad if subjected to temperature swings. It was my understanding that centerfire ammunition is quite a bit more durable than rimfire. If this is the case, that 22/45 magazine has me questioning the reality of carry ammunition durability.

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7 thoughts on “Ammo Durability

  1. Friends down in Texas were told at their CCW class ‘on your birthday every year, fire the ammo you’ve had in the pistol and your backup, and put in fresh; call it a birthday present.’ Quality ammo will last a LONG time under decent conditions, his main concern with carry ammo was bullets possibly suffering some setback from being banged around in carry or loading/unloading.

    Of course, if you leave a magazine in a pocket and run it through the washer, I’d use that ammo for target practice

    • I’m really tempted to set up a controlled experiment where we put some select ammunition from different manufacturers and different calibers in the weather for a set duration and see how it fares at the range.

      • Throw some oil in there too, oil in the primers is a great way to kill em

        Gernally I cycle through all my carry ammo every few months. I buy a few hundered when I buy, and shoot a mag every range trip.

        helps to keep you sleeping well that you know for a fact your carry piece can run the ammo you keep in it, and you proved it last week.

        In my case its not even too expensive, as lately I run the Winchester white box personal protection in my 45, and Fiocci XTPs in my 380.

        Cost per box is barely above FMJ

        • Cirillo’s second book tells of a Harbor officer who showed up at the range with his pistol in a bag, literally dripping with oil(“Aw, it rusts if I don’t do that!”); Cirillo made him shoot that ammo first, and the second round fired- barely- and the bullet almost didn’t make it through the target paper.

  2. The largest danger, of course, comes from repeated chambering, which can set bullets back or, worse, render primers inert.

    But, yeah, in general ammunition is a lot more durable than people give it credit for. I still shoot 8x56R ammo with Nazi headstamps dated from the early ’40s.

    • Quite true. With economics as they have been for the last few years, I’m not changing out carry ammo as often as I would like, but the round that lives in the chamber gets replaced pretty often still.

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