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Thread: Storing loaded ammo on its side?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy H110's Avatar
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    Storing loaded ammo on its side?

    Should you store loaded ammo on its side? Heres the deal. Fellow was given some 38 special ammo that was approximately 20 years old that had been stored on its side. About half of them failed to fire. He swears that thats the reason for the FTF's. I don't think it would matter. You guys tell me.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    If exposed to extreme heat (110+), cast projectile ammo stored projectile up or on the side, may bleed oils into powder charge causing failure to fire or incomplete ignition. Stored projectile down and at cooler temps I doubt you would have a problem. I personally store ammo in coffee cans as it falls from the press. Storage is 70 F or lower and no problems with 10-15 year old ammo.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I remember when I was in the military when we opened up the metal ammo boxes the ammo was randomly poured into the ammo boxes. Some boxes with ammo on stripper clips and others just loose in the box. So obviously it doesn't really matter at what angle the ammo cartridges are placed at for storage.

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    Boolit Master TNsailorman's Avatar
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    I have some reloaded military ammo that has been stored on its side since the late 60's and it still goes bang when I use some of it. It has been stored in ammo cans in a dry basement that stays around 65 degrees the year round. lubed lead ammo may be different depending on the temp and storage. I have never had this problem with any of my ammo though---either lubed lead or jacketed. james

  5. #5
    Boolit Master


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    I've shot Factory .38Spl RN that was stored in the old style box half up/half down.
    Stored in a So Cal garage for 40yrs.
    Every one went bang.

    Same thing for My Handloads. Old Flambeau box, Cast #358156 lubed with 50/50 over Max 2400. Shoved in the back of the stack, UPSIDE down.
    Over 30yrs, everyone went bang.
    I HATE auto-correct


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  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    I have both handgun and rifle ammo I loaded in the early 90s and stored loose in ammo cans. It has all fired just fine.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I shoot ammo stored loose on its side in boxes up and down no difference cast and lubed and copper jacketed

  8. #8
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    The primers probably weren't seated properly, if they were reloads. Other than that, heat and humidity may have killed them. If he pulled down some that didn't go off, and the powder is contaminated, that could be a reason, but the orientation during storage has no bearing on whether or not they will fire. Military ammunition in 8 round enblocs still shoot from WW II, and they are all stored on their sides in the ammo cans.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    As a matter of fact - G.I. from WWII was where the brass for my Garand ammo came from.
    Bought 8 .30 cal ammo cans in 1975 at a Garage sale, $5 a can. Enbloc in bandoleers. DM 42, shot it up in My Old 1903. Decapped 800rds with a Lee decapper, boiled in soapy water. Rinsed in more boiling water. Dried in old gas oven overnight.
    Took 14yrs, but I finally got a BEAUTIFUL Garand from the DCM. Had ammo ready for it.

    I've even shot steel cased .45ACP from WWII, in My Brazilian 1937 Revolver. They all went bang too.
    Last edited by Walks; 11-23-2019 at 02:29 PM. Reason: Auto-correct
    I HATE auto-correct


    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

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  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    My guess is "lube migration" spoiled the powder if they were reloads & someone used a lube that would do so. Seems I ran across this type of thing in my travels around the internet looking for other things.

    Otherwise, I would not have any other WAGs to make if they were factory rounds.

    I have some reloads I made back in the mid 80's that still fired after being on their sides for a long time. I found some loose ones in a box when going thru some old boxes looking for things. They were not purposely left unfired, but they all worked. (I know they were my reloads, as they were in one of the boxes that I had stored with other reloading stuff in the box.)

    Interesting to consider though, if one uses a lube that might do this some time, if they were stored where heat might cause that "lube migration" from the boolits to the powder/primer.".
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  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master
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    So far there is speculation with any fact. I have shot random samples of everything I have loaded for over 40 years and everything went bang. If I were to wager a guess it would be moisture or improper storage. Ammo needs to be kept dry.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Ammo is stored 'flat' all the time, including my cast bullet reloads. Most of the pistol stuff is in bags. But, I keep it dry, usually in ammo boxes.

    I agree above with the storage conditions being the issue, ie, moisture.

    Three categories of cartridge here. Military vs factory vs handload.

    Military stuff is loaded and sealed at the factory. The loose ammo can almost be left in water for extended periods and then fired (if the case itself is not corroded too much). Some of the stuff I have fired looked like it had been left in the jungle, corroded cases and bullets.

    Most factory ammo is also sealed after being assembled, but, may not be sealed as well as the Milspec.

    Reloads for the most part are not sealed. They can be susceptible to moisture if left in wet conditions.

    We had some original Kynock (1910's vintage) .577-450 ammo that was stored flat. Original PAPER 'box' and paper patched bullets. Stored indoors in climates ranging from the seacoast of Long Island to Guam to New Mexico desert. They were over 70 yrs old when fired. Not one of the 20 misfired.

    Lube migration. Yes, there could be some. But, unless you have some weird combination of a huge amount of lube and a very small amount of powder, some of the powder will not be affected and it will still shoot. A misfire would require contamination of the primer, which would take even more. Maybe a black powder cartridge that was loaded with a large lube 'cookie' and left stored bullet up in very hot conditions for a long period of time?

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    it must be stored in piles that resemble the belt of orion ...a big pile followed by to smaller piles , with one of those 11 degrees off to the left....really!

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Hey Charlie, pertaining to sealed cartridges. I, several years ago, inadvertently pulled off an experiment, twice. I load my 44-40 with BP and a 200gr Big Lube boolit, in Starline cases. On two occasions a loaded round went through the complete wash/dry cycle of my washing machine/dryer in a pocket. Each of those loaded rounds went Bang when I fired them. I have not worried about sealing primers since!
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  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I had loaded some 30-06 back in the mid 80's and have store them on there side It was cast boolits I loaded them with and no problems shooting them.They all work.
    Life Member of NRA,NTA,DAV ,ITA. Also member of FTA,CBA

  16. #16
    Boolit Master



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    Question for the OP.

    Does the powder know what position its in when its in a 1,4,8 # keg for who knows how long before purchased jossled on its travels and again sitting on some reloaders shelf?

    No storage position is far and Away less an issue than HOWS its storred.

    CW
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  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Smith View Post
    Hey Charlie, pertaining to sealed cartridges. I, several years ago, inadvertently pulled off an experiment, twice. I load my 44-40 with BP and a 200gr Big Lube boolit, in Starline cases. On two occasions a loaded round went through the complete wash/dry cycle of my washing machine/dryer in a pocket. Each of those loaded rounds went Bang when I fired them. I have not worried about sealing primers since!
    Consider this. I found some 3" steel shot 12 gauge shells in shallow water in a lake. They had been there long enough to be two-tone from the Sun. I steel-wooled the heads and shot all three from a Topper "barn gun" successfully. No primer Sealant there either.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  18. #18
    Boolit Bub
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    Agree with 'Charlie b'. Did the primer fire? If not, I assume it has nothing to do with the powder or lube.

    Here's a thought: Maybe it was a bunch of duds 20 yrs ago and that's why they got set aside in the first place. Maybe sloppy reloading got enough of something in the primer pocket to kill the primer on day 1. Did someone reload them with berdan primers in the mix?

    It would be interesting to pull down 8-10 rounds for an autopsie.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Smith View Post
    Hey Charlie, pertaining to sealed cartridges. I, several years ago, inadvertently pulled off an experiment, twice. I load my 44-40 with BP and a 200gr Big Lube boolit, in Starline cases. On two occasions a loaded round went through the complete wash/dry cycle of my washing machine/dryer in a pocket. Each of those loaded rounds went Bang when I fired them. I have not worried about sealing primers since!
    Yep, standard loaded cartridges without any sealant can do very well. I just would not bet my life on them if the storage is questionable. Good enough for hunting.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I have a container of 38 wadcutters bulk packed and lubed with a pretty soft homemade lube. They have been in the trunk of my black car for a few years. Every time I grab a fist full every one so far as went bang. I'm not saying this what you should do nor would I bet my life on them but so far so good.

    Ebner

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
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