How Long Does Ammo Last?

Whether you're training for self-defense, shooting for sport, or shooting for any other reason, you will obviously need ammunition handy.

Although it’s easy to purchase ammunition, unfortunately most of us don’t get the opportunity to use it as soon as we’ve bought it. But that doesn’t matter right? Surely ammunition lasts forever? If you want to find out more about ammunition and how long it lasts, then keep reading below.

How Long Does Ammo Last?

Most ammunition experts will tell you that ammunition will last approximately ten years. However, for ammunition to last this long it needs to be stored correctly.

Although many people argue that ammunition lasts much longer than this, if you want the highest level of consistency, reliability, and performance, it’s a good idea to follow the ten-year advice. While it is ok to try out your old ammunition at a shooting range, it’s not advisable to use this ammo for hunting or self defense.

What Factors Play a Part in the Shelf-Life of Ammunition?

As we mentioned above, most ammunition experts believe that ammunition lasts approximately ten years. However, this depends on several factors:

  • How well the containers were sealed
  • Whether it was manufactured to a high-quality
  • Where it was stored
  • Whether it’s been exposed to the elements

Purchasing high-quality ammo and making sure it’s stored properly can help to increase the shelf-life.

What Causes Ammo to Break Down?

The three main factors that can affect the reliability and consistency of ammo are:

  • Heat
  • Time
  • Moisture

All these things, either on their own or in combination, can result in less speed, power, consistency, and reliability from your ammo. However, not only can they cause the rounds to be less effective, but they can also result in the ammo being unable to fire at all. This is called a misfire. It is also possible for these factors to result in hang fire. Hang fire is when the ammunition is delayed. This can be quite dangerous.

If moisture is able to enter the ammunition, the gunpowder and primer can become damp. This can lead to challenges with the firing. While moisture can include visible liquids like lake water, rain or spills, humidity can also cause ammunition to be less effective over time. And that’s not all, moisture can also lead to corrosion of the cartridge, including the bullet and cases.

While moisture is the most common cause of ammo breaking down, heat can also be a factor. As soon as gunpowder has been manufactured, the chemicals in it begin to break down. Although this is usually a slow process, heat can accelerate it.

The last factor that can cause ammunition to break down is time. As we mentioned earlier, as soon as gunpowder is created at the factory it begins deteriorating. This process continues for the whole life of the ammunition. Although this process is slow, time still plays a part in the lifespan of ammunition.

Can Ammo Last Longer Than 10 Years?

The good news is that if you have purchased quality ammo from a reputable company, and you’ve stored it in an area that is free of moisture and not too hot or cold, you won't have any problems with the longevity of your ammo.

In fact, you only need to conduct a search online to find results of individuals firing ammunition that is anywhere from 25 – 100 years old. You can even find videos of people firing ammunition that was produced during WWI.

However, before you try out old ammunition, it's important to make sure that it’s safe. Ammo that hasn’t been stored correctly should not be fired. As long as the ammunition you’re using has been stored in ideal conditions, it should be safe to fire. Just make sure you take extra precautions when firing it as you don’t want any accidents to occur.  

Be Careful with Firearms and Ammo

Although ammunition is built to withstand rough handling, such as being dropped or generally mistreated, it is not immune to the effects of cold, heat, moisture, or strong impacts. Before using any ammo, make sure you check it to see if it has been damaged. If you are worried that the ammunition hasn’t been correctly stored, or if you notice some signs of damage, it’s better to just get rid of it. Don’t take chances with ammo. Dispose of it and purchase new. Not doing so is not only dangerous, but it can also damage your firearm too.

When it comes to the age of ammunition, it’s important to remember that like most products, ammo has a shelf-life. Experts believe that ammo can last approximately ten years. This means that if you go to the shooting range on a regular basis, your ammo supply shouldn’t outlast its expiration date. However, just because ammo can last for a long time, it doesn’t mean that it has. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Throw away any old ammunition that you’re not convinced about and buy new.