Author Topic: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume  (Read 10504 times)

Offline FreeLancer

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Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« on: March 26, 2017, 09:08:56 PM »
I've been experimenting over the last couple months with how to best maximize the amount of ammunition I can store within the conditioned space inside my house. 

The reasons behind this are several, but primarily is due to the fact that California laws will prevent me from buying ammunition in state without a background check, which will end my ability to buy online, as well.  So that means I have about 8 months left to buy years worth of ammunition, inventory and consolidate what I already have, and figure out how all of it can be stored as safely and efficiently as possible.

My criteria requires that longevity, water and fire resistance, as well as protection from incidental discovery, be maximized.  As such, I've been trying to cram as much ammo as possible into military ammo cans, which happen to be relatively cheap, and strong enough to be stacked high and tight. 

If I take out the shelving in my gun safe, I am able to fit three columns of 50 cal. cans stacked six high, along with a single column of six 30 cal. cans, and still have room for the long guns I need to keep in there.  I can't get all my ammo into the safe, but those 18 + 6 cans hold 3-4 times what would fit in there while still encased in standard packaging, which incidentally doesn't have the strength to be stacked that high without the risk of crushing.


Here's what I've come up with so far, by much trial and error (and mind numbing tedium, plus I also decided to shred all packaging identifying it as ammo before putting it out for garbage/recycle collection).


40 S&W 180gr:  2025 rds per 50 cal can, weighing just under 80 lbs per can. 

This was achieved by stacking the rounds on their sides as shown in the picture below.  Since the cases are essentially straight, instead of tapered like 9mm, the cartridges can all be oriented in the same direction throughout the stacking process.  It turns out that 13 rounds fit across the width of the can, which is then alternated with a layer 12 rounds across, for a total of 25 rounds for each sequence.  Nine rounds fit end to end down the length of the can, with 18 layers fitting within the height of the can with the lid closed.  I used cardboard cushioning between the can and the ammo, so there's no brass on steel contact.  The math for this arrangement comes out to 25 rds x 9 layers x 9 columns = 2025 rds.



For perspective, notice the volume difference in the picture below, the plastic trays containing all the ammo that fit in the can is stacked beside it for comparison.  While this is extremely efficient, moving an 80 lb can is problematic and you really must be careful and plan ahead to prevent injuries.





Honestly, while this was a serious pain in the ass to accomplish, every other round I've tried to stack efficiently has been even worse, but I'll show you what I've come up with so far.


308 Win 168gr:  425 rds per 30 cal ammo can, weight 29.21 lbs.  Notice the way the necks and shoulders of the opposing rows are interlaced.  This can be done in a similar fashion with bigger cans, but it takes more effort to keep the stacks from collapsing as you're building successive columns.





9mm 115gr:  While I have not obtained enough of this caliber to fill an entire 50 cal. can, I have determined that at least 2430 rounds should fit when stacked as shown below.  Notice each layer has to be flipped while building a stack.  This is more tedious than with 40, and isn't quite as stable, either.





22LR:  A maximum of 6000 rounds will fit loosely in a 50 cal. can and weighs under 20lbs.  Shown below is a 5000 round case of CCI Mini Mag after the plastic packaging was removed, which reduced the volume to a third of what it was.  I couldn't bear the thought of trying to stack this stuff, and since the efficiency of stacking diminishes with smaller calibers, it's probably not worth the effort.  After messing around with 5.56, I think the same may hold true for that caliber, as well, but I'm still experimenting.





What do you guys think, do I risk ruining perfectly good ammo by storing it this way?

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2017, 09:20:50 PM »
Wow. That is a lot of work.  Throw some desiccant packets in and call it good.

There is a point where weight makes it unwieldy. I would recommend keeping some "bug out ammo" in more modest amounts so it isn't so heavy.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2017, 09:51:56 PM »
Wow indeed.  Strangely beautiful, all shiny and stacked up like that.  Interesting to see how tightly this can be packed, though I don't have anything like the patience to pull it off.

Offline never_retreat

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2017, 08:06:24 AM »
Wow that's some ocd ammo porn right there.

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2017, 08:39:34 AM »
Any concerns with the weight on the bottom rounds causing deformations?

Offline Carl

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2017, 08:49:51 AM »
  When I was in production,a 7 gallon bucket full of pistol ammo caused no deformations and neither did TUMBLING the 10,000 or so LIVE pistol rounds at a time in a home size cement mixer. Ammo is pretty tough.

Offline Jack Crabb

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2017, 09:42:46 AM »
Impressive.

There is oxidation paper https://www.amazon.com/Armor-Protective-Packaging-MPI1212-Corrosion/dp/B00KF580NE/ref=sr_1_2?s=industrial&ie=UTF8&qid=1490629090&sr=1-2&keywords=rust+paper that would protect from oxidation.

Also, it is thinner than the corrugated cardboard so you might be able to repack the .40's and get another half dozen or so cartridges in the can.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2017, 10:34:20 AM »
Any concerns with the weight on the bottom rounds causing deformations?

It had crossed my mind, among other concerns.  I started with the cheap FMJ to see how it handled it and was intending to leave my JHP stuff in the packaging, but, in the end, anything I had at least 500 rounds of got stripped down and stacked.  The space savings won me over, because I've got more ammo coming and only so much storage room where I can hide this from "she who must be obeyed."


  When I was in production,a 7 gallon bucket full of pistol ammo caused no deformations and neither did TUMBLING the 10,000 or so LIVE pistol rounds at a time in a home size cement mixer. Ammo is pretty tough.

Wow.  That's encouraging, I will stay calm and stack on, then.


Also, it is thinner than the corrugated cardboard so you might be able to repack the .40's and get another half dozen or so cartridges in the can.

Interesting.  I might have to try it, although my humidity is low here, so corrosion is down the list of concerns.  Is it fairly abrasion/tear resistant?  Best case scenario, I might be able to fit an additional 162 rds of .40 in the can if I could do layers of 13 and 14, instead of 13 and 12.

Offline bcksknr

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2017, 12:15:48 PM »
     I feel much better about my OCD now. I too keep everything in military ammo cans, but not in a safe. I have pretty much put everything in Midway U.S.A. cardstock boxes with styro inserts, because most of my reloads come from found brass at the range. My hunting ammo is all soft point and I like the security of having them not rattling around. Most of my.223 is in 10 round stripper clips and then packaged in 3 stripper clip cardboard sleeves. LULA makes a nice stripper clip/magazine reloader that's very fast. Most of these are in military bandoliers. I like the idea of being able to "grab and go", but it means less in each can/more cans. I do have the space and the "Boss" knows what we've got; no complaints. I also store soft point pistol ammo in styro; I don't want to have to worry about mashing the bullet tips. Those nice white boxes are easy to label and date and rotate. I probably don't have as much put away as you, but I weighed how much ammo I might go through in a SHTF before I get shot. Of course it could be a barter item, but I have enough for that.
     A trick that I found for silica dessicant is to buy a drum (I think they are five or ten pounds) of flower drying crystals at a craft store. I sewed up some 4x4 inch bags out of canvas duck and filled them with crystals before sewing them closed. I've never had one tear or leak and you can recharge them in the oven, no problem. I toss them into by grain buckets too. They seem to work well and save some bucks.   

Offline never_retreat

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2017, 07:44:52 PM »
  When I was in production,a 7 gallon bucket full of pistol ammo caused no deformations and neither did TUMBLING the 10,000 or so LIVE pistol rounds at a time in a home size cement mixer. Ammo is pretty tough.
Got to be careful doing that. Long runs in the tumbler can change the shapes of the grains of powder, change the burn rate, and affect the case pressure.

Offline Carl

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2017, 04:15:32 AM »
Got to be careful doing that. Long runs in the tumbler can change the shapes of the grains of powder, change the burn rate, and affect the case pressure.

Yes. The final tumble was to clean away any die lube and add a small coating of automotive wax as a preservative and sealant to keep cases clean and shiney ,though mostly to remove any lubricant so as to prevent powder degradation. A ten minute timer was used for the final polish so as to not cause powder shape and burn rate changes. We used HP38 or WW231 and the flake powder rarely deformed without very long tumbling times and you are correct to avoid such..also many powders tailor burn rate by a coating and this also should not be tumbled long.No rifle ammo was tumbled as live rounds as this is NOT SAFE.

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2017, 10:41:32 PM »
How will the new law affect hand loading and buying of components?  Will you be able to buy primers and powder in-state without the fingerprint/background check?  Even if not, it may be more efficient to buy components and store in bulk rather than piling up loaded ammo.

For instance, you should get at least 10 loads per pistol case, with maybe 1%-2% loss per firing for semi-automatics flinging the brass.  That means to be able to shoot 6,000 rounds you only need to store 700-800 cases, which are the bulkiest part of the cartridge.  Buy powder in 8# jugs takes far less space than eight of the 1# cans.  You can use one powder like W231, Universal, Unique or Power Pistol for example for 9mm, .40 and .45.  At about 5.0 grains per cartridge you get 1,400 loads per pound.  Since you ca stockpile one powder for most common cartridges, you can change your mind down the road and shoot more 9mm than .40, or more .45 than 9mm (assuming bulk bullets are never going to be a problem to purchase). 9mm and .40 both take the same small pistol primers (Remington has an exception).  If you cast, then you can store the lead ingots and make up whichever caliber and weight you want years later.  Just a thought.

Your currently stacking methods looks pretty efficient, but I would agree that you might want to use .30 cal cans for some of it to keep the weight down per can.  You may be fine with 80# ammo cans now, but what if you have an injury, or must rely on someone else to move them at a later date in you absence?  I only stockpile small amounts of factory ammo, the most being good buys on .223 M193 years ago which I store loose in a large ammo can.  My reloads I put in plastic cases with labels, maybe 500 rds at a time per caliber.  Most of my "ammo" is components with three different locations for the amount of primers and powder, and a LOT of ammo cans for various caliber bullets.  All of my .22LR ammo is stored in ammo cans and large plastic toolboxes in their original packaging (mostly Blazer, CCI minimags, CCI SV, and now Aguila super extra HV and SV in their paper boxes).

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2017, 02:38:49 AM »
Thanks for the tips NWP. 

Components will not be subject to the same restrictions as ammunition, as far as I can tell right now, so online purchases should still be possible next year.  I do plan to start reloading, starting with .44, but will probably not devote serious resources to components until after my online ammo window closes.  But I really do need to start paying more attention to components.  I have Lee dies for .44 and .40, plus their hand press, which I think I picked up based on Jack's recommendation back in the early days, but never have taken the next step.

Offline CPT Morgan

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2017, 08:39:54 PM »
Thanks a lot Freelancer  ;) now my own OCD is needing to know just how many more pieces of ammo were able to be fit in to those cans vs. just dumping them in and/or leaving them in the boxes.

I too use military surplus cans to store my ammo, but I just dump it in along with a piece of paper on top to reference the amount and description that was dumped.  Leaving room for a desiccant bag or two...  This is very handy to go to the range with and all I have to do is count my spent cartridges to know how many rounds I need to put back or update the paper with.

IMO, you can't have too many of these cans (.50 and .30 caliber).

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2017, 08:48:53 PM »
So if you like ammo cans...there is more obsession that just ammo...


Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2017, 08:59:41 PM »
Thanks a lot Freelancer  ;) now my own OCD is needing to know just how many more pieces of ammo were able to be fit in to those cans vs. just dumping them in and/or leaving them in the boxes.

I just got several cases of 9 and 5.56 this weekend, I'll do a comparison with pictures of stacking them in their retail packaging vs. loose vs. carefully stacked.

Offline CPT Morgan

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2017, 09:03:30 PM »
I just got several cases of 9 and 5.56 this weekend, I'll do a comparison with pictures of stacking them in their retail packaging vs. loose vs. carefully stacked.

Cool, thanks.

So if you like ammo cans...there is more obsession that just ammo...

Love it.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2017, 11:09:21 PM »
So if you like ammo cans...there is more obsession that just ammo...

Have you tried them?  I saw them on Amazon, but haven't managed to bring myself to mash the buy button, yet. 

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2017, 11:14:35 PM »
Have you tried them?  I saw them on Amazon, but haven't managed to bring myself to mash the buy button, yet.
Yep. I keep snap caps, spare parts and cleaning equipment in them.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2017, 11:17:25 PM »
Well, then.....buy, I shall.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2017, 08:23:35 AM »
This seems like 80% OCD and 20% prep for future gun restrictions.  :)

For example, if I thought there would be a federal ban on AR-15s, I'd buy 4-5 spare bolts, LPKs, etc. and prepare for deep, long term storage.
If I wanted to stock up on ammo I frequently use, I wouldn't bother with the pretty ammo-porn storage.  Consider storage in package sizes that match your range habits.  e.g. if you most often only shoot 200 rounds per session, storing thousands in a container is not convenient.

Think like food storage:  store what you eat, eat what you store.

I know many OCD people, and if you are one, you won't want to crack into one of those meticulously packed ammo boxes.  Store your ammo in a way that encourages your shooting hobby.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2017, 10:39:33 AM »
Well, whether it's OCD or not, it's definitely 100% mental illness.

If you can't be an example, you can still serve as a warning. 

Caveat preptor.

Offline danimal

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2017, 02:57:51 PM »
Wow that's some ocd ammo porn right there.

That made me laugh out loud. Wow.

So, I would just dump it in. But that's me. I have to admit that weight is my biggest concern. I'd get the smaller thin ammo cans...30cal I think.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2017, 05:18:33 PM »
Well, whether it's OCD or not, it's definitely 100% mental illness.

If you can't be an example, you can still serve as a warning. 

Caveat preptor.

I can air out my battery organizing scheme again, if that'll help you feel any better.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2017, 06:37:36 PM »
I can air out my battery organizing scheme again, if that'll help you feel any better.

Stacking batteries is another of my afflictions.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2017, 07:02:34 PM »
Stacking batteries is another of my afflictions.
That's us here at the TSP Forum: one big OCD mutual support group.    ;D

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2017, 07:23:54 PM »
That's us here at the TSP Forum: one big OCD mutual support group.    ;D

 :clap:

Offline trekker111

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2017, 07:46:04 PM »
I'd just move out of CA.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #28 on: April 05, 2017, 07:14:40 AM »
I'd just move out of CA.

..but then what would they complain about?


Offline CPT Morgan

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Re: Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume
« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2017, 07:20:03 AM »
..but then what would they complain about?

No worries, their problems always follow them.