Author Topic: Storing Loose Rounds  (Read 23311 times)

Offline Drezden

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Storing Loose Rounds
« on: February 20, 2011, 12:59:20 PM »
I want to build up my stock of ammo most of which I plan on being reloads. I've got some storage ideas in mind, but one thing that has me perplexed is where and how to store the loose rounds. I've got a few left over boxes and those plastic reloading cases, but those take up a lot of bulk. Is there a recommended way to store loose ammo. I'm looking at storing .223, .308, and 9mm.

My initial plan is to build up about 400 rounds that I will rotate out as I shoot. Them I might possibly add more.

Offline Bradbn4

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2011, 03:10:34 PM »
Good ammo just don't go bad "fast".  I would expect factory ammo to be "fresh" 30+ years if stored in a cool, dry location. I have shot some of my 20 year old reloads and they have worked flawlessly.  So I don't really rotate ammo other than 22lr.

I don't think 400 rounds is not much - even each caliber your referenced.  Unless you are packing it 1200 rounds on your back.  I store most of my rounds in those plastic cases - works well, and keeps stuff off of them.  Because I have different loads, weights of bullets the cases let me mark what's in each box and how it is loaded up.

I prefer to re-package most of my commercial ammo because the plastic boxes provide better protection.  They are easier to store, don't get messed up if the box gets a bit wet.   I just rip off the box tab and put in the ammo container.  If the box will go into a back back, I use a few rubber bands to make sure that the box won't open back up.

Now, if I wanted to package loads for extended field use, I would consider baggies with a few rubber bands around the ammo to keep the bags neat.  If I wanted extended protection because I am rafting, I would consider vacuum packing the ammo.  Both methods can be used to reduce the total overall volume down to the minimum.

I have seen some folks use the stripper clips for 308 / 223 to pack that type of ammo.  Others buy extra magazines and use that for long term storage.  I have also seen folks use the foam ammo containers and pack those into ammo cases.   

I don't think storing the ammo in a ammo can is a good idea because I rather not have the ammo bounce around and get beat up. 

For mix and match - unknown safe load configurations / factory / reloaded I do keep a small ammo box and just dump that type of ammo.  This stuff is only used for plinking.  If I am real unsure of the safety of the ammo, I use a bullet puller and recycle the brass.

At one time I color coded the ammo to indicate what style of round was loaded.  I guess you could then do that with your ammo and include a ledger so your ammo box is 100% full.

There are two types of ammo I never repackage, defensive rounds & 22 lr. 

Offline RacinRob

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2011, 04:02:51 PM »
I do store in ammo cans.  I put my reloads in the tumbler for 10 or 15 minutes to clean any oil and stuff off them.  I put them in freezer bags and pack them in 30 cal cans.  I make up some silica gel packs and toss them in for good measure.  If it is range ammo I just put them in freezer bags and toss them in a large wooden box that I made. The .308 ammo I leave in the boxes since the fit nice into the cans.  I will be packing my reloaded .308 in bags and into the cans.  Really the cans don't get moved much so I don't worry about it getting banged up.

OldManSchmidt

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2011, 06:52:55 PM »
I used to use ammo cans exclusively, but they get expensive when you start talking about the kind of volume that most reloaders generally produce.  Multiple loads in multiple calibers and hundreds of each tend to make you need a lot of storage containers.  Not to mention that ammo cans just scream "Here's the bullets!!".

I started using used paint cans about 5 years ago.  They do a good job and allow you to store a lot of ammo without advertising that you have it.  You ought to be able to store 300-500 rounds of even .308.  I know you can get 700+ 9mm in a 1 gallon can with a desiccant pack.

One of the best things is that they are free for the having.  I only get the latex based paint because it is much easier to clean out the cans.  I clean them out and dry them thoroughly.  I leave the labels and wrapper on.  If you are are storing ammo for very long term and are worried about it, you can seal the lid with wax or varnish.  A screwdriver or church key is all you need to open them back up.  Just don't forget it when you go to the range.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2011, 08:33:00 PM »
Many reloaders store ammo loose in ammo cans. I keep some this way, but typically keep more components than loaded ammo. I would have no concerns keeping a 50cal can full of 9mm ammo. Plus they are stackable.

The only real downside, is full ammo cans are heavy. But it's a good heavy.

OldManSchmidt

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2011, 09:39:07 PM »
The paint cans get heavy too.  No matter what container you use, so long as you consistently use the same type and size of container, you get a feel for how much ammo will fit of a given caliber.  Your inventory control won't be exact unless you keep a running tab of what you put in and what you take out of a given container, but you will be able to make a very close approximation after a while.

The most important thing IMO about storage containers, whether loose or boxed ammo, is the desiccant pack.  Unless you seal your rounds (which I don't), moisture is your worst enemy.  Zero humidity is an almost impossible goal as your powder will absorb a little moisture from the air in the time it sits in the hopper of your press and carry it into your loaded rounds, but as close to zero as you can get is what you want.  A little humidity in your stored ammo isn't a big deal and won't noticeably hurt performance, but ammo's version of "a little humidity" and most other things' versions are very different.

Joeinwv makes an excellent point.  Most reloaders store as much or more in components as they do in finished rounds.  Your components are fairly versatile until you put them together.  Even so, storage of components in some sort of relatively airtight container like an ammo or paint can is a good idea too.  At least powder and primers.  Bullets, shot, wadding, and casings or hulls are not so susceptible to humidity.  Keep components in their original packaging (it just won't do to risk mistaking one type for another or mixing lots of powder or primers) and put them into some sort of sealed container with a desiccant pack.  This practice serves double duty to keep humidity down to reduce failures and isolates components in smaller batches against things like fire.

Offline hd45hunt

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2011, 10:15:27 AM »
OldManSchmidt, +1 on the paint cans.  Nice combo of dry/not too large metal container with the hidden in plain site factor.

Offline Duc1

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2011, 08:15:27 PM »
I put my reloads in the tumbler for 10 or 15 minutes to clean any oil and stuff off them. 

I hope you're not doing this with live cartridges.  I don't want a member of the Survival Podcast to be nominated for a Darwin award.

Offline RacinRob

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2011, 09:54:00 PM »
I hope you're not doing this with live cartridges.  I don't want a member of the Survival Podcast to be nominated for a Darwin award.

Yup, they are live.  No problems so far.  I have read the pros and cons.  I can't find any evidence that it causes problems with modern powders.  YMMV

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2011, 08:04:56 AM »
Yup, they are live.  No problems so far.  I have read the pros and cons.  I can't find any evidence that it causes problems with modern powders.  YMMV

Why not begin with cleaned brass?

Are you're reloading dies dripping with oil/lube?

Offline SuperDuty

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2011, 08:11:53 AM »
Yup, they are live.  No problems so far.  I have read the pros and cons.  I can't find any evidence that it causes problems with modern powders.  YMMV

About a month ago, I accidentally tumbled a live .357 round in with a bunch of empty brass.  No problems, but I don't think I would do it routinely.  It went for the whole 3 hour cycle and I didn't notice till I was sifting the brass at the end.  I must have ejected a live round with the empties at a training class I was at recently, and picked it up off the ground later with the rest of the spent brass.

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2011, 11:47:40 AM »
Yup, they are live.  No problems so far.  I have read the pros and cons.  I can't find any evidence that it causes problems with modern powders.  YMMV

Fairly certain the issue is the size of the powder grains breaking down into smaller parts, which increases the surface area and causes it to burn faster... = more pressure, which could cause your gun to fragment.  I'm fairly certain that what you are doing is considered a bad idea, although others might choose to use other words. 


...Jack and Jill did go up the hill.  But if I go up that hill, I don't plan on tumbling after  (get it, eh?)  ;)

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Offline Bradbn4

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2011, 04:46:21 PM »
I have read other stories with folks testing that theory.  After hours, days, etc - they pulled the ammo apart and magnified the powder.  At least to me the powder in the posted photographs looked just like new.   

Would I re-tumble loaded ammo, nope - gets the lead bullets a fuzzy look to them.

To stay on subject - I would recommend plastic ammo boxes for anything more than 22LR.
If the rounds are for hunting - I would try to protect the bullet to prevent any damage. 

Offline Student ant

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2011, 04:21:55 PM »
I personally know a guy who forgot his ammo on a hunting trip.  After rummaging around the truck he found some loose ammo that had been rolling around in the glove box for years.  He thought he had saved his trip until it bulged his barrel when he fired it.
  Beyond that incident I have no direct knowledge about the risk of tumbling live ammo.  I would never risk it, sounds like a good way to get a Darwin award.

As far as storage of ammo first don't store different metal alloys in contact with each other, for example steel and brass cased ammo. This can cause electrolysis between the two metals.  Second store your ammo so that it's completely dry, this includes moisture from the air.  So that generally means an air tight box with a desiccant.  3rd large quantities should be stored where it's protected in case of a house fire.  This is for liability and your homes sake.  Firefighters may pull off and let your house burn if there's a risk to the firemen. If that happens goodluck getting your insurance to payout.  Finally store it where no one but you can get their hands on it.  This means kids, theives, or anyone else who might relieve you of it.  Consider caching the bulk of your ammo it solves all these issues.  Also most 22 ammo is coated with a wax coating that only seems to hold up a few years.  While it's still usable I prefer to just make sure I rotate it before it has a chance.  Ammo cans are called ammo cans for a reason, if your caching don't burry them directly. The military puts a seal around the primer and the bullet.  For longterm storage this seem a reasonable idea.  They sell a sealer you can buy, or clear fingernail polish works too.  I hope this helps.

Offline thezoo

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2011, 08:42:54 PM »
I would like to know if there is a way to buy those plastic ammo boxes that cci uses for 22lr ammo,  I sent an email to cci asking them for the source they told me the only way would be to buy full boxes of ammo and refill them, I like buying 22 ammo in the bricks but I am kinda a neat freak and love nice rows of ammo not easy to accomplish in 50 cal ammo cans.  i even thought to check ebay but all they have is the vintage cardboard boxes, so has anyone ever seen ammo boxes like that anywhere? gander mtn has plastic ammo boxes for 45 44 and so many different calibers available, but nothing for 22?

OldManSchmidt

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2011, 09:58:06 PM »
Go spend a day at the range and pick them up for free.  Another idea is to contact the youth camps in the area.  The local Boy Scout camp comes to mind.  See if they will save the empties for you in exchange for a small donation.  That would help both you and them.  I know from experience as a range boss at a BSA camp that those kids go through a lot of ammo in a week.

Offline JerseyVince

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2011, 10:06:20 PM »
I would like to know if there is a way to buy those plastic ammo boxes that cci uses for 22lr ammo,  I sent an email to cci asking them for the source they told me the only way would be to buy full boxes of ammo and refill them, I like buying 22 ammo in the bricks but I am kinda a neat freak and love nice rows of ammo not easy to accomplish in 50 cal ammo cans.  i even thought to check ebay but all they have is the vintage cardboard boxes, so has anyone ever seen ammo boxes like that anywhere? gander mtn has plastic ammo boxes for 45 44 and so many different calibers available, but nothing for 22?

how about these from MTM? holds 200 rounds plus  http://www.mtmcase-gard.com/products/rifle/ammo-boxes-rifle-sb-200.html

Offline thezoo

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2011, 10:12:32 PM »
those are both great ideas i have never seen those mtm units before

Offline Student ant

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2011, 01:47:36 AM »
I've seen 22 rounds stored in brass and plastic tubes.  If you own a rifle that is tube fed than they can also double as speed loaders.

Offline Bradbn4

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2011, 10:36:36 AM »
Photo's on tumbling ammo - not that I would do it.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=989047

I wonder if excess heat in the car might have contributed to the rounds failure?  I was told to keep ammo for long periods of time, keep it dry and cool. 

For pellets, bb's I like the small metal tins that some hard candy comes it.  They also work quite well with 22 LR. 
You can also use foam in these contains to pin the ammo to prevent them from rattling around in the case.

You can also get creative and use hard foam blocks and a pen and make your own cheap ammo container....I would zip log the ammo + foam with a few rubber bands to keep the ammo secure.


Offline RacinRob

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2011, 01:08:56 PM »
Winchester uses the plastic boxes too, maybe try them? 

To address some of the above questions:

Yes, my cases are dripping in lube.  I like the lee lube, I dump a bunch of cases in a plastic bag and mix it up.  Never had a stuck case that was, I switched to one shot and have had 5.  But I tumble the cases twice.  I tumble them to clean off dirt and crap from the range. I then lube, resize, trim, and chamfer.  Then I tumble them long enough that they look like new.  Then I prime, fill, and load.  I touch the shells a couple of times and I hate the finger prints that can develop on the case after a while in storage.  That is why I tumble them for a few minutes.  After I tumble them I am careful not to touch them again until I am loading them into a magazine. 

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2011, 06:19:49 AM »
I touch the shells a couple of times and I hate the finger prints that can develop on the case after a while in storage.  That is why I tumble them for a few minutes.  After I tumble them I am careful not to touch them again until I am loading them into a magazine.

You could always put on some medical gloves... I've heard they have ones just for fingers, but not sure (Those might be in a different isle in the grocery store  ;) ).  Anywho, that'd keep them looking pretty.  Just a thought.

Offline mike77

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2011, 09:59:42 PM »
You could always put on some medical gloves... I've heard they have ones just for fingers, but not sure (Those might be in a different isle in the grocery store  ;) ).  Anywho, that'd keep them looking pretty.  Just a thought.

I was thinking the same thing. BTW, the finger tip ones are called finger cots or finger condoms. They also have finger wrap to protect the finger tips when working with small parts on sanders and similar.

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #23 on: June 01, 2011, 06:35:07 AM »
BTW, the finger tip ones are called finger cots or finger condoms. They also have finger wrap to protect the finger tips when working with small parts on sanders and similar.

Yea, that's what I thought they were called... which is why I imagined them down a different isle at the store  ;) But on that note, what isle would they be in?  Are they going to be at the grocery store or is this a internet order item? 

I've been cutting the fingers off the full size gloves at home... gloves are also nice when cleaning your guns after a day at the range- keeps the chemicals out of your skin.

~CRCJ

OldManSchmidt

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #24 on: June 01, 2011, 08:35:36 AM »
I have seen them in the first aid aisle with the gloves at the local Walgreen's drug store.

Offline mike77

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #25 on: June 01, 2011, 09:42:28 AM »
I usually see them in the first aid aisle also. Sometimes they're with the gloves, sometimes they're with the bandages. I think it depends on the store since I think I've seen them in either place in different Walgreens.

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2011, 11:08:30 AM »
Wow, CVS was $5 for 30pcs... maybe I'll get some of those yellow cleaning gloves and cut off the finger tips.  That should last longer and do just as well. 

Any thoughts?

~CRCJ

Offline d0j0w0

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #27 on: June 09, 2011, 08:56:26 PM »
I've found it best to store loose rounds in my shirt pocket Barney Fife style! :)

Offline RacinRob

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #28 on: June 09, 2011, 08:58:38 PM »
You must have big shirt pockets!

Offline Steve Cover

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Re: Storing Loose Rounds
« Reply #29 on: June 16, 2011, 09:50:27 AM »
Interesting thread.

I used to use the Midway plastic boxes until the numbers and thus volume involved proved impractical.
So, I now keep most of my ammunition sealed in Ziploc freezer bags with a home printed label inside for identification.
These are kept in appropriately marked surplus ammo cans. (Small ones for easy transportation).

Thoughts about tumbling loaded ammunition:

Up until a couple of years ago, I also accepted the urban legend about doing so being dangerous.
Then I ran across a thread on another blog by a self proclaimed "Expert" (ego to match) that he had, as an experiment, tumbled a large batch of reloaded ammunition for six months.
Each month, he took a sample from the tumbler, examined the powder for damage, test fired and chronographed the results.
After six months with no statistically meaningful differences, he ended the test.
That was good enough for me.

Other considerations:

Smokeless gunpowder is not fragile... try breaking or cutting some examples of Ball, Flake, and stick powders... It is Nitrocellulose plastic.
Ammunition manufacturers tumble their ammunition prior to packaging.
Powder companies tumble their powder to evenly spread the graphite on it.
Loading density..... Naturally a compressed load would provide no space for the powder to move at all.
High load density thus would provide a highly restricted movement of the powder.
Low load density would allow powder to easily roll around in the case, but the low volume also equates to low weight exerted on the bottom granules of powder.
For the relatively short time it takes me to tumble the lube and fingerprints off my loaded rounds, powder degration is no longer a concern.

Clean packing ammunition:
Rather than use surgical gloves, I use white cotton (T-shirt material) gloves that I buy from Micro-Mark (Train Modeler's) Catalog.
Much more comfortable and washes up in the laundry.

Hide the ammo:
Very clever using paint cans.
When I was flying the bush in Alaska, I ran across a reloader in Cold Bay who had access to the canning equipment that was used to can Salmon..
He was "canning" 45 ACP ammunition for long term storage.....

What ever method you may choose to store your ammunition, be sure it is well labeled.

My 2 Cents

Steve