Does Hunting Ammo Really Expire? 4 Things Hunters Should Know

Your bullets, gunpowder, and other combat supplies, like exploding substances and projectiles put in guns, cannons, etc., are collectively called ammo. The ammo is further categorized into three main groups: Shotgun, Rifle, and Handgun. High-end and functioning ammunition is all required for good hunting, without which your gun is of no use. With proper storage, ammo will always go well.

The main enemy of ammo is moisture; over time, vast temperature fluctuations create a condition called thermal shock, where condensation is pulled out of the air. This condition occurs most frequently in ammo when it is stored in someplace that is not climate-controlled, like a vehicle, a shed, or a garage. The swing of temperature between night-time and midday can be extreme and cause condensation to beat up on the inside of the ammo.

The Shelf Life Of Hunting Ammo


Regarding the operational shelf life, ammo has a few criteria, for example, the loading methods governed by the manufacturer, components such as powder, primer type, sealant, and quality of material used. For example, the material used in its casing may affect its life; for instance, brass-cased ammo is more sturdy and resistant to humidity than steel-cased ammo. Furthermore, a full metal jacketed bullet tends to last longer than one with exposed lead, which may be more likely to degrade.

The condensation occurring within the ammo usually is present in the case that turns from bright shiny brass to a grey and dull color. Over a very long period of time, it will turn into a green sticky coating. This coating is the brass oxidizer; while it’s still safe to shoot, it will quickly get your gun dirty. A more serious condition is when the ammunition presents a chalky white appearance, this is called corrosion, and it’s caused by brass salts forming the weak in the case walls that can cause the high pressure of the cartridge to split or crack when fired, possibly.

In addition to case damage, that same thermal shock can cause moisture to form inside the case and degrade the powder, making it unreliable or even potentially causing a condition called a squib where the primer ignites, and the powder does not. This, in turn, can lodge the projectile or bullet in the gun’s barrel.

To further enhance your hunting experience and ensure the effectiveness of your shots, consider choosing the right hollow point ammunition.

Few Worst-Case Scenarios

Suppose you come across a box of ammo stored in the back of your closet or garage; though seemingly a little wearied, it appears reasonable. So you feel tempted to use this ammunition after this long. Now there are a few casualties that might take place when you pull the trigger:

Case Damage

The brass salts cause corrosion in the case wall, making it weak in the inner walls, which may result in splitting when fired.


When the ammunition gets pretty old and not well taken care of, the primer, located at the center of the base, couldn’t ignite the fire.

Explosive Crystals

Another potential issue with aged ammo is that any explosive that will weep liquid exudate can result in crystal growth, making ammo more potent and hence causing damage to the weapon when fired.


In firing aged ammo, there is a chance of a jelly-like formation that obstructs the barrel, resulting in the non-expelling of bullets upon firing, making the next round extremely dangerous and fickle. This will finally cause a reduced performance of the ammunition.

4 Tips Hunters Should Know


Good storage and handling are essential for proper functioning ammunition, without which those guns of yours are of no good use. Responsible behavior in safety skills, knowledge, and storage is all that is required from a good hunter. Here are some essential tips that a hunter must keep in mind to avoid corrosion, contamination, and impotence, which can cause misfires or other malfunctions:

1. Robust Storage

When it comes to storing hunting ammo, it is advisable to stock them in ammo cans designed to alleviate the humidity around them and keep them from exposure to damage-causing moisture. These high-end ammo cans have the capability to isolate the internal air from the outside with the help of the rubber gaskets used.

The objective of gaskets is to keep the ammunition clean and in good shape, and when the latch of the can is closed, an airtight seal is created around it. In regards to high-quality cans, Russian-made “Spam Cans” are regarded as a class apart choice as they are tightly sealed against air and water. In order to pry them open, you need a unique tool or screwdriver for the task.

2. Explosive Volatility

Since the ammo contains highly volatile components like a percussion-sensitive primer for the ignition and a smokeless propellant, it becomes significant that ammo should always be treated with care and respect for its handling, transport, and storage purposes to avoid any unpleasant fatality.

3. Avoid Exposure to Potentially Invasive Substances

Certain ingredients, for instance, water, paint thinner, ammonia, petroleum-based products, solvents, etc., may breach and deteriorate the ammunition that may cause misfires or squib shots. Hence if you are planning to store the ammo in a basement or warehouse, always make sure to keep it elevated on plats or shelving to prevent any exposure to moistness and other such hazardous elements.

4. Keep Children Safe

When storing ammunition in a home, it becomes very important to take extra care and be vigilant, as it should not be kept together with guns or firearms. Also, it must be stored in a locked cabinet or closet and kept out of the reach of children. It is advisable to put a different lock on each gun so that no accident should occur in any case of exposure.


It’s great to conclude that if stored properly and taken care of well, the life span of hunting ammo is relatively high, potent, and promising. All you have to remember are a few advice pieces like dry and anti-humid storage, labeling the storage with name, type, & date of purchase, buying high-quality ammo and disposing of the corroded lot to keep your ammo last longer and highly potent.

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