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Thread: Changing ammo

  1. #1
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    I was wondering - how often you guys change ammo in your carry piece? I had a very unpleasantproblem once, which made me paranoid. I was carrying a 38 Spl revolver with same exactHordnay HPs in it, since about August until December without firing it in this period. Every working day i had to leave my gun in the car (damn company policy) for about 10 hours each day. I imagine that gun and bullets in it seen temperatures ranging from 100ish in August to lower 30s in December. I should also consider daily thermal cycles going from air conditioned car at comfortable 72 F tositting in a parking lot car at 100ish Fand backin August, and from heated up 75-80 F car down to30-40 F car and back in December. Anyway, when i finallytook it to the range in late December all 3 rounds that i fired from these that've been sitting in the gun failed to fire exactly the same way (squib). Ammofrom a different boxwent off without a hitch on the same day.I didfire 5 round from the same box back in August after i bought it (i always fire at least 5 roundsfrom everySD ammo boxbefore i load anyrounds from the same box for daily carry) and they went off fine.Theydid however have some weird discoloration (staining) on brass casings. I'm not sure what was the cause of it, but it sure made me paranoid.I guess it could be:

    1) Bad ammo which wasnt sealed properly and eventually accumulated enough moisture to fail the gunpowder ignition.

    2)Temperature cycles it had to go through being left in my car.

    3) Resedue from oil and cleaning solvents left in the chambers after cleaning that made its way into the rounds (i tend to overlubricate cause i'm paranoid aboutrust - damn thisgun OCD)

    4) Something else???

    Any ideas?

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    Founder's Club Member Hawkflyer's Avatar
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    Chaingun81 wrote:
    I was wondering - how often you guys change ammo in your carry piece? SNIP...
    Every 30 days.

    Gun oil has a very low viscosity and therefore it can penetrate around the primer or even though the throat of the casing beside the bullet. In either case this is a bad place for oil to be allowed to go.

    Under the conditions you describe (heating/cooling cycles) the different metals involved make the problem worse because fo the differing expansion rates and limits.
    "Research has shown that a 230 grain lead pellet placed just behind the ear at 850 FPS results in a permanent cure for violent criminal behavior."
    "If you are not getting Flak, you are not over the target"
    "186,000 Miles per second! ... Not just a good idea ... It's the law!"

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    Unless you've had misfires, I wouldn't let it worry me too much..

    pull some of your old carry ammo out and put it in a box and date it, from the date of purchase, and on your next day at the range be sure you fire some of it along with some fresh ammo, I doubt you'll notice any difference in the "POP" or performance, That is unless you store your ammo and sidearm in some unusual environments..

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    Carnivore wrote:
    Unless you've had misfires, I wouldn't let it worry me too much..

    pull some of your old carry ammo out and put it in a box and date it, from the date of purchase, and on your next day at the range be sure you fire some of it along with some fresh ammo, I doubt you'll notice any difference in the "POP" or performance, That is unless you store your ammo and sidearm in some unusual environments..
    Carnivore, You obviously didn't read the original post at all as the OP clearly states that he HAS had firing issues and DOES store his firearm at constantly changing temperatures. Please READ before you reply....

    Chaingun,
    I think Hawk pretty much covered it. Under 'normal' conditions ammo can 'keep' indefinitely, but the conditions you describe are hard on anything...

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    Campaign Veteran T Dubya's Avatar
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    Just this week I had shot som Federal .45 cartridges that were bought in 2005. They were exposed to Hoppes or Remington oil at some point as well as different temperatures and they shot fine. I have never had new handgun ammunition fail. Range re-loads are adifferent story. I have used all types and my pistols are always well-lubed and rust free.

    I don't doubt Hawkflyer, I'm just saying from my experience.
    "These are the shock troops (opencarry.org) of the gun lobby. And, they are not going away."
    Ceasefire NJ Director Brian Miller, NJ.com, August 20, 2009

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    Interesting array of experiences... I cannot possibly be the only one here who is forced to lock a loaded gun in the car every working day and therefore exposing ammo to these temperature cycles! Any other opinions/experiences?

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    Founder's Club Member Hawkflyer's Avatar
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    T Dubya wrote:
    Just this week I had shot som Federal .45 cartridges that were bought in 2005. They were exposed to Hoppes or Remington oil at some point as well as different temperatures and they shot fine. I have never had new handgun ammunition fail. Range re-loads are adifferent story. I have used all types and my pistols are always well-lubed and rust free.

    I don't doubt Hawkflyer, I'm just saying from my experience.
    Most ammo these days is sealed on the primer end, and tighter crimps help on the other. But unless you are certain of the way yours is made your mileage will vary. We actually used to seal the primer end with fingernail polish years ago, but this can also cause issues. If you get it outside the actual joint between the primer and the casing that is not good. On the casing it can cause uneven pressure on the breech face when you fire, on the primer it can cushion the impact of the firring pin. So applying a sealer was/is a meticulous process. These days you can buy ammo that is already sealed. A lot of old mil-spec stuff is also sealed, as is a lot of modern mil-spec.

    But I also have ammo that is over 60 years old and it shoots fine. Would I carry that stuff for defense? No. But I would not hesitate to practice with it. Most of it now falls in the category of collectible so I will probably not use it for that reason.

    I have just found that I shoot enough that I can rotate my carry ammo every thirty days very easily by just using it for practice. Everyone should have some sort of standard rotation for their defensive carry ammo. It just makes good sense to carry fresher ammo for critical functions. The fact is most ammo can be soaked in oil and still fire. But for my part I do not want to take a chance on the one that does not go BANG when I need it most.
    "Research has shown that a 230 grain lead pellet placed just behind the ear at 850 FPS results in a permanent cure for violent criminal behavior."
    "If you are not getting Flak, you are not over the target"
    "186,000 Miles per second! ... Not just a good idea ... It's the law!"

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    Hawkflyer,

    I can't speak to the "leavng ammo in a car with changing temperature cycles" (I do it, too, as I keep a BOB (in a safe) in my car with ammo (and gun) in it so I hope it's okay whenI need it)...but I will say that apparently, the "oil will get into your primers" refrain is not true, contrary to popular belief:

    http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot39.htm

    -- John D.



    (formerly of Colorado Springs, CO)

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    Founder's Club Member Hawkflyer's Avatar
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    cloudcroft wrote:
    Hawkflyer,

    I can't speak to the "leavng ammo in a car with changing temperature cycles" (I do it, too, as I keep a BOB (in a safe) in my car with ammo (and gun) in it so I hope it's okay whenI need it)...but I will say that apparently, the "oil will get into your primers" refrain is not true, contrary to popular belief:

    http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot39.htm

    -- John D.


    The primer itself is not the issue. It is the powder just ahead of the primer that is the problem. If oil gets into the powder it affects the burn rate of the powder and produces squibs, hang fires and other failures. In most cases the "leak" that causes the problem is a scratch inside the primer pocket that allows oils to penetrate. Even the vapor from oil can affect powders. While I have always been more concerned that the weapon actually fire when I want, I suppose that some contaminants might even produce an over pressure condition, but I have no examples to cite of that happening.

    But this actually does happen. There is no way to predict which particular round might be susceptible to this leakage. But one thing is certain that the longer a faulty round is allowed to stay in the weapon, the more serious the degradation will become until when you fire that round you will hear a muffled "pop" and your barrel will be blocked by a bullet and a lot of unburned powder pushed there by primer pressure alone. I have had this happen and I know a lot of others have as well. I would rather have an out and out misfire than this because you can clear a misfire quickly. A blocked barrel takes the gun out of action.

    If your argument is that there is never any need to rotate the ammo in your carry gun, well that is a personal choice. I choose to rotate mine every 30 days, and since I started doing that 35 years ago, my carry weapons have never failed to go "BANG" every time I squeezed the trigger. Why mess with something that isn't broken.
    "Research has shown that a 230 grain lead pellet placed just behind the ear at 850 FPS results in a permanent cure for violent criminal behavior."
    "If you are not getting Flak, you are not over the target"
    "186,000 Miles per second! ... Not just a good idea ... It's the law!"

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    Gator5713 wrote:
    Carnivore wrote:
    Unless you've had misfires, I wouldn't let it worry me too much..

    pull some of your old carry ammo out and put it in a box and date it, from the date of purchase, and on your next day at the range be sure you fire some of it along with some fresh ammo, I doubt you'll notice any difference in the "POP" or performance, That is unless you store your ammo and sidearm in some unusual environments..
    Carnivore, You obviously didn't read the original post at all as the OP clearly states that he HAS had firing issues and DOES store his firearm at constantly changing temperatures. Please READ before you reply....

    Chaingun,
    I think Hawk pretty much covered it. Under 'normal' conditions ammo can 'keep' indefinitely, but the conditions you describe are hard on anything...

    My lack of attention to detail as to what was described in Chainguns OP could possibly be attributed to the fact that I just got off from a string of three days of 16 hour shifts, Anyway I've never had modern ammo fail that hasn't sat in the bottom of a wet duck hunting rig for several days, and even those i can count on one hand.. Next time I'll get some sleep before i reply..


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    Hawkflyer,

    I was only addressing the "oil getting into primers" fairytale, as per the experiment done at Box o' Truth.

    In short, it's a non-issue.

    As for rotating ammo, I believe it's a good practice, for whatever reason...except that every 30 days is extremely excessive IMO.

    -- John D.
    (formerly of Colorado Springs, CO)

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    Does anyone know how often LEO, or the military rotate their ammo ?

    I would assume that there have been millions of dollars of our tax money directed towards some sort of shelf life, dependability study.

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    Founder's Club Member Hawkflyer's Avatar
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    truck2201 wrote:
    Does anyone know how often LEO, or the military rotate their ammo ?

    I would assume that there have been millions of dollars of our tax money directed towards some sort of shelf life, dependability study.
    Most federal Agents rotate their ammo when they qualify. Depending on the agency that would be every 90 to 180 days. Some of the SWAT and Hostage teams more often.
    "Research has shown that a 230 grain lead pellet placed just behind the ear at 850 FPS results in a permanent cure for violent criminal behavior."
    "If you are not getting Flak, you are not over the target"
    "186,000 Miles per second! ... Not just a good idea ... It's the law!"

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    I do think it is a good idea to have fresh ammo in your carry gun, and also believe the conditions your carry gun is in should dictate how often to circulate. If in extreme conditions, every month. Myself, stored in vault, live in warm dry conditions, I shoot it up and replace it about every six months.

    To each his own, but fresh ammo just seems to make sense if your betting your life on it.

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    I change ammo twice a year. My birthday and Christmas work well for me because they are 6 months apart.

    My sisters police dept changes their ammo twice a year.

    As for gun oil, oil sucks. You should grease your gun because the grease stays were you put it instead of running into other places you don't want or need it. Someone recommended high temp wheel bearing grease so that's what I've been using. I'll never use oil again. If I have a rust issue I use mineral spirits. I apply it with a lint free cloth. You can buy it at the hard ware store and I think I paid under 10 bucks for a gallon of it. That will last me a lifetime or perhaps 4 lifetimes.

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    bordsnbikes wrote:
    [SNIP]

    As for gun oil, oil sucks. You should grease your gun because the grease stays were you put it instead of running into other places you don't want or need it. Someone recommended high temp wheel bearing grease so that's what I've been using. I'll never use oil again. If I have a rust issue I use mineral spirits. I apply it with a lint free cloth. You can buy it at the hard ware store and I think I paid under 10 bucks for a gallon of it. That will last me a lifetime or perhaps 4 lifetimes.

    I disagree with you on the issue of grease. You're correct that once you grease it, grease does stay there. The problem is, once you grease it and the dirt/sand gets into it (which is inevitable with a carry gun) the dirt/sand stays there too, and short of running your gun through a parts-washer or degreasing it, that dirt is there to stay.

    Grease + Sand/Dust = ruined guns, with no exception. In gritty environments you're better off using light or medium weapons oil and cleaning often. The grease just entrains too much grit and is guaranteed to wear out your gun quickly.

    Only certain firearms require grease, and only in specific places. AR-15's, for example, should not be greased, except perhaps for long-term storage. M1-Garands (and M1A/M14's)do use grease in specific places, such as parts the op-rod and the bolt camming lug. Grease is never used on the M1/M1A/M14 in extremely cold weather or sandy/dusty environments. Don't grease a gun, or any part of a gun, that doesn't specifically require grease. (Long-term storage is the exception.)

    I would use light or medium weapons oil on your firearm in the manner the manual recommends. Do not use penetrating oil. Penetrating oils will penetrate through metals into powders and primers.

    Most people over-oil their guns and don't realize they're doing it.

    Lightly lubricated: the metal has been oiled and then wiped clean. Running a clean finger over the metal will result in a slippery feeling on the finger, with little or no oil deposited on the finger.

    Moderately lubricated: a finger run across the metal becomes oiled itself, but the oil does not run down the surface of the metal if the metal is held vertically.

    Heavily lubricated: oil runs down the surface of the metal when the metal is held vertically.

    Most firearms like to have their bore, chamber, barrel, slide/frame, magazine spring, recoil spring, sights, and metal magazineslubricated lightly. (The bore should be wiped clean before firing.)

    The locking blocks, slide rails, guide rods and extractors usually call for moderately lubricated.

    Very few guns need parts to be heavily lubricated. Some parts in AR-15's (and M16/M4) need to be heavily lubricated.


    That being said, greasing a carry gun with the mentality of "Set and Forget" is an absolutely terrible idea. Carry guns are subjected to far more dust, lint, and grit than just about any other gun (except combat rifles, etc). The best plan for a carry gun is to use a light or medium grade weapons oil and lubricate the gun according to the manual, with care to not over-lubricate. Then you simply wipe the gun clean and re-lubricate it every 10 to 30 days, depending on the weather and where you carry it.

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    shad0wfax wrote:
    ...SNIP
    Penetrating oils will penetrate through metals into powders and primers.

    Most people over-oil their guns and don't realize they're doing it.

    SNIP...
    I disagree with the first statement. Penetrating oil does not go "through" metals or any other material. It is of very low viscosity and moves through cracks and pores in surfaces, but it Will not penetrate metal that is sound. That is why it is bad to have it around ammo, because it will penetrate the cracks at the primer and bullet crimp and affect the powder.

    Your second point is right on target. Too much lubricant is just a trap for dirt and makes the weapon harder to keep in hand. Experience is the best teacher as to proper lubricating.
    "Research has shown that a 230 grain lead pellet placed just behind the ear at 850 FPS results in a permanent cure for violent criminal behavior."
    "If you are not getting Flak, you are not over the target"
    "186,000 Miles per second! ... Not just a good idea ... It's the law!"

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    Regular Member shad0wfax's Avatar
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    Hawkflyer wrote:
    I disagree with the first statement. Penetrating oil does not go "through" metals or any other material. It is of very low viscosity and moves through cracks and pores in surfaces, but it Will not penetrate metal that is sound. That is why it is bad to have it around ammo, because it will penetrate the cracks at the primer and bullet crimp and affect the powder.

    [SNIP]
    You are absolutely correct. I dumbed it down into layman's terms so far that my statement became scientifically false. It doesn't go "through" metals, as you pointed out, but it goes through cracks and pores our eyes can't see.

  19. #19
    Founder's Club Member Hawkflyer's Avatar
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    shad0wfax wrote:
    Hawkflyer wrote:
    I disagree with the first statement. Penetrating oil does not go "through" metals or any other material. It is of very low viscosity and moves through cracks and pores in surfaces, but it Will not penetrate metal that is sound. That is why it is bad to have it around ammo, because it will penetrate the cracks at the primer and bullet crimp and affect the powder.

    [SNIP]
    You are absolutely correct. I dumbed it down into layman's terms so far that my statement became scientifically false. It doesn't go "through" metals, as you pointed out, but it goes through cracks and pores our eyes can't see.
    I was wondering what kind of container it would be sold in.
    "Research has shown that a 230 grain lead pellet placed just behind the ear at 850 FPS results in a permanent cure for violent criminal behavior."
    "If you are not getting Flak, you are not over the target"
    "186,000 Miles per second! ... Not just a good idea ... It's the law!"

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    Polish! I have 2 bottles of metal polish called Crystal images my cousin invented and sold the recipe to the U.S. govt. I polish everything I can get it on when the Rifle/pistol (including the bore) is in takedown and clean mode, not total disassembly.... The Govt. and Airlines use the stuff to polish planes.. Absulutely nothing will stick to the surface of metal when cleaned with this stuff, No fingerprints,waterspots,dirt, dust, fowling,, so far the blueing is untouched/unaffected, the metal surfaces are as slick as glass..



    I don't oil anything on my guns, except the breech plug on my muzzleloaders, and thats bore butter.

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    If you over grease it the same thing happens as when you over oil it. If you have to use a degreaser on your gun than your using the wrong grease anyway. If you were to look at my gun you would thing it was oiled but it it's actually greased lightly. You are correct about the set it and forget it thing. You can't do that with oil or grease. When I was in Iraq I started greasing my M4 about halfway through and it ran like a dream. It was only a little bit harder to clean and it ran so much better it was totally worth it. Your right it collects sand and crap, but so did the oil. The only thing you can lube a weapon with that won't attract crap is graphite and that blows away very quickly, especially with the direct impingement of most AR's. I think you should be cleaning your carry weapon twice a week. I think 10 days is too long and 30 is an awful idea.

    Great breakdown on the light/medium/heavy lube.

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    The OP was describing some unfortunate consequences to long-term storage in a hostile environment (his car in different seasons with wide temperature swings, humidity, etc.) He was asking how often to change ammo to avoid these consequences in the future.

    As several posters have mentioned, old ammo often works very well. But sometimes it doesn't and that's the problem. The one time in a million problem is one time too often if you needed that round to work. So, rotating ammo is the obvious solution. Which leaves the question of how often to rotate.

    From the looks of the previous posts, a frequency somewhere between 30 and 90 days seems pretty reasonable. Depending on how many rounds you carry, firing all your carry rounds every few months may become expensive. But that's less expensive than the misfire consequence.

    You suggested that overlubrication may have contributed to the problem. That's certainly possible. It's also possible that humidity could be affecting the ammo. You might want to put some dessicant packets in your range bag in the car to keep the ammo dry.

  23. #23
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    This is a prime reason you should use the highest quality SD ammo you can find and buy for you carry guns. A good indicator is ammunition specifically loaded for "Law Enforcement" use (i.e. Federal, Speer Gold Dot, Winchester Ranger). This ammo generally has sealed primers and cases and has to meet a variety of specs for use by the LEO community.

    Another thing to consider. Don't use gun oil or similar lubricants on your carry guns. Use either a quality dry lube like Hornady's One Shot, or a high quality silicone spray such as CRC's product.

    Finally, it is not a bad idea at all to rotate your ammunition if your gun is subject to real extremes, but in most cases you should be fine for some time with the good stuff.
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