We’ve all witnessed the “facts” in movies, and we know Hollywood never misleads us. Right?
Arnold Musclehead shoots an Uzi into a pile of stored ammo and every good guy, bad guy and wooly worm for six states around dives for cover as projectiles sing gaily in all directions.
Nope. Uh-uh. Ain’t gonna happen. At least not with civilian ammunition, say .17 caliber through .50 caliber, to say nothing of shotgun shells and high-powered rifle cartridges big enough to make mouse holes through redwoods.
My research was lengthy enough without getting into military munitions with tracers, mortars, etc. Besides, not many American homes stockpile that kind of firepower.
NRA’s Shooting Illustrated magazine for December, 2020, got this topic-hungry columnist interested with an article on bulk ammo storage. They offer some good tips, including:
• Don’t store ammo at ground level
A West Virginia police department lost a great deal of bulk ammo when their armory flooded. Water more than a foot deep for a day or so didn’t do them any favors.
• Store ammo in climate-controlled areas when possible
Even boxed ammo can show corrosion in as little as 30 days when humidity is 70 percent or higher.
• Mark all ammo purchases with the date of purchase
Like the frog says, “Time’s fun when you’re having flies.” Stored ammo can last for decades, but it is still best to know something about it before embarking on a life-long hunt.
• Be careful of “good deals”
A great deal on a lot of ammo that will not work well in your firearm is a waste of money.
• Serious gun? Then make serious ammo purchases
Stock up on what you might need in serious times with what your serious firearm likes to eat.
What about house fires and stored ammo? I have heard the horror stories about stored ammo turning a gun safe into a, “bomb.” Closest anecdote I found was ammo stored in a steel army type case, turning it into a, “hand grenade,” but that was shrapnel from the can flying around.
There is a terrific video on YouTube wherein firefighters tested hundreds of thousands of ammunition rounds in fiery conditions. This ranged from pistol to rifle and shotgun rounds torched in high temperatures under varying conditions.
Put together by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute (SAAMI), this half-hour video is interesting as well as educational.
In most examples, ammunition exposed to extreme high temperatures sounded like popcorn popping, with only lightweight pieces of casings flying about, and those without much danger to witnesses. The weight of the projectile prevents it from moving very far or fast, as does the back of the casing.
However, loaded firearms in a fire are a different story. The round is now encased in steel, and the projectile will take the path of least resistance – namely, out of the muzzle at high speed.
Giving thought to your ammo storage is important. But how and where you store a loaded firearm is even more so.
Fred Causley is a former OSU Agriculture Communications employee and a longtime Stillwater resident and NRA member. Send him questions or feedback to email@example.com.