How Long Does Ammo Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Beyond 10 Years

Ammo is short for ammunition. Ammo is a term used to describe the bullets or shells fired from a gun. It can also refer to the complete round, including the bullet, cartridge, gunpowder, and primer.

Ammunition comprises two types of components: the projectile, which is designed to damage or destroy its target, and the propellant charge, which provides the force to launch the projectile. 

The most common types of ammunition are shotgun shells, rifle bullets, artillery shells, and pistol cartridges.

How Long Does Ammo Last

How Long Does Ammo Last?

Ammo lasts forMore than 20 years
Pistol lasts for50k rounds

It depends on the ammo. Different types of ammo have different shelf lives. However, ammo can last almost indefinitely.

Common pistol rounds like 9mm and .40 cal can last up to 15 years, while rifle rounds like 5.56 NATO can last 20 years. 

Some sources say that shotgun shells can last indefinitely if they are not exposed to water. Generally, it’s best to store ammo in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

However, this lifespan can drastically shorten if the ammo is exposed to high levels of heat, moisture, or oxygen.

The worst-case scenario for firing old ammunition could potentially explode, causing severe injury or death. This is because the propellant in the rounds may have deteriorated over time, leading to a build-up of gas pressure within the round that can cause it to rupture.

To avoid this risk, it’s important only to use ammunition in good condition and stored properly. In addition, always follow the safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer when handling or firing ammunition.

Jellification also causes the ammunition to be less effective, and like a wet squib, it may not eject the bullet after being fired. The shelf life of ammunition is subjective, based on various variables. These are determined by the manufacturer’s loading process, quality, and ingredients such as powder, primer type, and sealant.

Also, the steel ammunition case is more likely to rust than the brass case. A bullet with exposed lead is also more likely to degrade than a bullet with a metal jacket.

Why Would An Ammo Last So Long?

Ammo can last a long time for a few reasons. Primarily, it lasts because there is no oxidation taking place. Ammo that sits in high heat, humidity, or salt environments will see an accelerated oxidation rate, and that ammo won’t last as long. Additionally, some types of ammo are coated in sealants or lacquers that help prevent the deterioration process.

The most common factors are its construction and the environment it is stored in

Ammunition is designed to withstand a certain amount of stress. This is because the primer, which initiates the combustion of the propellant, must withstand both high pressure and shock. 

The brass case must hold the pressure without rupturing and must also be corrosion-resistant. Finally, the projectile must remain stable during flight and not deform or disintegrate when it hits its target.

The best way to store ammo depends on the climate and environment where one lives. However, proper ammunition storage is key to preserving its quality and ensuring that it will be usable when one needs it. Here are a few tips for storing the ammunition safely and securely:

  1. Storing ammo in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight
  2. Storing ammo in a moisture- and humidity-proof container.
  3. Keeping ammo away from heat sources and electrical equipment
  4. Keep ammo in a moisture-free environment. Wet ammo can corrode and deteriorate quickly.
  5. Use airtight containers to store ammo. This will help keep moisture, dust, and other contaminants damaging the rounds.
  6. Label each container with the date of purchase or manufacture 


Many modern munitions are manufactured with alloys that resist corrosion and plastic coatings that protect against weathering. They are also packaged in moisture-resistant containers that contain harmful debris and contaminants.

If one has a vacuum sealer, it will keep the ammunition for an extended period. If one is sealing it this way, add some silica gel packets to remove any ambient moisture.

Reduce the amount of light that one’s ammunition is exposed to. Direct or reflected light may cause deterioration over time, so keep the rounds in the dark location at all times.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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