I am often asked questions about long term ammo storage. Do I have ammo storage? And, if so, how much and how do I store it? These are all good questions and certainly have their place in survival discussions.
While I don’t believe you should share the details of your personal storage efforts with anyone except your closest confidants, I can offer up some of the tips and tricks I use to store ammunition long term. I’ll also get into what types of calibers I like to keep on hand just in case ammo ever becomes scarce or more expensive than it already is.
Ammo will be one of the first resources to dwindle if something major ever does happen. Food, water (clean), ammo, and fuel are at the top of the list. Below are a few reasons I keep some ammunition reserves in storage:
- Just in case prices sky-rocket
- Just in case supplies become scarce
- Potential bartering items
- Long-term hunting
- Long-term home and self defense
- Any potential future bans
What exactly do I keep in storage?
Everyone has their own choice of survival guns and ammunition. I’ve decided to go deep on the following rounds:
- 12 Gauge (bird, 00 buck, slug)
- .22 LR
- Air rifle pellets (though they don’t need any special storage)
- 50+ Carbon arrows with a variety of points for my Recurve Bow (again, no special storage)
I can successfully hunt anything in North America with my 12 Gauge shotgun or my Ruger 10/22 Rifle. My Bushmaster .223 is the perfect varmint gun and I have trouble sleeping without my Teddy Bear (the nick-name for my Taurus .357 Revolver). This post isn’t about debating what calibers are best for survival applications, but these are the ones I’ve chosen for various reasons. I also keep about 5000 rounds of air rifle pellets on hand. If you haven’t seen my post about the Survival Air Rifle you need to check it out.
Long Term Storage
As with long term storage of almost any item, your No. 1 concern with extended ammunition storage is moisture. Remove the moisture and you pretty much remove your concerns for long term viability. It’s not rocket science, but there are a few tips and tricks to live by when stashing your ammunition for 10+ years.
When the budget allows, I love to pick up cans of Fiocchi’s Canned Heat. I picked up these .223 Bullets from www.LuckyGunner.com. Fiocchi’s line of Canned Heat is hermetically sealed and packed with desiccants to prevent rust, deterioration and moisture. They are a little pricey but make for a nice compact little stash of ammo. They also stack perfectly in a 6″ PVC burial cache tube. This can holds 50 rounds and measures 4″ in diameter by 2.5″ tall. Pop the top like a can of tuna and you’re ready to rock and roll. I’d give these babies 30 years easy.
With a little bit of time and effort you can pack your own ammo in such a way to ease your concerns about long term storage. Most of my long term ammunition (meant for 10+ years of storage) is packed in surplus Military Ammo Cans. I choose these because that is what they are meant for. They are durable and have an air-tight and water-tight seal. You can pick these up at most Army/Navy Surplus stores for $10 or so. I do recommend buying them in person. It is important to inspect the seals and integrity of the container.
I meticulously inspect mine for flaws. It is critical that they are still air tight. If not you might as well use a shoe box. I’ve also purchased many at local Gun & Knife Shows.
Just packing your ammo in an air tight container isn’t quite enough. You need to throw in a few desiccant packs of silica gel. These are designed specifically to absorb moisture and will do the trick just fine for keeping your ammo nice and dry. You can normally find these packs for free. Just look for them while opening anything new – they are everywhere! I’ve collected these in the photo below from a few random purchases. Send out an e-mail to your friends and family and have them save theirs for you. Pretty soon, you’ll have more than you need. I also sometimes double bag my loose ammo in zip lock bags. You can fit more in the can by filling it with loose ammo versus keeping it in the factory boxes.
WHOA – not too soon!
So your Grandma mails you a handful of SILICA GEL packs and now you are ready to toss them in with your ammo and stow it away until the SHTF… not just yet. If Silica Gel packs are just sitting around in the open air – the’ve probably already absorbed all the moisture that they can – in essence they are ‘used up’. The great thing about these packs is they are reusable. You just need to draw the moisture back out of them. You can use a food dehydrator for a few hours if you have one. Or, you can use my method. I put them on a baking tray in the oven for 4 hours at 140 degrees. Now they are ready to suck in moisture again. Once you take them out put them IMMEDIATELY in with your ammo and make the seal. I nomally put 2-4 little packs per ammo can. That’s all there is to it.
I’ve never had a shortage of Silica Gel packs and I’ve never paid for them either. I’ve also heard of guys making their own desiccant packs by using kitty litter or oil absorber (for garages) by putting a few tablespoons inside a womens nylon sock and knotting it off. I suppose this would work, but I find it much easier to collect desiccant packs from friends and family and dehydrating them back to their peak absorbing state. If you can’t fnd any, below are some great sources:
Can you use other containers besides Military Ammo Cans? Of course. They MUST be air tight, though. I have several ammo burial caches packed in PVC tubes with glued caps. I’ve also purchased several Dry Boxes from outdoor retailers such as Gander Mountain.
They have an air-tight seal around the lid which makes them perfect for long term ammo storage.
Amassing Your Stock-Pile
You’d be surprised at how fast you can build a descent ammo reserve by just picking up a few extra boxes of rounds here and there. You know that crazy aunt or uncle that always get you something totally useless for Christmas – tell them you want a box of 12 Gauge shells. It all adds up. Look for cheap ammunition (cheap price not cheap quality) on sites such as www.luckygunner.com and www.cheaperthandirt.com and get on their list for specials or loyalty discounts. Gun shows are also a great place to find some deals on ammunition. You can wheel and deal at those shows – I always do. You can buy ammo at Gun Shows with CASH – my favorite way.
Just for fun, I’ve included a video below about Fiocchi’s Canned heat shotgun tracer shells. They don’t come hermetically packed with desiccants like the other rounds but these tracer rounds are pretty dang cool. Survival applications? I can’t really think of any but I still think they are pretty cool.
Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,