ammo storage

Ammo Storage Strategies to Prevent Rust & Corrosion

Ammo storage solutions must take into account both safety and shelf life.

With respect to safety, The National Rifle Association  urges gun owners to keep guns unloaded until they are ready to use. For that reason, the NRA recommends ammo be stored in a space separate from where firearms are kept. This minimizes the chances for unauthorized access to a loaded gun. (Keep in mind also that old military surplus ammo is often highly corrosive, another reason to store your firearm unloaded and separate from your ammunition stash.)

As for extending ammo shelf life, keep in mind that there’s a risk of rust and other forms of corrosion just by virtue of the fact that ammo is made of metal. Modern ammunition manufacturers have gotten much better at minimizing the risks, but the chances of corrosion are never zero. Even slight exposure to moisture, poor air quality (chemicals, pollutants, salt, etc.), temperature fluctuations (which can cause condensation build-up), or oil from your skin can increase the potential for damage. Any ammo storage ideas you’re weighing should factor this.

There are a broad range of ammo storage containers that may fit bill for security, but fail to offer adequate rust prevention.

The good news is, there are simple, affordable rust prevention products that can be easily incorporated into most existing ammo storage solutions. These include rust prevention vapor capsules and multipurpose VCI poly bags. Either of these can be simply placed directly into any closed ammo storage box, cabinet, shelf, etc. for up to 5 years of rust prevention.gun ammo storage rust prevention

Firearm Ammunition Shelf Life

Well-made ammo can last decades, particularly if kept in optimal conditions. Shotgun shells can last 10-20 years with proper storage. Rimfire ammunition, used mostly in small caliber firearms, can remain in good working condition a couple decades or more. Centerfire ammunition, the kind commonly used in rifles and handguns, can sometimes last up to five decades.

Most ammunition is made of metal casings, primers, and gunpowder. Without careful storage, each of these elements has the potential to eventually degrade.

With ammo, the corrosion concern isn’t so much the look of it. The bigger worry is how it could impact function. Rust and other forms of corrosion can weaken ammunition integrity, possibly resulting in misfires and reduced accuracy.

Many firearm owners keep their ammo stored in basements, attics, garages, or closets – without protection against humidity, temperature fluctuations, or air contaminants like salt and dust. Unfortunately, airtight, temperature-controlled ammo storage cases can get pricey.

Alternatively, firearm owners can use a vapor corrosion inhibitor (VCI) into the ammo storage solution they already have.

Ammo Storage With Rust Prevention

Vapor corrosion inhibitor (VCI) solutions can protect firearm ammunition from degradation.

VCI capsules, for example, release a thin layer of vapor molecules that form a protective layer on metal surfaces. It’s non-toxic and you can’t see it or smell it, but as long as that capsule is kept in an enclosed space with your ammo, it will prevent moisture and other corrosive elements from causing damage.

VCI poly bags are similar, except the ammo is protected once sealed inside the bag, which can then be placed in your existing ammo storage box or cabinet.

Airtight, temperature-controlled containers can maximize the effectiveness of VCI ammo storage solutions, but they aren’t strictly necessary. In general, it’s also a good idea to store your ammo in a cool, dry place, shielded from direct sunlight and major temperature swings.

VCI capsules and VCI polybags are suitable for all types of ammunition. The cost is negligible, particularly when compared to what you’ll pay to regularly replace corroded ammo. By incorporating these protective measures into your ammo storage strategy, you’ll be sure your ammunition stays in optimal condition for years to come.

Contact Zerust at 1-866-2-ZERUST (937878) or via our online Contact Us form. 

Additional Resources:

Does Ammunition Have a Shelf Life? Jan. 28, 2021, By George Harris, NRA Shooting Illustrated

More Blog Entries:

Removing Rust From a Gun? Learn Why Some Guns & Parts Are More Prone and How to Prevent It, May 14, 2024, Gun Rust Prevention Blog