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Old 05-10-2005, 12:09 PM
Ronald C. Semone Ronald C. Semone is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,404
Is old ammunition dangerous?

In 1967 I bought a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver and several boxes of ammunition. After a few visits to a firing range to learn how to use the gun, I put it and two boxes of ammunition on a shelf in my closet where they have remained ever since. I ran across them the other day and was wondering if the ammunition is still good after 38 years. If I tried to use it, would it misfire or blow-up?
Old 05-10-2005, 12:12 PM
UncleBeer UncleBeer is offline
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It'll probably work fine. At worst, you might have only a round or two misfire - that is fail to discharge. There's no danger of it "blowing up," though.
Old 05-10-2005, 12:17 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Take it to the range and use it there. It's probably perfectly good, but I wouldn't trust it in a self-defense situation. Or give it to someone who has a .38 and wants practice ammo.
Old 05-10-2005, 12:31 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is online now
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Saint Paul
Posts: 26,384
There was a case a few years ago of a man in Oakland who bought a gun for home defense in the 50's, took it to the range a few times to practice, then put it under his bed until, a few years ago, somebroke into his apartment in the middle of the night. The guy was awakened by the intruder.

The ammunition still worked.
Old 05-10-2005, 01:00 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is online now
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Location: Ohio
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There should be no problems with it.
Old 05-10-2005, 01:39 PM
butler1850 butler1850 is offline
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Location: NH, Escaped from MA
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As long as the cases show no sign of corrosion, you should be fine. I routinely shoot old shotgun shells, and some other centerfire ammuntion that my father-in-law has stored for many years. Much of that ammo is dated pre-1970.

I've found that much of it actually shoots BETTER than new factory loads that I can purchase today. Whether this is a case of better quality control then, better components, or simpler processes, I'm not sure.
Old 05-10-2005, 01:33 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 5,893
I've fired plenty of WW-II vintage ammo w/o problems of any kind.

Black powder era ammo might be an issue.

The only real concern is corrosive primers, but good cleaning after shooting will deal with that.

I might worry if the ammo was exposed to high levels of vibration. Burn rate depends on grain size.

Otherwise, if it looks OK it probably is.


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