Old Ammunition

Hey, I recently inherited some vintage ww2 era rifles from my late grandfather. He had several hundred rounds of ammunition stored with them, but I’m afraid to use it because I don’t know how old it is. How long does it typically take for ammunition to go “bad” or become hazardous?

P.S. Sorry for that stupid post about .99$ auctions. I’d meant to ask about reserve amounts on ebay. My bad.

Examine the ammo closely. Is any of it corroded, or split, or moldy? Discard these. Have the rifles checked by a competent gunsmith, then take them and the ammo to the range. I wouldn’t use it for hunting or self-defense, but for target shooting it ought to be just fine. I regularly buy ammo boxes full of surplus ammo for my rifles. You get the odd mis- or hang fire, but so what? The price is right! :smiley:

Thanks for the reply. I’ve got another question though. We inherited a m1 carbine, a mk1 no4 lee-enfield rifle, and a springfield 1903. Does anyone know the approximate value of these rifles? All are in excellent condition. We also inherited a colt woodsman .22 automatic pistol. I’ve seen people collecting these pistols, but I’ve been unable to find their value.
Thanks again.

Again, check with a gunsmith. As a general rule, you’ll find that the carbine and the Springfield will bring the most. N0. 4 Enfields are fairly common. Or, you can go to GunBroker and check out their auctions for an idea as to prices.

Did someone mention British Military Firearms? :smiley:

If you can tell me the markings on your No 4 Mk I Lee-Enfield, along with the serial number (X out the last few letters, if you like), I can give you a manufacturer and year.

Have a look on the left hand side of the receiver. What is stamped there?

Also have a look at both sides of the wristguard. What markings, if any, are there?

Is there a small notch cut in the bolt-rail near the breech, or is there a small “catch” behind the charger bridge? (at the back of the receiver)

What does the sight look like?

What other markings are stamped on the rifle?

Do the serial numbers on the bolt and the receiver match?

My father was a gun dealer and his father before him. We used to buy up surplus ammo from the Shotgun News and other sources for cheap plinking. It takes a long, long time for properly stored ammo to go bad. That would mean that it was stored dry. I am only 33 and I have fired many rounds from before WWI to the Korean War. That ammo was cheap and seemed to have more than average misfires but they weren’t dangerous. As far as I know, people are still selling ammunition 50 years old or more for shooting.

Ammo lasts for a long time… your primary concern is whether or not the primers are corrosive when fired.

What calibres are the cartridges you’ve got, and what headstamps have they got?

Pay special attention to the primer when inspecting the rounds, if it looks suspicious at all, don’t fire it. Remember, there’s a difference between a misfire and a hangfire. If you have a misfire, don’t open the breech for several minutes, 5 is recommended, and always wear goggles. A hangfire, out of the weapon, won’t explode violently, but it will burst the the casing and can cause burns, or eye damage if your close to it.

By who???

30 seconds is the recommended time I’ve been told by everyone from ex-military arms instructors to experienced hunters to professional Kangaroo shooters.

That’s with newer ammo and not old cordite / black powder rounds, no?

I am a former military weapons instructor and range coach. Five minutes is (or was, I retired 27 years ago) the military standard. It may seem excessive, but we always erred on the side of safety. I’ve supervised, as well as fired, thousands of rounds of ‘out of date’ ammunition.

That’s with newer ammo and cordite, but not black powder.

POF (Pakistani Ordnance Factory) .303 Mk VII SAA Ball ammunition is notorious for hangfires, click-fires, and not going off at all. Everyone in the Military Service Rifle shooting community says 30 seconds is plenty for smokeless powder/cordite ammo that’s gone “click” and hasn’t fired.

I don’t know anyone who shoots BP cartridge guns, so it’s never been an issue, but I can see how you might want to give it a minute or two, because of the slower burn rate than modern powders.

and I should say that’s Everyone in the Military Service Rifle Shooting Community here in Queensland, not necessarily globally…