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Does ammunition go bad over time?

Many people ask if ammunition expires or goes bad over time. The answer is both yes and no. Ammo will last indefinitely if stored properly, but the performance of the ammunition will start to degrade after a certain amount of time. In this blog post, we’ll explore what causes ammo to go bad and what you can do to extend its shelf life.

What causes ammo to go bad?

The main thing that causes ammo to degrade over time is exposure to the elements. Humidity, heat, and extreme cold can all negatively affect ammunition. The exact amount of time that degradation takes depends on the type of ammunition and the conditions it’s being stored in. Oxidation is the most common type of corrosion and is caused by exposure to oxygen.

How can you tell if your ammunition has gone bad?

There are a few key signs to look for, including:

  • Changes in appearance, such as rusting or pitting 
  • Discoloration of the bullets 
  • Cracks or splits in the bullets 
  • Deformed or misshapen bullets

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dispose of the ammunition properly. Trying to fire corroded ammo could result in serious injury or even death.

How to prolong your ammunition shelf life

We have learned that it is primarily exposure to the elements that cause ammunition to go bad, so in order to prolong the shelf life, we must control the ammunition’s exposure to these damaging elements.

If you’re storing ammunition for the long term, here are some steps to take to prolong the shelf life: stored in a temperature neutral environment – not too cold, and not too hot.

  • Store your ammunition in a temperature neutral environment – not too cold, and not too hot
  • Ammunition is often stored in cardboard boxes. Cardboard can absorb humidity. It’s best to store the ammunition loosely (without the boxes) in an air tight metal ammo can to prevent this.
  • Use desiccant or ammo can dehumidifier packs inside of your ammo storage cans to prevent rust.


Ammunition can last indefinitely if it’s stored properly, but exposure to the elements will cause it to degrade over time. You can extend the shelf life of your ammo by storing it in a controlled environment or by keeping it in sealed containers and checking on it regularly.

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