Treat it right and it may last
People who have several guns often wonder about all of the ammunition they have had on their shelves for years. From my own experience, I have learned that ammunition that has been kept in a cool, dry environment is almost non-perishable.
It was back in the 1990s when I fired some 30/40 Krag ammunition that was manufactured prior to World War II. I had just got an old Krag-Jorgensen rifle restored that my uncle (mother’s brother) gave me about five years before his death. Naturally, I wanted to try it out. All of the half-dozen factory-loaded rounds performed perfectly. It was in 2004 when I took a deer on opening day with this old rifle using handloads.
In 1983, just before Ruth and I were married, I took a doe in Upshur County using factory-loaded ammunition that was purchased in 1955. On that outing, I was hunting with another rifle that has been in the family for several years. By the way, this was the rifle I was using on the opening day of this year.
Last summer, I was talking to a retired city police officer from another state. One of his duties within his department was to dispose of all of the old ammunition that people would bring in. One year, an elderly lady gave him some military .45 ACP ammunition that had a head stamp date of 1942. The retired officer informed me that the 70-year-old ammunition was still clean with no corrosion or rust on any of the casings. Well, the officer disposed of the ammunition all right, through the barrel of his Glock Model 21. All of the rounds worked flawlessly.
When the officer got finished telling me his story, I politely asked if he kept any of the empty casings to be reloaded. I don’t remember his answer. However, I have reloaded plenty of old military 30-06 empty casings that have head stamp dates from the 40s and 50s. None of them have ever been a problem that I can remember.
There are some things that will affect the life of ammunition. These things are excessive heat, moisture and bright sunlight. Therefore, try to remember when storing ammunition over a long period of time, try to keep it away from these factors. To make a long story short, the shelf life of ammunition is relative to how well it is stored by the person who stored it.
Last week, I was talking on the phone to the District 3 West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Police captain. He was able to send me a list of all of the hunting incidents West Virginia has had for 2017.
As of Nov. 15, there had only been seven hunting incidents for this year. Of this seven, two were fatal and both of them were heart attacks, involving a 58- and a 64-year-old. Two were tree stand falls. Another hunter was injured when he slipped and fell on the ground. One hunter was injured when his bow accidentally discharged. I am still trying to figure this one out.
There was another hunting incident in Ritchie County on Nov. 15, but the details on this one have not been fully disclosed. In addition to what was on the list, there was a 20-year-old man in Wetzel County who was fatally injured in a hunting accident on the opening day of the buck gun season Monday. This is still being investigated by the WVDNR Police officers.
On the opening day of the buck gun season Monday, I was in the woods at daybreak at the same place where I got a deer last year. During the morning hours, I only saw one deer, and it was running so fast I wasn’t able to get it in my rifle scope. In addition to the deer, I saw an adult black bear and a little red squirrel. In the afternoon, I tried a different location. The only thing I saw was three gray squirrels.
On Tuesday morning, I was once again in the woods at daybreak. It was quite cold; but when the sun came out, I could feel the temperature climbing. At 10 a.m., it was everything I could do to stay awake. At 11 a.m. I went back to my vehicle and ate my lunch. Then I went home and got horizontal to take a four-hour nap.
On Wednesday, I was still tired from Monday and Tuesday so I decided to stay indoors because the weather forecast was not favorable. During this time, I worked on this “Outdoors” column and helped Ruth prepare some of the Thanksgiving dinner.