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#1
Old 08-28-2012, 10:38 AM
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Ammunition shelf-life urban legend?

My wife and I recently completed the required training to apply for a concealed carry handgun permit. The teacher was sheriff-approved, NRA-certified instructor who seemed really knowledgeable about all of the topics she presented, except one.

At one point during the class, when she was covering types of pistol ammunition and how to buy it, handle it and store it, she told us that since 2005, by Federal law, the shelf-life of the primer in civilian ammunition had been somehow chemically limited to two years. She portrayed this as something that had been imposed on ammo manufacturers in some under the radar way, and that it amounted to back door gun control.

This little "revelation" set off my BS meter. Has anyone here read or heard anything about this? Is there a way to factually refute it? Snopes seems to have nothing on it, and a web search for ammunition shelf life turned up some rumors that even gun-nut forums seemed to think were false.
#2
Old 08-28-2012, 10:42 AM
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I don't know about pistol primers, but I can vouch that I've got rifle primers produced after 2005 and older than two years. They're still working just fine, although each primer works only once ( )

I call bullshit on that claim
#3
Old 08-28-2012, 10:57 AM
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I have never heard of such a thing. Firearms ammunition is famously stable. It last indefinitely if stored properly. People can and do shoot surplus ammunition from wars many, many decades ago and ammunition over 100 years old will generally work fine as well as long as it has never been exposed to excessive moisture. I don't think the manufacturers would make their product less reliable on purpose especially because two years is too short a time to be believable.
#4
Old 08-28-2012, 10:58 AM
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A little googling shows that rumors of that sort have been floating around at least since the start of Obama's term, although many unsurprisingly reference Clinton as being the one who invented the idea. The limit ranges from 2 years all the way down to three months. No one seems to have any link to actual case law.

And here's the thing about federal law: it's all public. You can read it. If this were real, there would be an uproar as people quote the actual statute. That's not happening.

It's BS.
#5
Old 08-28-2012, 11:12 AM
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I agree, sounds like BS. I have trouble imagining any items like ammunition that did not sit on a shelf, plus shipping and warehouse time of at least 3 months, and for less popular sizes, I bet 2 years is not unusual.

Does your ammunition box have any date code on it? (not batch number but readable date - unless every shopkeeper in the country is in on the conspiracy). If your local gun store has never heard of this and does not pulle expired ammo, odds are it's not true.

Of course, there's a big difference between "higher risk of misfire" and "does not work at all".
#6
Old 08-28-2012, 11:19 AM
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Pure, unadulterated crap. She should be ashamed of herself.
#7
Old 08-28-2012, 11:51 AM
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Ammunition manufacturers must love that rumor and the sales increases that result from it.
#8
Old 08-28-2012, 12:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasg View Post
Ammunition manufacturers must love that rumor and the sales increases that result from it.
Unless people get their primers from elsewhere or have a store.

I have heard more recently that 'they" were planning on 6 months. Dumb for the reasons md2000 says: it may translate to 1 month of actual shelf time. And this plan would be so wasteful. At best you'd have to pull the bullet, dump the powder (losing a tiny bit in the process), reprime, and replace the bullet.

I have only heard of this very recently (month or two), and am reasonably up to date. I think it's just come back into consciousness recently.
#9
Old 08-28-2012, 12:20 PM
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Pre-election political chicanery, perhaps?
#10
Old 08-28-2012, 12:44 PM
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If it were true, it would end very quickly when Law Enforcement and Military people found their weapons useless in a bad situation due to it.
#11
Old 08-28-2012, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
Pre-election political chicanery, perhaps?
I think it is an old rumor that won't die. Right after the election, two of my gun owning friends were frantic, and I don't use the word frantic lightly, about a rumor that Obama was going to outlaw ammo because he couldn't get to the guns. They were stocking up extra ammo. My guess is that old rumor mutated into this rumor.
#12
Old 08-28-2012, 01:02 PM
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The priming compounds result in some of the nastiest pollution from firing guns. This is an issue at indoor ranges and also for those that reload. There has been some RoHS effort to make "greener" primers. Some of these efforts have resulted in ammo with less reliable primers. As I understand it, the new compounds are not so much inferior, as they are sensitive to different manufacturing parameters, and this should resolve itself as manufacturers gain experience.

While the OP is clearly an adjunct to porcine whole-body hygiene, the RoHS efforts may have provided fuel to such nonsense.
#13
Old 08-28-2012, 02:29 PM
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I work with and inspect ammunition for a living. Oldest small arms I've examined were from the late 30's. Beautiful condition and functioned as new. Primers work fine but tracer compositions deteriorate over time. During the occupation in Iraq after Desert Storm II, we had major shortages of .50cal ammunition. Why is a very long story. Ammunition depots in the US reworked hundreds of ammunition lots from the 1950s that had deteriorated tracers and were restricted to training use only. The tracer rounds were delinked and new tracer rounds added. This covered the typical linked belts of 4 API / 1 API-T, 4 AP / 1 AP-T and 4 Ball / 1 Tracer. The "old" AP, API, and Ball rounds worked perfectly.

The only large scale problems with primers comes from an inadequate seal where the primer is inserted into the cartridge case. The lots will generally fail waterproofing tests. The cause is insufficient sealing compound or (when one of the dumber manufactures insisted they could get away with an "interference" fit and not need sealing compound at all). We find occasional visual problems or malfunctions from inverted primers or blown primers.

The rest is anti-Obama glurge.
#14
Old 08-28-2012, 02:35 PM
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I hope that she knew more about weapons then she did ammo.
#15
Old 08-28-2012, 03:07 PM
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Thanks to all for the replies. She did seem knowledgeable, even about ammo (types, purposes, etc). She just seems to have fallen for a piece of paranoid BS and felt the need to pass it on. Her instruction was otherwise free of paranoid stuff.
#16
Old 08-28-2012, 03:25 PM
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It's the saltpeter that causes impotence in your projectile.
#17
Old 08-28-2012, 06:54 PM
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I sometimes wonder how people can say such things without ever realizing how dumb it is. I'd like to see what she would have said if you asked her how she knew for a fact that her ammo was less than two years old, and "I bought it last week" doesn't cut it. It could be like the dairy department in a grocery store putting the oldest milk out front to get rid of it. Geez, just think of the liability the manufacture would be subject to if their ammo was designed to stop working. Not everyone stores ammo in the box, it's often not even sold in a box. The only way to lessen their liability would be to stamp every single bullet.
#18
Old 08-28-2012, 07:29 PM
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What an odd rumor. To me it sounds like it would (if true) be a conspiracy by ammunition manufacturers or vendors. "That ammunition is expired. You need to buy more now. Yes, I know we could in theory make non-perishable primers, but the Government won't let us. Shooting ranges aren't legally allowed to let you use expired ammo, either. Damned Government. Will that be cash or charge?"
#19
Old 11-05-2013, 03:59 PM
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Of all the crazy things

So of all the crazy things that we know for a fact the government is doing that is equally ridiculous or worse why is this so hard to believe . And no if it were true, do you really think it would apply to their bullets? That would defeat the purpose. I had heard this supposedly when they passed it and yes if they did it is not gonna be public knowledge and apparently it would not matter cause you guys of all people should know that them doing this is not that far fetched. Also guys whoever disagrees because of how good old ammo is does not apply cause it would only be valid for ammo manufactured after the law( if passed) was passed. It's quite amazing the response I get when I try to open the eyes of people around me with facts I know are true, I just get labeled as crazy. Fine, but what pisses me of is do research then call me crazy but don't refute what I say as crazy without some knowledge of the subject. By the way, of course it's crazy THATS WHY I AM TRYING TO TELL you about the bullshit the government is doing. Anyways I have not found the (smoking gun) evidence but I would not put it past them
#20
Old 11-05-2013, 04:02 PM
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Cool story, bro.
#21
Old 11-05-2013, 04:09 PM
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Just how would one pass a law that's not public knowledge? I mean, do the ammunition manufacturers know about this law or not? If they do know, then I'd assume they wouldn't like it, and they would tell the public about it. And if they don't know, then they'll just keep on making ammo the same way they always have. How could this make sense?
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#22
Old 11-05-2013, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Just how would one pass a law that's not public knowledge? I mean, do the ammunition manufacturers know about this law or not? If they do know, then I'd assume they wouldn't like it, and they would tell the public about it. And if they don't know, then they'll just keep on making ammo the same way they always have. How could this make sense?
That's just what the sheeple would say, man.
#23
Old 11-05-2013, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
If it were true, it would end very quickly when Law Enforcement and Military people found their weapons useless in a bad situation due to it.
We rotate ammunition. When a new shipment of ammunition is purchased it's issued for carrying. The older ammunition that's been carried is then taken out of stock and used for training. So the ammunition that's being shot at training is the oldest ammunition.
#24
Old 11-05-2013, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Just how would one pass a law that's not public knowledge? I mean, do the ammunition manufacturers know about this law or not? If they do know, then I'd assume they wouldn't like it, and they would tell the public about it. And if they don't know, then they'll just keep on making ammo the same way they always have. How could this make sense?
Obama passed the law himself and just didn't tell the manufacturers. He has powers you know. That's how we wound up with the FEMA concentration camps and UN helicopters hovering over my house.
#25
Old 11-05-2013, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trueblueliberty View Post
It's quite amazing the response I get when I try to open the eyes of people around me with facts I know are true, I just get labeled as crazy. Fine, but what pisses me of is do research then call me crazy but don't refute what I say as crazy without some knowledge of the subject.
I'm ok taking the word of the previous posters as true, but it's been over a year since then. What new evidence has appeared in the 16 months since the previous post?
Quote:
Anyways I have not found the (smoking gun) evidence but I would not put it past them
Oh. Thanks for checking in!
#26
Old 11-05-2013, 04:33 PM
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Soldiers and Marines in WWII were firing ammunition loaded in 1917. It worked.
#27
Old 11-05-2013, 05:15 PM
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For what it's worth. When my father died in 1966 we cleaned out his apartment and found a1911A (not 1911 A1) .45 cal. Colt pistol and two boxes of ball ammunition marked 1944. I fired eight rounds off in 1968 and they worked fine.

The local Sheriff had some "Bonny and Clyde guns" in the early 1970s, a couple 1917 Springfield Rifles and a batch of 30-06 cartridges made in 1918. A bunch of the Deputies and some select civilians went out to the airport to see if they still worked. They did although a few rounds cooked off. There is nothing like standing out in the middle of nowhere waiting for 30 seconds to elapse before opening the breech and ejecting the cartridge.
#28
Old 11-05-2013, 05:23 PM
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To be totally fair to Trueblueliberty--who joined just to post that, how interesting--if there were a secret plan to have primer degrade that had been introduced at some time in the last two decades, it would not, in fact, affect ammunition from WWII or earlier.

As for the rumor itself, isn't it convenient for ammo manufacturers to have buyers believe that their ammo must be replaced every two years? Yes, yes it is.
#29
Old 11-05-2013, 05:28 PM
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How could you pass a law like this in secret?

Is the NRA keeping it a secret too? Do the ammo manufacturers know? How about the members of congress who passed the law? Did they pass it without knowing what it was? Who enforces the law? What are the consequences of manufacturing ammo that doesn't follow the law?

This rumor is exactly the same as the old "McDonalds uses worms in their hamburgers" rumors that went around when I was a kid. Hey, McDonalds is scummy and sleazy, you trust those guys? Just because they claim to have all beef doesn't mean it's true! Wake up! There's a company that raises worms named "100% Beef company", that's how they can say "made with '100% Beef'" and get away with it.

If there is such a law, then show me the text of the law. Such a law does not exist. It is fiction, like the alternate ending to "Big". Didn't happen. Spread by liars. Prove me wrong or shut up.
#30
Old 11-05-2013, 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TSBG View Post
To be totally fair to Trueblueliberty--who joined just to post that, how interesting--if there were a secret plan to have primer degrade that had been introduced at some time in the last two decades, it would not, in fact, affect ammunition from WWII or earlier.

As for the rumor itself, isn't it convenient for ammo manufacturers to have buyers believe that their ammo must be replaced every two years? Yes, yes it is.
It's partially true, nowadays. You buy ammo, and then must buy more in two years, because over those entire two years, you've been checking shelves to see if they got more in stock.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
This rumor is exactly the same as the old "McDonalds uses worms in their hamburgers" rumors that went around when I was a kid.
These types of rumors are always suspect. The beef industry is a well oiled machine, and thus you can get it pretty cheap. Vermiculture is harder, and it takes thousands of worms to equal one cow. Do you think McDonald's is tenting their fingers and choosing the "evil" option? No, they're trying to be cheap. The same is true of rumors of Chinese restaurants serving cat or dog. In Asia, you can buy those meats, but they're advertised as such because people seek them out and they cost more. American Chinese restaurants aren't going to be substituting a more expensive meat.

Ammo manufacturers are like any other business, and aren't going to spend millions on R&D and a coverup.

Quote:
Hey, McDonalds is scummy and sleazy, you trust those guys? Just because they claim to have all beef doesn't mean it's true! Wake up! There's a company that raises worms named "100% Beef company", that's how they can say "made with '100% Beef'" and get away with it.
Sounds like this urban legend.
#31
Old 11-05-2013, 06:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
How could you pass a law like this in secret?

Is the NRA keeping it a secret too? Do the ammo manufacturers know? How about the members of congress who passed the law? Did they pass it without knowing what it was? Who enforces the law? What are the consequences of manufacturing ammo that doesn't follow the law?

This rumor is exactly the same as the old "McDonalds uses worms in their hamburgers" rumors that went around when I was a kid. Hey, McDonalds is scummy and sleazy, you trust those guys? Just because they claim to have all beef doesn't mean it's true! Wake up! There's a company that raises worms named "100% Beef company", that's how they can say "made with '100% Beef'" and get away with it.

If there is such a law, then show me the text of the law. Such a law does not exist. It is fiction, like the alternate ending to "Big". Didn't happen. Spread by liars. Prove me wrong or shut up.
Obviously you are part of the cover-up.
#32
Old 11-05-2013, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Quoth Lemur866:

How about the members of congress who passed the law? Did they pass it without knowing what it was?
Well, that part at least might be plausible, given how many members of congress we have who brag about not reading bills.
#33
Old 11-05-2013, 06:45 PM
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Not pistol but rather rifle primers: British .303 ammo left over from WW1 was stored and the army ordered that all new small arms should be chambered for that cartridge. So it was throughout WW2 and both rifle and ammo were continued to be stocked and used (in places like India and Australia) long after 1945.
#34
Old 11-05-2013, 07:28 PM
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FWIW, I have a box of Remington .308 Win that I bought in 2009. I fired a couple of sighting shots this past weekend - worked flawlessly.
#35
Old 11-05-2013, 08:21 PM
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Interesting. I happened to go shooting this past weekend with my dad, and we were using some pistol ammo that was a couple of years old (bought in 2010...I know this because they were still in the bag my dad bought it in with the receipts still also in the bag).

I can say categorically that the legend is true! Every single bullet failed catastrophically. You would pull the trigger and there was this loud bang, the gun would jump in your hand and...here's the worst part...the target would get a big hole in it! Well, except when my dad was shooting. In that case, no idea where the bullets went. At any rate, every single bullet failed in exactly this same way. Pull the trigger, loud bang, hole in target (again, when I was shooting).

Damn Obama! And damn the secret legislature that did this! Now we need to go out and buy ammo every week, because you know this is going to be a slippery slope! First they get the shelf life to be 2 years. Then one year. Then a month. Next thing you know, the bullets will expire before they even in the box!
#36
Old 11-05-2013, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
and...here's the worst part...the target would get a big hole in it!
Sounds like you have defective targets too.
#37
Old 11-06-2013, 12:25 AM
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[QUOTE:shiftless;15432902]I think it is an old rumor that won't die. Right after the election, two of my gun owning friends were frantic, and I don't use the word frantic lightly, about a rumor that Obama was going to outlaw ammo because he couldn't get to the guns. They were stocking up extra ammo. My guess is that old rumor mutated into this rumor.[/QUOTE]


Your two friends aren't the only ones stocking up. The idiots are stocking up so much that trying to get simple .22 short, long or long rifle is next to impossible. I was able to purchase two hundred rounds of short from Wally World a few weeks ago and about a month ago I got 500 rounds of long rifle, standard velocity from Dicks. I can't seen to find any high velocity anywhere except a few small gun shops, but they're charging double for the limited supply they have. And this shortage has been going on for almost two years. I called CCI and they told me they're making TWO MILLION .22 ROUNDS A DAY and can't keep up with demand.

Great to know rumors are the reason I can't take my boys out target shooting. Hell, there are several hundred Taliban soda cans hanging around in our garbage that need to be holed.

Last edited by obbn; 11-06-2013 at 12:29 AM.
#38
Old 11-06-2013, 12:42 AM
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Phase 1: Not selling as much ammunition as you'd like. Start rumors of a secret government plot to confiscate ammunition. Sell huge amounts of ammunition to people buying "just in case".

Phase 2: People now have huge stockpiles of ammunition accumulated from Phase 1. Need to convince them to use up all that ammunition so they'll buy more. Start rumors of a secret government plot that makes ammunition "go bad". People shoot all their stored ammunition "just in case".

Phase 3: Still not selling ammunition to people that don't own guns. Start rumors of secret government plot to cover up ammunition-based weight loss plan? Talk to marketing.
#39
Old 11-06-2013, 12:50 PM
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It's absolutely true that, of ammunition sold since the start of 2012, absolutely none of it has lasted more than two years. And yet, it's quite common for ammo from earlier years to last that long. So clearly, that's when the conspiracy started.
#40
Old 11-07-2013, 02:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xema View Post
FWIW, I have a box of Remington .308 Win that I bought in 2009. I fired a couple of sighting shots this past weekend - worked flawlessly.
FWIW, I shot about 300 rounds of .38 special, .357 magnum, 9mm, & .45ACP last weekend and the ammo was fine. It was bought in 2008.

Also, none of the ammo I bought in 2012 has lasted two years. That stuff must be crap.
#41
Old 11-07-2013, 04:07 AM
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Wait... back in the 70s, shooters seemed to universally agree that hand loads were more reliable than factory. That crappy stuff has been around a long time.
#42
Old 11-07-2013, 06:45 AM
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I choose to believe that this story is true not because it's plausible but because it's a good excuse to buy ammunition more frequently.
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