The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

How To: Ammo Storage 101

At RECOIL, we review every product fairly and without bias. Making a purchase through one of our links may earn us a small commission, and helps support independent gun reviews. Learn More

As we enter fall and winter, and temperature and shooting conditions change, it’s critical to pay attention to ammunition storage. Ammunition isn’t exactly becoming any less expensive, and for the integrity of your weapon system, and your wallet, it pays to take care of this commodity. Proper storage can dramatically extend the shelf life of your ammunition.

The basic tenets to follow with ammunition storage are cool, dry, and dark. With those principles, there are other considerations and suggestions to follow such as storage container selection. Here are a few tips to help you preserve your ammunition as we approach a change in seasons.

Keep it Cool & Dark

Swings in temperature invite moisture, and moisture is not a friend of ammunition. Don’t keep your ammunition in locations that typically experience drastic swings in temperature such as a car, garage, or attic. These locations can reach temperatures above 100F on a warm day, and then even below 30F on a cold day, depending on the season. The basement, with a dehumidifier, is the perfect choice for ammunition to be stored as it is generally cool and stable in temperature. A dehumidifier unit will continuously pull moisture out of a damp basement. Ammo should not be placed on the floor of the basement but elevated on a shelf. Rain naturally soaks into the ground, contacts your home’s foundation, and this ground moisture is dangerous if allowed to accumulate. A dehumidifier will help remove any moisture in that cool, damp basement.

UV light is a destructive force to just about anything, including ammunition. Vehicles, for example, if left in the sun for years see a deterioration in its exterior metal and paint. Not surprisingly, you should keep your ammunition out of the light as well. This makes the basement, once again, a logical choice for ammunition storage. If you are without a basement, closet storage can work as well.

Keep it Dry

While the construction of ammo has improved considerably since the 1800s, the old Oliver Cromwell quote, ‘keep your powder dry’ remains true today. There is a considerable detrimental effect of moisture on ammunition. Not only will moisture eventually corrode the metal casings, primer, and bullet of your ammunition, but over time it will penetrate and deteriorate your powder, rendering the ammunition worthless. Wet powder will not ignite effectively, if at all.

The first step in keeping your ammunition dry is to find a suitable waterproof or sealed container. Historically, the military-issue green ammo can have been a popular favorite due to its simple and efficient design. But, there are some new versions of this classic option, such as the Pelican V250 Vault Ammo Case. The Pelican Vault line of products was designed with durability in mind, outfitted with stainless steel hasps, heavy-duty handles, push-button latches, and made from crush resistant polymer.  With an interior space of 12.7×6.3×10 inches, similar to a .50 cal ammo can, the case is crushproof, dustproof and weather resistant. The Pelican V250 is a great functional option for long term or bulk storage and an upgrade from the long traditional military surplus cans.

The Pelican V250 Vault Ammo Storage Case

In addition to the right container, using desiccants, silica gel packets, or even homemade moisture absorbents like rice and salt assist in keeping ammunition dry. Desiccants use osmosis to attract air moisture particles, trapping the moisture, allowing the remaining air inside the ammo container to be dry. Sodium bentonite and calcium bentonite are great clay desiccants and can be purchased in the form of Desi-Paks. Silica gel packets are another simple and low-cost option, and some silica packets change color when they’ve absorbed as much moisture as possible. The homemade option, rice and salt, will keep ammunition dry as well. Simply mix some rice with salt, tie up in a tissue or mesh, and place with your ammunition.


A large ammo container is ideal for the long term and bulk, but it’s also important to have a more convenient and practical container when headed to the range or on duty. One functional option is the Bang Box from G-Code Holsters. These small multipurpose storage containers have an easy to use, wide mouth, zipper opening that can hold about 100 rounds (depending on the caliber).

The Bang Box Ammo Storage Containers from G-Code Holsters

There are no sharp corners on the Kydex base and multiple color options are available. A cool feature is the Velcro strip on the outside top of the lid for placement of a PVC caliber patch, to denote the caliber inside. There is also the option of a carrying case that can hold up to three Bang Boxes. You can still fit in a desiccant into the small cases as well, helping with any moisture exposure on transport.

Care for equipment doesn't just end at your primary weapon system. As a shooter, the concept extends to all components of your craft to include gear and ammo. Ammunition is a commodity growing more expensive by the day, and with some basic elements of care, you can preserve and extend its shelf life. Execute the basic tenets, and grab yourself proper long term and range ready storage containers. Your wallet and your weapon will thank you for it.

Enter Your E-Mail to Receieve a Free 50-Target Pack from RECOIL!

NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOIL

For years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included).

Get your pack of 50 Print-at-Home targets when you subscribe to the RECOIL email newsletter. We'll send you weekly updates on guns, gear, industry news, and special offers from leading manufacturers - your guide to the firearms lifestyle.

You want this. Trust Us.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to the Free