Went to bed about eleven and thought I might get a good nights sleep. It didn't work out that way because about an hour ago the dogs started acting out, and they won't stop. It's dark out tonight, not much of a moon. I took the flood light out, but couldn't see anything. I didn't hear anything either, except the creek. Given all the whining and barking, I'd say there's a bear in the woods around the house somewhere. They're up and about now, and trying to forage to put back on weight after a long and bitter winter. The sows with cubs are going to be particularly in need of food once the babies start arriving. That seems to be who shows up here most often. I never harm them. At worst, I've had to have them trapped by the forest service and taken up to Tennessee, to be released in a remote region where people won't hurt them.
Tomorrow early I need to go to a nearby town one county over to buy some shakes. I have a big spot on the roof, at a particularly difficult place to get to, that lost some shakes in that last big storm. It's so high up that I'll have to tie the ladder to trees on both sides to hold it steady. One thing I should never have done was go for a multistory design house. It complicates repairs and maintenance significantly. The idea at the time was extra living space, because stacking up three levels required a lot less earthmoving and bulldozing on the mountain. In retrospect, it was a bad decision. So was a shake roof instead of metal. Still, metal roofs weren't that common on houses in the mid eighties. Cedar logs have worked out ok though, even all these years later they are still tight and sound. Lots of work keeping them that way, but it's worth it.
The second issue of Be Ready comes out 26 May. I'm looking forward to that, particularly for the article on long term ammunition storage. That's always a subject of interest to me. The very ancient article by "Bird Dog", an Army ammo tech, has always been about the best thing written on the net in that regards. Still, you never know what new ideas might be out there.
I got a nice email today from an old acquaintance who dates back to my first blog. It's always good to hear from people and find out how they are doing. Amazing how you make good friends without ever having met them in person.
Here's Bird Dog's article on ammo storage. It has been on the internet for many years, at least 15 that I know of and probably a lot longer.
Long Term Ammunition Storage by Bird Dog.
There has been much debate on what is the best way for long term storage of ammo, and while I can't say it's wrong to place your ammo in a bucket and suck out all the air and replace it with nitrogen I can say it is a waste of valuable resources.
O.K. if you plan being cryogenically frozen for hundreds of years then maybe. The rest of us just need to know what is the best way to properly store ammo so that it doesn't degrade over a period of time and that it functions as designed when put into use.
Now I need to give you some background on how and for what condition ammo is built. Military cartridges are designed so that they can withstand storage temperatures from minus 65 degrees F. to 122 F. So as long as you don’t keep them in a oven you're fine. They're made for soldiers to use in battlefield conditions under the most horrible conditions conceivable and still function.
The manufactures (OLIN, Winchester, Remington Etc.) know this and they also know they will lose a big fat Govt contract if they don’t pass this criteria. Here is one for you, the same folks that make 5.56mm make the exact same cartridge and call it a 223 change the label and sell it civilian. Same with 308 (7.62 NATO). ( I know this is one of those "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" arguments so I just leave his comment alone on that)
So now you know that there is hardly any difference between civilian and military ammunition manufacturing. Let's get down to storage.
Shelf life refers to how long an item can remain in storage and still be functional. Well, all military small arms ammunition has an indefinite shelf life. This means as long as it is properly stored it will never go bad.
Service life refers to how long a item can remain in a operating configuration and still be functional.
Small arms ammo should be good from anywhere from 6 months to 18 months before you need to consider inspecting it. If the ammo has some corrosion on it take some copper wool or steel wool and take it off, then it's good to go unless it is to the stage of pitting then get rid of it.
Now most ammo comes in a wooden outer container with metal inner packs that holds the ammo. We store it on at least two inches of dunnage to keep off the floor. In long term storage it is inspected every five years and then only ten percent is checked for defects and then thrown back into storage for another 5 yrs. (if nothing is wrong).
So now what can you do as a civilian to store your ammo? Your number one enemy is moisture, as long as you have a waterproof container you are fine. I use empty 20mm ammunition containers that you can get from any surplus store although PVC pipe will do. Try and keep the cartridges in the original packing and try and keep away from metal to metal contact. To ensure that the ammo has no moisture I throw in a couple of dehumidifier packages. This is strictly optional as we don’t even do that in the military.
Whether it's military ammo you got at a gun show or .22 shells from K-mart it's all the same. Before you store it make sure its clean, dry( and wiped off if you touched it) and that’s it!
Wow, almost too simple. You don’t need to vacuum seal it, and you don’t need to store it at any particular temperature just keep it dry and out of the elements and leave it alone. I have been working with munitions for over 11 years, and this is what they have trained me. I hope this sheds some understanding on storage.
A word about Ragnar, since I know people are interested in how he is doing. His wound from the surgery has healed up nicely. He still has not gained his strength back, although I am feeding him special supplements and vitamins. Some days are better than others for him. Today was one of the down days. He hardly came out of his box. He seems to be almost completely blind now, not uncommon for ferrets his age and not necessarily a big handicap since they are burrowing animals who navigate more by sense of smell. I have to be careful to put him down in some place he can easily identify, like his feeding station or his box now. If he doesn't start perking up, I am going to take him back to the vet. I am also talking with a ferret rescue in the south of the state about taking on some of their "senior" ferrets. Like people, no one wants senior ferrets because they have medical problems and vet bills, and they tend to pass on about the time you really get to have a close bond with them. But even seniors need a place to live where they have company, shelter and care. I admit, given my age, I may be a bit prejudiced in their favor. ;-)