How long can powder last?

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Bucks Owin

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It's advised that when smokeless powder becomes too old, it'll smell "acidic". I've yet to experience this smell, even though I have some powders that I have been hanging on to for 25+ yrs. They've been in temp extremes of sub zero to 115 degrees. Still smells and works fine, although I keep them now mostly as a "decoration" of old cans. I supposed I should dump the powder but can't really figure out why. Still gives perfect performance if I load a round or two with it! These are mainly rifle and shotgun powders although there is some W-296 that I was given decades ago. I've fired a couple old Western 30/30 rounds recently that had a definate hang fire of maybe a half second so I expect powder becomes "stale" at some point. Guess I should break down one of those old .30/30 rounds and have a sniff! Anyone have an opinion on powder longevity? Just curious....Dennis (Who is a packrat and collector of old reloading stuff) :wink:
 

Sugar River

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Army surveillance has found that properly stored (cool and dry) smokeless propellants will keep quite well for 50 years or so. After that point it tends to go own hill in a hurry.

If you want to get rid of any powder, just rake it in to the wife's garden. The plants will love the nitrates.

Pete
 

Bucks Owin

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Sugar River":3olv7va7 said:
Army surveillance has found that properly stored (cool and dry) smokeless propellants will keep quite well for 50 years or so. After that point it tends to go own hill in a hurry.

If you want to get rid of any powder, just rake it in to the wife's garden. The plants will love the nitrates.

Pete
Thanks for the info Pete. Yes, I'd heard about the garden thing. (Personally, I'd rather shoot the the wife's plants! Let 'em get their nitrates that way.... :lol: ) Dennis
 

Rick Courtright

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Hi,

I didn't know about the Army tests and the 50 yr "threshhold" figure, but I've shot a bit of near 60 yr old milsurp ammo along the way and am still using powders purchased in the mid-'70s that work "to spec" today.

I figure if 50 yrs is the reasonable limit, I'm still ok for a while w/ what I have, and anything I buy now that doesn't get shot will outlast me...

My only concern is whether today's plastic jugs will hold up like yesterday's metal cans and cardboard kegs, or will the plastic break down and affect the powder w/ outgassing or other byproducts of deterioration if kept too long?

Rick C
 

SBH4628

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I have these,they still work great. The only powder I ever smelt bad is that someone stored it in a glass jar
(Don't do that) It smelt like vinegar.
377837595.jpg
 

Divernhunter

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Denair,Ca,USA
I have powder I bought in the early 1960's which is still good. Anyone remember Alcan powders?? I also have ammo(mil surplus) from the 1930's which is still shooting well. I have some from the 1880's but will not fire it. It is collector stuff. I have some commercial stuff which I think is 1930-1950 era. I reload with WWII powders(mil pull-down) for my 50bmg and they work fine. The only powder I have ever had go bad is some IMR4350 which was purchased 4 years ago and stored with my other powders. I almost cried when I had to put it on the flowers........all 8 pounds of it. It was bad the first time I opened it. Plus I cannot find any to replace it.
 

Bucks Owin

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SBH4628, I see you collect the old cans too huh? I have some 2400 in the old square can. (Dad used it for the original .44 Ruger carbine). My "dot" powders are in the round "cardboard" containers. Have some CCI primers still in the boxes with wood dividers that my dad used in the early 60's. Got some old style .270 Noslers and Speers...Reminds me of hours spent watching the ol' man reload and going out to vaporize varmits. (He gave me a featherweight .243 M70 when I was 12. Still have it) Makes cool decoration around the reloading bench, and brings back fond memories huh?......Wandering off topic as usual, :oops: Dennis (BTW Divernhunter, yeah I remember Alcan powder and I also recall dad buying his 4831 and 4895 at the military surplus store...Ahh, the "good old days! :( )
 

Busterswoodshop

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I don't know about smokeless powder but I have a can of Dupont Black Powder that is dated 1924 and it is still good. I was at my neighbors house and she was loading some shells for an old shotgun with it. We took the shotgun out and shot it and it worked fine. She gave me the can. It was stored in her gun room for ages.
 

Ordguy

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Army surveillance has found that properly stored (cool and dry) smokeless propellants will keep quite well for 50 years or so. After that point it tends to go own hill in a hurry.

Never heard of the 50 year time frame in my 20+ years in Army Ordnance.

Did ithe 50 year time frame come from QASAS ?

The Army IS the proponet for Class V (ammunition), and they do inspect all types of ammunition, including ammunition componets. Ammunition and componets of any age is subject to Deterioration. When it does not meet Saftey &/or Performamnce Standards, it is destroyed. Condition Codes are assigned each Lot to insure Safety.

Componets (including propellant) must perform as desired before being used in Ammo Production or Renovation.

Powder properly stored does indeed last a very long time, and is quite reliable. Performance characterisitics do differ slightly between LOTS of the Same powder regardless of age.
 

protoolman

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I'm shooting WWII surplus 4831 in my 30-06 loads and it chronographs right up there with new 4831. looks good smells good etc. Was stored all these years in a coffee can. The old can was a bit rusty so I poured it into a new can 10 years ago is all.
 

DGW1949

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I've used 45ACP and '06 ammo that was loaded back in the 50's, and it all worked fine. So I guess it all depends on how the ammo (or powder) has been stored.

DGW
 

GaSidewinder

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A friend of mine gave me some powder recently that was in the 50-60 year old range. Bullseye, Unique and some IMR 4320. The bullseye was loaded in some 380 ACP cases and I could not tell the difference between the old and new. It was in one of the old square cans marked $3.00 and I would gladly take another few cans at the same price.
 

chilidog

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Canyon, TX. USA
I had some 4227 that was purchased probably in the mid 1970's. I was going to use it last week but it was a dirty color (not shinny black anymore) and a lot of dust came off of it when I poured it out so it became lawn fertalizer...
Kevin
 

edlmann

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Bucks Owin":3bd7qkow said:
It's advised that when smokeless powder becomes too old, it'll smell "acidic".

When I cleaned my Dad's shop a few years ago, he had a can of, IIRC, IMR 3031 bought and opened 25-30 years before. Something ate through the bottom of the can and it fell apart when I picked it up, just from the 1/2 pound or so of powder left in the can.
 

don44

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I've got some powder that's 30 or 40 yrs. old and it still works great.
 

K. Funk

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Myerstown,PA,USA
A buddy of mine at work had some "gunpowder" he wanted to get out of his house. It was in his attic for who knows how many years. He brings me two cardboard ice cream quart containers, one marked Green Dot and the other 700x. The stuff had no smell, let alone an acid smell. So I tried a small bit of the GD in .44 Specials. Worked like a charm. I re-packaged it in more appropriate containers and have been using it ever since.

krf
 
A

Anonymous

I have some old 3031 and 4064 that must be 40-50 years old at least. I have loaded some starter loads with it and everything seems fine incl. expected velocity. I did have some old powder that turned rusty looking and i dumped that.
 
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