Ammo in a house fire?

If there is a fire near your home and you had to evacuate. How much ammo would you bring?

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I have about 1,000 rounds in a steel ammo case in the garage. I would just grab it on the way out… if possible.


Gawds, I’d feel really bad if I left any ammo to cook off just while the fire department is setting up to protect my, or the homes on either side. We’re not sharing walls but it’s not living in ranchettes. One of the worst things I can imagine a station captain hearing at a residential fire would be ammunition cooking off… All of a sudden it’s get everybody out, no one goes in unless there is imminent threat to life and proof of life at that.I

If I had to rush, first thing I’m communicating to the fire crew is there is ammo in my house!


Is the correct answer “As much as you can”?


If it was stored in a big safe would that keep the Ammo from injuring anyone.

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Depending on the quality of the sidings and doors, it will undoubtedly help contain errant projectiles. Fire protection ratings may also prevent the ammo from getting hot enough in the first place! It is an excellent question and one which our friends at USCCA ( @Dawn ) could address or offer a citation if there is information in the database.

My problem, one that I’m recognizing I’m responsible for addressing now that I’m writing things down, is I’ve got too many things I want to keep in the safe, and I haven’t shot this season’s purchases of ammunition. So it’s just sitting near the safe but not in a fire safe or containments.

Depends on the fire and the situation.

At a minimum I’ll have a hundred rounds for each firearm on the vehicle and at least six loaded high capacity magazines for the "PDW’s and handguns.

If I thought I was going to lose my home/business to the fire I’d take everything I could carry, firearms, ammo, even reloading gear.

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Ammo that cooks off might bruise you or damage an eye but that’s about it.

The NRA has some great videos showing thousands of rounds cooking off doing no harm beyond bout 10’, even with rifle and shotgun rounds.

A firefighter’s bunker gear provides more than enough protection.


From what I’m reading, ammo not in a firearm during a house fire will “explode” (popping noise, but not projecting the bullet out of the casing, the casing explodes). However, ammo in a firearm during a fire will be sent down the barrel as if it had been shot. It appears that how you store the ammo will also make a difference (in a metal ammo box or in a safe).

@KevinM, do you have any insight on what happens to ammo in a home fire??

BTW, I changed the title of this topic to more closely reflect the direction of the topic. If need be we can spin up a separate topic as well.


I bookmarked this in the hopes that SOMEDAY it would come in handy in a conversation :smiley:

SAAMI testing of ammunition including physical destruction, shooting it, dropping it, burning it, etc.

Skip to about 12min mark for the fire related tests.

If you have your ammo in a fire rated safe it should keep the ammo cool enough to not cook off. And if it does cook off, the safe should contain it. The problem is for ammo that is NOT stored in a safe may cook off depending on the fire.

If this is one of those things like in CA with the wildfires, I would take as much as I reasonably could (obvsly people, pets, and essentials get 1st priority), but having enough guns/ammo to protect yourself for an unknown amount of time is also important especially in a bunch of chaos like that (I’m thinking of Katrina-like situations).


Great info. We were on the edge of an evac map all day yesterday. Lifted last night.


Brilliant! and thank you! An accurate citation beats hear-say any day. And what better authority than SAAMI?

Btw, how long did you have to sit on it?

Edit: Time for me to go send some down range! …clear out some of those “excess” cases…

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Remember that the bullet is typically heavier than the cartridge case. Ammo cooking off in a fire pops and bangs, but is not terribly dangerous ( ie, bullet is NOT going to travel any significant distance at any velocity. The “contained” explosion in a firearm is what generates velocity/ power.

@Dwayne. …And like popcorn on the stove not to be trifled with without adequate protection. Esp. Eyes & face?

Yeah, but if it’s hot enough to cook off ammo, no one without full turnout gear should be in the area (way too hot). Back in the dim and misty I worked FD and did a couple big fires at hardware stores with a BUNCH of ammo in them. Sounded like firecrackers popping of. These were major fires, a lot of heat. Only aware of one house fire I was in where we “heard” am o popping off, though I know others had ammo in them as I’ve found remains of weapons, etc.

People/kids throwing ammo on camp fires sounds like a good time then. Homeowners storing ammunition next to, nearby the furnace, hot water heater… You know; that which floats to the top on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” kind of thing.

Any way, not as hazardous as say propellant in a sealed piece of galvanized pipe heated to cook off, but treat it like a bunch of Bic lighters.

Oh, and apparently not so important as to place a hazard card at or near your front door.

The cases usually either rupture or expand to the point of rupture or near thereto.

It’s hard to get even magnum rifle ammo cooking off in a fire to penetrate even a single layer of normal 1/2" sheet rock.

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Is this because you need supplies during your big out or because you expect to have no home when you return?

If it’s for bug out purposes, and you expect to have a home to return to, then thisvshoukd be a part or your bug out strategy and stashed and ready to go.

If this is because you dont expect to have a home to return to, I have alot more valuable stuff I would take first. I’d prioritize for time and space within my vehicle and just keep filling the vehicle until ran out of time or space.

I’ve always got about 100 rounds loaded in magazines in my vehicle for my EDC. Since i dont ever change up my EDC, this is always good to go. If I thought I might need my rifle, I’d quickly grab an ammo can of 223 at the same time as my rifle. I think I’m going to stage an ammo can cans with loaded mags for my rifle for a quick grab and go…


Good answer. Without a chamber and barrel a round will just pop the case. I witnessed hundreds of these when training troops on the M60 while in the AF. CAUTION: Loaded firearms can go off in a fire.

An aluminum SCUBA tank is probably a greater danger:

From Luxfer (major AL SCUBA tank manufacturer) website:

  • The action of the fire rapidly increases the pressure inside the cylinder, and all the while more and more aluminum is melting and starting to burn, fueling the fire and weakening the cylinder to the point that it can no longer hold the growing pressure. All this occurs so quickly that the pressure-relief device on the valve does not have time to activate.

  • By the time the pressure-relief device is ready to activate, either the valve is forcefully ejected at high velocity or the cylinder ruptures—or both.

Just another off-topic diversion to think about …