How long should I keep My Carry Ammo

There are two classes of “carry ammo.” There are the rounds in magazines you regularly carry on your person, and there is the rest of your hoard.

At any one time I have three mags that I carry, for a total of 45 rounds. I have 10 total mags for my carry gun, and I rotate them every 12 to 18 months All of my mags are numbered and I know what went in each and when. Every 6 months I fire off one mag and reload it with ammo from my “hoard.” At any one time the oldest ammo I am carrying is less than two years old.

My hoard at any one time is always at least 100 rounds. I refill based on availability and price. This ammo is stored under controlled heat and humidity, ans it will likely outlive me.

I focus more on hitting what I want rather than the age of my ammo (which is all Hornady Critical Defense 9mm).


Welcome @Ronald342!

I change out my EDC ammo once a year. I normally do not mess with the rounds in the mag. When I use the firearm for practice, I eject the mag and set it aside then put it back when done.

But the round that gets chambered is marked. Every 4th time, I replace it with a fresh round. I haven’t experienced any setback, but I do it just for peace of mind.


Until you need it; then spend it wisely but liberally.


The rule of thumb I’ve always been taught is no longer than a year, less if you’re in a humid environment. We aren’t in any sort of ammunition shortage right now, so defensive rounds are fairly easy to come by and won’t cost any body parts to purchase. (Unless you’re looking for Speer Gold Dot right now…I swear, everyone around here must have gotten a 9mm for Christmas and ran right out and bought Speer for their defensive stock.)


I shoot the 2 magazines that I have loaded for self defense once a year, and then reload them with new ammo. Ammo that is still in the boxes can easily keep for decades.


Back when ammo was cheaper the first thing I would do when I went to the range was some draw and fire drills with my EDC or home defense pistol with the SD ammo that was in it. I’d usually save my spare mag of SD ammo for the ride home and it would be used at the range the next trip. This let me know the gun was ready to go had I needed to use it.

Now with SD ammo prices still on the high side and my preferred options still hard to find I usually swap out the SD mags for practice ones but I’ll leave the SD round in the chamber for my first shot at the range. Once every 6 months or a year I’ll shoot the SD ammo in my carry mags and replace it since it is exposed to more temperature and humidity extremes. I did a test where I left several mags with SD and practice ammo loaded and untouched for over a decade. Took them to the range and they all worked perfectly. So I’m pretty confident that quality SD ammo will last for decades if stored in reasonable conditions. It’s been awhile since I swapped the SD ammo for my home defense pistol but I am 99.99999% confident it is good to go.


I recently found an old 100-round brick of CCI 22LR that had been kicking around for about 30 years. I know that because it had a K-Mart price sticker on it (around $2.00 if I remember correctly), and it’s been that long since I lived near a K-Mart. I ran the whole brick through my 22 rifle without a single misfire. It was in a box that had been in a closet, then the garage, and probably exposed to everything from freezing north winters to Florida heat and humidity.


I found/sold a bunch of boxes of old Winchester Black Talon ammo I bought I think in the 80s? Amazing what that stuff brings on Gunbroker :scream:

But I had quite a few partial boxes in different calibers so I shot them all and NOT ONE round failed to go bang. This stuff was never “properly stored”. It’s been in PODS, transported cross country, stored in hot and humid, freezing temps, scalding hot etc. and it still hit where it was aimed at every trigger pull.