Long term shot shell storage

Quite awhile back I took a shotgun instructor’s course—students had to supply their own ammo of course.
I discovered that my dad had set aside a couple of boxes of dove loads from the 1970-80s which I was eager to burn up, so it seemed like a good opportunity.
The ammo (Federal) performed flawlessly and the instructors happily relieved me of the colorful empty boxes after the course, but while policing the empties I noticed something I thought disturbing:
the hulls were messed up! These were shot out of a SxS so there wasn’t an “action” to stress anything.
The plastic hulls, which were kind of hard (brittle?) had cracked at the crimp end and the 'brass" (steel) heads were nearly all cracked on the rim.

Now these were cheap dove loads to begin with, so I wouldn’t expect premium materials going into their construction and maybe that was the reason they didn’t aged well.
At any rate I’m glad they’re gone.

Now I keep my shotgun for trap shooting, not HD but I know many posters here do keep shotguns for HD and that got me thinking.
After the ammo shortages, I seriously don’t like the idea of running out of SD/HD ammo, and if I did rely on my shotgun for HD I’d want to keep a good supply on hand, so if modern plastic cartridges degrade over time and If you’re keeping a supply of shot shells for a Zombie Apocalypse or something, this might be something to consider.

In fairness, quality has a lot to do with hull longevity. The old Winchester AA hulls seemed to last for ever and are still in demand by hand loaders, and Remington STS appear to be the current heirs to the longevity crown.
But those are target loads, not 00 Buck or other popular HD loadings and I’m not aware of what LE and military requirements specify for their Buckshot loads. The looks of the old Olin (Winchester) government contract overruns that Big 5 used to sell never impressed me much but the even older Estate (before Vista, when they were manufactured in Texas) were pretty impressive.
Anyway I thought this would be an interesting topic for discussion.


First in - First out

Storage conditions are probably the biggest factor.


That is definitely the biggest factor, and shotgun shells are impacted by the environment far greater than a pistol or rifle rounds as they are not sealed as well as those are. I recall as a kid, my father had the old paper hulled shells that were at least 20 years old then. They were visibly degraded, but he had rifle rounds similarly aged and stored in the same way - on top of the gun cabinet - that were still in good condition.


Just like anything else in storage, cool, dark and dry. If in long term storage I vacuum seal. :slightly_smiling_face:


All the thousands of rounds I have loaded,all the ammo is in ammo cans with oxygen absorbers as moisture is a decrement as time passes.


FWIW those old shells were stored in a linen closet, cool, dry, dark with little variation in temperature.
They all performed satisfactory but certainly wouldn’t be reloadable and might not function in an autoloader or pump if the plastic hulls were defeated.

If the option of handloading is out of the question (I personally dislike hand loading Buck shot) long term storage might favor paper cartridges, but I’m not aware of any manufacturer loading Buck in paper.

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