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Safe Ammo Storage Guide: Cans, Boxes & Lockers

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If you’re new to owning a gun or hunting, you might not know much about how to store ammo and what ammo storage solutions are there. This guide will answer all the questions and recommend some of the best options. Enjoy!

Table of Contents

Why It Is Important to Store Ammo Correctly
Ammo Storage: Cans, Boxes, and Safes
– Ammo Cans vs. Ammo Boxes
– Why Use Ammo Boxes?
— Best Ammo Boxes
– Why Use Ammo Cans?
— Best Ammo Cans
– Ammo Lockers
– Ammo Can & Box Combos
Best Ammo Storage Practices

Why It Is Important to Store Ammo Correctly

First of all, storing ammo the right way is just as important as storing your guns properly – after all, a gun isn’t much use without ammo. But while it might seem easy – just keep your bullets somewhere safe – there’s more to it than that.

Keeping Ammo Dry and Cool

How long your ammo lasts depends on the conditions in which it’s stored. This is where we should talk about humidity and temperature fluctuations.

High humidity is the worst, as it can ruin your stock ammo just like that. If you keep your ammo in a place with high moisture levels, the brass casings can corrode. Even a little rust can make your ammo less accurate. So remember that the best humidity level for storing ammo is usually between 30-50%.

Temperature changes can also affect your ammo shelf life. Extreme heat and freezing temperatures can change the nitrocellulose (a highly flammable smokeless compound used in modern ammunition) in your gunpowder.

When it gets too hot, ammo can “sweat,” and the nitrocellulose inside turns into gas. Once it gets above around 125°F, the gas starts to leak out of the cartridge. This can create uneven pressure in your gun chamber. On the other hand, very cold temperatures might not be as bad, but they can interfere with ballistic bullet performance. To avoid these problems, it’s best to keep your ammo at room temperature.

Preventing Misuse

The best way to keep your ammo safe is to keep it inaccessible to anyone but you. This means keeping it away from children and other family members in your house unless you say it’s okay. The most effective way to do this is to store ammo separately from your firearms and in a lockable box or safe.

Keeping Ammo Organized

It’s really important to keep your ammo organized and arranged neatly. Imagine you’re in a hurry and need to find a specific type of bullet. If your ammo is all jumbled up, it can be hard to find what you need quickly. But if it’s organized, you can easily reach for the right box or can and grab what you need. Plus, when your ammo is neatly arranged, it’s easier to see if you’re running low on anything, so you’ll know when to restock.

Ammo Storage: Cans, Boxes, and Safes

Let’s talk about different ways to keep your ammo safe. The three main methods are using cans, boxes, or safes. If you’re looking for non-lockable options, ammo cans and boxes are great choices. Unlike the original packaging often made of flimsy cardboard, which doesn’t offer much resistance to moisture or physical impact, ammo cans and boxes are made from durable materials, like plastic, metal, or wood. Ideally, these cans and boxes can be stored in an ammo safe, creating an ideal storage environment. Let’s unpack these options further.

Ammo Cans vs. Ammo Boxes

Ammo cans and boxes are both good for storing ammo but have different features. Essentially, ammo cans are often designed to store ammunition loosely, without any compartments. In contrast, ammo boxes feature individual compartments for each round.

Why Use Ammo Boxes?

ammo-box

Ammo boxes have separate sections for each round. This can be helpful for several reasons:

  • When each round has its own spot, it’s easy to see how much ammo you have left.
  • When going to a shooting range, it’s easy to take just the right amount of ammo with you.
  • You can avoid mixing up different calibers and loads by keeping them in separate compartments. In particular, it helps prevent mix-ups of regular and +P ammo.
  • The bullets won’t move around as much when they each have their own spot.

Best Ammo Boxes

MTM Side Slide 50rd 9mm Ammo Box

Calibers: 9mm, 30 Luger, 32 S&W, 380 ACP, 9mm Makarov
Capacity: 50rd

Explore 50rd boxes for other calibers:

45 caliber ammo box (for 45 ACP, 10mm, 32 NAA, 357 Sig., 40 S&W, 44 Auto Mag., 45 Auto Rim., and others)
rifle ammo box (for 25 / 270 / 300 / 325 / 338 / 7mm WSM, 30 Rem, 300 / 7mm Rem. SAUM, 45-70 Govt., 6.8 Western, 28 Ga. Shotshell, and others)
rifle ammo box (for 223 / 243 / 25 / 270 WSSM, 401 Win. S.L., 458 SOCOM, 460 / 500 S&W Mag., and others)
handgun ammo box (44 Rem. Mag., 25-20 Win, 256 Win. Mag, 310 Cadet, 35 Win. S. L., 357/44 B&D TC, 38-40 Win, 41 Rem. Mag., 41 Long Colt, 44 Spec., 44 Russian, 44-40 Win., 45 S&W Schofield, 45 Long Colt, 45 Win. Mag TC., 460 Rowland)

MTM 200rd 223 Ammo Box

Calibers: 17 Fireball, 17 MACH 4, 17 / 221 / 222 / 223 Rem., 204 Ruger, 218 Bee, 222 Rem. Mag., 223 Rem. HP, 25-20 Win., 300 Blackout, 300 Sherwood, 300 Wisper, 32 Ideal, 32 / 401 Win. S.L., 351 WSL, 38-55 Win., 5.56×45, 6×47, 6mm TCU, 6mm-223 Rem., 7.62 x 37 Musang.
Capacity: 200rd

Explore 200rd boxes for other calibers:

45 caliber ammo box (for 45 ACP, 10mm, 32 NAA, 357 Sig., 38 Casull, 40 S&W, 400 Cor-Bon, 41 Act. Exp., 44 Auto Mag., 45 Auto Rim., 45 GAP, 8mm Nanbu)
9mm ammo box (for 9MM Luger, 9MM Makarov, 38 S&W, 38 Short, 380 ACP, 30 Luger, 9x21MM)
22 ammo box (for 22 Long Rifle, 17 HMR, 17 Mach 2, 22 Long, 22 Win. Mag. RF)

Plano Handgun Ammo Box

Calibers: 357 Magnum, 38 Special, 38 S&W
Capacity: 100rd

MTM 12/16/20 ga Shotshell Box

Gauges: 12/16/20 Ga (2.75in max length)
Capacity: 25 shells

Why Use Ammo Cans?

ammo-can

Ammo cans are strong containers that can hold a lot of rounds. Designed originally for military use, they’re especially good for storing bulk ammo that you want to keep safe from wetness or dampness. To further enhance protection against corrosion, you can add desiccant packs. While there’s a slim chance of rounds getting jostled to the point where a bullet could become unseated or a crimp might fail, this isn’t a big concern in most cases.

Here are some reasons to use ammo cans:

  • If you have a lot of ammo in one caliber and load, you can put it all together in a can to save space.
  • If you close the can properly, it can stop water from getting inside and damaging your ammo, offering protection against floods or pipe bursts.

Best Ammo Cans

MTM 30-cal Ammo Can

Caliber: 30 caliber military ammo can
Can hold: 15 pounds
Features: w
ater-resistant O-ring seal, double padlock tabbed, molded-in stacking ridges, heavy-duty, latching systems, stackable

MTM 50-cal Ammo Can

Caliber: 50 caliber military ammo can
Can hold: 25 pounds
Features: water-resistant O-ring seal, double padlock tabbed, molded-in stacking ridges, heavy-duty, latching systems, stackable

MTM Ammo Crate

Caliber: any caliber
Can hold: 85 pounds
Features: hi
gh-impact polypropylene plastic, two extra strong handles, molded-in stacking ridges, four hook points, tongue and groove O-Ring seal

MTM 3-Can 50-cal Ammo Crate

Caliber: any caliber
Can hold: 85 pounds
Features: hi
gh-impact polypropylene plastic, includes three MTM 50 caliber ammo cans, each ammo can has a water-resistant O-ring seal for dry storage, stackable and strap able with four tie-down spots

MTM 50 and 30 cal Ammo Can Combo

Caliber: any caliber
Can hold: 15+25 pounds
Features: i
deal for easier carry and transport of multi-caliber ammo storage, water-resistant O-ring seal for dry storage, dual padlock tabs, molded polypropylene construction

MTM Mini Ammo Can

Caliber: any caliber
Can hold: 12 pounds: 700 rounds of 9mm bulk ammo. 400 rounds 45 ACP or 223 bulk ammo
Features: military-style, water-resistant O-ring seal, double padlock tabbed, molded-in stacking ridges, heavy-duty, latching systems, stackable

Ammo Lockers

If you want to be really secure, you should store your ammo in a gun safe. Many safes have special compartments where you can put your ammo. Even without these compartments, most safes feature at least one shelf suitable for storing bulk ammo.

Where ammo lockers shine compared to cans and boxes, besides lockability, is fire resistance. Fire-rated ammo lockers can endure intense heat for extended periods and usually come with fire ratings that indicate how long they can withstand a certain temperature without the inside getting too hot.

When ammunition burns, it can “cook off,” meaning the heat can cause the gunpowder inside the bullets to ignite. However, it’s important to note that modern ammunition is quite stable and doesn’t easily explode in a fire.

Ammo Can & Box Combos

For the best protection, you can put your rounds in a box and then put that box in a can.

MTM 9mm Ammo Can & Box Combo

Calibers: 9MM Luger, 9MM Makarov, 38 S&W, 38 Short, 380 ACP, 30 Luger, 9x21MM
Capacity: 1000rd
Features: 1 can + 10 boxes, labeling kit included

MTM 308/7.62 NATO Ammo Can & Box Combo

Calibers: 308 Win., 7.62×51 NATO, 219 Zipper, 22 BR, 22 Cheetah, 22 Sav. HP, 220 Swift, 225 / 243 / 25-284 / 307 / 308 / 6mm-284 Win., 25-35 WCF, 224 Wby. Mag., 250 / 300 Sav., 338 Fed., 22-250 / 244 / 25 / 32 / 35 / 6mm / 7mm-08 Rem., 28-30 Sevens, 360 Nitro Exp 2 1/4”, 375 Rimless 2 1/4”, 5.6×52 Rimmed, 6.5 Creedmor, 6.5×257 Roberts, 6.5×50 Jap. Arisaka, 7.35 Carcano, 7.5×54 French MAS, 7.65×53 Mauser, 7mm TCU; 410 Shotshells.
Capacity: 400rd
Features: 1 can + 4 boxes, labeling kit included, molded-in stacking ridges

MTM 45 NATO Ammo Can & Box Combo

Calibers: 45 ACP, 45 Auto, 10MM, 40 S&W, 357 Sig
Capacity: 700rd
Features: 1 can + 7 boxes, labeling kit included, molded-in stacking ridges

MTM 223/5.56 NATO Ammo Can & Box Combo

Calibers: 17 Fireball, 17 / 221 / 222 / 223 Rem., 204 Ruger, 218 Bee, 22 Hornet, 222 Rem. Mag., 223 Rem. HP, 25-20 Win., 300 Sherwood, 300 Wisper, 32 Ideal, 32 / 401 Win. S.L., 351 WSL, 6×47, 6mm TCU, 6mm-223 Rem.
Capacity: 400rd
Features: 1 can + 4 boxes, labeling kit included, molded-in stacking ridges

Best Ammo Storage Practices

There’s more to storing ammo than just tucking it away in a corner. Let’s dive into some essential tips that will keep your ammunition in top shape for when you need it.

Keep Ammo Labeled

The first thing you should do is make sure all your ammo is labeled. This helps you quickly identify the type of ammo you have and its intended firearm. You can do this in two ways:

Put a label on the place where you keep your ammo. Each label should say which gun the ammo is for.
or
Keep the ammo in its original box, which already has a label from the manufacturer. This label tells you when the ammo was made, what kind it is, and other important details.

Use Desiccant Packs or Silica Gels

To keep your ammo dry, you can use desiccant packs or silica gels. These things take in moisture, which keeps your ammo from getting wet and rusty. You can put them in the same can or box as your ammo.

Invest in Military Ammo Cans for Outdoor Storage

Military ammo cans are designed for long-term storage, meaning your ammo will be safe and sound, even if left unused for extended periods. Plus, they’re built for outdoor storage and withstanding extreme heat, snow, rain, and other weather changes. So, if you’re running out of indoor storage space, military ammo cans can be your go-to solution.

Utilize Waterproof Ziplock Bags

Another way to keep your ammo dry is to put it in waterproof ziplock bags. You can put your ammo boxes in these bags before you put them in a can or safe. That way, even if water gets into the can or safe, your ammo will still stay dry.

Maintain an Airtight Seal

It’s important to make sure your ammo is sealed tight. This keeps air and moisture from getting in, which can ruin your ammo over time. Check the seals on your ammo cans, boxes, or safes often and replace them if they’re worn out.

Use Your Oldest Ammo First

You should use your oldest ammo first and replace it with new ammo. This way, you’ll always have fresh ammo when you need it.

Check Your Ammo Frequently

Make sure to check your ammo often for any signs of damage, like rust or discoloration. If you find any ammo that’s damaged, get rid of it safely.

FAQs

Why is it important to store ammo properly?

Proper storage of ammo ensures its longevity and performance. It also helps prevent accidents or mishaps by keeping it in a safe and secure location.

What is the best way to store ammo?

The best way to store ammo is in a cool, dry place. You can use ammo cans, lockers, or safes designed specifically for ammunition storage.

Can I store different types of ammo together?

Yes, you can store different types of ammo together as long as they are properly organized and labeled for easy identification.

How long can I store ammo?

If stored properly, ammo can last for decades without any significant degradation in performance.

Timothy Chandler

Timothy Chandler is a long-time outdoor enthusiast and shooting range regular who decided to put his passion into words. Having tried an immeasurable number of firearms during his hunting trips across Texas and several other states, Timothy has accumulated a knowledge base worthy of sharing. The possible blanks in the expertise he compensates with the help of his numerous shooting buddies. Timothy is set on a seemingly impossible mission to try it all in the realm of firearms. Follow him on his never-ending journey through the gun world.

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