Autumn

Autumn

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Hard Lesson; Survivor Ammunition Storage

Yesterday was a very long and hot and sweaty day. Our group spent all of Saturday at the farm in the recovery efforts of our Boar's Nest and outbuildings. To say it was mess would be an understatement.

I did not take pictures. Didn't have the time or heart. We lost much but nothing that cannot be replaced, and best of all the building itself was not damaged. It was wet, but by the time we shut down operations had dried considerably.

When we first opened the 'Nest we found mold growth on almost every surface. Our lower kitchen cabinets were lost - particle board doesn't like water. The upper cabinets were safe. Thankfully, all my lanterns had been placed atop and survived the flood. As I type my three piece and very expensive sleeping bag is tumbling in our dryer. It came through with flying colors.

We lost the newly installed insulation and other new building materials but overall we were lucky, and have taken this flood as a great lesson for 'that day.'  

The storage trailer, an old Air Stream, well, that was a different story. We lost almost all its contents. Stored food not in sealed containers, paper products all gone. All the properly stored rice and beans within mylar bags and sealed inside five gallon buckets with proper lids were fine - dry as old bones.

I lost nine plus thousand rounds of ammunition. Well, it wasn't truly lost but I'll explain in a moment.

Much of my ammo was fine. Thank the Lord I only prepositioned, in the trailer, a fraction of my ammunition. 

The flood waters took our outhouse for a ride. It moved the one hole library from its normal location and took it for a several hundred yard ride and placed it against a fence.


 We have a huge picnic table at the Boar's Nest. It was custom built by our nearby city government for its employees and donated to us. (thanks, Duke) A very large and heavy table, mind you. We had the picnic table placed on the west side, or behind the Nest. The flood waters picked that sucker up and moved it through a small gap between two buildings and deposited that heavy object on the east side of the Nest. The table was upside against another fence. Incredible. It took six grown men and Senior's Honda four wheeler to move it back into position. Think about it....

Now, back to the ammo.

Much of my stored prep ammunition, is 7.62x51 surplus. It is sealed within battle packs, a rubberized package, and locked inside ammo cans. The ammo cans which hold this ammunition are not water tight but this is not a concern as long as the rounds stay inside the sealed battle packs. The ammunition is South African military surplus - good stuff. Stand-by and I'll find you a picture..

Its a little blurry but, no pun intended, you get the picture. The date is faded but if you look closely you are able see the date, 1980, on the bottom right corner. Its shoots like a dream. The sealed can underneath is .45 ACP. Both the South African and sealed tin of .45 came through the flood without problems. You should take notes....

By the way, all these pictures were taken this morning out in my garage.

I did not lose a single round of 7.62x51. The 7.62x39 and 9x19 were a different story, and it's my own fault. You see back when I loaded all this ammunition for prepositioning I didn't have enough ammo cans to properly store my precious cargo. I had over nine thousand rounds left homeless but for the, supposedly, sealed plastic bags in which it was shipped. I thought, what 'da heck I'll take it anyway. That was a big mistake. See for yourself.


Above - see the pile atop the can. That's one thousand two hundred rounds of nine mil. I've ripped open its plastic bag and drained the water. I also removed the top of each box to allow it to air dry inside my garage.

It's important that you know I shall not throw these thousand plus rounds away. The ammo is Russian. To reduce their cost the Russians use steel casings. Steel, as you are aware, will rust when it is submerged for hours in muddy river water. Even if two out of ten rounds fire, I'll keep it. The Russians also claim they seal their primers....don't believe them. I'll explain later.






In the above picture the pile below the ammo box is another twelve hundred rounds of 9x19 Tula loaded steel cased ammo. To the left is a battle pack of South African thirty caliber food for my M1A.


As an example of properly cased ammo here we have the only loose 7.62x51 surplus ammo that rode the flood outside its package. It's fine. These primers are sealed. Once dried it will kick butt all day.


Above, here's a close-up of the nine mil. Notice the rust. I took each box and ripped off the cardboard boxes. You can see the bits and pieces of packaging mixed within the rounds. Yes, its Wolf. Great object lesson...if you store Russian ammo, place it inside nice tight clean ammo cans.  Just take care to check the gasket and make sure each can seals tight.


Again, sorry for this blurry image. Above, 7.62x39 fodder for my AK's and SKS rifles. Rusty reminders to never ever store ammunition, for survival purposes, on or near a flood zone without first taking all precautions to insure it stays nice and dry. Notice the rust only took a few hours to form. By morning the rounds were dry.


Here's the pile of discarded packaging torn from the individual boxes. This pile is the 9x19 Wolf brand. Note the plastic round separators. Even though each package came within a sealed plastic bag the flood water, once inside the storage trailer, lifted its other contents and shifted the load. This shifting, not unlike a standard washing machine ripped each bag. When I took the packages outside I had to dump a liter or more of water from each bag. It was heart breaking. Take those notes.


See the box to the left of center....its one of those silly hard plastic boxes from Cheaper Than Dirt. I believe it came with an order of ammo I made years ago. Can't remember. Anyway....they are not air or water tight. When I opened this box it held a good two liters of water. Thank the Good Lord I had sealed battle packs inside or I'd of lost any loose ammo stored within....don't use them for ammunition storage unless you plan to leave it inside out of the weather.


Above, here is an example of a properly sealed can of ammunition. This happens to be several hundred rounds of AP. Black tip 7.62x51. I once upon a time came across a few hundred rounds of surplus World War 2, 30/06 belt loaded rounds. Thanks, Dad. I pulled each bullet. The black tips were to priceless to waste and reloaded each gem for my M1A. To the side of the white boxes you'll notice two spare boxes of South African. When opened the can was as dry as a desert well. The box, I'm sure, floated.

Just another view.


By now I'm sure you've asked, "Well, Stephen, what are your plans for this ruined nine plus thousand rounds of ammunition.?" Good question. See above picture. I repeat, I will not throw this valuable resource in the trash. I shall clean each piece, and trust me, it'll take me a while, months even to clean each round.

Yesterday, after we had unloaded the mess from the trailer,  I believe it was my good friend and fellow group member, Duke,  that asked if we thought it would still fire. Since Pirate Jim had an SKS in his truck Duke asked to barrow it and loaded seven rounds. Seven very wet and rusty rounds, and pulled the trigger. Only two out of the seven fired.

Remember when I said, 'they claim to seal their primers.' Well, there is your proof. Yes, Tula may indeed seal the primers, but as in all manufacturing processes, quality control makes all the difference.

So, my answer is, the ammo, after a good cleaning, shall become trade fodder. I'm certain when the SHTF there will be many pilgrims out there in need of ammunition. It's important to understand I'd never trade a single faulty round of ammo to any person when it could possibly cost them their lives. I would instead explain to them that perhaps one or two out of ten rounds will not fire. But, when you are out of ammunition, a two in ten chance of feeding your family is better than no chance at all. 





The rusty rounds loaded for a long bath.

It's time for me to order a dozen new ammo cans. I also now have an excuse to begin the long process of restocking my ammunition supplies.

Please, learn from my mistakes.

Stephen

72 comments:

  1. Thanks for the heads-up, Stephen.
    I don't have a tremendous amount of ammo, but what I do have and store is in metal ammo cans.
    And I always make sure the gasket is good!
    I've even gone to putting some silicone grease on the gaskets. It keeps them flexible, and helps their sealing ability.

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    1. You,re welcome, my friend. I agree, keep those gaskets lubed.

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    1. My pleasure, Brock, and thank you.

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  3. Well I am glad it wasn't a total loss my friend.

    I noticed last Summer my usual supplier of ammo cans seemed to be running very low and the last time I looked they didn't have any I felt worth purchasing. Hopefully the supply has increased or never was an issue with your source.

    Just out of curiosity what did ya do with all those pulled black tips?

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    1. PP, the black tips came from vintage WW2 ammo I was given by my father. I pulled the bullets and kept those and the brass. I reloaded the bullets and that is what you saw in the white boxes in the photos. The black tips were just to nice to waste. I also reused the brass for loads with my Garand. Yes, ammo cans, at least the good ones, are getting very hard to find. I grab them anywhere I can find them but do plan to buy a dozen new ones, probably tonight.

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    2. For what it's worth, Federal code makes AP ammo illegal to have with the exceptions of 5.56MM SS109/M855 Ammunition (identified by a green coating on the projectile tip) and U.S. .30-06 M2 AP (identified by a black coating on the projectile tip). Your ammo is reloads, but it might be best to pull the bullets or get rid of it. What with the "liberties" the authorities are taking in prosecuting people it's best to not take chances.

      Matt

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    3. It's illegal to manufacture pistol AP but possession isn't illegal. If he loaded it before the law went into effect (you did didn't you?) it should be OK.

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    4. Ah, shucks...I'm in trouble...Thanks.

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    5. Wasn't trying to be a jerk, just wanted to give you a heads up. If it was all shot and no longer around . . .


      Matt

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    6. Matt, I know. It's fine. I was just tried to make a joke...was too tired last night to think. Thanks for the comment. God bless.

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    7. The above Anonymous is wrong about the AP ammo, check the Bardwell FAQ on AP ammo and you will see it is the manufacture of the projectile that is at issue. Having loaded projectiles made before the date the law went into effect he is good to go.

      There is a lot of bad info out there on AP ammo (and many other things), read the actual law and ignore all the bad advice.

      Jay

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  4. As for the Boar's Nests: It's bad, but it could have been worse. Will you be jacking it higher in the air or take a chance on this being an unusual event?

    Your ammo situation is a heartbreaker. Thanks for posting. It answered a lot of questions about ammo storage. Nothing like a real world test.

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    1. Sixbears, since FEMA claims this was an historic high flood, no, we'll not jack-up the Nest...too damn expense and labor involved. My father has lived on this river for well over sixty years and it's the highest badassed flood he's seen in his life....

      Thanks, for the nice comments.

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  5. dear sweet one...we took notes. we promise to learn from your mistakes. much obliged my friend.

    i am so sorry that the Boar's Nest, the one-holed library and the picnic table got caught up in the flood. but many lessons were learned, and then shared with the rest of us. thanks buddy!

    your friend,
    kymber

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    1. You're welcome, sweet kymber. Will the government of Canada allow you two to own this much ammo?
      Thanks, dear one.

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    2. dearest - we keep our numbers to ourselves - teehee! but here in Canada, you can buy ammo everywhere and all you have to do is SHOW your PAL...it doesn't get logged in any computers or scanned or anything - you just have to SHOW it. needless to say, if you were getting ready to Bug Out, like we did, you could spend a weekend or two going from place to place, SHOWING your PAL and stocking up on your ammo. during our move, we had 76 boxes marked books. and some additional boxes marked...books. and we drove across the country in a van that had a full bathroom that we ripped out to store more....books. jambaloney will kill me if he reads this comment. lots of love to you always.

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  6. Glad it wasn't a total loss. And, hope the mosquitoes weren't too bad.

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    1. Thanks, sweet one, and no, the bugs were not too bad.

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  7. These look to be a good deal:

    http://www.aimsurplus.com/product.aspx?item=XCanM2A1

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    1. Thanks, my sweet friend, I'll check out the link as soon as I finish answering these comments...I must order a few more ammo cans...that is for sure and certain.

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    2. There are cheaper ones, but those are unused. I don't know that that makes a difference though. All mine are used but seem to be okay.

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    3. Whew, they sure are proud of those suckers, aren't they...I found a place last night with a dozen twenty dollars cheaper, same cans, new. Seem they average eleven to thirteen dollars a can. Shame. I can remember when I could buy two for five bucks. Inflation has really reared up to kick us in the butt. Thanks, Erin.

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    4. Welcome. I hope you post a link to that site. When I can afford more ammo I'll need some...

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    5. Erin, I stand corrected...I rechecked with Cheaper Than Dirt and AIM Surplus beats their prices, with added shipping, by about fifty dollars. Thanks. You've saved me money. Now, that is only if you order at least 12 or more units.

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    6. Well, cool! I get really overwhelmed trying to check prices on ammo and related supplies. But I try to bookmark the cheapest right away so I can easily compare.

      Glad I could help.

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    7. And help you did...thanks again, Erin.

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    8. I don't believe they ship, but if you know somebody in the Lexington, KY area, Lexington Container has a great supply and good prices on ammo cans.

      http://www.lexingtoncontainercompany.com/Ammo-Cans.html

      Actually, it looks like they do ship now but you have to call to place the order. May be worth your while.

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  8. Sorry for your loss, but thanks for sharing the info. I'll be sure to double up my efforts against the elements on my ammo.

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    1. K, it'll pay off in the long run. Thanks.

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  9. Have you considered taking a 10 or 20 rounds and placing them in a bowl of uncooked white rice with a sealed lid on it and maybe toss in a few moister absorbers? It may dry the rounds out enough over a long enough time in the bowl.

    I've been told (never had to do it myself) that this works well for cell phones that have been dropped in water. Just a idea.

    Sorry you lost so much stuff, but glad it happened on this side of a shtf situation where you guys actually have a chance to learn from this and replace defective items.

    I am taking notes on this as well.

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    1. Matt, I sure haven't..good idea but I'd hate to waste the rice. If nothing else I'll use for target practice. Hey, stuff can be replaced...and good point I too am glad it happened now instead of down the road. Thanks, my good friend.

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  10. On the one hand, I've never seen so much ammo in my life! On the other hand, I'd be afraid to bet my life on it. On the other hand, what if this would happen WHILE you are bugging out?

    On the OTHER hand, you'll soon have a little girl depending on you!

    I have four hands.

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    1. Oh, Sugar, that's just a bit of my ammo...just the stuff I prepositioned. I'd hate to bet my life on it too. The very reason its now regulated to trade and target practice. It will take us a while but we hope we have a little girl in our future. Thanks, sweet Joy.

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  11. Hey Steven Sorry to hear of your loss. What is the green thing with the cat litter? in it?

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    1. Kristine, its a brass polisher...the cat litter is ground corn cobs medium with an added chemical to help polish the brass. It cleans brass in preparation for reloading ammunition. It will also take the rust of the loaded rounds. Thank you, my friend.

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    2. I must be tired...I meant to say, 'corn cob' and 'take the rust off.'

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  12. I think the nine thousand rounds should be thrown in as your new practice ammo. It might be frustrating but it will let you focus on round clearing drills. I am sorry to here about your run of bad luck lately. If there is anything I can do just ask.

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    1. mmasse, nice to have you back, and yes we will use the nine thousand for practice. I should break out my AK's far more often and give 'em a good run. Thanks for the offer of help and I'll yell. Back luck has its day...I believe the good book said we all have seven good and seven bad....I'll be very happy when my good rolls around. Thanks, my friend.

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  13. A lot of ammo-- glad to hear you got more. A slight bit overwhelming. Hard to read and see pics of what could have been a total loss. Hope things improve for your dad soon.

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    1. Thanks, my sweet friend. Take care...gotta run and cut the grass.

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  14. Wow, first I am sorry for the mess...no fun and second thanks for all the info!!

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    1. My pleasure, pretty girl...thanks.

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  15. over time when dried out good there may be more of it actually fire.

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    1. My thoughts too, Bubba. It looks good cleaned.

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  16. Man what a devastating loss, hope you can get it all sorted out soon, hang in there, and good luck.

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    1. Thanks, Suerte. It was a hard loss but thank goodness it was only a small amount of my stored ammo. Still, it bugs me. Take care and don't be a stranger.

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  17. Came over from Tam's - thanks for the hard-earned tips and sorry you had to go through this.

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    1. Tam's a doll isn't she. Thanks, Jason, and you're welcome. It was indeed a hard earned lesson and one I shall not repeat. But all isn't lost. I only moved a fraction of my ammo out to the Nest. Take care, God bless, and please don't be a stranger.

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  18. Ick. Rough lesson but better to have it now than later. Glad that overall things are okay. Cause really they are. :)

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    1. Yes indeed, Lila...hope all is well with you too. Thanks, sweet lady.

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  20. Be very carfull about tumbling the loaded rust covered rounds a friend did that it cleened them fine it also caused the powder to lose its coating and all of a sudden 9mm became 9mm super magnum better off pulling the rounds and cleaning the heads for reloading and scrap the case's.

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    1. Thanks, my friend. You probably saved me an injury. Good to know. Take care and ride back around when you're nearby...

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    2. The ajdshootist beat me to this comment. Same kind of thing can happen to those rounds banging around in the truck or glove box.

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    3. Good point, Mike...thanks.

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  22. Tumbling loaded ammo for more than a few minutes is dangerous. It can cause the powder to change its burning rate and you suddenly have a super-hot loaded round.

    Theories differ, but the most commonly accepted theory is that the powder is mechanically broken down and has more surface area.

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    1. Thanks, B.S., I honestly didn't know it was dangerous. I removed one duplicate comment. Take care and don't be a stranger.

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  23. BS is wrong, of course. This is a myth perpetrated on the internet. Factories tumble loaded ammo before packaging. There's been tests done. Tumbling for weeks at a time didn't cause noticable powder degradation or increased burn rate.
    Still and all, save the squibs, pull down the bullets and load them in brass cases with fresh powder & primers.

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    1. Evan, I know. Thing is when experts post on my blog I bend to their opinion. When good people post on a strange post it's give they have zero knowledge of the author of the blog. They're not aware I've dealt with ammunition and firearms for over fifty years. That in every home I've lived, as a child, my father had a gunshop on the back porch. As a child I practiced so much I'd come home with black hands from the spent powder residue. They are unaware of the countless hours I spent at my father's side as he reloaded all those thousands of rounds. But, why spoil the fun. I just appreciate their comments and their very concerned need to help. I'll save the Wolf for trade and practice...it'll be fine. Thank you for the kind comment.

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  24. Metal Shelves, up high and dry. But concerned enough by floating debris to build a wall to make sure that if the flood comes we won't have the errant floating box knock over the shelves.

    Good post and lesson for us all. Thanks.

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  25. Anon, thanks for the comment.

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  26. Stephen,
    Just wondering if you noticed a difference between wolf lacquered and the poly coated rounds? If you had any that got wet together. If I am not mistaken tula is poly coated? I tend to stay with Wolf lacquer, thats just me and the wife calls me dummy. ;) Cool site. Mark

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  27. Thank you, Mark. I've not noticed a bit of difference between either the lacquered and poly coated Wolf. I purchased this ammo quite a few years ago and had it stacked in my garage and one day decided to move it to our bug-out location. But, like a dummy, I'd run out of ammo cans. In my rush I just loaded it and ran. You can see the results. Other ammo, packed in ammo cans, survived. Thanks for stopping by, and hey, don't be a stranger.

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  28. The Water Brick company makes a tan colored one specifically for ammo and other storate. If it will keep water in, it will keep water out. Check it out at www.waterbrick.org. Very reasonably priced at $20.00 for the large one which would hold 3 1/2 gallons of water. The smaller one holds half that and would probably be easier to carry when loaded with ammo.

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  29. Tough lession, thanks for the heads up. Just a suggestion but have you considered using a food vacuum sealer with heavy duty bags for sealing ammo and components. I have been doing this for years and stay air and water tight for many years ( much like the good battle packs with the air removed.) Might be worth a try, do you have a friend that might loan you one for a trial? Good luck Marty

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    1. Marty, as a matter of fact I have considered using my vacuum sealer. I own three. Good idea, and thank you very much for the comment.

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  30. I realize I'm late to the party here, but...

    I think I'd spend a little time looking for a way to salvage this ammo.

    I've actually - in the past - dunked some ammo in a cup of water just to see what happened.

    Even after being submerged for over a week, Barnaul 9x18 and Wolf 762x39 (all with red sealer around primers and necks) were as good as new, not a single hiccup!

    If you could figure out a way to pull a vacuum on it for an hour or so, the water would vaporize and could be pulled out!

    Thoughts:
    Drill a hole in an ammo-can that you know has a good seal.
    Install a schrader valve in the side.
    Put some ammo in the can and seal, then hook a vacuum pump to the aforementioned valve.
    Pull a vacuum on the can and its contents for an hour or so, then seal in a separate can with some dried-out rice/kitty-litter or some dessicant-packs to absorb any leftovers...

    If you're going to use litter, put it in a shallow layer (like cookie-sheet) in the oven at 160 for a few hours to really dry it out!

    HTH...

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    1. My friend, trust me, I salvaged it. I'm not about to chunk over nine thousand rounds. I'll soon take it out and see how it shoots. Thanks for the tips, I like the litter and over idea. Thank you very much for the nice comment and please, come on back.

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  31. The customer service is also impeccable. They will go out of their way to make you feel welcome, promptly responding to your emails or calls. They take their time explaining things to you.
    self storage Wynnum North

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