What is the shelf life of shotgun shells? I was handed (no chance to decline) a bag of shells that are about 25 years old. What can I do with these beauties? Are they still OK to shoot? They are Federal (well, Western Auto Revelation), Winchester, and Remington plastic shells that look in good shape.
Thanks, oh Technically Adroit One,
“Technically Adroit One”- Oh, I just LOVE it! I sure wish that it was true. Your comment about antique shells (in my state of Florida any motor vehicle 30 years old or older is entitled to an antique license) got me to thinking about the age of my guns. ALL my FNs, Belgian Brownings plus the odd Model 12/42 and SxS are over 25 years old. So are my High Power, 1911 and Model 70s. They work great and I far prefer them to the newer guns.
In 1972, when I started shooting, plastic hulls and wads were very similar to what we use today. The only real difference is that higher antimony shot is more commonly used today, but not by much. Those chain store “dove and quail” loads are still garbage- except for the Wal-Mart Federal “All Purpose” which were extremely good when I bought my last 10,000 some years ago.
Dewy-eyed reminiscences aside, any shell that is 25 years old is questionable because you may not know where it has been during those 25 years. The big problem with older wine is not just finding old stuff, but it is the “storage provenance”. I can’t tell you how many magnificent old wines I have had that have been ruined by inconsistent storage in someone’s cellar. Same with shells, though they are not as sensitive.
Personally, I have never had any trouble shooting old shells. Just because ammo is old, does not mean that it is bad. Rifle buffs use WW I ammo all the time with no problems. However, since I cannot see the shells that you have, I would be even more foolish than usual to give you advice as to their trustworthiness. If they were mine, I could cut a few open and examine the components. If they looked to be in poor condition, I would discard them.
How’s that for a long answer without an answer. Technically adroit enough?
Shotgun Report’s Technoid