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Old 05-20-2015, 02:28 PM
aka108 aka108 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: North Florida
Posts: 4,375

About 7 or 8 yrs ago a old retired army colonel gave me about 100 rds of 6.5 Swedish ammo with a 1923 headstamp. It was the sweetest 6.5 I had ever used. Also has some 8 mm German ammo mfg in 1938 and never a problem. Wherever this had been stored over the years had to have been ideal conditions for the most part.
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Old 08-31-2015, 07:35 PM
Vos Parate Vos Parate is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: MO
Posts: 2,151

Originally Posted by old sagarand View Post
I finally took the time to read Slamfire's post and it is a good one. I've been pulling a few of the ARY M2 ap I bought loose a few years back from the CMP to inspect for corrosion. I've been finding some corroded bullets and one today had some red specks in the powder. That was an attention getter. The powder appears to be clump free and what's sticking inside the case I think is just sticking to the sealant. While the powder isn't fuming it definitely has a strong chemical smell. I haven't inspected the cases much but from a quick glance most appear to be fine. If the bullet has any corrosion or the powder has an "off" appearance, I've been setting those cases aside into a different pile. I've decided to pull all the bullets and to use the powder for fertilizer. I'll inspect the cases closer later. I won't say that all the ARY ammo is bad, but I've deemed the powder in mine to be questionable at best, therefore not worth the risk to me. It only takes that one round to ruin your day. I certainly wouldn't want to store this ammo another 20+ years then try firing it. Stay safe!
What year?
Never slap a man while he is chewing tobacco.
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Old 11-07-2015, 06:17 PM
Slamfire Slamfire is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 125

To add more material on the dangers of deteriorating gunpowder, one of which is autocombustion, here is one recent account of a fire due to old gunpowder, and a recall of IMR 4007

Old Powder Caused Fire!
First, sorry for the long post. Second, if I didn't know the people this happened to I would have a hard time believing this, I'd probably call this BS. I hunt at a property owned by someone I used to work with. All I have is his email address. I have been trying to contact him for several weeks via email. He lives over an hour a way and I hadn't tried to catch him at home yet. I finally got hold of him the other day. He apologized for not getting back to me sooner, but he had a house fire and had been dealing with that since the beginning of the month.

I drove there today. There was a trailer set up for his family to live in while the house gets restored. His wife was there when I got there. I asked her what happened. I couldn't believe her answer. Apparently my friends brother gave him about 15 pounds of gun powder for reloading about 10-15 years ago. It never got used. Sorry, I don't know what kind of powder it was. Their daughter just got out of the shower in the room next to where this powder was stored. She heard a WOOOOSH sound and came out of the bathroom to find the place in flames. It started where the old powder was stored.

Luckily, they were able to keep the fire down for a few minutes with an extinguisher and the fire dept responded in about 5, but there was some serious damage. I saw the spot where the powder was kept and the floor all around it charred, the rest of the place sustained heat and smoke damage. They were lucky they were home and someone got on this almost immediately or the place would have been a total loss. The BIL had some more of this powder at his home, he dumped it outside and lit it off. I'm sure he didn't know it would have made good fertilizer.

There was no other suspected cause of this fire than spontaneous combustion of this old gun powder. Has anyone heard of old un-stable gun powder just going up like this? I've got probably 20 pounds of powder in the next room and I'm sure many of you have more than that. After hearing this, I'm going to make sure it all gets used or at least smelled now and again if it sits for a few years. Green grass beats a burned home!
I don't remember when IMR 4007 first came out on the market, but a guess is 2007. That would make the oldest kegs of the stuff eight years old this year, and some are auto combusting!


by SSUSA Staff - Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Product Recall Notice: IMR 4007 SSC Powder

IMR Legendary Powders has announced a product safety warning and recall notice for IMR 4007 SSC on the six lot numbers listed below. Find your lot number on the side of your bottle as in the below photo.

IMR has received reports that this particular powder in 1 lb. and 8 lb. containers may have become unstable due to possible rapid deterioration. Use of this product from these lot numbers shown on the enclosed label may result in spontaneous combustion, fire damage or possible serious injury. IMR suggests that anyone who has this product should cease using it immediately! Fill the powder container with water which will render the product inert and safe for disposal.

Contact IMR directly for more information:

IMR Powder Company, 6430 Vista Drive, Shawnee, KS 66218, email help@imrpowder.com, imrpowder.com, call 1-800-622-4366 or 913-362-9455 and fax 913-362-1307.
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Old 01-03-2016, 07:09 PM
WoodyWagon WoodyWagon is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Posts: 293
Default So how about 40 year old HXP?

After reading through this entire thread, I got to wondering, is 40 year old HXP safe?
How about all the HXP being hoarded against the future? Plenty of shooters are buying and stockpiling much more then they will shoot in several years. Is it really safe to do this? How can you be sure without taking it all apart, which is counterproductive, and probably won't happen?
Knowledge is Power. - Francis Bacon
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Old 01-04-2016, 07:30 AM
Shug Shug is offline
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Maryland
Posts: 34

You don't need to take it all apart if it's from the same production lot (i.e. the spam cans). Disassemble and examine a few as a representative sample. Nothing involving propellants and 50kpsi+ pressures is ever 100% safe, even when new. But given probable the tens of thousands of rounds of HXP fired at ranges per year that probably includes representation from virtually every production lot from 1962 onward, if it were unsafe I'd expect to see significant numbers of documented incidents, and I just am not seeing that.
All propellants have a finite shelf life, and the life of double base powders is shorter than single base. That shelf life is dependent on both initial chemistry and the storage conditions (especially temperature) between manufacture and bang.
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Old 01-31-2016, 02:57 PM
Slamfire Slamfire is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 125

I thought I would add pictures of the IMR 4007 alert:

IMR 4007 Instability Warning, Sept 2015

Ammunition I loaded and fired in a NM Garand. The powder was surplus AA2520 I purchased from Pat’s reloading. The cases were loaded in 2011 and fired in 2015. I had lots of case neck separations, and neck splits. Cases would be ejected leaving the case neck in the chamber.

The next round chambered but the bolt could not close. Thankfully John Garand designed his rifle so that if the bolt was not in battery, the hammer cannot make contact with the firing pin. This is still dangerous as if I had a sensitive primer in that case, once that bolt stops, that free floating firing pin is rebounding off the primer, and the lugs are not engaged. I use the least sensitive primers that I can find, CCI #34 or Tula 7.62 precisely because I don’t want in battery or out of battery slamfires.

Cases loaded with mid nineties Vihtavuori. My notes indicate that these rounds had been loaded for 10 years until I fired them in a NM AR15 last year. Notice how all of these cases either have split case necks, or body splits, or case neck splits and body splits.

For the time I took possession of these powders they were stored in a controlled environment. Air conditioned in the summer, heated in the winter.

I am getting to a best practices concept that it is best to only reload ammunition that will be shot within the year, or better, six months. This is based on the number of issues I have had with old rifle ammunition. Gunpowder and ammunition should be used before it is 20 years old. Gunpowder containers should be opened and sniffed at least annually. Any gunpowder that has a neutral smell should be used up as quickly as possible. Gunpowder that has a bitter, ammonia smell should be tossed out immediately. Gunpowder that is fuming red nitric acid gas should be tossed out immediately and not sniffed. The gas is extremely harsh and others have warned that fuming red nitric acid gas may do damage to your nasal tissue. Fuming read nitric acid gas is very bad stuff!!! When powder gets to the stage that it is fuming red nitric acid gas, it is extremely unstable and ready to auto combust. Get rid of it!

As for Greek ammunition, what makes anyone think it is immortal? There are a number of reports of over pressure Greek HXP ammunition. Many ignore these posts because it does not fit into their concept of the universe. These posters are reporting over pressure conditions, but they don't know why. They have not been taught that pressures increase with old gunpowder. Or maybe they ignored this. But, old gunpowder is the best explanation for the over pressure problems they are reporting with old ammunition.

HXP at Perry . . .


HXP 77 was the culprit. I won't shoot that stuff. A whole bunch of heavy bolt handle lifts in the 03 matches when it was issued at Perry. I have fired a lot of HXP 70, 72 & 73 with no issues at all, 03's and M1's.

Tombguard, What Ceresco is implying is that while HXP 77 ammo exhibited frequent and sometimes severe issues (excessive bolt lift force, dismounted op rods, duds, hangfires, etc.) there is the concern that other lots will have the same issues but with perhaps lesser frequency. If a manufacturing process doesn't have robust QC practices, more issues are lurking out there like snakes in the grass. I am not saying that you should avoid HXP ammo - I'm just saying that one should be aware that systemically the issues might extend beyond HXP 77 ammo

In the 2007 Perry matches it was '88 dated ammo that gave a lot of 03A3 fits on opening. I keep the saved round I had in rapids beside the silver medal I earned with 29 rounds. Believe me when I tell you it was locking those bolts up TIGHT. (As in roll out of position and beat them open.)
Stiff Bolt Handle on SC 03a3
Took my SC 03a3 to the range a week ago, shooting fairly good groups at 100yds (~2MOA) with unsorted HXP. Had a problem though - occasionally the bolt handle would be VERY difficult to lift open. Never had that before with new production ammo, other sessions with HXP, and never had a problem when dry-firing (snap caps, etc). Didn't break anything evident, and everything APPEARS to function correctly. The brass all looks like I expect (There is some minor pitting in the chamber which shows on the brass, but does not effect extraction), it just felt like I needed a hammer or a crow bar to lift the bolt handle sometimes (but not always). Any ideas as to what is going wrong
I prefer people ask their question in the thread, instead of a private message, which I only know about if I sign in. But I have been asked about the safety of old ammunition. Gunpowder in old small arms ammunition is unlikely to auto combust in the case. The case is a heat sink and if the surrounding environment is cool, it wicks away the heat. That is, until you get to large ammunition. The Army has a five inch rule theory, that is, ammunition smaller in diameter than five inches won't auto combust in the case. I met a real Insensitive Munition expert who said this was bunk, and he had investigated and written Safety Incident Reports for a few US Naval Ammunition Dump Explosions. Incidentally, together we searched the web for information, and none of the magazine explosions he personally investigated were in the public domain! All Insensitive Munitions experts agree that gunpowder stored in bulk, and I guess a 5 inch shell has a lot of gunpowder, will auto combust in the container. Just Google Ammunition Dump Explosions and read just how many Ammunition Dumps are going poof each year, if not, each month, in the world. I am of the opinion that old gunpowder will auto combustion in 1 pound containers and 8 pound kegs. Regardless of the container, whether gunpowder is in the case or a powder container, it is breaking down from a high energy compound, to a low energy compound. The rate of break down is primarily related to heat. And just when it becomes unsafe is not predictable ahead of time. Gunpowder has an "indeterminate" lifetime: not exactly known, established, or defined. Indeterminate does not mean infinite. Just when and where you will exit this physical plain, is indeterminate, but that does not make you immortal.

If you have old ammunition that is giving you case neck splits, stiff extraction, over pressure conditions, that stuff is old, is not going to get any better, pressures will only increase in time, and at some unknown point in the future, it will blow up your firearm. I tell shooters to pull the bullets, dump the powder, inspect the cases for corrosion, and reload with new gunpowder. Surplus ammunition is on the market because some Quality Assurance Specialist (Ammunition Surveillance) (QASAS) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defens...ited_States%29 went through the stuff and determined that it was too dangerous to issue, and too dangerous to store. Ammunition Surveillance is expensive, so third World Countries just let the Ammunition Dumps blow.

Ammunition Surveillance Russian style:


Ammunition Surveillance Bulgarian style:


Last edited by Slamfire; 01-31-2016 at 06:17 PM.
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Old 07-01-2020, 04:59 PM
Slamfire Slamfire is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 125

I thought I would add more pictures of old deteriorated gunpowder. Many of you have seen these notices in gun magazines and absolutely ignored the details once you determined that you did not have the powder lots in question, and concluded that the whole thing was about "bad gun powder". In other words, you used confirmation bias to ignore the implications about gunpowder lifetime and deterioration because it did not fit your world view that gunpowder is immortal.

Notice that the newly manufactured powders were no more than 8, 6 and five years old and they are outgassing "red fumes", have a strong acidic odor, and the powders in question are so unstable as to be a risk of auto combusting. I will bet a number of houses burnt down before these notices made it into print: we will never know the exact forcing function, but it has to be legal liability. I do think it is unreasonable to have a container of five year old gunpowder burst into flames, maybe a jury would agree.

As I have written previously, gunpowder lifetime is unpredictable. I recommend breaking the tabs of your gunpowder kegs and sniffing the stuff. If it smells bitter, dump it.

A bud was given these cans of gunpowder from a friend who had gotten out of reloading.

How about this?:

This was very recent:

Last edited by Slamfire; 07-05-2020 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 07-01-2020, 05:10 PM
Slamfire Slamfire is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 125

I am of the opinion that pull down powder is not worth buying. I have poured out more kegs of the stuff than I used, because the surplus powder went bad. Only way I discovered the powder was bad was by deterioration of good match cases. Based on my web research, the US military discards gunpowder that has less than 20% stabilizer left. This amount of stabilizer is assumed to give a seven year shelf life, which should be enough time to have the ammunition pulled, packed, and shipped off to a de milling facility.

The quantities of ammunition demilled, or needed to be demilled, by the US is so beyond comprehension, that this chart has created angry denial with others. (and you have read angry denial in this thread) But if you research this yourself, while the US quantities, hundreds of thousands of tons, is larger than normal, smaller countries are similarly disposing of tens of thousands of tons of old, deteriorated, ammunition per year. The experience is similar for all first world militaries, the US just leads in tonnage.

No one is going to educate you on what not to buy. I have read that the advertising industry is a $100 Billion a year industry. Advertisers understand you better than you understand yourself and they will feed your delusions of immortality and your beliefs in the ever lasting nature of gun powder, as long as you buy. Is it manipulation if all they are doing is reinforcing pre existing delusions? It is not as though you don't believe your delusions, you really, really do. People cling to their delusions regardless of the evidence before their eyes. Humans are capable of infinite self deceit, you only hear what you want to hear, you ignore everything that conflicts with your world view.

If you will buy
Industry will stock
Delusion pie
with cream on top.

This is an example of the risks of buying pull down powder. A bud recently showed a bag of 223 ammunition loaded with Lake City 1969 pull down IMR 4895. He had purchased kegs of the stuff from a "Tennessee" outfit and loaded this ammunition three years ago. He was angry about the money he wasted, not only is the powder bad, but it has ruined hundreds of 223 and 308 cases that were loaded with the stuff.

I thought this was an interesting example of factory ammunition that has gone bad:

A lot of reloaders are reporting that their mid nineties Vihtavuori powder is going bad. This poster provided excellent pictures of the corrosion inside his cartridge cases.

Last edited by Slamfire; 07-05-2020 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 07-01-2020, 05:13 PM
Slamfire Slamfire is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 125

Heat accelerates the deterioration of gunpowder:

and as it ages, the combustion pressures increase.

If, with your old ammunition, or reloads loaded with old gunpowder, if you experience weird high pressure indications, stop shooting the stuff. Your old gunpowder is evidencing burn rate instability. Stop shooting the stuff before your rifle looks like this:

With old ammunition, the safest course of action is to pull the bullet and dump the powder. If there is corrosion inside the case or at the bottom of the bullet, the cases are ruined. With old gunpowder, regularly open the bottle and sniff the stuff. If it smells bitter and bad, dump it before it burns the house down.
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Old 07-07-2020, 04:10 PM
saint saint is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Arizona
Posts: 126

I have a lot of old powder and primers, used to reload a lot. all over 10 years old. have not reloaded in 8+ years. should i just burn the powder and scrap the primers ??
some containers of powder have never been opened!!
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