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Letter Re: Storing Ammo in Cans–Should I Leave it in the Cardboard Boxes?

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I’m currently reading and enjoying your fine book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation [1] as well as a few other publications (such a Boston’s Gun Bible [2], by Boston T. Party), and actually have a rather simple question for you. At present, I am in the process of trying to prepare an urban retreat at our home in Orange County (in the PRK [3]). Until we can early-retire and move to our newly acquired land in either Montana or Wyoming, we are stuck here because of our jobs. In any event, with regard to the subject of long-term ammo storage, I was wondering if you (1) favor placing your ammo into ammo cans, with the ammo still sitting inside the commercial manufacturer’s paper/card stock boxes (in which the ammo was purchased) or (2) if you simply dump the cartridges straight from the manufacturer’s box straight into the ammo can. I’ve heard both good and bad things said, from a number of friends, about both kinds of storage strategies. I am presently using (1) as my storage medium, but I wanted to go the The Mountain to get the final word. Thanks so much for your input. Regards, R.T. in Yorba Linda, Occupied PRK

JWR Replies: When storing ammo in military surplus ammo cans, I always leave ammo in the original boxes unless they are water-damaged. This aids recognition–not just of the maker and load/bullet weight, but right down to the lot number–which some makers print inside their box flaps. Recognition also plays significantly into the desirability of ammo for resale or barter. The original boxes also protect soft nose bullet tips from deformation, which can affect accuracy. OBTW, in case there is a trace of moisture left in the cardboard, and for moisture in the atmosphere, I always drop a small packet of silica gel [4] in each ammo can before I snap it shut.

OBTW, I’ve also recently had a reader ask about re-packing plastic “battle packs” of military surplus ammo. There is no need to do so if the plastic sleeve is still sealed and intact. Just be sure to protect the battle packs from sunlight and vermin. (One little rat’s nibble, and the pack will lose its seal.)