Letter Re: Milsurp Ammo

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Sir:

There has been some back and forth about the utility of milsurp rifles lately. Without regard to the rifles themselves, one of the advantages often given is that ammunition for some calibers can be relatively inexpensive when bought in bulk. Folks should be warned that some of this ammunition is military surplus and may not have been manufactured to Western standards, and it may have been subjected to improper storage conditions as well. It’s surplus for a reason, you know.

Case in point: Some years back, I bought a spam can of 7.62x54R, opened the can, and transferred the individual ammo boxes to a USGI ammo can. I’m a little embarrassed to report that I didn’t inspect the individual cartridges first. That ammo can sat on the shelf until recently, when I opened it to use a few rounds. Upon opening the cheap paper boxes the cartridges had been packed in, it was surprising to find that over 50% of the cartridges had split necks and were unusable. I suppose the projectiles are salvageable, but certainly the cases and powder is not, and now I really don’t trust the remainder that pass a visual inspection, either.

What are the odds that some of this stuff, or perhaps a lot of it, is still out there, stashed under the front stairs or in somebody’s cache?

So, if anyone reading this has bought a bunch of spam cans on the cheap and stacked it deep, be warned that you might not have what you think you have. Get the cans open, inspect the contents thoroughly to verify there has been no deterioration, maybe even fire a few rounds to make sure it’s safe ammo (whilst observing all reasonable safety precautions), and repack it in proper containers. You don’t want to crack open a spam can with barbarians at the gate, only to discover you’re still out of ammo. – H.

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