How to dispose of old ammo?

This article will discuss ways in which ammo can be disposed of safely. Other topics covered would include:

  • What are some best ways to dispose of old ammo?
  • What should you not do when disposing of old ammo?
  • Does old ammo expire?
  • What will happen when you use expired ammo?
  • How to ensure a greater shelf life of old ammo?

How to dispose of old ammo?

The best way to dispose of old ammo is to recycle it or repurpose it. You may either contact a hazardous waste collection facility, gun range or local police station to safely dispose of old ammo. 

It is not advisable to dispose of old ammo in recycling cans or bury it in the soil as this can lead to ground and groundwater contamination. 

Old ammo does expire and has a shelf life of around 20 years but there are ways to increase it that include storing it in cool, dry places, storing it in vacuum pouches or ammunition boxes et cetera.

What are some of the best ways to dispose of old ammo?

The correct disposal methods can be analogised as the necessary brick-and-mortar that bridge the gap between the disposal and the environment. Therefore, it is essential to be mindful of the right disposal methods, especially when it comes to sensitive materials like old ammo. 

Some of the ways in which you can safely dispose of old ammo include:

  • Recycling 
  • Local police station
  • Local gun range 
  • Hazardous waste collection events/ facilities 

Recycling 

This is assumed to be a rather controversial topic as some people debate in favour of old ammunition as being recyclable while others advocate against it. 

As per studies, it is possible to recycle old ammunition so that both the environment and the economy may be benefitted. When it comes to the recycling of old ammo, we may talk about two types of ammunition: 

  • Used ammo
  • Unused ammo 

As it turns out, both types can be recycled. Used ammo is nothing but brass casings which actually can be and is usually recycled to make new ammunition. 

As regards the unused ammo, there is the metallic part and the gunpowder. The gunpowder is used as a fertiliser while the metallic part is recycled to make new ammo. 

However, you need to be careful. You simply cannot recycle ammunition just like any other material because of the fact that old ammo can either be used for wrong purposes or it can harm any worker or simply anyone around. Therefore, let us explore the options when it comes to the recycling of old ammo. 

Hazardous waste collection events/facilities

This is one good way to deal with the old ammunition as the hazardous waste collection facilities will certainly do all the necessary precautions to ensure that no one is harmed. 

There are certain tricks or websites that you can check to see if there are any hazardous waste collection facilities around. For example, the Earth911 recycling collector. If the facility does not accept the ammo, then it is very likely that facilities such as the Earth911 will have yearly or biyearly programs that will accept old ammo. 

Local police station

The local police station is another great place to look for when it comes to dealing with old ammo. If you have a small quantity of old ammo, then your local police station will very likely accept it. However, if they refuse, then perhaps you would need to consider other options. 

Local gun range 

The local gun range is another great place to consider when it comes to disposing of old ammo. There are two possibilities that could follow. One is that the local gun range will accept your old ammo to use or reuse it. If not, then many local gun ranges will take the responsibility of disposing of your old ammo properly because this is what they simply do. 

What should you not do when it comes to disposing of old ammo?

We have discussed some dos of disposing of old ammo. Now, let us discuss some don’ts of disposing of old ammo since, as said, ammunition is a sensitive material and needs to be dealt with properly. Here are some of the points that you need to consider: 

  • Do not put old ammo in recycling cans
  • Do not bury old ammo 
  • Do not soak old ammo in water or oil to throw it away 

Recycling bins 

Although it has been discussed that you can recycle old ammo, it is not advised to dispose of old ammo in recycling bins. This is mainly because old ammo could be misused or could damage nearby people. 

Therefore, it is best to either transport old ammo to recycling centres yourself or go for other alternatives mentioned above. 

Burying old ammo 

Many people think that burying old ammo will solve the issue of ammunition disposal. However, this approach is also incorrect, at least in terms of the environment. 

The metal elements present in ammunition such as lead may leech into the ground causing ground, soil, and groundwater pollution. 

The elements such as lead can change and alter the soil conditions which may also affect life in the soil and life nearby. Therefore, it is not a sustainable solution to go for. 

Soaking old ammo in water

People also believe that soaking old ammo in water and then throwing it away is also a good way to dispose of old ammo. This may be correct but the problem is that there is no scientific backing to it. 

The theory works that when old ammo is immersed in water, the gunpowder will dissolve which will make old ammo harmless. While this perception may sound correct, there is no assurance and we can not take risks with matters such as old ammo. 

Does old ammo expire, if so what is the shelf life?

Yes, as per studies, old ammunition does have an expiry date. However, this expiration date may vary based on the conditions in which the ammunition is kept. 

It is claimed that most ammo may remain around for 10-20 years. After that, there may be a risk of compromised functionality if the old ammo is used. 

However, as said, the exact duration will depend on the conditions in which ammo is put such as:

  • Temperature 
  • Aeration 
  • Humidity 
  • Light 
  • Box 

What will happen when you use expired ammo?

Since we have established that there is a shelf life of old ammo, let us also explore some of the repercussions that may develop when old ammo is used. These include:

  • Altered explosive fire
  • Misfire 
  • Acidic reaction
  • Barrel stuck 

Altered explosive fire

Old ammo may go through certain chemical reactions (due to its constituents) which may alter the explosive power of ammo. This can put people around and the one using the gun at risk. 

Misfire 

One of the most common anomalies that happen when expired or compromised ammo is used is that there is no fire because the primer does not ignite the fire. This may happen due to a number of reasons but the source is one which is the exploited gunpowder. 

Acidic reaction

As said, the old and expired ammo may go through certain chemical processes. This may also include acidic reactions that can potentially damage your gun. Therefore, it is necessary to take precautions. 

Barrel blockage 

As said, one of the most common side effects of using expired or old ammo is that there will be no fire. In this case, the ammo may get stuck in the barrel which can potentially block the barrel. 

How to ensure a greater shelf life of old ammo? (9 ways to ensure a greater shelf life of old ammo) 

It has been explored that there are some ways to increase the shelf life of the ammo. Therefore, let us explore those ways too so that there is a lower need to dispose of old ammo. The ways include:

  • Keep the ammo in a cold place
  • Keep the ammo in a darker place 
  • There should be less variance in temperature
  • There should be little humidity 
  • The ammo must be kept in ammunition storage boxes
  • If not, then you may prefer vacuum pouches to store old ammo 
  • Avoid liquids like oil or water
  • Do not store ammo in something that constantly moves like the back of a truck 
  • Avoid the use of any chemicals for storing old ammo 

Conclusion 

It is concluded that the best way to dispose of old ammo is to recycle it or repurpose it. You may either contact a hazardous waste collection facility, gun range or local police station to safely dispose of old ammo. 

It is not advisable to dispose of old ammo in recycling cans or bury it in the soil as this can lead to ground and groundwater contamination. 

Old ammo does expire and has a shelf life of around 20 years but there are ways to increase it that include storing it in cool, dry places, storing it in vacuum pouches or ammunition boxes et cetera. 

References

(September 09, 2021). Does Ammo go bad? Retrieved from: https://uwkcase.com/blogs/blog/does-ammo-go-bad

Brassaw, Brian. (March 5, 2021). How to safely recycle unwanted or unusable ammunition? Retrieved from: https://earth911.com/eco-tech/recycle-ammunition/

The 3 best ways to dispose of old ammo. Retrieved from: https://www.bvtrashvalet.com/the-3-best-ways-to-dispose-of-ammunition/

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