M*CARBO Brotherhood

Old pistol ammo

Hi All,

I bought some 38 super +P 130 grn ammo from a guy at a great price ($150). The catch is that all the ammo (1200 rounds) was loose in 2 plastic ammo cans and was manufactured in the mid 90’s. The ammo is from reputable manufacturers and was kept in a climate controlled area (in his safe). I’ve been told that it would be a good idea to spread this ammo out and surround it with desiccant bags for possibly weeks. I was told that old ammo, depending on what year it is will determine the type of powder used. I was also told that old powder has a tendency to “sweat nitro glycerin” making it very dangerous to use in your pistol. They said that if you let old ammo dry out that in some cases the desiccant will help the nitro return back to a powder form, possibly making it safer to use.
YOUR THOUGHTS would be appreciated


I’ve not heard of these things, sweating nitro and spreading them out, desiccant bags used to return powder to it’s original state…doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Powder is very stable. It will go inert should it get wet. I would suspect the brass cases would show signs such as corrosion if this ammo had been wet. Desiccant bags will not be of any use in that case.

While not pistol ammo, I have and shoot WWII surplus M1 Carbine and M1 Ball (M1 Garand) with great results. The main concern using the early WWII stuff is they used corrosive primers and a through cleaning is in order immediately after firing. Ammo made after '42 does not have the corrosive primers. Could be wrong on the date but an ounce of prevention and all that.

So I ask, do these plastic cans have a seal or gasket? Is the brass corroded? For your piece of mind, be diligent firing, listen for a light load or squib. This would indicate the powder has been compromised and the projectile is most likey lodged in the barrel. Stop firing! Remove the blockage and discontinue using this ammo. To my knowledge, once powder has become wet, it’s inert. Period. If properly stored (like you’ve indicated) ammo has a very long shelf life.


I have never heard of powder sweating nitro, and I don’t see how desiccant bags would cause it to return to powder if it did.

In the case of loaded ammo I wouldn’t worry about it.
Unless as @Festus says, it shows heavy signs of corrosion, it shouldn’t have wet powder.
I have also shot ammo with light corrosion with no problem (after cleaning).
I don’t think desiccant bags would pull moisture out of powder that is in a loaded round. In theory, if the bullet is seated tight in the casing, the powder shouldn’t get wet.

I have shot a good amount of both factory and reloaded “old” ammo over the years, and rarely had a problem. Yours, being made in the 90’s, should give you no problem.


I’m still shooting various ammo from the 1930’s every now and then. No problems besides a few primers in Turk 8mm that won’t ignite. All the 8X56R I’ve set off has been perfect. Same with old 7.62X54R.

25 or 30 years tho? That is by no means old ammo. I wouldn’t think twice. Whoever told you all that nonsense about spreading ammo around probably is wound way too tight.


When I first started reloading I was using powder given to me by my dad. He had purchased it during the Cuban missile crisis back in 1962. The powder and primers were almost 50 years old when I loaded it. Not one misfire and not one squib load. If they aren’t corroded, go shooting and have fun.
I am also shooting Garand ammo manufactured in 1983. Not one problem.


I’ve shot Russian 8mm from the 1940’s out of my old Spanish K98. I sold the gun and the ammo. But while I had it, never had a misfire or squib. All fired fine. I know because I think I can still feel that damn steel butt plate.


Thanks for responding to my question / issue. After going through every round, inspecting it closely and separating it out by case material, bullet material and type of point I only found about 10 rounds that were slightly corroded so I disposed of those. Next move is to load up my EAA Witness 1911 and my RIA 1911see what happens.
Thanks again you guys. I knew bringing my question to all of you would be a good idea and you didn’t disappoint.
Take care, be safe and God bless


I’ve got a full box of Remington .32’s in a green box that looks new that my Dad brought back from WW ll along with a Walther PPK, spare magazine and holster. I believe it would be OK to shoot but never going to just because it was Dad’s. I think of him every time I see it. I remember he showed it to me once when I was a young kid. After I got a little older I asked him where it was and he replied “I got rid of it”. Never saw it again until he passed and we found it in his attic. I sure would like to know how he acquired it but never asked him. Thats one of many things I really regret. In his old age I remember him saying there’s a gun in the attic along with some money. Found the gun but never the money.


Discontinued about 5 years ago to my understanding.


Pretty sure if you dust them and then shake each one a few times you are good to go. At least that is what an Air Force Security Specialist once told me.


Gotta dig em out, but I know I have a few boxes of .357 Sig blue tip Corbon safety slugs I got about 10+ years ago. Didn’t even have a .357 Sig then, just knew what these were capable of to those in light clothes. And Chicagoland gets hot!