At a Glance: The Best way to store ammo at Home
Comparison Of The Best Ammo Storage Containers
Our Top Pick
|MTM- Rifle Ammo Boxes||
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Our Top Pick
|50 Caliber Ammo Can Steel Green||
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Our Top Pick
|MTM Ammo Can 50 Caliber AC50C||
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Ammunition is worth its weight in gold, especially in today’s political climate. Storing large amounts of ammo can be challenging. We have taken a closer look at some popular home ammunition storage options that will keep your rounds moisture-free and organized. This article will focus on some of the proper ways to store your ammunition for long shelf life.
Our Guide to the 6 Best Ammunition Storage Containers on the Market Today
While it is fairly easy to stack and store ammunition in their standard cardboard containers, these boxes do not adequately protect your rounds from the elements. Even worse, these boxes can bend and even bust open as they age or get jostled around. We selected 6 durable ammunition storage containers that can be used at even the roughest of hunting camps or can simply serve as a replacement for factory ammo boxes.
MTM- Rifle Ammo Boxes
Our first entry is a simple but effective way of storing your rifle ammo. The MTM- Rifle Ammo box has a snap-lock front latch that securely holds your rounds in place. It also includes a textured outer surface to make it easier to grasp the box, even when wearing gloves.
The box is available for all major rifle calibers and is extremely durable. It is made from polypropylene, which is resistant to cracking, warping, and expanding no matter how hot or cold your environment. In addition, the multiple color options give you the ability to color-code your various calibers of rifle ammunition.
The MTM Rifle Box is available in black, green, or blue. It is available in either a 50-round or 100-round size, depending on preference. These boxes are made in the USA and built to last.
- 3 color options
- 2 size options
- Easy to open
- Crack and warp resistant
- Good moisture protection
- Some colors and calibers are on back order
50 Caliber Ammo Can Steel Green
Our second entry will definitely appeal to you if you prefer a classic look. The Brownell’s Ammo Can is made to government specs and is built to last. It is made in the hallmark Olive drab green and can easily be stacked if you have a large supply of ammunition.
This can also has a heavy-duty rubber gasket inside the lid that keeps out all dirt and moisture. The steel construction and weather-proof lid make this ammo container great for any environment. It is a perfect size, allowing you to store several boxes of a few different ammo calibers while still being easy to transport. It also has a steel latch on one of the narrow sides for easy access to your rounds.
- This ammo can is 12″ long and 6.15″ wide.
- It is 7.5″ tall and has a collapsible handle to allow for easy stacking.
- Item Weight: 2.69 Pounds
- Steel construction
- Rubber gasket
- Good for loose rounds or multiple boxes
- Can be noisy during transport
- Relatively heavy compared to polymer alternatives
MTM Ammo Can 50 Caliber AC50C
If you like the storage capacity of the traditional metal .50 caliber ammo cans but would like something a little lighter, then the AC50C ammo can from MTM might be just what you need. This can is made from impact-resistant plastic and has the same storage capacity as the original metal variation.
In addition, it includes dual latches to help protect against accidental openings and even includes the option to add a padlock. As with the metal can, the handle of the AC50C lays down flat to make stacking multiple containers easy and convenient. It also includes a rubber gasket to keep moisture out and your rounds dry.
The AC50C weighs in at less than 2lbs while empty. It has exterior dimensions of 7.4 X 13.5 X 8.5 inches. It is available in black and can hold hundreds of loose rounds or dozens of boxes.
- Moisture seal
- Option to add a padlock
- Only one color option
MTM- Ammo Crate Deep Polymer
Our fourth pick has the largest storage capacity of any ammo container on our list and can hold a total of 85lbs. The MTM Ammo Crate is made of durable polymer and has easy to hold carry handles on either side. It is designed to be stackable and includes molded ridges on the base that lock into grooves on the lid of another crate.
Whether you are laying these down in the bed of your pickup or want to strap them to the back of your ATV, the MTM Ammo Crate is up to the task. It has four built-in hook points and two side latches so that you know your ammo isn’t going anywhere, even when navigating the roughest of terrain. It also includes a rubber gasket on the lid to lock out water and mud.
The MTM Crate is 8″ tall and 19″ long. It is 15.75″ wide and is available in flat dark earth. It is large enough to store boxes of ammo or even loaded magazines if you prefer. It also has loops that allow for the placement of a padlock on either side.
- Great capacity
- Easy to transport on ATVs
- Option to include padlocks
- Weight can be too cumbersome for some users
- Not ideal for loose rounds
Solid Tactical Metal Ammo Can
Next up is another traditional style ammo can made by Solid Tactical. This can is air and watertight and has the option of a pre-installed locking mechanism. They are available in both the .50 caliber option and a narrower .30 caliber option if you are looking for something more compact.
Whether you opt for the .30 or .50 caliber can, you will have several color options and can trust that you are getting a product that will last. Not only that, but Solid Tactical also includes 3 Silica moisture absorbing packets with the purchase of a single can.
If you need lots of storage, Solid Tactical sells the .50 caliber cans in sets of 6. However, cans bought in sets are not new cans, but consist of military surplus. The sets do not include moisture packets either, but these are easy to find and can be purchased in bulk.
The Solid Tactical Ammo Can is available in olive drab green, flat dark earth, and black. The .50 caliber can has an optional lock, but the .30 caliber cans do not. All cans are watertight and airtight for maximum protection.
- 3 color choices
- Can be purchased in bulk or as a single item
- Multiple size options
- Watertight design
- Silica moisture packs included
- No locking option for the .30 caliber cans
Sheffield 12626 Field Box
Our final selection is the Sheffield 12626 Ammo Storage Box. This box is made from durable plastic and features an easy-to-use side latch. It has similar internal dimensions as the traditional .50 caliber ammo can but is lighter due to the construction materials.
The Sheffield 12626 has two slots so that you can add a padlock, which is a great way of keeping your ammunition secure. The box is also designed to be stackable and includes a base to lid interlocking system. The 12626 is water and dust resistant, but I would avoid prolonged exposure to heavy rains and moist environments as the gasket is not as effective as those found on some of our other options.
The Sheffield 12626 is currently only available in olive drab green. It has external dimensions of 11.5 X 5.25 X 7.25 inches. The empty weight of this box is just under 1.5lbs.
- Interlocking lid and base design
- Ability to add a padlock
- Good capacity
- Water-resistant, not completely watertight
- Not as durable as some other options
Where Should I Store My Ammo?
Properly storing your ammunition is just as important as all other aspects of firearms ownership. Now that we have given you some great solutions for how to store your ammo, let’s take a look at the where. The “where” will change depending on if you are storing your ammo at home or in your vehicle during travel.
Even though properly storing your extra rounds is simple, quite a few people treat it as an afterthought and just toss their leftover boxes in the top corner of their closet until they go shooting next. This method exposes your cartridges to potentially harmful moisture and will drastically reduce the shelf life of your rounds. It also leaves it easily accessible to minors, which is another concern.
Ammunition should be stored in dedicated storage containers inside of a fire-resistant gun safe. If you do not currently have a safe, I would strongly recommend picking up one of the options on our list that can accommodate a padlock. Even if you do not have children in your home, it is important that your ammunition is kept secured when not in use.
→ Interested in purchasing a safe? We reviewed the Best Gun Safes Under $1000 here.
On The Road
While I cringe at the thought of ruining good ammo with poor home storage, inappropriately storing your ammo in your vehicle can be much more serious, especially when traveling from state to state. Certain states have strict laws governing the transport of ammunition and may even require that you store it in your trunk or another separate compartment.
In order to avoid accidentally violating a state or local law, it is vital that you do your research ahead of time. As an added precaution, I usually just lock up my ammo in a storage can during any out of state trip, excluding my concealed handgun and spare magazine of course.
Stockpiling Ammo: How Much And How?
Stockpiling ammo for a rainy day is a good idea for anyone that owns firearms. It is often criticized as being a prepper hobby or something you do when you are scared of an impending ban on a certain type of ammunition. When it comes to stockpiling ammo, we need to be very calculated about how we go about doing it. Many people should consider budgeting to start stockpiling ammo.
I like to have a generous stock of ammunition on hand just because, since it is always good to know you don’t have to go out and get more ammo, particularly when it is hard to get a hold of the ammunition you need. There are several ways that you can build up your stockpile, and I will run you through a quick method that I have found to work quite well, within a reasonable budget.
How Long Does Ammo Last?
Modern ammo will usually last more than 10 years IF stored properly. When properly cared for, your cartridges can last for years and still fire just as reliably as the day you bought them.
On the other hand, poor ammo storage practices can result in frequent failure to fire situations and leave you with a bunch of expensive paperweights.
Make a Plan And Prioritize Calibers
Prioritizing the calibers you want to have on hand is the first and most important step. You must figure out what guns you use most, what guns you would like to have more ammo for, and what guns you will find yourself using most of the time. I also recommend making a separate category for defense ammo in your stockpiling considerations as well.
Let us say that you have a simple layout of firearms and calibers which consist of a 9mm pistol, a 5.56 rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun. This makes prioritizing very easy and gives you a nice short list of things to prioritize on. From here, you need to figure out how much you shoot with each of these calibers.
Rotate Your Ammunition
Even with ideal storage conditions, bullets still have a shelf life. This means that you need to keep your ammunition organized so that you can use the oldest rounds first. There are a few different ways of accomplishing this, depending on if you are organizing loose rounds or individual boxes into your ammo cans.
If I’m storing a bulk number of cartridges in an ammo box or can, I will write the month and year of purchase on the lid of the can in an erasable grease or chalk pen. If I add rounds to the can before it is completely emptied, I will try to mix them towards the bottom of the pile.
However, this method is not full proof, which is why I prefer leaving my rounds in the original boxes and stacking them inside the ammo can or case. This allows me to write the purchase month/year on the cardboard box in a permanent marker. As I replace ammo that I use, I will push the oldest boxes towards the front so that it gets used first and will place the newest boxes in the rear of the stack.
Avoid Extreme Heat
Generally speaking, all cartridges hate extreme elements, especially heat. Storing your ammunition in a shed, standalone garage, or in the trunk of your vehicle during the summer months is a sure-fire way to drastically reduce the shelf life of your bullets. This is because prolonged exposure to high temperatures will affect the gun powder and primer over time.
In some instances, it can even cause the casing itself to warp or expand, resulting in jams or reduced accuracy of the round. This only happens with extended exposure and is not a concern when spending the day out in the field or at the range.
Keep Your Ammo Dry and Cool
Heat and moisture are ammunitions’ greatest enemies. Controlling these two factors are vital to preserving your supply. Accounting for heat is as easy as storing your ammo inside your residence or a climate-controlled building, but this is still too humid of an environment to produce optimal longevity.
Excessive moisture can ruin the primer and powder, as well as corrode the casing itself. Brass casings are particularly susceptible to corrosion. The simplest way to protect your cartridges from moisture is to use a solid desiccant or silica gel pack.
These substances absorb the moisture in the air and are available in various sized packages. I would recommend putting one or two of the smaller packets in each ammo can and a larger container in the bottom of your gun safe to help protect your weapons as well. I like to use crystal desiccants that change colors as they absorb moisture so that you know when they need to be replaced.
Should I Store Ammo Loose or in Boxes?
Whether or not you store your ammo in boxes or in loose bulk will largely depend on how it was packaged when you purchased it and how many rounds you are storing. It also comes down to personal preference and how many different calibers your weapons are chambered in. If you only need one or two different calibers of ammunition, then loose ammo storage can be very convenient.
As long as you use silica or desiccant to keep your rounds protected from moisture, either option will work. However, you should never store loose ammo of different calibers in the same ammo can, especially if the rounds are a similar size (i.e. .40 caliber and 9mm).
Should Ammo Be Stored in a Safe?
Ammunition does not necessarily have to be stored in a safe. However, if you have a safe that has enough room for your ammo, then I would definitely recommend it. A quality safe will keep your ammo out of the hands of minors and can easily be kept dry and cool.
Can I Store Ammo Long Term?
Yes, you can store your ammo long-term. As long as you store your ammunition in a cool, dry place, it can last for 10 years or more. By using good storage practices and rotating your old ammo to the front of your stack, you can make sure that you do not squander your hard-earned money and keep your ammo function as it was intended.
How Much Ammo Should You Store?
The amount of ammo that you should have on hand at any given time will vary greatly depending on who you ask. Some shooters tend to overprepare and stockpile several thousand rounds of ammunition while others skimp out a little and barely keep a hundred rounds on hand.
While there is nothing wrong with buying a healthy bulk order of rounds if you practice frequently, most shooters simply do not shoot often enough to justify this kind of volume. I have found that 1000 rounds of ammunition for your AR platform rifle is more than plenty in most cases. When it comes to my other guns, I like to have about 200-300 rounds of pistol ammo and 50-100 shotgun shells available.
Where Should You Not Store Ammunition?
If you are unsure if you should store ammo in a particular location, chances are that you shouldn’t. When it comes to residential ammo storage, I would recommend limiting it to a dedicated bonus room or your primary bedroom. The garage is not a terrible option, but it can become quite humid, particularly if you live in a warm southern state as I do.
Long-term storage in your vehicle should always be avoided. Detached garages or tool sheds are also less than ideal ammo storage locations, but they can be used if your options are limited and you live in a relatively cool area. I would recommend going heavy on the desiccant though.
Is Reloading Your Own Ammunition Cheaper?
When people talk about prepping, it is not often that i hear them talk about getting anything other than factory ammo for their stockpile. I have gotten into reloading 9mm almost exclusively, which has enabled me to be able to shoot 9mm at about half, if not more than what I would pay with the cheapest steel cased ammo. For rifle ammo, this would save you a ton of money as well, if you really are serious about it.
Reloading can be a fairly decent way to budget if you shoot a lot, even though the initial investment is a lot to take in. Once you get set up, my recommendation is to find a load that merely mimics the recoil of factory ammo, and just stick with that combination. I also recommend that you get powders that are easy to find and will last for more than 1000 rounds per pound if you can. Also, I recommend buying in bulk since it will easily save you money, rather than buying one pound of powder at a time. This also goes for bullets and primers. I usually order about $300 worth of bullets for about 6 cents per round. Buying in bulk can save you loads and limit the amount of money you need to spend next time.
In general, I would stay away from the idea of loading my own defense ammo, since the point of the ammo is to function terminally. It will take alot of time and energy to ensure that your rounds will function reliably not only out of the gun, but also when they hit your target. In most cases, I don’t think it is best to go all in with reloading and gamble with the terminal ballistics of defense ammo. But in the end, we still live in a free country and you can decide that for yourself.
In my opinion, I think it is very good to have components on hand so i can load my own ammo when I want to. Granted you have to clean and prep your brass, but it works out to be an easy task after your first case. The best part about it is the fact that you can collect brass every time you go to the range, as long as your range allows it.
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
Modern ammo storage options like the polymer crate featured above are great choices for keeping your cartridges safe and organized. However, it’s tough to beat the proven effectiveness of a classic, which is why the lockable ammo cans made by Solid Tactical are the clear winner of our roundup.
These cans are available in multiple colors and two different sizes, making them a great choice no matter how much or how little storage space you have available. To top it all off, they keep water and dirt out better than any other can on our list, making them the most versatile option available for your ammo storage needs.