How Long Do Shotgun Shells Last? [2023 Guide]

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re an ammo hoarder – and you need to know when to use your ammo. So, how long do shotgun shells last?

Shotgun shells last on average 10 years. If you use it after that, it will be more dangerous to use because the powder and other components may have degraded over time and the casing may have gone through some corrosion. This will lead to unexpected results.

Let’s dive into more detail

Most shotgun shells will last five to ten years. After that, it will not be safe to use as the casing may have deteriorated.

The gunpowder itself will typically last forever if sealed correctly, but it could be dangerous to assume your shells are all sealed properly when in fact it’s likely that there will be cracks and other corrosive damages in them over time.

Plastic can break very easily and if the casing is corroded, that will place you in a very dangerous position.

Most manufacturers advise against using shotgun shells after 10 years because of this reason. It’s advised to toss out properly if you have ammo above 10 years old.

How to Preserve Ammunition?

There are two things you don’t want your ammo to get exposed to – moisture and heat. It’s recommended to store it in a room or safe with low humidity and a temperature of 70 degrees or cooler. 

We recommend getting a dehumidifier for both your firearms and ammo. Alternatively, you can use plastic wrap. 

Moisture will increase the deterioration of the shells through rust and other factors. The heat will accelerate the oxidization of the shells and their contents as well.

How to Determine if Ammunition is Safe?

The first thing you’ll need to check is if each shell is cracked, has rust, or has any noticeable markings. You’ll also want to make sure that the ammo is the same size as it was when you bought it.

Finally, you can also tell by the sound it makes while it’s shot. You’ll want to check all the prior conditions before this.

Next, you’ll have to consider what conditions the ammo has been in and how old the ammo is. If the ammo is 10+ years old and been in average conditions, there is some risk in using it.

If it’s been in hot or humid conditions, it’s probably risky to use it after around 5 years.

By the way, if you want to learn the best shotgun sight for hunting, click on our article here.

Where to Dispose of Ammo?

where to sell empty shotgun shells

There are a variety of places to dispose of ammunition. The best place to dispose of it is at a designated disposal site. These include police stations and reloaders. 

This is the safest method to dispose of ammo. Using the trash will be dangerous as it could explode. It’s generally illegal to throw it in the trash.

Are Used Shotgun Shells Worth Anything?

Used shotgun shells can be sold in a variety of ways. Brass shotgun shells can be sold to metal recyclers after a process of separating the brass. You can also make things like jewelry, garland, handbag, or even wall art with used shotgun shells.

You can learn more on our article on how to sell used shotgun shells.

Final Words

So, how long do shotgun shells last? They last around 10 years when stored in a cool and dry environment. 

It’s recommended to measure your ammo when you purchase it and label your ammo boxes with dates. Along with that, you should place a dehumidifier in the room or safe with the ammo and ensure it has controlled temperatures. 

Did you like this article? If you did, share it on social media or if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below. Happy prepping!

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