Rifleman Q&A: Shotshell Shelf Life

posted on July 19, 2023
old shotshell boxes

Q: What is the usage life of shotshells, and what is the best way to dispose of old ammunition?

A: While I can’t give you a definitive “wear-out” date for shotshells, much depends on how they were stored; the common “cool, dry place” advice comes to mind. If properly stored, their lifetime might be indefinite. Sergeant Major Byron Acres, U.S. Army, Ret., was the non-commissioned officer in charge of the shotgun element of the Army Marksmanship Unit at Ft. Benning, Ga., during the 1970s. He mentioned to me that, on a prior assignment at the Radford Arsenal in Virginia, the unit discovered a large number of World War I-era paper-cased shotshells that were partially eaten by mice. He said they picked out the good ones and shot them.

As far as disposal is concerned, unless they have been wet or appear to be in bad shape, the preferred method is to take such shells out and shoot them. Otherwise, recycling facilities often have ammunition-disposal protocols. Your local police or sheriff may also take them from you for disposal.

—John M. Taylor, Contributing Editor


Flintlock Pistol 2
Flintlock Pistol 2

The Flintlock Pocket Pistol: Georgian England's Micro-Compact

The concept of concealed carry is not a modern phenomenon, as evidenced by these flintlock "turn-off" pocket pistols, which were hugely popular at the end of the 18th century.

ATN Corp Introduces 5-Year Warranty On Thermal Optics

ATN Corp. has launched a new, industry-leading five-year warranty on all Generation 5 thermal scopes and Thor LTV thermal scopes purchased through ATN Corp. or any of its authorized dealers.

I Have This Old Gun: Afghan Jezail

In the Middle East, a distinctive style of longrifle emerged that is known today as the jezail, a native name that described the arm's extraordinarily long barrel.

New For 2024: Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P Carry Comp Series

Smith & Wesson's Carry Comp series brings Performance Center treatments to a number of the company's carry-ready semi-automatics.

I Have This Old Gun: Webley Metropolitan Police Revolver

Webley Metropolitan Police revolvers were manufactured from 1883 to 1911 and issued at the discretion of division officers to be used by policemen who desired them and had exhibited an aptitude in their use.

Springfield’s Updated Tactical Response Pistol (TRP)

In the late 1990s, Springfield Armory’s Custom Shop gained a legendary reputation after supplying the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team with the company’s Professional Model M1911s. Now, Springfield has a refreshed line of TRP pistols with four new models.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.