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how long is powder good?

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Category: Firearms, Bows, and Ammunition
Forum Name: Reloading & Ballistics
Forum Description: Anything to do with ammunition
Printed Date: April/25/2019 at 15:03
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.01 -

Topic: how long is powder good?
Posted By: trigger29
Subject: how long is powder good?
Date Posted: April/15/2008 at 06:44
I'm looking to get started in reloading, and was going to use some stuff my dad bought years ago when he tried it. I was wondering how long powder will stay good, and safe to use. He had a 8lb. can of IMR 4831 sitting in a cabinet thats probably been there for 15 years, but its always been in the can and never been wet or anything. Any opinions?


"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Posted By: 8shots
Date Posted: April/15/2008 at 07:08
Good question that I cannot answer. I have some revolwer powder that has also been in the can for some 20 years+ that I have wondered about.

Posted By: Bigdaddy0381
Date Posted: April/15/2008 at 07:25

From what I have heard and long as it stay dry and not get to hot or to cold that it will last forever. but I haven't been around for ever so I can't say if it is 100% true. But if you have doubts about it mail it to me and I will depose of it properly.

P&Z Firearms , Pro gun cleanings and gun repair and wood refinishing.

Ecclesiastes 10:2

Posted By: 300S&W
Date Posted: April/15/2008 at 08:02
              I had an unopened can of IMR4831 that had been stored with the rest of my powders(all others in their plastic containers) for close to 10yrs in a cabinette in my den. I also have ALOT of desicant packets in the cabinette. Opened it and went to use it and noticed,as I poured it,a redish smokelike cloud coming off it. So I poured the can into a bowel and noticed the redish tint to it. Took a flash light and looked inside the can and noticed rust. As I said this was an unopened ,sealed container,and the only can,as the rest were plastic containers. All of the other powders were fine. I now put all of my IMR canned powders in my empty plastic powder containers that I of course remark.
               What's ironic is that I had recently read a thread on the same subject as this one. The conclusion I came to is that as long as the powder doesn't have an acrid smell,has a consistent shiney color to it,an of course no redish tint to it,it will last indefinitly. Some guys on that thread said they had contacted Dupont(IMR)about changing containers but nothing's happened yet. Hope this helps.
til later

Posted By: Dale Clifford
Date Posted: April/15/2008 at 08:19
the red color and cloud is nitric acid. since the oxidizers have left the powder complex they become weaker, but never explosive. the degree is hard to determine. rifle loads and pistol loads stay good for more than 20 years.

Posted By: 300S&W
Date Posted: April/15/2008 at 08:43
               So would have the powder been safe to use and would the burn rate have been affected?  Also there was no small amount of rust in the can!
til later

Posted By: Dale Clifford
Date Posted: April/15/2008 at 08:52
the conversion of the propellant mix to combustable by-products would not be complete as the source of oxygen was depleted. thus lower pressures-- each sample of powder would be different of course depending on conditions.
edit to add-- of course no one would make or not make a recommendation to use the product without knowing a great deal more.

Posted By: 300S&W
Date Posted: April/15/2008 at 09:02
             What ya think?  When in doubt,throw it out?
til later

Posted By: helo18
Date Posted: April/15/2008 at 11:47
My dad had a can of old military 4831 that he has had for 30+ years, that he has used successfully up until recently. We have started seeing a significant drop in velocity with a charge. There are no signs that the powder has a problem other than the velocity is going down. We will probably go do something fun with it other than reloading now, but it would still work if we wanted to keep loading.

To be prepared for War is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.


Posted By: 8shots
Date Posted: April/16/2008 at 03:32
Ok, what about primers? And the storage conditions. It just bugs me to see primers in their unsealed boxes. Would high humidity effect them? Say you live near the coast or it is the rainy season, how would that effect the primers?
A friend often stores primed only cases and adds the powder/bullets later. Is this OK?

Posted By: Dale Clifford
Date Posted: April/16/2008 at 09:44
had a friend that was so bugged about primers, he would empty them into pint mason jars for storage.  told him I would only come to visit when he took them to the next county. it never occured to him he had created an "infernal device" (got to love lawyers). sometimes we cause problems trying to solve problems.

Posted By: SS_gt.
Date Posted: April/23/2008 at 09:35
One thing you might consider when reloading is simply having a well insulated climate controlled room, or outbuilding to keep all your supplies and tools in, depending on how big you are planning to get. I started small and ended up building a small shed to keep all my supplies in (away from the house as well) and put a small heater and air conditioner in it.

Infantry bullets are adressed To whom it may concern. For Snipers it's a bit more personal. Our bullets have their name & know whether or not they kissed their spouse before they died.- A Special D.I.

Posted By: 8shots
Date Posted: April/24/2008 at 02:23
I noticed with old rounds it is usually the primer that refuses to ignite. My dad had some which were around 25 years old, with only about half igniting. I also had some 38 special rounds, not 8 years old, of which about 10% did not ignite.
So I guess primers are more prone to old age.

Posted By: Dale Clifford
Date Posted: April/24/2008 at 08:13
depends alot on the loader, have shot military surplus that is 50+ years in 8mm and similar sometimes oil can leak by the primer seal.

Posted By: 8shots
Date Posted: April/24/2008 at 08:58
These were all bought rounds. The 38 Special was cheap "plinking" rounds. The other Norma rounds.

Posted By: Charlie-bolted
Date Posted: April/29/2008 at 13:10
ok this is what I've gathered (from a novice anyway); powder is good til the cows come home.
double and triple base powders are filled with stabalizers and other chemicals to prevent deterioration. They are also covered with graphite and whatever else only the man upstairs knows. look it up at wikipedia, 'smokeless powders', or 'nitrocellulose' the main ingredient, if you interested in the makeup of it, history, etc its sort of interesting read. ( i didn't have anything to do that day anyway)

some days we just get stuck and bogged down, Some days all u can do is smile and wait for someone to kindly remove your butt from the hole you find it wedged into.

Posted By: Urimaginaryfrnd
Date Posted: May/02/2008 at 20:14
The moral of this story is -----  KEEP YOUR  POWDER DRY Wink


"Always do the right thing, just because it is the right thing to do".
Bobby Paul Doherty
Texas Ranger

Posted By: ridurall
Date Posted: July/02/2008 at 17:35
I keep my powder and primers in military ammo cans with good seals on them.  Some of my powder and primers are almost 30 years old, yet still I get the same velocity out of my 30 Belted Newton stuff that I purchased 34 years ago.   I use 69.5 gr of 4350 behind a 180 gr Nosler Partition and a WW 120 primer.  It still chronographs to 2915 FPS the same as it did 30 years ago.

52 year old retire Air Force married 30 years with 2 kids. 1 22 year old daughter and a 7 year old son

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