Firearms owners who have seen their stored ammunition submerged by flood waters in areas across the U.S. are probably wondering if that ammunition can be salvaged and safely used. The answer, according to the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute® (SAAMI®) and National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), is to err on the side of caution and safety and not attempt to salvage or use ammunition that has been submerged.
SAAMI, founded in 1926, is an organization that creates and publishes industry standards on firearms and ammunition. NSSF is the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry.
To help firearms owners determine what to do with ammunition that has been affected by water and moisture, SAAMI has created a helpful document, “Guidance on Ammunition That Has Been Submerged in Water.”
The document discusses differences in moisture resistance between centerfire, rimfire and shotshell ammunition, and draws attention to potential hazards associated with “drying out” cartridges, including possible deterioration and damage to cartridges due to drying methods.
Another serious hazard that could result from using compromised ammunition is the potential for a bore obstruction due to partial ignition of either the priming compound or the propellant powder charge, or both. Firing a subsequent round through an obstructed barrel can result in bodily injury, death and property damage.
SAAMI provides the following cautionary conclusion: “It would be impossible to ascertain for certain the extent of the deteriorating affect, if any, the water may have had on each individual cartridge. Therefore, the safe answer is that no attempt be made to salvage or use submerged ammunition. The ammunition should be disposed of in a safe and responsible manner. Contact your local law enforcement agency for disposal instructions in your area.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 13,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit www.nssf.org.