How to store shotgun cartridges correctly

Whatever cartridges you use for clay or game shooting, they should be stored correctly and effectively prior to use to ensure that they work optimally and safely in the field. 

HOW TO STORE CARTRIDGES CORRECTLY

Whatever cartridges you use for clay or game shooting, they should be stored correctly and effectively prior to use to ensure that they work optimally in the field and safely. Kept in damp conditions and/or at the wrong temperatures will lead to no end of issues from primer malfunctions to premature degradation.

Cartridges need to be stored in a dry, ambient environment and at a consistent temperature – ideally 20ºC. Cartridges should never be exposed to moisture until use, nor should ammunition of any kind be subjected to extreme heat or cold. 

And that is not just for safety reasons. You wouldn’t race a sportscar with cold tyres or an engine that is overheated, nor play tennis with a damp or cold ball – the same applies to cartridges. This ensures the crisp ignition of the powders, optimum pressures and allows the wads/ primers/heads etc. to perform exactly as they have been carefully designed and tested. It is advised to ensure that cartridges are at room temperature 12-24 hours prior to use. 

A great place to store a box of cartridges is in a plastic airtight storage box or ammo box – never in an external, damp shed or anywhere like an airing cupboard or utility. You wouldn’t store your gun in these conditions as they would turn rusty, so the same treatment and precautions should apply for your ammunition.

Indeed, if you have been shooting on a considerably wet day, you may have to consider discarding any cartridges kept in your pockets or cartridge bag that have been exposed to the elements. Whether fibre or otherwise, come the next time you use them they may have already started degrading and risk malfunction – like the example above, would you put your gun away wet and expect it to look or perform the same the next time you come to use it?

To prevent waste, it is a good idea to gauge how many cartridges you will need per drive and store the rest in the boot of the 4x4 or on the gunbus until you need them and return those that you didn’t use back to your optimum storage location as quickly as possible.

Remember, if you are unsure of how well a cartridge has been stored or have any fear it may be compromised in any way, do not use it and dispose of it safely and correctly.