Prepping Diary July 5: Packing our Ammo

As we prepare for our move, we need to properly store and transport our guns, ammo, powder, primers, and other “hazardous” materials that movers won’t take.

Stacks of ammo cans

Packing our Preps

Here on the home front, we have been packing up like crazy.  When you have an entire room with warehouse-style shelving dedicated to prepping supplies, this can be a time consuming task.  It is also educational.  We’ve been able to uncover old prepping supplies that we should rotate out as well as things from much earlier in our prepping journey that we just don’t need.

For example, we found two plastic baby bottles.  My youngest is 25, so those date back a LONG time.  In fact, they may not be BPA-free, as I don’t know if that was even a thing back then.  I also found boxes of pads and tampons, even though we don’t have any young women living here any longer.  We decided to keep everything.  Who knows, we may have grandchildren one day.  And those pads make good bandages.  Plus, you never know who will bug out and end up at our place. We could have eight to ten people easy.

Right now, I’m using a box of Kleenex from storage that is probably 15 years old.  They work just fine, even though it’s hard to get a single piece of facial tissue out at one time.  You pull the top one, and a bunch more come out.  They just don’t seem to want to let go of each other.  It’s actually amusing, unless you were in the middle of a huge sneeze and really needed a tissue fast.  But in terms of texture and functionality, they seem to work just fine.

Ammo Cans

I also found lots of old ammo, mostly from the 1990s.  Back in the day, I had a tendency to take a .50 caliber ammo can and fill it with a few hundred rounds of .22, .38, .40, .5.56 and maybe a few boxes of 00 buckshot.  These mixed cans were my “grab and go” boxes.  I could grab one or more of them and be pretty much guaranteed to have at least some ammo for whatever gun I had on me or in my vehicle. 

Old ammo boxes
This ammo was originally purchased by Pete back in the 1990s. It’s been stored in an ammo can and every round should still fire.

Some of the cans would also have a Glock 22 magazine or a couple AR mags.  The idea here is that if I had to grab the AR and the can and bug out, I’d have at least a few spare magazines.  One can had a couple pre-ban Labelle AR15 magazines, still new  in their polymer bag.  Others had used GI mags.  Clearly, these cans were made up before Magpul was on the market. The good news: All the ammo has been clean and looks fully functional. No corrosion.

Today, I’ve largely moved away from the multi-caliber ammo can approach, mostly because I have accumulated far more ammo than I had back in the 1990s.  I have often purchased ammo in ammo cans, often from Federal, in one of the following configurations:

  • 200 rounds of .308 in a 30-caliber ammo can
  • 1,000 rounds of 5.56, usually loose-packed, in a 50-caliber can
  • 420 rounds of 5.56 in boxes in a .30 caliber ammo can
  •  175 rounds of 12-gauge 00 buckshot in a 50 caliber ammo can

When you buy commercial ammo pre-packed in ammo cans, you get their nice label on the can as well.

Storing Ammo

I have also packed my own ammo cans, often sliding 10 rounds of 5.56 onto a stripper clip and then carefully placing them into ammo cans, alternating loaded clips face-up and face-down.  I have found that you can fit 700 or more rounds of 5.56 stacked two-deep in a 50-caliber ammo can and have room for two mags on top.

Obviously, how you prepare your cans depends on whether or not you take the ammo out of its original box.  This is always a quandary for me because it is my understanding that ammo will last longer when it is not in a cardboard box, but if I ever need or want to sell my old ammo, it will sell better in its original box that clearly shows brand, caliber, bullet weight, etc.  Interestingly, when I’ve purchased surplus ammo, it is often in cardboard boxes.  If storing ammo in cardboard was bad, would governments do that?  I dunno.  Maybe the whole cardboard thing is the firearm equivalent of an urban legend.

The most important reason to store ammo in an ammo can, in my opinion: They are waterproof. As long as the rubber seal is in good shape, you ammo will be dry and secure when store in a metal ammo can.

Moving Guns and Ammo

As we have learned on our last move, commercial moving companies don’t want to move your guns and ammo.  Maybe they are worried about the liability.  Maybe they are worried they will be stolen, or ammo will explode.  And if they don’t want to move your ammo, you can be sure they won’t want to move the 15 or 20 pounds of smokeless powder and all those primers I have for reloading.  They have a list of other items, like anything in a spray can, gasoline, propane tanks, paint, etc. that they refuse to take. So we’ll move these manually

Don’t store or transport powders or primers in ammo cans — they could become shrapnel if something were go go bang. But primers are perfectly fine in their nice little trays and cardboard sleeves that keep them separated and prevent them from knocking into each other. Powder is best transported and stored on a wood shelf or box (but I think it likely cardboard or another non-sparking material would do), preferably in their original containers.

And we have no desire to trust our guns into the hands of movers, no matter how professional they are. We’ll move those ourselves, under lock, key, and our watchful eyes.

When the time comes to move, we’re going to be making a couple of pick-up truck loads of our hazardous materials.  Yes, I’ll pack the primers and powder on separate trips, but we’ll still have to cross our fingers and hope no one rear-ends us!


You can read prior editions of our prepping diary or learn more about our upcoming move to our prepper property.

Author: The Pickled Prepper

Pete the Pickled Prepper lives on an isolated homestead on the side of a mountain deep in in rural America. He has been preparing for the end of the world for more than 25 years.