Is Storing Ammunition a Fire Hazard?
Forget what you thought you knew...
When you think about the hazards of storing ammunition, you might picture a scene from Hollywood of a house on fire suddenly exploding into a fiery ball of flame. The reality, however, is quite different.
That said, how you store your ammunition does matter. Many people choose to store their ammunition in their house in various places. Some store it in their closets or garages while others opt to keep it in their safe. Is storing ammunition in your house really a safety hazard? The answer may surprise you.
Ammunition Storage Options
Ammunition stored in its factory box is actually not as dangerous as you might think. During a fire, ammunition in a factory or cardboard box will often burst, much like a firecracker. There is nothing to contain the explosive force. While it presents a small danger in its immediate vicinity, there is no danger of bullets traveling at any significant velocity.
At AmmoSquared, we store millions of rounds in our warehouse. Due to fire regulations, we store ammunition in the original factory cardboard boxes, cases, and pallets. We also have wire mesh shelving and a fire sprinkler system. Combined, these factors reduce our fire load so the city officials know we aren’t a big fire or explosive risk.
On the other hand, one of the most popular ways people store ammunition - in metal ammo cans, actually poses a greater danger than just keeping ammo in factory boxes. During a fire, metal ammo can heat up, causing rounds to ignite within the sealed and confined space. If that happens quickly, the sealed ammo can acts more like a pipe bomb. The result is a more sizable explosion than if the rounds had been stored in their factory packaging.
Firefighters all agree that ammunition stored in a firearm presents the greatest safety risk. During a fire, rounds could cook off. Chambered rounds can ignite and function, just as if they had been fired by a firing pin striking a primer. In some instances, semi-automatic firearms have even cycled, firing multiple rounds. Firefighters will often ask homeowners if there are any loaded firearms inside a structure fire. If occupants are able to evacuate with any loaded firearms, safely, it is often recommended you do so. Another option would be to not store your firearm with a round in the chamber, but everyone’s approach to home defense firearm storage is different, with some preferring a Condition 1 storage (round in the chamber) and others Condition 2 (no round in the chamber). Fire is just one of the many considerations when choosing how to store your firearm.
The Better Alternative
Firefighters and other emergency responders all agree that storing your ammunition in a fire-resistant safe is the best option for homeowners. There are two big reasons for this. The first is that fire-resistant safes are often rated for upwards of 30 minutes, allowing home occupants and first responders critical time to evacuate and contain the fire early on. The second reason for safes being the storage method of choice is that they can often contain the pressure and force caused by rounds exploding - minimizing hazards and distractions for first responders. The big question is whether you will also want to keep your guns in the same safe as your ammunition. The best scenario, having two safes, one for guns and one for ammunition just isn’t practical for most people.
The Best Option
Of course, safes only go so far as to protect your ammunition. While they may minimize the damage of exploding rounds, your ammunition will still be destroyed in a significant house fire. Additionally, your ammo is still at risk of theft, flooding, and depending on where you live: tornadoes, hurricanes, and even earthquakes.
It is partially because of these risk factors that AmmoSquared exists. At AmmoSquared, not only do we help you simplify your ammo purchasing with our ammunition subscription service so it will fit your budget, but we also protect your ammunition with free secure, off-site ammunition storage until you are ready for it. We store your ammunition in our climate-controlled facility protecting it from hazards until you hit that “Ship Now” button. We even rotate it out with new inventory to ensure that when you receive your shipment you’ll be getting fresh factory new ammunition. We strongly believe AmmoSquared should be part of every gun owner's ammunition storage strategy.
So to sum up, there are multiple ways to store ammunition, but also multiple strategies to minimize the risks associated with storing ammunition. It is up to each of us to choose the options that best fit our lifestyle and budget.