So you just bought your first (or twenty-first) gun, WOOT-WOOT! If you are new to gun ownership, welcome to the ‘hood – as in the brotherhood (or sisterhood if you don’t have a penis) of responsible gun owners. You are now part of a tradition that goes back before our nation was founded. A tradition and world view that owning and using the most effective tool for the protection of yourself, your family and your community is the bedrock of a free society.
It is a big responsibility that you shouldn’t take lightly.
Part of this responsibility includes getting trained and practicing regularly, and when you aren’t doing either of those, storing your firearms and ammunition so they are secure but ready to go when needed.
There are a lot of pitfalls in storing your ammo, so in this article I’ll talk about what not to do so you’ll recognize these situations and catch yourself the next time you want to stash that new box of 9mm in the spare oven next to the doughnuts (#6 of our list of Do Not’s). Definitely not a good storage spot for you ammo. It isn’t the only one though… there are nine others that we came up with to help you out…
Let’s get started here with number 10:
#10 – YOUR CARRY ON BAG
Whether you are taking that overnighter to Vegas and want some extra firepower, er, luck, or you’re just looking for a sneaky hiding spot from the missus, your carry on bags are not a good place for your ammunition. I know you probably haven’t done much flying lately, I sure haven’t, and your luggage is probably just sitting there empty, but try to avoid the temptation. You might just forget about your clever hiding spot and try to board a plane without removing the ammo. The TSA dudes and dudettes won’t be too happy to see that. Oh, by the way just in case you are wondering: you can take ammo on a flight, it just needs to be in your checked baggage, preferably in the original boxes. You can only take .75 caliber or smaller though – so no matter how lucky that 20mm shell is, you’ll have to leave it back at the ‘ol homestead.
#9 – YOUR “JUNK” DRAWER
We all know you have one – everyone does. It is that drawer in the kitchen or living room that seems to accumulate all the junk: batteries, rubber bands, pens, random game pieces, strips of Velcro, half chewed dog bones, “only used once” birthday candles, and the tools that came with your IKEA coffee table, you know - random junk. Some people might think this is the ideal place to store ammunition because it is so accessible and convenient but in reality the family junk drawer is a little too accessible. Not to mention anything put in there eventually winds up looking like it did two tours in Iraq strapped to the bottom of a HUMVEE. That is, IF you can find it in that black hole of a drawer. I’m STILL missing my special purpose IKEA tools…
#8 – A BLACK GARBAGE BAG
You can’t deny the utility of a good ‘ol black garbage bag. It keeps the light out, it’s waterproof, can be sealed so it is pretty much air tight. They come in a variety of sizes to fit your needs. They can be used for garbage (obviously) but are also right at home with laundry, books, sacks of flour, animal carcasses… honestly there isn’t much NOT to like about black garbage bags. Heck, they can even be used as a survival shelter in a pinch, but they aren’t an ideal way to store ammo. Ammo should be stored in a cool, dry place away from the light so I can see the draw here, but unless you label the garbage bag and have a good way to keep the ammo in it from jostling around and bustin’ open, the classic black garbage bag fails miserably as a good storage solution and winds up on our list at #8.
#7 – LOOSE
This is not a location or preference in your next date, but listed here as a state of being. Nearly all factory ammo comes in boxes. Those boxes aren’t just for looks. They also help protect your ammunition from dents and dings. Not only that, but there is a good chance that whatever is written on the box corresponds to whatever is inside. Revolutionary, I know. Now when you take your ammo out and dump it somewhere like a pouch or the kitchen table and then throw away the box – you increase the possibility that you’ll forget the stats of the ammo (brand, bullet weight, special features like subsonic, leadfree, etc.). Then if you go and mix these rounds with other rounds you’ll really be confused. Don’t get me wrong, some people do this with their practice ammo – they dump it all into an ammo can so it is box free and ready to use. Most likely if you do that, you have a plan. Everything in the can is probably similar bullet weight or even the same brand and the can is labeled. That’s not a bad thing because the ammo can is airtight, watertight and has a handle. On the other hand, if you like to have ammo laying around in various pockets, pouches and random Tupperware – well then I’d suggest you keep it in the boxes until you are ready to load it.
#6 – YOUR “SPARE” OVEN
This might sound obvious to some people, but if you are like me, you have a family member that only uses one oven except during the holidays when they might use both of their double ovens. The rest of the time the spare oven sits vacant and is perfect for storage. Usually, this incognito storage place hides all the junk food in the house: doughnuts, cookies, ho-hos, home run pies, and other sugary goodness. It’s not inconceivable, someone might think “what’s the harm – it’s not like the oven is turned ON” before squirreling away a few boxes of ammunition next to the junk food stash. Don’t do it! Like the carry on luggage scenario, too much could go wrong and before you know it you’ve cleaned out all the junk food and forgot about the ammo down by the oven coils - until it is time to preheat for your next Thanksgiving turkey that is.
#5 - YOUR BASEMENT (BEFORE IT FLOODS)
The tough part with this one is that 99% of the time, the basement is a great spot to store your ammunition: it stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It is most likely dry too, another plus, but that depends on where you live and whether you have any leaks. The negative here is the flood factor risk. If you have a high water table, live near a river, lake with a dam, ocean, or even just experience a water line break while you are away on vacation – your basement storage could become mini-Venice, and only THEN it makes our list and becomes a bad place to store ammunition. So, to help mitigate the water risk, just make sure everything you store in the basement is in a water tight container. I prefer metal ammo cans with a rubber gasket. They make a great storage option for just about anywhere, but especially basements. But if you have large quantities of ammo to store, you might go for the industrial totes route – either way, make sure you have thought ahead and your ammo is protected from the next Hurricane Katrina.
#4 – OUTSIDE BUILDING (Barn, Shed, Chicken Coop, etc.)
Sometimes you just don’t have enough room in your house. Or maybe your significant other doesn’t want you to store ammo in the house “for safety reasons” or other such nonsense. Either way, your ammo stash is relegated to an outbuilding along with parts for a 68 Chevy, a broken chainsaw, and your dusty high school yearbooks. If that’s the case, you gotta make the best of a bad situation here. The problems you need to worry about here are fluctuating temperatures, moisture, theft and maybe even small critters. You probably can’t do much about temperatures in an outbuilding unfortunately. Moisture can be helped with airtight containers and desiccant packets. Strong locks and lights can help with theft (not to mention your 12 gauge theft prevention device stored in the house). As a bonus, the airtight containers should keep the varmints and insects away. Now if you can just keep your weasel like brother-in-law from mooching your ammo you’d be all set!
#3 – TRUNK OF YOUR CAR
Using your vehicles trunk for storage is similar to storing ammo outside, but mobile. It has the advantage of always being nearby when you are away from home. The disadvantage of course is that if your vehicle is stolen, so is your ammo stash. The other disadvantage to vehicle storage is getting in a wreck. The paramedics aren’t going to “do you a solid” and grab your case of 5.56 green tip and place it next to your gurney as they are working to keep as much blood in your body as possible. You might be able to recover your valuable ammo at the wrecking yard but it is also just as likely to disappear somewhere in between as well. That said, there is nothing here to discourage the storage of a small amount of ammo in your car, plus a “truck gun” if you have one. Just assume that it won’t be there when you get your car back from the police or after you are discharged from the hospital with a fractured fibula.
#2 – THE POLICE EVIDENCE LOCKER
Now obviously nobody would CHOOSE to store ammunition here – except maybe the officer in charge of the evidence locker. However, you might be forced to if you have an unexpected run in with Johnny Law. Storing ammunition in your vehicle, like #3 above, then getting arrested might result in your ammunition being confiscated and “stored” at the police station. While the number of ways this could happen are infinite, it goes without saying, storing your ammunition in the police evidence locker is a terrible place to store ammunition. On the plus side, it is probably in a cool dry place safe from theft… on the negative side you can’t access it, so that is a pretty darn big negative which is why it is #2 on our list. It still isn’t the absolute WORST place to store ammunition though…
#1 – AT YOUR EX’S HOUSE
If you were recently in a relationship and are now transitioning out of that relationship, this could easily apply to you. Chances are high that there are items of yours at your ex’s place. You know stuff like: clothes, dishes, personal care items, a snuggy, your favorite White Snake CD, and maybe even ammunition. That ammunition might or not be next to the firearm that you kept there for protection against home invaders – but knowing how you probably left your ex, it puts you in a tricky spot: how badly do you want that White Snake CD? Sometimes everyone has to make life or death decisions and this is one of them. Good luck!
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