Guns, Firearms, Projectile Weapon Sports/Old .38 Special Ammo

Advertisement


Question
Hello,

I have two types of .38 ammunition that were purchased in 1981 and never used. One is CCI 38/357 Shotshells.  The second is Master 38 Special Ammo (158 grain semi-wadcutter).  Are these two types of ammo still SAFE TO USE??

Thank you for your help.
John DeMoss

Answer
Well, maybe...

It depends how and where it was stored. 33 years is not all that old for commercially loaded cartridges UNLESS they have been exposed to extremes of high temperature. Even so, most commercially loaded ammo should be OK - check the cases for obvious signs of damage, splits, corrosion etc. Check the boxes for signs of water damage, etc... I doubt you would have a catastrophe using this ammo, especially the snake shot, but you might be more likely to have misfires or squib rounds. Be alert for a shot that sounds different and check the bore to make sure the bullet is not stuck part way down there...

MOST commercial powders of that era were pretty stabile and I have fired military and a few commercial cartridges a LOT older than that with no problems other than a misfire.  But again, this is my OPINION, and I have not seen the ammo...Probably best to take it to a good local gun shop if you have any doubts after examining it and finding signs of deterioration...generally, if stored well and not damaged it should be OK...

BUT...IF you feel uncomfortable shooting it, don't - it's your decision in the end and your gun.


mark

Guns, Firearms, Projectile Weapon Sports

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Mark Schmidt

Expertise

General questions relating to various handguns - shooting, recommendations and general information on older/antique Smith & Wesson, Colt and other US made and European made pistols and revolvers. I am NOT an expert collector, but I have had several hundred handguns over the last 45 years+. I have repaired and refurbished several and shot hundreds of various handguns, and I am pretty knowledgeable on them.

Experience

Started shooting in Cub Scouts at age 10. US Army veteran in the late 1960's. Owned several hundred handguns including revolvers and autoloading pistols made by Colt, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Merwin Hulbert, H&R, Iver Johnson, Hopkins and Allen, Charter Arms and European pistols made by Mauser, Beretta, Star, Llama, Tanfoglio Guseppe, Dreyse 1907 and FN. I am mostly interested in and experienced with late 19th and all 20th century pistols, not current guns using plastic.

Education/Credentials
Have a degree in Social Work, with minors in Sociology and Fine Art (Painting)

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.