Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: How To Dispose Of Ammunition Properly

(ShutterStock/Thanatos Media)

Guns and Gear Contributor
Font Size:

By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

We all have stray rounds in the safe, the range bag and the other places where we store said rounds. After a certain amount of time, you’re likely to not feel as if shooting it is safe. For those that hunt, some rounds might have gotten wet and you might see some corrosion. Or you may have cooked up a batch of handloads you can’t trust.

So long as ammunition is stored dry and in a relatively temperature- and humidity-stable environment (a closet shelf works just fine) the shelf-life of ammunition is actually unknown at this point. Sealed boxes of ammunition more than 50 years old have been fired with no issues. If sealed hermetically, the shelf-life of ammunition is theoretical at this point.

With that said, corrosion anywhere on the round (though especially around the primer) is the kiss of death. That indicates that moisture has permeated not only the molecular bonds of the metal, but has likely gotten inside the cartridge.

Additionally, if you just don’t feel like you can trust a bullet, don’t.

With that said, how do you get rid of rounds you don’t want, can’t use or are degraded by rust or anything else? There are a few ways.

First is to call your local waste management service provider. Depending on the area you live in, it may be a municipal operation or it could be a private company, or perhaps a private company that contracts with your local government. In any case, ask them about disposing of ammunition as it is typically done under the auspices of hazardous waste.

Most will have either a hazardous waste site or will have a designated location, date and/or time for collection of hazardous waste. Failing that, they may have a contractor that they use that does handle their hazardous waste. In that case, your local waste management provider should be able to point you in the proper direction.

Your local gun range may also take dud rounds, or hand off unwanted ammunition to reloaders who can pull the rounds apart (a bullet puller is pretty easy to use, after all) and then repurpose them. In that instances, they’d be happy to take donations. Additionally, some gun ranges (usually private ranges as public ranges often lack the resources for this) will actually have a box for dud rounds to go in.

Lastly, call the police. Most police departments actually have an ammunition disposal program of some sort, or contract with someone who does. In smaller towns where there’s perhaps fewer high-priority calls, they may even have a pickup day. However, most will have a bucket or box that you can dispose of bad ammunition in. It’s a good idea to call and ask about it first, though.

Most often, they have a container in the station into which you’ll have to deposit it. You bring it in, drop it off, say thank you very much and that’s it.

Again, if you don’t feel confident that a cartridge is still sound, don’t bother with it. A box of cartridges is relatively cheap; peace of mind is priceless.

Click here to get your 1911 Pistol Shopping Guide.

Click here to get The Complete Concealed Carry Training Guide

Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit