What point is temperature too hot for ammo?

This is a discussion on What point is temperature too hot for ammo? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I understand that it's the point that the gunpowder ignites... but does it take a flame to ignite, or the primer to help it ignite, ...

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Thread: What point is temperature too hot for ammo?

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    Member Array Mitchell's Avatar
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    What point is temperature too hot for ammo?

    I understand that it's the point that the gunpowder ignites... but does it take a flame to ignite, or the primer to help it ignite, I know myth busters had some going off in an oven. Maybe a stupid question but...

    Is ammo safe in my car at like 120*F?
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    Senior Member Array Chad Rogers's Avatar
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    Bruce Willis had some going off in a frying pan in Red. I'm dying to know...

    Actually we know from ammo depot fires that ammo can cook off. Plus there was an FBI agent some years ago in Virginia during a lover's spat with his wife (she was having an affair with Patricia Cornwall), set the house on fire. I believe rounds were cooking off then also.

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    Member Array Mitchell's Avatar
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    Quotes from another forum I just now found: "Primers start to cook off above 300 degrees F"...."Myth Busters did a show about Ammunition once. It took about 450 deg. to set the ammunition off."

    ..but apparently if there is a glue or lubricant in the shell it can melt and dampen the powder, resulting in a bunch a duds? Any confirmation of that?
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    VIP Member Array Guantes's Avatar
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    I believe that it would take considerably more than 120f to set it off. If 120f would do it, you wouldn't see many ccwrs in the desert.
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    I carried ammo for months in the Middle East, and in the Mojave desert, where it reached well over 100, or 110 degrees, never had any issues.

    Unless you are cooking it in an oven, I don't think you need to worry about normal ambient temperatures.
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    Member Array HK Jake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guantes View Post
    I believe that it would take considerably more than 120f to set it off. If 120f would do it, you wouldn't see many ccwrs in the desert.
    Haha, true that.

    If 120 F, set off ammunition, I'd be walking and popping off rounds all the time during the summer!
    Last edited by HK Jake; June 4th, 2011 at 08:52 PM.
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    I "had" some ammo in my storage building when it burned. I saw lots of bullet holes in the tin roof, melted lead coming out of copper jackets, melted buckshot. However I also saw ammuntion that survived and will likely fire. I also saw ammo that cooked off inside a big "fire resistant" gun safe, yet some ammo inside didn't cook. BTW that ammo going off inside the safe just compounds your problems during a fire, the only ammo in my safe now may be something in a mag........NO LARGE QUANTITIES.

    I don't have a good answer regarding temperatures for it to cook off. I had another uninsulated safe (smaller) on an exterior wall that hardly cooked any off, the difference was the big safe was in the middle of the building, the smaller was at the edge. Plus the ammo in the smaller safe was closer to the floor. I'm thinking a bit "cooler" there.

    IIRC Mythbusters showed solo ammo cooking and essentially blowing out the side of the cartridge case. Same ammo, same condition that is chambered will likely fire a bullet at a fatal velocity. Tightly packed ammo, for instance 30.06 in clips in a spam can, or AK ammo on strippers packed in a spam can are going to offer the opportunity for the tightly packed ammo to "fire" their bullets, maybe even with a dangerous velocity.....it just depends.

    One other thing, I think that safe manufacturers have it backwards. They tend to have the safes designed where longguns are on the bottom and handguns are stored up higher. IMHO it would be best to have or install a low bottom shelf (it wouldn't be handy to reach) let the longguns stand on the top of that low shelf and put handguns under it, so they are lower = cooler. Dollar for dollar and for their size I think they should be on the bottom. By all means keep them in some sort of padded case. My fire was so hot it melted the dial off the door and the drywall was crumbled from the heat sort of looking like a jigsaw puzzle pieces. Guns stored in a nice padded soft case seemed to be insulated from the heat, the padded cases where charred and/or ruined, but the guns looked pretty good.

    Lost a lot of ammo (in and out of the safe). Lost one handgun that was in a nylon bad on top of the safe. All the handguns can be cleaned up (soaking in kerosene as I type this). The longguns repair varies and IMHO dependent on the cost of the gun whether it's worth it or not. A Mosin-Nagant is < $100, it might make a decent project but it wouldn't really be cost-effective.

    UGH on the whole thing......bad memories
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