How to Dry Wet Ammo

How to dry AmmoIdeally, you should use sealed ammo boxes to store your ammo in and it should never get wet. However, floods happen and you never got round to transferring your ammo into waterproof ammo cans or you left some rounds in your pocket and they went through the washing machine. Either way, you have wet ammo.

Some ammo is waterproof, especially if it is to military specification. Most military specification ammo will have the NATO marking on it. Genuine NATO ammo will be marked with a cross surrounded by a circle. It will also be prefixed with the caliber size in mm.

NATO ammo will almost certainly be mfp sealed. This means it is moisture and fungus-proof. If you inspect around the primer and the junction of the cartridge case and bullet you should see where a sealant has been applied. This sealant is usually purple or red in color so it is easy to see; it will never be clear because it would never be able to pass a visual inspection. If you have ammo with a clear sealant it is not to NATO Specifications.

So, as ammo is very expensive, we need to dry it out safely and ensure it is safe to use. Obviously, direct heat such as an oven, hairdryer or other heat source should not be used. Heat sources are really limited to a warm room, an airing cupboard or the sun.

Do not attempt to remove the water using WD40, alcohol or other chemicals.

The first thing to do is to inspect the ammo to make sure there is no corrosion from when it was underwater. If the ammo is clean you can move to the next step. Wash the ammo thoroughly in distilled water to remove any chemicals or contaminants. This is especially important if the ammo has been immersed in salt water.

Dry the ammo carefully with a cloth or paper towels removing as much water as possible and move onto the drying stage proper.

The three main methods you can use to dry out ammunition are:

  1. Use a desiccant.

A desiccant is a small packet of silica gel that is most often used to protect items from getting damp in storage. You have probably seen a packet of silica gel when you purchased a new TV or other electronic equipment. Seal the ammo in a plastic bag or container for a few days with some silica gel packets.

  1. Use dried rice.

The dried rice must be from a sealed packet. Seal the ammo in a plastic bag or container for a few weeks. The ammo should be surrounded by the dried rice. The dried rice takes far longer than the silica gel does to dry the ammo but it is a useful method when silica gel is not available/

  1. Use a vacuum chamber

I doubt you will have a vacuum chamber at home but there may be one at a local school or college in the science laboratory. They will probably let you use it for a few dollars’ contribution to school funds. Place the ammo in the vacuum chamber and switch on. The water will evaporate as the pressure inside the chamber reduces.

Do test the dried ammo very carefully.

Important: Test fire a few rounds after you have dried the ammo. Listen for a weak sounding noise from the round or a misfire, and make sure you don’t get a bullet stuck halfway down the bore. If in any doubt that the round has fired correctly, check the bore for stuck ammo.

Finally, prevention is better than cure so please consider using proper sealed lid Ammo cans. These cans are usually sealed with an O ring to keep water out and a good quality ‘can’ can withstand being underwater for a considerable time. The cans are available in various sizes such as ’20 caliber ammo can’ and ‘Military surplus 50 caliber ammo can’.

Dry ammo is important; you never know when your life is going to depend on it!




One Comment

  1. Webb says:

    In the formative days of black powder they would make “powder cakes” in a wet stage and let it dry. That increased the power of the gunpoder. Any effect like that on smokeless powder?

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