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How I Store & Organize My Ammo


Ever since my time as a white water raft guide,
military ammo cans have been my go-to method for dry storage. I saw plenty of other dryboxes
during my stint, but never came across anything that offered the security, durability, and
simplicity of ammo cans for anywhere near the same price.
I recently picked up a new container for my 9mm ammo. While I was getting it set up for
use, I figured I’d put together a video going over how I store my ammo, and the methods
and products I use. My philosophy for ammo storage is to protect
it from the standard threats – moisture, extreme temperatures, hoplophobic politicians, etc.
– but also to keep it organized, portable, and ready to use whenever I might need it.
Whether the Machines are rebelling, someone got stupid enough to try to invade northern
Idaho, or I just want to go shooting for an afternoon; my ammo will not be very useful
to me if it’s buried in the backyard or sitting loose in a 200-pound box in my closet.
The three common, easy-to-find ammo can sizes that had a decent amount of internal space,
but weren’t too awkward to carry around were the .30-cal, the 50-cal, and the SAW
cans. Over the years, I’d acquired at least one of
each size. Loaded weight was my primary consideration
when deciding which of these would best suit my needs. I wanted to fill my ammo cans, but
still be able to carry them over a moderate distance if needed.
For an uninterrupted quarter-mile lap around my block, I found about 40 pounds to be my
practical one-handed weight limit. I could manage more if I had to, but not without significant
metabolic muscle fatigue in my hand. Carrying additional ammo is pointless if it means my
hand and arm will be too worn out to operate a gun effectively when I get to where the
ammo is needed. If I need to store and move more than 40 pounds of ammo, I’ll just buy
another can. As I just demonstrated, a loaded-up SAW can
will easily hit the 40-pound mark even with relatively lightweight ammo like shotgun shells.
And while the little .30-cal cans offer a decent amount of internal volume for dense
things like loose cartridges, their narrow interior limits things with more useful boxes
or cases. For me and my needs, the midsized .50-cal
cans seem to be just about ideal. Filled with loaded magazines, boxed shotshells, or pistol
cartridges in these 100-round cases I’ll get to in a sec; these always seem to end
up between 25 and 40 pounds with minimal wasted space.
So the .50-cals are my standard cans for all ammo storage. Sticking to one size keeps the
cans easily stackable, and allows them to share lids.
When buying, I look for cans without any major damage. A little scratched paint or surface
rust isn’t a big deal if there’s nothing better in the pile, but I don’t want something
too beat-up to work properly. Most important is the top rim of the can and
the rubber gasket in the lid. This is what makes the cans watertight, so I want a gasket
that’s still flexible and intact. If it’s brittle or cracked, or the metal around it
is dented, this won’t make a proper seal. This one looked pretty good, but before I
put a new ammo can into service, I always test it.
I’m not living in my van next to a river anymore, but a bathtub makes for a decent
place to weigh a can down and submerge it for several days.
If the can’s in proper shape, it should stay completely dry inside.
The next step is to mark the can with what it’ll be holding – 9×19 mm in this case.
I don’t get very fancy with this, I just stick on some cheap stencil cards, mask around
them with a little tape and newspaper so it won’t look completely slapdash, and shoot
it with whatever spray paint I happen to have lying around. I don’t really care what color
it is, so long as it’ll stand out. While the paint’s drying, I’ll show how
I organize things inside the can. In theory, a .50-cal ammo can could fit over
2200 loose 9mm cartridges, but that would easily weigh 60 or 70 pounds, and in terms
of organization and use-ability, it’d be pretty much the opposite of what I’m trying
to do. Factory boxes aren’t going to cut it for
me either. Their dimensions and construction vary wildly between manufacturers, making
it impossible to come up with a standardized can load. I also have no idea how many cartridges
are in any given box without opening it. And while some ammo is packed in trays like these
and easy to count; the more economical value packs tend to be completely useless. And with
real bulk or reloaded ammo, there’s often no box of any kind.
So instead of that mess, all my handgun ammo gets placed into standard cases like these
MTM Case-Gard 100-round ammo boxes. Unlike factory boxes, these are quick and
easy to operate even one-handed, but stay securely closed, and are surprisingly water-resistant
for what they are. They’re not completely waterproof – and don’t need to be – but
they’ll withstand light rain or collateral spray well enough. The lids also make very
convenient trays for holding loose cartridges or cases, and they can be easily detached
if desired. Whether they’re open or closed, the translucent
plastic makes it easy to see exactly what’s in there, and count them at a glance using
basic multiplication. In the same way, I can organize and keep track of different types
of ammo in one case by arranging them into blocks.
Each case comes with some handy labels, but for now, I just use different-colored cases
to organize my ammo. I put 115-gr FMJs in the blue ones, and hollowpoints and specialty
stuff in the red. There are other colors available, and the swappable lids make for a lot of possible
combinations. Overall, these are a darn sight more useful
than factory packaging for my purposes – well worth the 2 or 3 dollar price tag.
Now, I’m sure someone’s going to get on me for touching the ammo with my bare hands.
First off, I’m not stockpiling this for the zombie apocalypse 40 years from now. This
is ammo that I’ll be shooting at my next practice session, or loading into my carry
gun the next time I leave the house. Second, ammo won’t melt if it gets a fingerprint
on it. It might get tarnished and not be as shiny, but it’ll still shoot just fine.
Moisture and temperature extremes are the big dangers to ammo, not fingerprints.
So, with the cartridges organized, and the paint dry, it’s time to fill up the can.
There’s enough space inside a .50-cal can for two side-by-side stacks of up four of
these, with room for one more on an end or in the middle. That’s up to 900 rounds in
a simple, accessible arrangement that utilizes the can well, while staying below my weight
limit. Other things I’ll include are flattened
or cut-up ammo packaging with information I may want to refer to, a magazine loader,
and a homemade desiccant pack to absorb any moisture.
But that’s not all. On top of the cases, there’s enough room left over for up to
8 full-size Glock magazines, a standard-frame Glock and 5 magazines, or two Glocks with
a magazine in each. Also, the odd case on the end can be replaced
with up to 6 additional magazines, or a short-barreled backup 9mm gun, and I’ll still have the same space on top. With the 115-grain ammo I prefer, any of these
arrangements stay comfortably below my 40-pound limit. Even with subsonic ammo – which I rarely
use – they’re not over by much. Well, that’s how I roll with my ammo. Simple,
easy, and practical storage that’ll keep for years, but be ready to use at a moment’s
notice. As always, I hope you found something useful
here, and I’d be happy to answer questions and hear feedback. Until next time, enjoy
the shooting sports responsibly, and keep your powder dry.

100 thoughts on “How I Store & Organize My Ammo

  1. Good idea but if it were me, I would just fill up the ammo can with whichever caliber ammunition to the top as weight wouldn't be too much of a priority. I can only imagine how much one of those 50 cal ammo cans could hold of loose 9mm bullets.

  2. I bought some metal 50 cal ammo boxes new from walmart and they work well. For only $10 or $12 (i cant remember exactly which) i couldnt pass it up.

  3. in Italy we can own only 200 pistol rounds maximum 🙁 but I will follow your suggestion, is a really smart way of conserving ammunitions!

  4. I don’t think you’ve thought about this enough, I think you should go back to the drawing board and reconsider.

  5. I bet he likes puzzles a lot and thinks it’s cheating to look at the picture
    No offense, I know someone who does and you seem quite similar
    Very thought out ideas pertaining to ammo cans.

  6. You need to up your game, I have a 50 cal box with a M1 Abrams with me at all times. Instant mini-military wherever I go.

  7. Are you buying guns for SHTF? Maybe to hand down for THEM to prepare? My thoughts are buy a rifle and pistol you love and purchase a set for every family member you plan on surviving with. My caliber selection is .22LR. There are 133 rounds per pound. Deadly accurate. Squirrel

  8. Good to know about storage. Read some of the comments, SMH, and even I am still a beginner on this, LOL. WOW, some people.

  9. I just can't bring myself to just dump ammo in the can unless I'm going to be shooting it soon. Ocd or something I guess.

  10. and there is me: a european who can only own a fucking black powder gun because communism disarmed the whole fucking nation before i was even born

  11. if you are seriously preparing yourself in this manner, the guy coming through your back door isnt going to wait for you to scrounge through an ammo can and plastic case to fit your mag reloader to a mag, slap 17-20 rounds in there, then load and ready your firearm.

    if that wasnt the context of the video, then what the fuck is the purpose of it? how to store ammo like a hermit?

  12. These ammo cans are also pretty good at holding sand and rocks. Of course when filled with sand and rocks, some dudes with weird hats might make you lift them above your head 100 times for some reason.

  13. What are your thoughts on the plastic MTM ammo cans? I have a few, planning to get more, and I like how they are lighter and a bit cheaper than the metal ammo cans and look to be built for more secure stacking.

    I agree on the .30 cal cans, they're too small. I bought a bunch of the plastic Plano ones from Dick's (I think they're the same as the Bunker Hill ones at Harbor Freight) and they worked at first, but over time I kept getting more ammo and they became a lot less useful for ammo storage. I do find some spaces around my place where I can fit them and stack them 5 or 6 high, but they're not my preferred choice for primary storage use.

  14. That comic picture…..lol. Funny thing is everybody was certain that Obama was going to take our guns. Yet trump has done more, in half a term to damage the second amendment, than Obama did in two terms.

  15. 1:24 "Significant metabolic muscle fatigue" Why do Americans always use excess complicated words? Is it to sound smarter? Is it how they behave in the wild?

  16. This is so statisfyingly well thought out and modular I just love it, also I think gloves might help for stockpiling but even then the little grease and sweat can only oxidize so much metal before what little grease and oxygen is in that can is consumed entirely

  17. I found that the 50 caliber ammo cans are a great choice when you want to go to the range and not have to Lug a whole bunch of stuff to the firing line.

    When I go to the range if I know I'm going to shoot say 200 or 300 or even 500 rounds what I do is I take all the ammo and I put them in Ziplocs. This makes organization very easy it allows me to carry two handguns in there as well as my hearing protection and my eye protection it takes a little getting used to the two guns I put in as a Glock 22 full size and a Glock 27.

    Now for SHTF here's what I do again I get the 50 caliber ammo cans I take the ammunition keep them in their original boxes for identification purposes then I wrap them in Ziploc and then on top of that I take a contractor garbage bag do a homemade heat Sealing impact each box accordingly for that day that I hope Never Comes.

    I was further Amazed by the fact that through experimentation an AOW AR-15 can fit. I saw this in another YouTube video which inspired me……

    As for ammo cans 5 use the military surplus Harbor Freight even the Walmart brands made in China the only thing I always do is check the gaskets on them and put some silicone to keep the gasket in good shape. Otherwise a recommended Edition to your gear

  18. Putting your pistol cartridges nose down in the plastic cases makes them much easier to remove for loading your magazines.

  19. You shoot that much and you shoot a glock? lol… wow you say at the end "I like the 115 grain ammo the best" because you don't shoot.

  20. I really don't understand preppers that think touching ammo will render it useless but then they bury it.

  21. In Canada, we can’t have our ammo and handguns (or any firearms for that matter) stored in the same case touching each other. And because handguns are restricted (controlled) firearms, we can’t transport them without a lock on both the gun and the case it’s being transported in.
    Annoying? Sure, but our laws differ from the US

  22. You should store your firearm with the barrel facing down for access as well a proper safety. Treat every firearm the same so ya know as it's loaded.

  23. You guys are all wasting your time making suggestions to this idiot. He's one of those who thinks he's got it all figured out. Guy puts more time into organizing ammo than he does shooting. He treats gun ownership as an arts and crafts hobby.

  24. Lmfao..wow cans are nice..but u think way way too much about this…lol also no one wants anything from Idaho i think your safe

  25. it's the strangest coincidence that all 3 of the calibers shown in this vid are the exact 3 calibers i own..its only weird bcuz .357sig is one of them and thats not very common. Kudos!! I love this organization and explanation of everything and might mimic my storage after this. Definitely saving this to my "gun vids" youtube playlist.

  26. Good video info. & ideas. You can neatly get a case (1000 rounds) of winchester or armscor 9mm still boxed up in those 50 cal. army ammo cans. Just lube those seals once in a while so they don't crack. I find them fir $15 bucks. Usually I clean them with dish soap and dry them real good.

  27. I was looking to get those 100 round cases and didn’t know if they would fit the can with too much gap but your vid was great and cleared my doubts, thanks, god bless and long live the republic 🇺🇸

  28. My favorite configuration you showed would have to be the 8 cases of 9mm, 6 magazines, and 2 glocks. That would be the perfect last stand box or something to put under the seat in a truck.

  29. Hey look, It's the guy with the don't tread on me flag doing his daily walk around the block with his ammo cans! Just busting your balls, good video, I use 50 CAL to store my 7.62×39 and .22lr

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