Armory, Self Defense, And EDC > General Ammo, Reloading, Bullet Casting, & Ammo Craft

Ammo Can Efficiency: Maximizing rounds per volume

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I've been experimenting over the last couple months with how to best maximize the amount of ammunition I can store within the conditioned space inside my house. 

The reasons behind this are several, but primarily is due to the fact that California laws will prevent me from buying ammunition in state without a background check, which will end my ability to buy online, as well.  So that means I have about 8 months left to buy years worth of ammunition, inventory and consolidate what I already have, and figure out how all of it can be stored as safely and efficiently as possible.

My criteria requires that longevity, water and fire resistance, as well as protection from incidental discovery, be maximized.  As such, I've been trying to cram as much ammo as possible into military ammo cans, which happen to be relatively cheap, and strong enough to be stacked high and tight. 

If I take out the shelving in my gun safe, I am able to fit three columns of 50 cal. cans stacked six high, along with a single column of six 30 cal. cans, and still have room for the long guns I need to keep in there.  I can't get all my ammo into the safe, but those 18 + 6 cans hold 3-4 times what would fit in there while still encased in standard packaging, which incidentally doesn't have the strength to be stacked that high without the risk of crushing.

Here's what I've come up with so far, by much trial and error (and mind numbing tedium, plus I also decided to shred all packaging identifying it as ammo before putting it out for garbage/recycle collection).

40 S&W 180gr:  2025 rds per 50 cal can, weighing just under 80 lbs per can. 

This was achieved by stacking the rounds on their sides as shown in the picture below.  Since the cases are essentially straight, instead of tapered like 9mm, the cartridges can all be oriented in the same direction throughout the stacking process.  It turns out that 13 rounds fit across the width of the can, which is then alternated with a layer 12 rounds across, for a total of 25 rounds for each sequence.  Nine rounds fit end to end down the length of the can, with 18 layers fitting within the height of the can with the lid closed.  I used cardboard cushioning between the can and the ammo, so there's no brass on steel contact.  The math for this arrangement comes out to 25 rds x 9 layers x 9 columns = 2025 rds.

For perspective, notice the volume difference in the picture below, the plastic trays containing all the ammo that fit in the can is stacked beside it for comparison.  While this is extremely efficient, moving an 80 lb can is problematic and you really must be careful and plan ahead to prevent injuries.

Honestly, while this was a serious pain in the ass to accomplish, every other round I've tried to stack efficiently has been even worse, but I'll show you what I've come up with so far.

308 Win 168gr:  425 rds per 30 cal ammo can, weight 29.21 lbs.  Notice the way the necks and shoulders of the opposing rows are interlaced.  This can be done in a similar fashion with bigger cans, but it takes more effort to keep the stacks from collapsing as you're building successive columns.

9mm 115gr:  While I have not obtained enough of this caliber to fill an entire 50 cal. can, I have determined that at least 2430 rounds should fit when stacked as shown below.  Notice each layer has to be flipped while building a stack.  This is more tedious than with 40, and isn't quite as stable, either.

22LR:  A maximum of 6000 rounds will fit loosely in a 50 cal. can and weighs under 20lbs.  Shown below is a 5000 round case of CCI Mini Mag after the plastic packaging was removed, which reduced the volume to a third of what it was.  I couldn't bear the thought of trying to stack this stuff, and since the efficiency of stacking diminishes with smaller calibers, it's probably not worth the effort.  After messing around with 5.56, I think the same may hold true for that caliber, as well, but I'm still experimenting.

What do you guys think, do I risk ruining perfectly good ammo by storing it this way?

Wow. That is a lot of work.  Throw some desiccant packets in and call it good.

There is a point where weight makes it unwieldy. I would recommend keeping some "bug out ammo" in more modest amounts so it isn't so heavy.

Alan Georges:
Wow indeed.  Strangely beautiful, all shiny and stacked up like that.  Interesting to see how tightly this can be packed, though I don't have anything like the patience to pull it off.

Wow that's some ocd ammo porn right there.

Any concerns with the weight on the bottom rounds causing deformations?


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