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20mm APDS - Lost any?

There has been something of a running fight over the life of propellent..

There is no doubt that cordite has a limited life; the breakdown products in the material are acid and accelerate the breakdown process. Luckily it was discovered that the mineral jelly that was originally put into cordite to reduce the wear on the extrusion dies neutralised the acid, thus extending the life (it did nothing to reduce wear..) The stabiliser did however get used up, and when it had all gone, the propellent would degrade quite quickly, and occasionally self ignite..! To monitor the amount of stabiliser left in the cordite, Woolwich developed the Abel heat test, which at one time was a regular chore for Ammo techs.. This however was mainly directed at Artillery nature gun propellent which is either kept in bags or in open cart cases. Generally speaking, in good storage conditions, cordite has a life of around 25 years.

There does however seem to be something about cordite in sealed small arms cartridges that seems to defy this received wisdom. I have examined cordite from .303 that is at least 80 years old, which looks in very good condition. The primers in these cartridges have undoubtedly deteriorated, however when they work, or the cordite is used in reprimed cases, the performance seems to be pretty good. I would have expected vertical stringing from uneven pressures, but there seems little evidence for this. I have not carried out any controlled experiments on this, however I think the storage in small quantities in sealed cases seems to make a difference..

The storage conditions are also relevant. Temperature and more importantly temperature cycling is what degrades ammunition. Cool, stable storage conditions is what you want. Provided you keep the oggin out, stable, cool storage is what you get underwater...!
I've been shooting some late 60's 7.62x51 of Indian manufacture (OFV) over the past couple of weeks. Looks like it was stored somewhere that was flooded by the Ganges but still shoots reliably & as accurately as any other ammunition out of THAT rifle & an Ishapore SMLE.

PS The brass is really nice for reloading...
Not only is the US Navy good at losing ammo, last year they managed to misplace a sailor for 7 days! They spent a week searching 6000 square miles of sea along with the Japanese maritime rescue and other warships.

Found him in a compartment in the engine room!

In other news, the Royal Navy may have to lose its amphibious ships....will they get washed up on a beach? :)


I've got a load of 1945 St Louis Ordanance .50 which shoots perfectly, easier to reload than CBC as well.
I found an 1943 LC .5ap round, the case neck collapsed when I pulled the bullet but the powder burnt well. It had been outdoors for over 70 years
In the mid nineties I listened on channel 16 to a Greenock fisherman that had caught a Tomahawk (still in its launch canister) in his nets.

Now THAT’S the winner!

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