Propellent Powders

Storage Of Rifle Propellants

Q:  I have been given three unopened cans of AR2209 powder.  that  had been stored for over 20 years. I would like to know if this  powder would be as good as new powder, or if it would have  deteriorated? How long can powder be stored  in its original  container without losing some of its power?
Geoff Mc Call
A:  I am unable to give a definite answer on this,  because there  is one unknown factor. Under what conditions has the powder been  stored for two decades? With proper storage, the shelf life of  modern smokeless powders is practically indefinite. But if  exposed to heat or light it can deteriorate in just a few months.  Your powder is in unopened original cans so its hasn’t had light  exposure. If you can determine if it was previously kept in a  relatively dry, cool place, then it will likely be as good as  powder of more recent manaufacture. If on the other hand it was  kept in someone’s garage or garden shed through many hot summers,  it will probably have badly deteriorated or at least lost some  performance factors. I keep all of my powder in old deep freezers  where it is insulated against temperature changes. I have Du Pont  powder that is probably over 30 years old and still in good  condition. However, I wouldn’t guarantee   that it hasn’t lost  some of its punch.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.