Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Guns.com.
The shelf life on ammunition can last a life time provided that is kept in good packaging and in stored in a dry area. Our carry ammo on the other hand is constantly exposed to moisture and cycled through firearms. This can cause rounds to be unreliable or dangerous to the user.
A few times a year I like to take all my rounds out of my magazines and inspect them. Rounds that have discoloration and corrosion may not work at all due to being exposed to moisture from the air and our bodies. You should also keep a close eye on the dimensions of your rounds. Are some rounds too long or too short compared to a new round out of the box? This can happen when the same rounds are cycled in and out of the chamber when we load and unload the gun. The projectile can be pushed in or pulled back too far out of the casing making pressures that are out of spec and dangerous to shoot.
My favorite way to get rid of older carry ammo is to shoot it! Although I would advise only shoot it if the round looks to be the correct factory dimensions. Cycling out your carry ammo provides a great opportunity to train with the rounds you would actually use in a defensive situation. When you replenish with the new stuff it would also be a good idea to write down the date to keep a good timeline.