Ammunition

Safety advisory throughout the FSESO website is gathered from the firearms safety section of the RCMP website and RCMP Canadian Firearms Safety Course Student Manual.

Ammunition precautions

You must take every necessary precaution against incidents by adhering to the instructions below.

  • Ammunition must be stored out of children’s reach.
  • It must be kept away from flammables.
  • Ammunition for a non-restricted firearm may only be stored in a place where it is not within easy access to the firearm, unless the ammunition is stored, together with or separately from the firearm, in a securely locked container or receptacle that cannot be easily broken open or into.
  • Ammunition for a non-restricted firearm must not be displayed with the firearm or be within easy access to the firearm from which it can be discharged.
  • All ammunition should be stored in a cool, dry place, preferably in a vented container. This will reduce the chance of corrosion or breakdown of the ammunition components that could cause the firearm to jam or misfire.

Ammunition hazards

The selection of the correct ammunition for the firearm is critical to safe operation. Modern commercial ammunition is normally very reliable but there are several ways the cartridge may not fire.

  • A misfire is a cartridge that does not fire. Misfired cartridges should not be reused in the firearm and must be disposed of properly.
  • A hangfire is a delayed fire in which the firing pin strikes the primer but it does not create enough flame to ignite the powder instantly.
  • A primer pop (squib load) happens when the cartridge does not contain any gunpowder. The firearms will discharge the primer without the usual noise or recoil.
  • If the trigger is pulled and there is no noticeable discharge, wait 60 seconds while pointing the muzzle in a safe direction. If there is no hangfire within 60 seconds, open the action and unload the firearm. PROVE the firearm safe to ensure there is no blockage lodged in the barrel.

Ammunition storage

  • Ammunition should also be kept clean and dry. Oil, sand or dirt on the cartridge or shell can damage the firearm. It could also cause jamming of the action.
  • Avoid exposing your ammunition to heat and vibration. Powder can decay and become unpredictable if exposed to excessive heat and long-term vibration.

Additional Ammunition Safety Points

  • Carry ammunition only for the firearm you are using.
  • Never experiment with unfamiliar ammunition.
  • Using modern ammunition in old firearms may be hazardous.
  • When a misfire occurs, slowly count to 60 while pointing the muzzle in a safe direction. Remove the cartridge following safe procedures. Then, carefully inspect the bore for obstructions.
  • Never use old or corroded ammunition or reloaded components.
  • Never use cartridges if you are uncertain about their safe use.
  • Never interchange smokeless powder and black powder. Use them only in firearms intended for their use.
  • Store all ammunition so that unauthorized persons do not have access to it.
  • Ammunition should never be displayed with a firearm.
  • Ammunition is most safely carried in its original container.
  • When hand loading your own ammunition, be certain to strictly follow the procedures in the manuals about reloading ammunition. Treat primers with extra caution— they are explosive devices.