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GUNS Magazine August 2011 Digital Edition - Page 38

• JEff JOhN • My father has an old .22 rifle Q: and I was wondering if you could give me some information Meriden rifle Some of the 1943-dated British .303 Jeff bought cheap in the early ’80s had badly corroded cartridge cases and shouldn’t be fired (it also has corrosive priming). however, the ammo came in original stripper clips, which were hard to come by back then, and sweetened the deal. Photo: Jeff John regarding its age and value. It is a Meriden Model 15. The rifle has an octagon barrel, and stamped on it is “Meriden, Conn. patented 1912,” serial number 18XXX. Most of the bluing has turned to patina, but it is otherwise in very good working condition. Any information you could give would be much appreciated. K.C. Fish via e-mail The Meriden was one of the A: inexpensive rifles made around the turn of the last century by a company wholly owned by Sears, Roebuck & Co. The Model 15 was a slide-action .22 made when Sears acquired a Savage patent. The Model 15 was made from around 1913 to Meriden’s closure in 1918. Meriden rifles in the condition you describe may sell for $250 to $350, according to a recent Internet survey of prices. Q: Ammo Shelf Life he admitted he mixed up good ammo with some ammo sold to him “for salvage only” (he was supposed to pull the bullets and dump the powder). The salvage ammo had been stored in the Arabian Desert and the powder had dried out, raising chamber pressures dramatically. Fortunately, my Enfield held. In the mid 1990s, an acquaintance decided to shoot up several hundred rounds of 1890-dated US .45-70 ammo picked up from an estate. About half went off. If corrosion is present on the brass or bullets I wouldn’t shoot it unless it is very minimal and can be wiped away with a little 0000 steel wool. Be very wary of corroded bullets as the corrosion will be injurious to the rifle’s barrel. Another problem as ammo ages is primer decay, leading to duds or hangfires. If a round fails to go off, keep the weapon shouldered and safely pointed downrange! Wait a minimum of 60 seconds before opening the breech and ejecting the cartridge. You don’t want the cartridge case exploding and sending dangerous brass fragments everywhere. If you begin to experience duds and hangfires, I would discontinue shooting such ammo. If you want a hard and fast rule, consider ammo 50 years or older could be turning into the hangfire and dud stage. However, some ammo made prior to WWII is still OK. Holt shot some pre-WWII Peters .41 RF in last month’s Surplus Locker, but I found a partial box of .22 WRF from the same era was mostly duds. The value of a full box of unfired ammunition as a collector’s item is a consideration. I wish my acquaintance had offered to sell me that old .45-70 ammo. Just remember the personal safety of you, the people around you, and the gun you’re shooting are always going to be much more valuable than the cost of the ammunition. It really depends on how well A: the ammunition was made and stored. The longer the ammo has been around, the less you really know about its storage. I once bought 50 rounds of surplus .303 British and, upon firing the first round, it kicked like a mule, the head blew off the case and the case body fragmented. Going back to the dealer, ONLINE In various articles, I notice old ammo in original boxes pictured with the appropriate firearm. For example, Holt Bodinson once showed a box of Yugoslav 7.92 ammo dated 1955, and “Duke” often shows a WWII vintage box of ball ammunition. Is ammo this old dangerous? What is the shelf life of ammo? Russ Shinn via e-mail Due to the volume of mail received, GUNS cannot offer a personal reply. Please e-mail your question to or snail mail to: GUNS Q&A, 12345 World Trade Dr., San Diego, CA 92128 ALL NEW! Enter to win our monthly gun package giveaway WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • AUGUST 2011 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM 38

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