Will A Bullet Go Off In A Fire

Often times, questions about the behavior of firearms and ammunition in atypical circumstances arise, and one such enduring question has been the subject of much debate: will a bullet go off in a fire? To provide a comprehensive answer, we’ll look into the mechanics of ammunition and discuss how heat affects its performance.

Important Outline

Bullet Components and Design

The key components of a cartridge are the bullet, case, primer, and propellant. The bullet is the projectile that will be fired from the barrel. The case houses the primer, which ignites the propellant when struck by the firing pin. The propellant, often in the form of gunpowder, serves to create the high-pressure gas responsible for propelling the bullet out of the barrel.

Primer Sensitivity to Heat

The primer is composed of a chemical compound that is sensitive to both impact and heat. Firing pins typically deliver enough mechanical force to set off the primer, but if the primer were to reach a high enough temperature, it could also ignite.

Thermal Expansion and Risks

Metals and other materials expand and contract with changes in temperature. As the temperature of a cartridge rises, the case, primer, and bullet may all experience thermal expansion. Should the expansion cause the bullet to be forcefully ejected from the case, a discharge could potentially occur.

Temperature Threshold and Cooking Off

The term “cooking off” refers to the phenomenon of a primer or propellant igniting due to excessive heat, eventually leading a round to discharge. The exact temperature when a round might cook off can vary depending on the specific ammunition, but it often falls within the range of 350 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

Typical Fire Conditions and Bullet Discharge

While certain fires can indeed reach temperatures within the cook-off range, factors such as fire duration and the location of the ammunition within the fire can impact whether bullets will discharge or not. However, even if a bullet were to discharge within a fire, without the support of a firearm barrel to direct the energy, the discharged bullet will most likely not project in a straight line or with its full intended velocity. Similarly, the casing can act as a projectile, but its lightweight design renders it relatively harmless.

Safety Measures

It’s important to store ammunition away from extreme heat or potential fire hazards. In the event of a fire, it is crucial to inform the firefighters about the presence of ammunition within the building, as this knowledge will help guide their approach and decision-making during their response.

In conclusion, while a bullet can theoretically go off in a fire, the likelihood of it posing a significant threat is relatively low. Nevertheless, it is always better to take preventative measures by safely storing ammunition away from heat sources and informing emergency responders about the presence of firearms and ammunition in case of an emergency.

Step by Step Guide

This section will delve further into proper handling and storage of ammunition, to ensure that bullets do not go off when exposed to fires or other dangerous scenarios.

Step by Step Guide With Bullet Points

  1. Purchase a suitable, fire-resistant storage solution:
    • Fire-resistant safes or lockboxes can provide an added layer of protection.
    • Ensure that the storage solution has ample space for your ammunition and a secure locking mechanism.
  2. Store ammunition in a cool, dry location:
    • Choose a location with stable temperatures and low humidity levels.
    • Avoid dampness or areas susceptible to water damage.
  3. Organize and label your ammunition:
    • Clearly label the caliber and type of ammunition in each container.
    • Organize ammunition by usage, caliber, and date of purchase to ensure proper rotation and usage.
  4. Keep your ammunition separate from your firearms:
    • Ammunition should be stored in a separate location from firearms to avoid unauthorized access to both.
  5. Develop and adhere to a safe handling routine:
    • Always exercise caution when handling ammunition, even if you believe it to be inert or unloaded.
    • Keep your finger off the trigger and the firearms pointed in a safe direction when checking or cleaning firearms.
  6. Communicate with family members:
    • Ensure that every member of your household understands the importance of safe ammunition storage and is aware of the dangers involved.

Pros and Cons

Proper handling and safe storage of ammunition come with a number of pros and cons:


  • Reduces the risk of accidents involving firearms
  • Minimizes damage to ammunition from exposure to heat, moisture, and other environmental factors
  • Enhances personal and public safety in case of a fire or other emergencies
  • Compliance with local safety regulations regarding firearms and ammunition storage


  • Fire-resistant storage solutions can be expensive
  • Requires regular maintenance and organization of ammunition
  • Additional space needed for separate storage of firearms and ammunition


  1. Is it illegal to store ammunition in the same place as firearms? Laws and regulations vary, so it is essential to check with local authorities for specific regulations on ammunition and firearm storage.
  2. Can old ammunition still go off in a fire? Yes, regardless of age, ammunition can still be ignited and go off in a fire if stored incorrectly.
  3. How often should I inspect my ammunition storage? It is advised to inspect your ammunition storage regularly, at least once every three months, to ensure the storage conditions remain safe and stable.
  4. Do I need a specially designed container to store ammunition? While not required, a specially designed container offers added protection compared to improvised storage solutions, like repurposed boxes or bags.


Proper handling and storage of ammunition are vital steps in preventing bullets from going off when exposed to fires or other dangerous scenarios. A step-by-step guide for safe ammunition storage, along with understanding the pros and cons and addressing common questions, can help protect both lives and property in case of emergencies. Following these guidelines ensures the responsible ownership and handling of firearms and ammunition, contributing to overall personal and public safety.

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