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  1. #1

    Ammo cache retrieval results- 16 years underground

    It's about time to check it, rotate and replenish so that's just what we did.

    How does ammo fare underground for 16 years in a wet area? Let's see-


    Getting there is half the battle! "But wait I thought all the nerdy self proclaimed list making but not doing anything survival experts always say plant your caches vertically instead of horizontally?"

    Yes, people that have rarely ever done this, or more to the point RETRIEVED a cache 5, 10, 20 years after burial always state to bury them vertical. Theory being that it makes a smaller signature for metal detectors. But how does that really hold up in the "real world?"

    First off, the cheap $199. metal detector I bought 15 or more years ago specifically to FIND a cache I deployed vertically can find a cache several feet underground it whether it's vertical or horizontal, so I think the "smaller signature" thing is utter BS.

    Also, having actually retrieved a few caches that were put in vertically, I can tell you that when you go back 10-15 years later to retrieve it EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT!

    "Oh but internet survival expert list maker guy said just take a couple azimuths to some trees and triangulate and you'll be fine."

    Once again, most internet list maker survival "experts" haven't actually DONE this stuff, so.... Yes have some landmarks noted, but some landmarks CHANGE over time. You come back and find out oh crap someone has logged this area, someone pulled down the old fencing I used as a "landmark", etc.

    "But, but, but but GPS doood, get with the times..." Yes it may be working post collapse but it may not.

    So why horizontal instead of vertical? Because you can find it easier and retrieve it easier.

    A 6 inch tube 3 foot long deployed vertical leaves you a SIX INCH target to find in a landscape that could potentially change dramatically from the time of emplacement to the time of retrieval. However if that same 3 foot long tube is deployed horizontally you have a 3 FOOT by SIX INCH target to find. Trust me, this is much easier to find.

    I have spent countless hours probing and digging around a 10x20 area looking for a vertical six inch tube. This is the reason I own a metal detector... In contrast we pulled the tube in these pics quickly, walking to the spot, probing twice and finding the tube quickly.

    Less time at the cache site is important now and could be life or death important later if you are retrieving it under truly bad circumstances. Also a horizontal placed tube can be levered out of a hole in softer soil once enough dirt is removed.

    So this one was your standard 6 inch PVC pipe with GLUED ON end caps. NOT "test caps", NOT "threaded" caps (can leak over long time). A lot of people like to argue for threaded caps claiming it makes retrieval of items quicker. I put in several PVC caches with screw on threaded caps in the 90's. Every one of them suffered water leakage over time. I won't say what was in some of them, but suffice to say it cost me several hundred dollars using threaded caps. Also, threaded caps may seem easier now, but after 10-20 years with sand, grit and gunk in the threads, it will not be as easy to unscrew as it is now clean and dry.


    Another consideration is sizing your tube for ease of carrying. People tend to get greedy with space and think more is always better. Again, not really thinking ahead to the day when you are perhaps cold, tired, sick, wounded, perhaps being chased and trying to find and retrieve these at night. People talk about net bags, little pieces of wood on a string etc. to pull the items up out of a vertical cache. That's cute. But the little block of wood takes up space that will be at a premium. The net bag isn't a bad idea if it works. The important part is that you size your tube where you can carry the whole tube off quickly if need be.


    On this particular one I used a thin mylar bag for the ammo. Back in the 90's you could find these bags, which are actually rolls of material originally used for packaging MOPP suits. The material is a bit weak, like a cheaper mylar liner for a 5 gallon bucket is. I would not use them again. The ammo is loose inside the bag and I would definitely change that now- putting a couple hundred rounds in individual 1 gallon mylar liners inside the tube. But we work with what we have at the time, and the 1 gallon mylars weren't an option when I packed this.

    The ammo did fine and I cannot find a trace of moisture or rust issues, despite the fact that this was deployed in a swamp for 16 years now Oxygen absorbers were used in the mylar liner as well.


    What I would have changed-

    So this was a specific drop for a specific purpose, suffice to say I'm not showing you everything However changes I would make-

    *Now that 1 gallon mylar liners are common (they weren't back then) I would pack 100-150 rounds in each mylar and pack the tube full of individual bags. The net result when I have done it this way has been less total rounds in each tube. However it is easier to handle both now and in the future.

    *Extra mags- I was surprised to find no extra mags in this tube. I usually put a few extra mags in these.

    *A "dead" end- this corresponds nicely with the mags. So thinking ahead, how will you OPEN this in a bad situation? Small hacksaw blade in your pack? Workable but a PITA big time. Power tools may not be an option. I would submit that you should MARK the end that has mags in it and purposely keep ammo back a bit from it. Why? So that you could potentially burn some of the end to open it in the field if you had no other options. Don't read that wrong and post some dumb crap- I'm NOT saying burn the whole flipping tube!!! I'm saying under primitive conditions, with maybe only your field knife, how are you going to open this in the field? Remember the "cold, hungry, sick, at night" part? Don't expect the sun to be shining and every power tool in the world available to you if you ever REALLY need to open one of these. WORSE CASE, you could carefully try to get the "dead end" cap melting by just barely letting it burn and scraping a hole with a stick as it burns. Hence why you might want to not have ammo stacked at one end of the tube. Far fetched yes, but stupid crap happens when we don't plan ahead. Also, just CUTTING the cap off later with something like a reciprocating saw is a lot easier and safer when you know the worst that's going to happen if that you hit a metal magazine, versus worrying that you will hit a cartridge with the saw blade.
    Last edited by Lowdown3; 04-01-2019 at 04:24 PM.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Central Florida

    The above is a trick I learned from a plumber friend years back, was actually astonished there was a youtube video on it (shudda known better ) beats typing all that out. But this is a visual for your heating process. wonder if a heated can over an end cap would work??? looks like a trip to one of the many dumpsters at all the apartments going up around here is in my near future ( yes I get permission first to dumpster dive ) its better then getting kicked out. Or cops called.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Patriotic Sheepdog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Not where I want to be
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    I have tried this on a smaller PVC pipe, like a 1-1/2" but not a bigger pipe like a 6". I don't know why it wouldn't work though...LD3, maybe you could try it since you have a spare 6" pipe that has sat in the ground for 16 years....I don't have a pipe that large here....
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