Corrosive vs. “non-corrosive” surplus ammo tests

Non-corrosive ammo test

I recently bought some surplus ammo from, advertised as non-corrosive. After my tests, I’m convinced it is corrosive.   I don’t think the results of this test should reflect negatively on the company – I’ve had very positive experiences with them, and based on the fact that I found this ammo to be slightly less corrosive I believe it is an honest mistake. I just think people don’t necessarily do very thorough tests when they test their surplus ammo.

My results suggest to me (based on watching how the rust evolved on the different nails) that the 2003 “non-corrosive” surplus ammo from lever arms is slightly less corrosive than older surplus – it took longer for the rust to develop, and the rust isn’t quite as deep – but it’s definitely not clean like commercial MFS ammo. This test was done in Victoria BC during a rainy spring, and our humidity levels are very high. If you tested this in Alberta it would take longer for the corrosion to develop (maybe 2 or 3 weeks?), but you would eventually see it if you left it in an uncleaned gun in your safe for any period of time.

It is not safe to shoot this ammo and leave your gun without doing a standard corrosive cleanup. Period.  The broad head nails in this test were cleaned with a quick non-corrosive G96 CLP spray cleanup and still rusted.

Now, on to the details.

2003 “non-corrosive” surplus 7.62x54R headstamp

They’ve faced some controversy in the past over this labeling, but insist it passes a nail test. Others have reported mixed results.

“Non-corrosive” ammo details
Caliber: 7.62x54r
Packaging: 1000 round crate divided into 2 spam cans
Headstamp: 945  03 (Chinese factory #945, 2003 production)
Price: $375 + tax and shipping (~$450 total, or $0.45 / round)

Test procedure

Did 5 tests with 3 nails per test (double head, single head, and finishing type).  Used bright finish nails, cleaned with dish soap and hot water, dried thoroughly, then scoured lightly with emory cloth to scratch surface a bit.  Added a 6th test for MFS commercial ammo on day 4 (realized the ammo control was needed, because wasn’t sure if rust seen was due to just heating a primer around a nail, or actually from corrosive salt).  I cleaned all of the broad-head nails with a quick G96 CLP spray wipe down.

Test Time
8 days for all except 4 days for MFS commercial which I started later (but see bottom, bonus images, for day 2 comparison – clearly the “non-corrosive” showed corrosion after only 2 days vs. the 4 days for MFS so far).

Tested treatments

  1. 945/03 surplus (2003 Chinese 7.62x54R)
  2. 61/67 surplus (1967 Chinese 7.62x54R)
  3. 1985 7.62×39 (Chinese)
  4. No treatment – plain nail, non-corrosive control
  5. Calcium Chloride salt treatment – corrosive control
  6. EXTRA: MFS 203gr SP 7.62x54R, commercial production – non-corrosive control (added 4 days later on only one nail)

The MFS 203gr Softpoint 7.62x54R was added 4 days after the test started, as I realized I lacked a negative control for non-corrosive ammo (as opposed to just a plain nail). After seeing rust develop on the 2003 x54R, I realized I wasn’t sure if this was just something that would happen over time after popping a hot primer on a nail (even without corrosive primer salts) and wanted to test against known non-corrosive ammo to rule this out.


Not treated
Not treated
Corrosive calcium chloride salt (G96 cleaned nail)
Modern MFS commercial ammo (note: 4 days vs 7 days for the rest, see bottom)
Modern MFS commercial ammo
1985 surplus 7.62×39 (G96 cleaned nail)
1967 surplus 7.62x54R (G96 cleaned nail)
1967 surplus 7.62x54R (not-cleaned nail)
2003 “non-corrosive” surplus 7.62x54R (G96 cleaned nail)
2003 “non-corrosive” surplus 7.62x54R (not cleaned nail)

Bonus images

Powder pellets from MFS commercial ammo
2003 “non-corrosive” surplus day 2 (non-cleaned nail)
2003 “non-corrosive” surplus after 2 days (G96 cleaned nail)