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25 Survival Uses for Ammo Cans

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25 Survival Uses for Ammo Cans

Old ammo cans are incredibly useful if you’re a prepper. They’re designed to be sturdy, stackable, waterproof, and easy to transport (with handles on the top and the front). That’s why militaries have been using them for decades.

There are several sizes and shapes, but they all have the same basic design which hasn’t been modified since the 1950s. If you’re a prepper, you should consider acquiring some ammo cans as they have many uses in addition to storing ammo.

In this video, Sensible Prepper comes up with 25 uses for ammo cans. Here’s his list.

  1. Store loose ammo.
  2. Store boxed ammo.
  3. Collect/store casings.
  4. Store magazines (loaded and unloaded).
  5. Make a survival kit.
  6. As a step stool.
  7. Keep tinder dry.
  8. Store matches, lighters, etc.
  9. As a stool for sitting.
  10. Make a vehicle emergency kit.
  11. Store handguns.
  12. Carry water (but don’t drink it).
  13. Wash clothes.
  14. Make a field toilet.
  15. Store medical supplies.
  16. Attach to vehicle (for extra storage).
  17. Build a radio.
  18. Forify your area.
  19. Make a survival cache.
  20. Store important documents
  21. Store seeds.
  22. Store flammable items.
  23. Make a cooler.
  24. Make a heater.
  25. Store electronics.

Be sure to watch the video to hear him explain these applications.

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12 Comments

  1. Bemused Berseker on January 25, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    All of my ammo is in cans, I’ve only a couple of the plastic kicking around. Even the large P124 cans are great for storage. In one, an AR fits with room to spare. This can is buried on the property.

    Cans that are going to be exposed to the elements get some special treatment before. First, they’re filled with water and placed upside down for 24 hours to ensure the waterproof integrity is there. After drying, they’re bead blasted and cleaned to remove any rust or debris. Then primed inside and out with epoxy enamel (2 coats). After its cured, additional epoxy enamel in appropriate color or camo is applied (4 – 8 coats). If I’m using the can to store a firearm, the can is lined with 1/2″ closed cell foam to prevent damage to whatever is inside.

    The “buried” can has been in the ground 8+ years. Every year I dig it out and check, and so far there has been no compromise of the can or its contents. The AR is seperated into upper and lower with each piece sealed in a gun bag. The bags contain a rust inhibitor. Magazines and ammo are sealed in heavy plastic pouches with a dessicant pack and as much air removed without creating a vacuum. No optic on the AR build, just sights, so no batteries to worry about for a scope or optic.

    I’ve also have one of the 20mm cans in the ground with freeze dried meals inside. I check it yearly as well, but also look at expiration dates and rotate to combat the freshness issue.

    There are a number of online vendors you can purchase cans from, if you can’t find them locally. Most of my larger cans came from Sportsmen’s Guide, as our local Surplus Store usually only has the .30 and .50 cans on hand. When you find a vendor, watch for the sales they have, BOGOs and free or reduced shipping are the times to buy.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with plastic cans, but their longevity is a question. A couple of my cans are WW 2 era (they open from the long side rather than the more modern short side), but I’ve noticed the seals on those have small cracks, so they’re only used as storage for things that water wouldn’t ruin.

    For larger gear, I use the MTM totes. The fact that they can be sealed and locked, makes them worth the few dollars more they cost than Rubbermaid totes.

    You’re only limited by your imagination. Ammo Cans are great MacGyver projects. A good example of their integrity I noticed a few years back when my grandfather passed. Since I ended up inheriting his small collection of firearms and ammunition. In one can were boxes of .22LR dating from the 50’s and 60’s. This ammo still functions, though a few I’ve had mistrikes with, not as many as I thought I’d have. Using them in an old H&R revolver, about half of the mistrikes fired after a second strike. This is 60 to 70 year old rimfire ammo, stored in ammo cans and kept in a cool, dry environment. I was pleasantly surprised that it still functioned, as that was contrary to what I’d been led to believe. Ammo cans are a great storage system for preppers.

  2. J. Nicolas Ramos on April 11, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    You can also buy them at gun shops or gun clubs. They sell the ammo and also the empty cans.

  3. Steve on April 7, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Harbor Freight stores have metal 50 cal. ammo cans and smaller plastic ammo cans. They are online if there isn’t a store nearby.

  4. LEEE HOOVER on April 7, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Real need might be DRY SOCKS & Underwear.

  5. Vickie on September 18, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Can they be used as small faraday cages or do they have holes?

    • Alan on September 19, 2017 at 6:25 am

      Yes, they can definitely be used as Faraday cages. Check out this article: http://readynutrition.com/resources/build-your-own-faraday-cage-out-of-an-ammo-can_01032016/

    • Bemused Berseker on January 25, 2020 at 12:17 pm

      Alan’s spot on. I’ve a 20mm can set up as a Faraday cage using the instructions from the link he provided. Our radios, GPS, a Portable DVD player and a couple of watches/clocks are kept in there should an EMP hit.

      Most of the materials you need to do the project are available on Amazon. A few, I actually found at Guitar Center, as musicians use many of the same components to shield their electric guitars from RF interference and AC Cycle hum.

  6. mychelle on September 16, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    where can i buy one of the old metal ammo cans? i can only find the plastic ones anymore. even on amazon 🙁

    • Alan on September 18, 2017 at 7:51 am

      Look for army surplus stores in your area. Call around and ask if they have any.

    • Thomas Beer on September 18, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      Truprep Store in Marietta GA has a room full of several different sizes of surplus metal cans.

    • mark on November 27, 2017 at 5:31 pm

      Wal-Mart sporting goods

    • * * * * * * on January 2, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      Harbor Freight carries both the plastic and metal ammo cans. Plastic are about 1/2 the size of the metal ammo cans.

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