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Fan of the Ammo Can – Top 10 Uses

Fan of the Ammo Can – Top 10 Uses

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Even as a child I was a big fan of the ammo can.  The military issue ammo cans are sturdy metal boxes with latched lids that can be used for a number purposes besides their original.  They come in a variety of sizes and shapes but all are designed to be air and water tight thanks to the a rubber gasket and latched lid with friction lock.  Additionally, these boxes each have one or more handles so that they are easy to carry.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the various uses of these boxes since a buddy and I recently got a steal of a deal on two pallets full through Government Liquidation.  Here are the Top 10 uses for your ammo can:

  1. First Aid Kit for a Rafting Expedition:  It’s perfect because it’s watertight and floats…just don’t forget to paint it a bright color so it’s easy to spot along the shore after you flip your raft.
  2. Tackle Box:  One of the most common uses besides that originally intended.  Again, it’s perfect because it’s watertight and floats…but also because it will tend to hold in the stench if you’re using stink bait to catch those catfish.
  3. Letterboxing:  Letterboxing is a hobby that uses GPS or maps to ‘treasure hunt’ with the treasure being a rubber stamp that you use to mark a small book you carry for that purpose.  There are many variations and it’s a great ‘game’ to get children and teens outside and teach them how to use GPS and maps.  Letterbox Caches are usually stored in a weatherproof box and an ammo can is a perfect choice.  Discover more about letterboxing here or here.
  4. Cache:  Need to store something outside and keep it safe and dry…consider an ammo can.  Don’t forget to drop in a desiccant package in case of ‘sweating.’  Wrap the ammunition can in a couple of plastic bags to help protect it from the water…rust is the ammo can’s only real enemy.
  5. Storing Nickels:  James Rawles over at Survivalblog has featured a number of articles about storing nickels in ammo cans.  If you’re wondering why you might want to store nickels read his article here.
  6. .30 Cal Ammo Can

    .30 Cal Ammo Can

    Shelf Brackets:  Suitable only to a bachelor pad or man cave unfortunately.  You build the shelves by placing an ammunition box at each end, add your shelf, add two more ammo cans, add shelf, etc.  Your shelves will be more stable if you add a spacer to the top of each ammo can so that the shelf rests on the spacer, not on the carrying handle (which is relatively narrow and wobbles a little).  Ammo cans are a highly underrated as home decor…live in an apartment with limited storage…use the ammo cans you make your shelves and perhaps store your nickels, ammo or other valuables you don’t need quick access to in them…a thief is unlikely to tear apart your bookshelves to look for the goodies.

  7. Tool Box:  Durable storage and has it’s own handle.  You could use several ammo cans for different categories of tools which could be easily stacked under a workbench.
  8. Strong Box (with the addition of a padlock capable bracket or gadget):  I’ve seen these used for drug storage in institutional settings (probably against some regulation these days though) as well as for cash boxes or pistol storage.  I even had a large (20mm) ammo box welded to a kayak trailer I had built.  By welding it to the trailer frame and adding a padlock there was secure storage for life jackets and boat gear.  Locking mechanisms can be purchased or do it yourself but be careful as some options will make your contents vulnerable to water and air.
  9. 20mm Ammo Can

    20mm Ammo Can

    Faraday Cage to protect from electronic equipment from electro magnetic pulse (EMP):  See video I found showing an ammo can Faraday cage here.

  10. Storing Ammunition:  There’s no better way to store ammunition for the long term…ammo cans were made for this purpose after all.  Military surplus ammo stored properly in ammo cans in the 1950′s (or earlier) is still available and is almost always still as good as the day it was packaged.
  11. Bonus use…Sand Table Kit:  Military units often represent terrain and military forces (friendly and enemy) through the use of a ‘sand table’ which is usually just a spot cleared off in the dirt.  Some Sand Table Kits get fancy with yarn to represent rivers, streams or phase lines and army men or miniatures to represent friendly and enemy troops or non-combatants.  Note:  I only saw this used in a mechanized unit…not something you’d carry on your back as ammunition cans are pretty heavy.  In the light infantry we usually used sticks, stones and a hunk of 550 parachute cord.

40mm Ammo Can

40mm Ammo Can

Have other ammo can uses I missed?  Use the comments section below to share additional uses with Prepography’s readers.

Andrew’s Note:  If you want a lot of ammo boxes buy them surplus from the government like I did (get together with your buddies because they’re sold by the pallet), otherwise pick them up locally there are usually good choices at gun shows.  Mail ordering these heavy items tends to double the price due to the shipping cost.  Additionally, stay away from plastic copies as they are poorly constructed compared to the originals.

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8 Responses to “Fan of the Ammo Can – Top 10 Uses”

  1. Faraday Cage Note: You’ll have to take out the rubber seal or connect the lid to the box with something conductive for it to work properly.

    • Jim says:

      Wouldn’t the hinges fill that role?

      • admin says:

        You’d think. Folks that have tested this method claim that crossing the rubber gasket with something conductive is also required. Tin foil is often mentioned as the solution as it will lay right across the rubber seal.

    • JW M says:

      how about if you had a hinge on the lid or a snap latch to keep the lid closed and in place?

      • admin says:

        Maybe so. Here’s one reference for a way to test your Faraday cage. I’ll be doing a post in the near future of another way to make a Faraday cage and will test it using this and any other reasonable looking methods I can find.

  2. A good way to get cheap dessicant is go to Michaels craft store (or any floral supply) and get the silicone beads for drying flowers in bulk. Then make your own envelope for it, in the size you require. I would use a scrap of fabric or a coffee filter, and just tie it with a twist tie.

  3. You can also house a squirrel cage fan in an ammo can, for your positive or negative pressure safe room – see http://www.alpharubicon.com, they have links to it. Also, another great survival site.

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