Camping & Survival

Throwback Thursday: 50 Survival Uses for Ammo Cans

Picture shows a metal army surplus ammo can.

The first and obvious use for these  new and surplus metal and plastic ammo cans is storing your ammunition. However, there are limitless uses for ammo cans whether in a survival situation or not. Ammo cans are perfect for the garage and workshop; or camping, hunting, boating, cache, the shooting range; or a 72-hour bug out kit and extra storage in your vehicle. I have seen people make space heaters, barbeque grills, mailboxes, and even radios out of ammo cans. The gasket lids and o-ring seals create a water-resistant seal and are perfect for caching valuable items. The plastic ammo cans offer durability, the same water-resistant seal and are undetectable to metal detectors. Bury them along a fence line, as most treasure hunters will think the metal detected is part of the fencing system. Items in metal ammo cans can rust, so throw in a desiccant or store your gear in a waterproof bag first to prevent moisture damage to the contents.

Here is my list of 50 possibilities:

  1. Fill with dirt or sand to fortify your shelter
  2. Ammo cache
  3. Pistol storage
  4. Animal trap
  5. First aid kit
  6. 72-hour bug out kit
  7. Use to wash clothes
  8. Take the lid off for use as a fire box or stove
  9. Field commode
  10. Faraday cage
  11. Foot stool
  12. Planter
  13. Food storage
  14. Cooler
  15. Heat water
  16. Safe
  17. Gather water
  18. Burial cache
  19. Boat storage
  20. Space, tent or shelter heater
  21. Oven
  22. Spare gun parts storage
  23. Spare car battery and jumper cables storage
  1. Car jack
  2. Ham radio and equipment storage
  3. Nails, screws and other small item container
  4. Kindling, tinder and matches container
  5. Flares, gun powder and other flammable item storage
  6. Emergency fishing kit and tackle box
  7. Grease, oil, lubrication and other liquids container
  8. Rain gear storage
  9. Waterproof document storage
  10. Precious metal and coins cache
  11. Toilet paper container
  12. Make a raft
  13. Anchor
  14. Make charcoal
  15. Make a field shower
  16. Emergency cooking supplies storage
  17. Stool or workbench support
  18. Fill with dirt and use to throw off scavengers from your real cache
  19. HAZ-MAT waste container
  20. Fill with dirt, sand or other material to add weight and use as a weapon
  21. Since they are thin and stackable use to store bug-in preps in an apartment
  22. Emergency repair kitparacord, hammer, zip ties, superglue, patches, etc.—storage
  23. Injured leg support
  24. Game box
  25. Battery storage
  26. Butane and propane canister and lighter fluid storage
  27. Seed storage

What other uses can you think for an ammo can? Tell us in the comment section.

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Comments (28)

  1. I use to put 1/4 full with water, drop in ration packs and wire them to the exhaust vents on my LEO 1 to heat meals while I drove on Op.
    I do the same now with tractor and side by side, when you’re ready to stop and eat, meals ready!

  2. If you use it for ammo storage, seat the lid using the latch, then undog the latch. If it engaged, the ammo can becomes an unintended bomb during a fire.

  3. I do like the idea of filling the can with dirt to use as a “gift” for sticky fingered scum. An inexpensive padlock insures that they carry the whole bundle with them until they feel they’re far enough away to bust it open.

  4. How to test if it’s a faraday cage or EMP proof
    Place cell phone in, close lid and call it. Try it for your self. You might rethink all the things you thought were factual.
    Just saying, test before you rely

    1. Real US ammo cans made after 1967 make metal contact at the hinge, at the clasp, and the overlap on the sides is both tight and blocks the signal– at least on testing with cellphones and walkie talkie pairs.

  5. Metal ammo cans do not work as faraday cage due to the rubber gasket. Place your cell phone in the container and call it with another phone. it will ring. For a faraday cage you need a metal container with a tight fitting lid. Christmas cookie tins or large popcorn tins with tight fitting lids work well. I have demonstrated this effect for local ham clubs. fine metal mesh like window screen will also work if there is metal contact all around the perimeter.

    1. It is my understanding that gaps smaller than 1/4″ are typically considered EMP safe. Some Faraday cages or rooms are just metal mesh.

  6. I have an with emergency coffee setup – single burner, small percolator coffee pot, You could add a second can for butane and a few 12 oz. packs of favorite coffee.

    1. I thought the same thing. I think maybe that they meant to use it to store a small car jack in it.

    1. @ Ross.

      You’re NOT using the Ammo Can to raise the Car, but using the Ammo Can as a Alternate Car Support Stand (i.e. Garage Support Stand/Jack)…

  7. The “STEEL” Ammo Cans make great “DIN” (Radio) cans. A Marine Grade Shortwave Radio within a Steel “Faraday Cage”. Or you can buy them directly for converted Ammo/Radio Cans…

  8. Interestingly reuse of an article about reuse of the ammo can, but high on your list of uses is storage of a spare cellphone with chip, ready to rock and roll, small, short range communications radios and one or more solar panel charger for those electronics– because closed up they are an EMP shield, but easily accessed to confirm battery levels and ensure the items are ready to use.

    Could be someone popping off a nuke, could be a huge solar flare, but having those electronics puts you well ahead of the recovery and coping curve.

  9. We used to bolt 50 cal and 50 mic cans to our tractors and farm trailers to hold the tools, straps, spare parts, etc. for that machine. Was a great way to always have what you needed handy and didn’t take up much room on the machine.

  10. Love all the various US ammo boxes. They are great for carrying heavy things as they are heavy duty but you really need to examine the weight of the box itself. If you are going to carry it around at all, toilet paper is not a good thing to fill one up with. They make great ovens-once you burn the paint off of course, a roll of aluminum foil would be better stored in THE box for oven use. I know people that carry in their vehicle multiple boxes with various gear but the boxes weight more than the gear they contain. Does a set of wrenches really need to be stored steel ammo box? No!
    Keep in mind you may be carrying around the weight of a small child every where you go just to keep some wrenches safe?? Gas mileage will suffer….

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