The 10 Best Ammo Cans
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Everyone knows that wet or dirty bullets are the worst friend a shooter can have, so don't leave your ammo stored where it can be exposed to the elements. These boxes will keep all of your cartridges dry and dust-free going to and from the shooting range. They also make great decorations for military-themed rooms, weatherproof storage for an open vehicle, or stash cans for survival gear. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 18, 2021:
We've updated our top choice to the Plano 1312. To be clear, you don't have to spend a fortune on a good ammo can, which is why the Plano is still generally the best. If you want something just a bit more high-end, the Solid Tactical Premium is a great choice. It also comes in a variety of colors in addition to two widths. The only completely new addition to this iteration of the Wiki is the MTM Case-Gard P-100, which is the perfect accompaniment to a day of handgun fun at the range. None of our other picks have been altered recently.
February 15, 2020:
A sturdy ammo can is a must for maintaining the integrity of your ammunition, and we have here kept choices in both metal and plastic that can do just that. In the former category, the Sportsman Series ABox Men's Army Style is a simple, but effective, choice for most; the Blackhawk! 30 Caliber is one to consider, as well, although it isn't terribly large. And, of course, there's always the U.S. Military Surplus M2A1, which offers an authentic feel for everything from storage to decoration. Note, though, that the stenciling on each individual box can vary.
Those who are interested in plastic items might consider the popular Plano Molding Tactical Custom or, for beefier needs, the MTM AC4C. The latter provides plenty of storage space and includes a crate with tie-down attachment points for your peace of mind. Finally, we added one slightly expensive choice, the Pelican Vault V250. It's incredibly rugged, and it has an ergonomic handle for comfortable transport. It won't let dust in, and can't be crushed easily, so you might even consider it for stashing some survival food or gear.
SecureIt Cabinet 1824 If you have too much ammunition for a box or two, you might consider the SecureIt Cabinet 1824. Even though it has a compact footprint, it boasts an ample capacity, with four adjustable shelves and both large and small bins. In fact, you can load it with up to 2,400 pounds of gear, so you aren't likely to run out of space any time soon. secureitgunstorage.com
Cabela's Clear Dry-Storage With just one glance, you can quickly see what is inside the Cabela's Clear Dry-Storage, which is transparent, just as its name suggests. Its molded plastic construction is robust, so you can count on it not to crack, and the brass latch closes securely and easily. cabelas.com
From Wooden Crates to Metal Cans
Due to their weight, cannonballs were rarely if ever transported in crates.
Best known for being olive drab and carrying .30 caliber cartridges during World War II and .50 caliber cartridges during the Vietnam War, ammunition canisters have enjoyed a long and colorful history as props in Hollywood war films, toolboxes housing jumper cables or wrenches, and fashion accessories for M2 Browning machine guns mounted on tripods along the Ho Chi Minh trail.
Originally made of wood, ammunition crates were used to store grapeshot and lead rounds aboard galleons and frigates, along the ramparts of bastion forts, and in arsenals close to where ammunition was manufactured. Cannonballs, on the other hand, were stored much the same way we store missiles today, on artillery magazines, stationary racks, or stacked in pyramids. Aboard the warships of the 17th and 18th Centuries, cannonballs were often kept in the hold where they served as additional ballast. Due to their weight, cannonballs were rarely if ever transported in crates.
After the American Civil War, when generals learned the hard way the importance of mobility and artillery shells began to replace cannonballs, wooden ammunition crates were used primarily for transport rather than both transport and storage. While each crate contained multiple handheld metal canisters, each canister contained multiple clips, magazines, or a single bandoleer.
By virtue of their portability, ammunition canisters could be shipped to the front and rapidly divvied up among entire platoons as opposed to each soldier at a time, ensuring that each soldier had the exact amount of ammunition required without wasting time counting bullets or 50-round boxes. Take a can and go.
On top of holding ammunition, metal canisters were also designed to be mounted to tripods to prevent bandoleers from tangling or getting caught while being fed into heavy machine guns. And thanks to their convenient, sturdy handles, empty canisters were often re-purposed to carry tools, additional rations, or medical supplies--a trend that continues to this day as both veterans and civilians alike proudly use old canisters as toolboxes, lunchboxes, and first aid kits.
The Proper Way to Store Your Ammunition
When using an ammunition canister for its intended purpose, storing ammunition, it's important to keep in mind where you will be storing the canister itself.
They are much cheaper than the ammunition they are designed to protect.
If you plan on storing your ammunition canister in a damp, cool place such as a basement or cellar, always be sure to use an airtight canister. Most, but by no means all, modern canisters feature waterproof or water-resistant gaskets, both of which provide airtight seals. However, just because a canister is advertised as waterproof does not mean it can be submerged in water for extended periods of time and should always be tested prior to filling it with live ammunition. Likewise, if you plan to store your ammunition by burying it, always be sure that whatever elements may penetrate the earth throughout the year do not also penetrate the canister.
In addition to ensuring that your canister is indeed waterproof, it is always best to err on the side of caution and include packets of silica gel as a desiccant to absorb any condensation that may accumulate inside the canister. The canister may very well be waterproof, but the air trapped inside the canister once it is sealed still contains water molecules that will undoubtedly condense if the temperature inside the canister is initially higher than the temperature outside the canister once the canister is placed in storage.
That being said, be careful not to simply toss a packet of silica gel on top of the ammunition before sealing the canister: a packet strategically placed in the middle of the canister, between the layers of ammunition, is bound to be much more effective in preventing potential corrosion as it will be equally distant from both the top and bottom layers of ammunition. When in doubt, use multiple packets of silica gel. They are much cheaper than the ammunition they are designed to protect.
How to Recycle Your Old Ammo Cans
Looking for a new ammo can to replace an old one with a deteriorated gasket? Don't be so quick to throw the old one out with the trash.
For every type of ammo you can store in an ammunition canister, there are a dozen different do-it-yourself projects that can put old, useless cans to good use.
Looking for a new ammo can to replace an old one with a deteriorated gasket?
Thanks to their shape and size, old steel ammo cans can be used to store more than just tackle, and Tuesday's lunch. With the right tools and a bit of engineering know-how, you can transform your old ammo cans into a complete collection of camping equipment, a battery-operated box fan, a battery-operated boombox, a portable wood-burning stove, a charcoal grill, and even a windproof oil lamp. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
For those who prefer to stay at home and play video games once hunting season is over, there's the AmmoLAN by George Perkins, "a highly portable mini-PC with massive storage space and a 10/100 NIC," built right into an old metal ammo can.
Whatever your other hobby may be, there's bound to be something you do with your old ammo cans other than throw them away.