The 10 Best Ammo Cans
10. MTM AC30T 30-Caliber
- uses same shape as army surplus
- designed to last for years
- smaller than you might expect
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
9. Sportsman Series ABOX Men's Army Style
- attractive olive drab finish
- can hold hundreds of rounds
- somewhat expensive
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
8. Bunker Hill Security
- a rugged-looking design
- predrilled for padlock
- the handle is a bit stiff
|Brand||Bunker Hill Security|
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
7. U.S. Military Surplus M2A1
- powder-coated and polished exterior
- relatively sturdy construction
- the inside has been known to rust
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
6. Blackhawk! 970019
- handle conveniently folds flat
- very affordable price
- the paint chips easily
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
5. MTM TMC15
- made in the usa
- ergonomically-designed handle
- a bit on the bulky side
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
4. Plano Molding Tactical Custom
- transports easily
- water-resistant o-ring seal
- handle doesn't strain under weight
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
3. Rothco 81 MM Grade 1
- handle on each side for carrying
- removable lid with rubber seal
- also great for emergency gear
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
2. Solid Tactical Surplus Double Pack
- tested for air and water tightness
- hold more than 20 lbs
- the lids are removable
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
1. Mil-Spec M2A1 50 Cal
- not surplus - arrive brand new
- authentic military lettering
- pull-down latching tops
|Brand||Ammo Can Man|
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
From Wooden Crates to Metal Cans
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Originally made of wood, ammunition crates were used to store grapeshot and lead rounds aboard galleons and frigates, along the ramparts of bastion forts, and in arsenals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.
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.
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.