Dave’s Tips: Use Ammo Cans to Keep Gear Dry and Safe

It probably comes as no surprise that .50 caliber ammo cans are just great for storing ammo, but they can be used to protect and store things like radios, first aid supplies, spare parts, and rechargeable batteries.


Familiar to generations of soldiers, army navy store aficionados, and most preppers, the big green .50 caliber ammo can is a sturdy metal box with a tight, waterproof seal. Available new or surplus, ammo cans come with hinged top that can be removed, a convenient carry handle, and a solid latch that clamps down tight. The bottoms have a divot to accommodate the folded handle of another can, so they can stack on top of each other for convenient storage.

In addition to the .50 caliber cans, you can find skinnier .30 caliber cans, larger “fat 50” cans, flat cans that held .20mm rounds, and other sizes. We find the 50 caliber cans to be the best buy and a darn good size for easy, convenient carry. If you need to bug out in a hurry, you can quickly grab two cans and load them into the trunk of your car or the back of your truck.


Dave's Tips: Use Ammo Cans to Keep Gear Dry and Safe || Captain Dave's News & Views


Whether you choose to buy your cans new, or save some money and put a veteran can to good use, you’ll find a host of uses for these cans. In these tips, Dave describes how to get the most out of your ammo cans:


  • If the cans show some rust, which is not unusual for surplus cans, just brush it off with a stiff wire brush or use some sand paper and then repaint the whole can with some inexpensive spray paint. In Dave’s experience, a can of spray paint is sufficient for at least four ammo cans.


  • Buy different colors of spray paint and color your ammo cans to reflect their contents. For example, red for first aid, yellow for 20 gauge shells, and blue for electronics gear. That way, you’ll be able to quickly tell what you are grabbing.


  • Always label your cans so you know what’s in them. Use a Sharpie and masking tape or duct tape that can be peeled off should you change the contents. Dave labels the top and one side, so he can see their contents from either angle. If you end up with scores of cans, number then and keep a written inventory.


  • When storing ammo in your ammo cans, include a spare magazine and a bore snake or other cleaning supplies. Chances are, if you need those extra rounds, you could probably use a spare magazine or a chance to swab out your barrel. If you shoot a 9mm Glock, put a Glock 17 magazine in the 9mm can. If you are storing 5.56, put a MagPul or Hexmag in there with your rounds.


  • You can cram two whole MREs in an ammo can, but it’s a waste of a good ammo can. Better to fill it with just MRE Entrees. Keep MREs in their case or store them in a 5-gallon pail if you want more protection than the cardboard box offers.


  • An ammo can will hold five or six pounds of grain or beans. They are vermin proof and you don’t need an expensive sealer to seal them like you do a No. 10 can. (If storing unpackaged food, we recommend using only new, cleaned cans. If using old cans, be sure the food is in a strong plastic bag.)


  • You can bury an ammo can, but anyone with a metal detector will find them if they search for them. Still, the make effective containers for caches. They are also small enough to store in the crawl space, under the eaves, and in other locations that thieves are unlikely to investigate during a burglary.