I have had a very frustrating last couple of weeks with can openers. My “good” $10 hand held, comfortable to operate, can opener from Wally World lasted less than 2 years – whatever happened to quality?
Right in the middle of opening a can the gears stripped. Fine, I’m a prepper, I have another little metal hand held can opener.
Well, that lasted about 3 days and the gears stripped on that. So I went down to the pantry and brought up my third backup metal can opener from the dollar store and that didn’t even get through one can!
I had bought my husband a P-38 for his key chain a while back and ended up using that to open the can. The next day I went to the grocery store and bought a “better” can opener for $4, which lasted a week before the gears stripped on that one!
Now imagine being in a crisis situation where those cans of food are absolutely critical and you don’t have the option of just going out and buying another can opener – not good.
So, this last week I bought 10 P-38s at our local Army Surplus/prepper store – Minnesota Joes. Less than 60 cents apiece, these are standard GI issue.
The ex-military guy at the store explained that the name came from the number of turns it took to open a standard C-ration (or was it K?). Anyway, it comes with a handy little hole on the edge to put on a keychain and folds flat. Stick it on the can as shown above, catching the lip of the can in the cut out, and rock it back and forth and the can will open.
The blade can be re-sharpened and is handy in the kitchen to cut bags open with. My only complaint is the size, with my old arthritic hands. BUT it opens the cans with no gears stripping!
Now, if your preps include manual can openers (especially from the dollar store), and you are using an electric can opener because it is easier on the hands, I suggest you actually use your manual can openers and see how they hold up for you. If you become frustrated like I did, the humble P-38 may be an option for you as well.
There is very little worse than having a whole pantry of canned goods and not being able to open any of it except with a metal chisel, hammer and a strong likelihood of injuring yourself.
Definitely a great idea, Bev. :)
The P-38 can-opener is the finest piece of equipment that Uncle Sam ever issued. The “new” one on my keychain now is only about 25 years old, replacing the lost one I got at 18 years old. Still working great, opening cans, driving and loosening screws, prying stuff open, etc. (I never tried the apocryphal using it as a fishhook trick). My kids got P-38’s as soon as they got keys. :)
The newer p-51 version is bigger, so may be easier on the hands to use, but not as keychain-friendly.
When you can pick up a 100-pack at sportsman’s guide, it’s a cheap and very useful prep item. That way you can stash one in every pouch, bag, glovebox and any place you might ever need one. They’re also great “gentle intro” gifts for non-preppers.
Yep, I too did the Sportsman’s Guide buy. I have them stashed everywhere, and frequently give them as gifts. For their size, they are undoubtedly the handiest thing to have around.
Thanks Wyzyrd for the additional information and thoughts. Smart man to give them to your kids as well! And yes, a great gift!
I might just have to look into the hundred pack from Sportsmansguide!
Loving this post and all replies! We have purchased several ourselves, and keep one in a baggie along with a magnet, taped to the end of one of our pantry shelving units. The magnet keeps the baggie from pulling away from the tape. I know exactly what you mean Bev about being able to “tear up” can openers. Mr. WE2 says I’m the best…LOL I have an electric one (pretty expensive, all stainless steel) that I use daily, but we also bought a “Swing Line” from a prepper store we went to, and keep it in our camper (BOV). They’re expensive, but we do want to go back (it’s a couple of hours drive away from us) and pick up a couple more. They also have all stainless steel moving parts.
I have had pretty good luck with a “safety” can opener from one megamart or another (I don’t remember). I THINK it was about 6 bucks about 5 years ago. Prices have no doubt gone up. Mine appears to have all stainless gear parts inside a plastic body. The difference is that instead of cutting the top of the can, like a P-38, etc. it cuts the rolled rim outside the can. APPEARS to take less effort, and the cutting edge never touches the internal contents of the can. The top also won’t fall inside, and can be used a lid for refrigerating what you don’t use immediately.
It will feel a little odd opening the first can or 2. My former housemate could never figure the dang thing out, and had to buy a standard one. You’re all… ummm….. smarter..
Another use for an all-steel can opened this way: Cut off the bottom vs top of something like a tomato paste can. Clean out the inside, leave the label in place. Stick a bunch of whiteboard magnets inside, for weight and to hold the bottom in place. Put something inside that you want to keep safe, like some of those emergency dollar bills, close it up, and put it near the back of a cabinet full of other canned goods.
Excellent idea on the dummy can! I knew you could buy them that way, but didn’t think about making your own I guess!
I like the way you think Wyzyrd! :)
From “The Coach”…
You brought back a lot of good memories with that article on the P-38 can opener.
Here is some more info on them for you.
Another nick name for the is “John Wayne’s”! That is what the U.S. Marines called them.
Anyone that was in the U. S. Armed Services when they were using canned meals for the troops had one on their dog tag chain to be sure they could open the can field rations to eat.
To this day I carry mine on my key chain and have used it a lot when going camping.
They work GREAT and are VERY reliable.
I have also used smaller flat end of the P-38 can opener for a flat blade screw driver many times.
You were saying you were having a problem with the small size of the P-38 with your arthritis. They now make a commercial P-38 that is about 3 times the size of the military one.
If you show your P-38 to ANYONE that was in WW-II, Korea or Viet Nam you will see immediate recognition of what you have and you will usually get some good stories.
I like both the P-38 and P-51. Lately I find myself using the P-51. My eyes are not as good as they used to be and with arthritis in my hands the larger size makes a bit easier to use and find.
I’m gonna have to invest in some of these P38s…I also recently saw a post about how you can open a can by rolling it on a rock to unseal the seal, as it is rolled over, I’ll have to see if i can find it again and post it here