Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gear- P38/P51

Possibly the cheapest yet most useful piece of gear I own. A few years back a google search for a camping can opener turned me on to this tiny tool. Basically it is a metal hook with a metal handle that has a lip that allows for retention and puncturing leverage. Repeat the motion while rotating the can...a simple, utilitarian design that is time tested by our Armed Forces and outdoors enthusiasts alike. Developed by the Government in 1942, these were once a part of standard issue rations but became obsolete with the coming of MREs (meals ready to eat) in the 80's. Also known as a "John Wayne," the P38 is supposedly named for the number of punctures it would take to open cans in a C-ration.

The larger version, the P51, is supposedly easier to use though I have never had a problem with the 38. I keep a 51 in my wallet, a 38 in my pack, a couple in the garage, one on the fridge...any time I am in an Army/Navy store that carries them I usually get a couple to stash or give away. If you look around the net you will find not only numerous sites devoted to the many uses but also many stories from Veterans and their fondness for P38's.

Simple, cheap and useful. No reason not to have one...or five.


  1. I've used one of these many times over the years. Great little tool.

  2. Great post! I never leave home w/out mine!


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