How to Use a Military P38 Can Opener?

How to Use a Military p38 Can Opener

The P38 can opener is believed to have acquired its name from the 38 punctures required to open a C ration can. The gadget is sometimes referred to as John Wayne by many people since, during World War II training films, the officer demonstrated using them. P38 and P51 names are derived from their sizes.

Most of the C rations were canned between 1938 and 1951. It is possible to confuse the years with p38 and p51. The year may not necessarily have contributed to the name given to the gadget. P38 device was designed to open cans that had rations for the military during World War II. It is believed that the allocations were canned many years back. One of the soldiers who loved to explain the use of the P38 can opener claimed to have taken a ration that had its manufactured date similar to the year he was born and coincidentally his birthday.

Most people hardly know How to use a military can opener. It takes a while before you figure out how a Can opener works. There are various types of Can openers that work differently. Most Can openers are associated with military men or those people who love camping. There is a need to know how to use a P38 Military Can opener.

There are instances where injuries are acquired while opening Cans. It is believed that the same technology for opening Cans in the 80s is still the one used. In the can-openers industry, not much has changed for the last 30 years; neither is much expected any time soon.

How to use a military can opener?

Most people in the army are trained on how to use can-openers. Army men and women survive on canned food rations. Every army person is most likely to have a personal can-opener. Individual ownership or possession of a can opener in the military can mean a meal or a lost opportunity for the same.

Most people who do not have can openers use crude devices like knives to open the can. Whereas the device is fascinating to use, it makes everyday life easier and allows you to spend less time preparing meals. A can opener is an essential and helpful kitchen tool. A reliable can opener like the army can opener cuts down on your meal preparation time, making cooking more straightforward.

There are two types of can openers; manual and electric. You can bet army people have the manual version of the can opener. They do not have access to power most of the time during their operations, making it challenging to use electric type. Most electric can opener leaves a smooth edge on the can of all sizes.

Many can openers, especially those of the 1950s, were not ergonomically designed as it was easy to experience injuries as the can opened. A newer version of manual can openers like OXO smooth Edge has an easy-turn knob and a large handle.

The difficulty in the use of can openers finds acknowledged since time immemorial. A book published in 1977, by a designer named Victor Papanek, How Things Don’t Work, acknowledged the challenges we have with our can openers.

The army can openers characteristic of dull cutting wheels, the propensity to rust, the danger of having fingers caught between the can cutting part, and the drive wheel limits many ordinary users. The MORFED can opener dates back to 1914. The British army in 1979 modified the original design of the MORFED. Each soldier was allowed to have one or two devices as they were manufactured in great numbers.

This army can openers were used to open cans and found other uses as a screwdriver and match strikers. The opener was made with one moving part and a very tough alloy of steel and nickel to prevent rusting. As the army moved from canned food to boil-in-the-bag meals, production of the openers reduced significantly. Most of these military openers were melted down as scrap metals or thrown away, where their use declined.

How to use P51 can opener?

The device p51, like the p38, was designed for the military to open cans. Their sizes differentiate the two openers. Measured in millimetres, p38 has a 38 mm blade while p51 is 51 mm long. As a result of this, the big p51 supposedly cuts faster. The long edge makes it easier to manoeuvre around the can. The bigger size blade also reduces the risk of the cutter injuring the operator. Sometimes the hand holding the can is at risk of sustaining injuries from the cutting blade.

The p51 is primarily used in opening tray rashes, which are more significant than cans. It goes 51 times to open, just like the p38 that goes 38 times to open a can. Each blade has a code, and one can get a discount when buying or placing an order using the codes. On one end, there is a perforation that was used to hold the opener with a piece of wire when sterilizing it.

In conclusion, although our kitchen may deserve a heavy-duty opener, having a p38 or a p51 attached to your keys is likely to come in handy sometimes. The military openers are pretty cheap to buy and weigh very little.

How to use P38 can opener?

The design found that a p38 can opener would go 38 times to cut open a can completely. Notably, the blade is 38 mm in length. As much as the p51 edge was more significant, most people still found the ease of use of p38 much easier to handle than the long p51. Opening cans is far much easier with a p38.

Considering that the p38 can flip-flap the cutter and the blade, it finds its other use as screwdriver. The flat shape, when closed, makes it easy to use and carry along. The design was so that the tool weighed only a few grams, making it easy to carry for the army.


As mentioned, p38 was commonly known as U.S. military “John Wayne” survival can opener. Wayne used to film train during World War II using the device. The opener has a hole perforated on one end. Primarily, a wire through the perforation held the device when it was being sterilized.

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