Emergency Bug Out Bag Supplies: P-51 Model Military Can Opener Review

What is it?

The P-51 Can Opener is a military style tool with a sharp blade meant for opening cans. Its predecessor was the P-38 that has been around since WWII when soldiers used it. The P-51 and P-38 are called such because they are 51 and 38 millimeters long respectively. The P-51 is easier to use because of its larger size since it doesn’t require as much thumb pressure and requires fewer turns to open a can. Because of this, the P-51 was often used by mess hall cooks to open larger cans.

At a full 2 inches long, the P-51 is lightweight yet durable. There is a hole in the top so that you can easily add it to your key ring to always have it handy. The blade used to open cans folds back against the body when not in use, making it safe and compact. To use, flip out the blade and place the tip on the top of a can. Hook the notch on the side against the side of the can for leverage. Apply thumb pressure and the opener should easily puncture the can. Repeat this step moving in a circular motion around the can until the lid is removed.

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Why do I need it?

bail out bag suppliesHaving an emergency can opener is important for every bug out bag you own. If you find yourself without a proper opener, you may try using other tools such as a knife, which can easily lead to injury. The P-51 is small and lightweight, so you can carry it with you at all times. It is a great tool for camping and hiking because of its small size and its sharp blade makes it multi-functional.

They are so useful in fact, that when P-38 openers were issued in the mess kits, the soldiers would keep them and reuse them. The soldiers found many good uses for the tool. The most popular uses besides can opener included a cutting tool similar to a box cutter and a makeshift flat-blade screwdriver. Other uses included a scraper, fire starter, sinker, finger splint, and rope cutter.

checkMark Features

The blade sits folded against the body when not in use, and easily flips out. It is easy to wear it around your neck or on your keychain. It is inexpensive, strong and effective.

  • Weighs only 3 ounces
  • Comes in a pack of 2
  • 51 mm or 2 inches long

xMark Shortfalls

The P-51 is a pretty small tool and takes some practice to be able to use efficiently. It takes much longer to open a can than a regular can opener and a lot more effort. If you choose to keep it on your keychain, it can be a bit noisy when closed because it clinks together.


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how to pack for an emergencyThe P-51 can opener is an excellent emergency tool and should be a part of everyone’s bug out bag. Its size and portability also make it great for activities such as camping, hiking, and fishing. On a typical camping or hiking trip, I would not plan on bringing any cans because of their weight. However, aside from being a can opener it makes a pretty nifty cutting tool that can have multiple uses if you are crafty. It can serve as a back up cutting tool or simply your only cutting tool if you are planning to travel ultra light. It is a standard tool for many outdoorsman and for such a good price, it should be a part of everyone’s bug out or bail out backpack.