Building an Ammo Can Survival Kit: 17 Must-Haves, and How-To

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By Bryan Lynch •  7 min read

Ammunition cans make excellent containers for storing survival supplies and they have been used in this manner for a long time.

Ammo Can Survival Kit

They are extremely durable, last a lifetime when properly taken care of, watertight, and provide an easy means of transporting supplies from one place to another.

Choosing an Ammo Can

Not all ammunition cans are created equal.

Some are constructed from metal while others are made from plastic.

The size of the can also be different depending on the type of ammunition that is intended to be stored inside.

One that is made out of metal will provide the most protection but will add weight to the kit which will be noticed when it needs to be transported.

A plastic can will be much lighter and easier to carry but they are overall, much less durable. 

What the can is made from and its size will depend on the supplies you wish to put inside as well as where you plan on storing it.

Why Use an Ammunition Can?

When it comes to using ammo cans to store supplies, I have met people who love using them and people who hate using them.

There are some downsides to using an ammunition can for this purpose but I want to start with what makes them good.


This is an important aspect when storing emergency supplies because there may be a time when you need something right now and do not want to be digging through a bunch of stuff. These containers allow supplies to be neatly arranged for when you need them.

The size and shape of most ammunition cans also make them easy to stack and store.

Easy to Move

There are several reasons survival supplies need to be moved. An area has become unsafe and you need to get out of dodge or you are moving to a new home and the supplies simply need to be moved.

Either way, these cans make that task easy due to their carrying handle and their size. Their somewhat small size limits the number of supplies that can be packed inside, which helps to keep the kit from becoming too heavy.

Durable and Watertight

As I hit on earlier, these containers are extremely durable. I have stood on them, jumped on them, tossed them around, and dropped them from a moving vehicle. These cans will take a beating and keep on going.

 On the underside of the lid is a rubber seal that wraps around the entire length of the can. This seal helps to create a watertight barrier and are easy to replace.

Create a Cache

Another popular use for ammunition cans is to create what is called a supply cache.

A supply cache is a location along your exit route or a spot away from your home where supplies are stored.

These caches can be camouflaged with local vegetation or they are buried underground.

The durability of these cans makes them well suited for use in these caches.

The Downside

The biggest downside to using ammunition cans for storing supplies is that they are not discreet.

Most people who see these containers know exactly what they are and will surely check them out.

For this reason, it is best to store these containers away from curious eyes.

Building an Ammo Can Survival Kit

Making survival kits is fun because you get to personalize them. They can be loaded up with supplies to serve a specific purpose or a variety of items can be loaded in to help serve a broad range of tasks.

Below is a list of supplies for a general-purpose kit that can be picked up at a moment’s notice and will give you a little bit of everything.

  1. Butane lighter. A quick and easy way to produce a flame.
  2. Ferrocerium and magnesium rod. A back up to the butane lighter that is completely waterproof and they will last an extremely long time.
  3. Jute twine, fatwood, or cotton. Use this for fire tinder.
  4. Resealable plastic bags. Can be used as dry bags, water collection, general-purpose container. 
  5. Heavy-duty trash bags. Can be used as a poncho, shelter material, and many other uses.
  6. One freeze-dried meal.
  7. Sawyer Mini water filter. Hydration is critical and a small, effective filter will prove invaluable to have. 
  8. First-aid supplies
  9. Multitool. These provide a lot of tools in a small package and are extremely handy to have.
  10. Knife. The nice thing about an ammunition can is that it is large enough to accommodate a good four to five-inch outdoor blade.
  11. Duct Tape. This tape is so useful that it should be in every kit. A roll of it can be bulky and hard to pack in a can. Instead, tear off the desired amount from the roll and fold the tape over itself to create a flat rectangle.
  12. Cordage. Just as useful as duct tape and you never know when you will need some. The type and amount of cordage are up to you.
  13. Fishing supplies. A robust fishing kit when properly thought out is extremely useful and does not take up much space.
  14. Flashlight. Because no one likes to be in the dark.
  15. Batteries. These should be batteries that are specific to your gear and they should be kept organized in their own container to prolong their lifespan.
  16. Physical map and compass. Electronics can easily become unusable so these tried and true navigational tools could make a journey much easier.
  17. Ammunition. Did you think this item wasn’t going to make it on the list? The amount and type to pack are up to you.



Open Questions…

Q: What do I do if the rubber seal has broken?

A: Replacement seals are readily available. The old seal should be removed and a new one is easy to install.

Q: Can the cans only be purchased with the ammunition inside of them?

A: Not at all. The popularity of the cans has made them their own product. Empty cans can be found at most sporting good stores, flea markets, and second-hand stores.

Q: Will the cans rust out?

A: New ammunition cans have a protective layer of paint that will eventually wear out and flake off. When this happens, the underlying metal will be more susceptible to rust. Touch up paint on any bare spots will help to keep them from rusting.

Wrapping It Up

These versatile containers can store an array of supplies ranging from food to batteries.

They can be used for creating specific kits or general-purpose kits.

They can be easily stacked and stored in a home, in a vehicle, or used in a supply cache at a location of your choosing.

Ammunition cans provide an affordable, durable container for anyone wanting to keep their supplies organized and well protected.

So, the next time you are wondering what to store your supplies in, I encourage you to take a closer look at these widely used and functional cans containers.

Thanks for reading and stay prepared!

Have you ever used an ammunition can to make a survival kit? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know about it!

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.