My uses for the P38 Can Opener

Copyright © 2009 Kenneth Youngquist All Rights ReservedThe P-38 collapsible can opener was developed during World War II and has been indispensable ever since. It has exceeded it’s original purpose of opening cans and can perform many other duties in a pinch. I have listed below some of the ways that I have used this versatile keychain tool.

– tin can opener (duh!)
– tasting spoon
– striker for ferrocerium rod
– hearthboard coal transfer
– screw driver
– pry bar
– paint can opener
– shipping box opener
– letter opener
– label removal
– staple remover
– thumbtack remover
– paint spot scraper
– putty knife
– clean under finger nails
– privacy door knob key
– Velcro hook pad dethatcher

For more uses and ideas, you can use various web search engines that will provide many other lists to choose from. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section on different ways that YOU have used a P38. If you don’t have a P38 of your own, you can purchase one in the Survivaltek Store.

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10 thoughts on “My uses for the P38 Can Opener

  1. This is a very usefull little tool I have carried with me for years. You have given me many more uses for it than I had thought of. Thanks again

  2. Have you actually used the P38 as a Ferro Rod Striker? I’ve tried with no success. I even attempted to square up the edge with no success. I’m wondering if the metal is, perhaps, too soft.


  3. Hi Sean… Yes! I have successfully used a P38 as a ferro rod striker. Sometimes you need to rough up the outer surface of a ferro rod because it can be too slick to generate decent sparks. I use the bottom edge of the P38.

  4. Use a 1 inch or larger split ring (Keyring) through the hole in the P-38 as a lever to allow better torque on the opener when using the bottom as a screwdriver.

  5. There were two people from the national guard at my school today and they had a booth set up with recruiting info and pamphlets and stuff. One of them noticed my p-38 on my dogtags. He asked if I knew what it was called (I did answer correctly), and he also asked if I knew how many different uses it had. I said “No”. He said that it has 99 different uses. Does anyone know all of them? I have googled it and the closest I’ve gotten is this site. Any help would be great, thanks.

  6. I can add to the list.

    1)Gutting knife (rabbit, used to open the pelt)
    2)Seam ripper
    3)Fishing hook (must do quite a bit of work with a file)
    4)Ammo box opener (especaly tin sealed stuff)
    5)Round Extractor (the hook just happens to fit the AK/SKS perfect and lets you tug a bad round out)
    6)Makeshift knife for wood (you can dig out notches when making snare traps and such)

  7. I’m very depressed… I lost my P-38 last week on a keyring in Western MD.. I have carried it since July of 1978 when I went thru Basic Training for the Air Force… We were at the “Range” qualifying with the M-16 Rifle… We were brought boxes of ‘C’ Rations for lunch and each box had a P-38 in it along with the food in cans… I opened my food and was eating… The rest of the guys wanted to know HOW I got the cans opened??? I told them “With the can opener”!!! I finally had to show them how it worked… I had used one MANY times before in Alaska… Back in the EARLY 70’s I used to keep 2 cases of “C” Rations in the back of my Chevy Blazer along with other Survival “Gear”… Back then, we had NO CELL PHONES in Alaska… Where can I get another STEEL P-38??? All the ones today seem to be made out of some “softer” metal and will bend!!! I should have just put it in a drawer and kept it safe because it was at least 35 years old… I MISS it already!!!

  8. @Ron. You can find them pretty cheap on ebay. Just make sure you get the ones with U.S. SHELBY stamped on it and you will have the real deal. I just picked up a 5 pack for a couple of bucks.

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