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How to Use a Military P38 Can Opener?

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

how to use a military p38 can opener

Invented by Major Thomas Dennehy and first manufactured by J.W.Speaker Corporation in Wisconsin, the original P38 can opener was typical in US ration packs between the 1940s and 1980s.

It is known for being lightweight and portable, and you can attach this opener to your keychain or backpack or even put it in your wallet for use while traveling.

So, if you’re in search of durable, convenient pocket can openers, consider learning how to use a military P38 can opener! All you need is the tips below.

Steps to Use a Military P38 Can Opener

1. Open the Blade to a 90-degree Angle


Hold the can opener with the blade or the sharp metal tooth at the top. Move the blade so that it forms a 90-degree angle with the handle of the can opener.

2. Notch the Blade Into the Can


Next, find a can you’d like to open and notch the blade of the opener into the edge of the container’s rim.

3. Rotate the Blade

Rotate the Blade to open

To remove the lid, turn the opener or twist it downwards while running the blade notch along the lip of the can.

Eventually, the container lid will loosen enough so that you can cut it off.


Understanding how to use a military P38 can opener is easy enough. Though it was primarily designed for canned food, you may also use this tool to cut fishing lines, scrape pans, or even stir coffee.

There are many applications for this can opener besides unpacking goods, so it’s a great item to have while hiking or camping.

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