A notch just under the hinge point keeps the opener hooked around the rim of the can as the device is “walked” around to cut the lid out. The handle portion can also double as a makeshift flat-blade screwdriver, with limited ability because of the rather soft sheet metal used.
Official military designations for the P-38 include “US ARMY POCKET OPENER and OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE I”. As with some other military terms, e.g., jeep “, the origin of the term is not known with certainty; the P-38 opener coincidentally shares a designation with the Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter plane, which could allude to its fast performance, additionally the P-51 can opener also has an aircraft namesake in the North American P-51 Mustang.
However, use of the metric system in the US was not widespread at this point, and United States Army sources indicate that the origin of the name is rooted in the 38 punctures around the circumference of a C-ration can be required for opening. The larger P-51s are included with United States military “Tray Rations” (canned bulk meals).
They are also still seen in disaster recovery efforts and have been handed out alongside canned food by rescue organizations, both in America and abroad in Afghanistan. The P-38 is cheaper to manufacture than a standard can opener, and is smaller and lighter to carry.
The device can be easily attached to a keychain or dog tag chain using the small punched hole. Then, for a right-handed user, the P-38 is held in the right hand by the flat long section, with the cutting point pointing downward and away from the user, while also hooking the edge of the can through the circular notch located on the flat long section next to the cutting edge.
The P-38 is then returned to its stored location, whether that is dangling on a dog tag chain around one's neck, or in one's pocket if the P-38 is attached to a key ring. A left-handed user is at a slight disadvantage in that the tip of the thumb (instead of the lateral flank of the distal index finger) must apply the combined travel & twist forces.
Developed in 1942, and issued in the canned field rations of the United States Armed Forces from World War II to the 1980s the P38 is pocket-sized, approximately 1.5 inches (38 mm) long, and consists of a short metal blade that serves as a handle, with a small, hinged metal tooth that folds out to pierce the can lid. Color: Metallic Steel Size: 38 mm x 16 mm Weight: 4g Official Military Spec Attach to keychain or dog tag neck chain Engraved: “U.S. Shelby Co.” Blade folds flat.
Action VideosAbout EDC Survival Gear Items marked with a can be added as a FREE bonus gift with the purchase of 2 or more Dog tag sets. Buy a P-38 at Amazon some, the usage of a JohnWaynecanopener needs no instructions, for others they may need to be shown how to use a P-38 can opener.
Sitting on my keychain it gives those in the know a bit of a hint about military service. I typically buy these in bulk (like the 20-piece set shown in the picture to the left).
These handy compact can openers came from the military and have the nickname as a John Wayne ”. I doubt that as there were huge amounts of fake knowledge people memorized for promotion boards (like how many holes in an MRA cracker and what they stood for).
They make a larger version for big cans but don’t bother with them as the smaller opener fits perfectly on my keychain. Repeat until only a small tab of metal holds the lid to the can.
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Also known as a John Wayne, so named because the actor was shown in a training film using it. The can opener is a small folding blade used to open canned rations (such as K-rations or C-rations) amongst many other uses.
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New Genuine Military Issue P-38 Opener These are straight from the military, not some Chinese junk like other sellers have.
Great as gifts for family, friends and business clients...sure to start a conversation This Genuine Military P-38 is a small pocket sized (Dimensions: 1 1/2” x 3/4”) can opener that easily fits on a keychain, in a glove box, or in your backpacking supplies. This is a must for a 72-hour emergency kit.
Instructions in picture #2 above are for your information only and are not included. Faster than a normal can opener if the user has sufficient experience.
DON'T GET CAUGHT IN A THUNDERSTORM, HURRICANE OR ICE STORM WITHOUT A WORKING CAN OPENER. PERFECT FOR CAMPING, HIKING, FISHING OR FOR THE SURVIVALIST IN YOUR FAMILY.
BE SURE TO CARRY A P-38 ON YOUR KEY RING, DOG TAG CHAIN, TACKLE BOX OR IN YOUR 72-HOUR EMERGENCY SURVIVAL KIT. Clean out groove on Tupperware lids, 11.