by Matthew Scott

Every so often there can be heard a surly and castigating clangor from within the cyber-walls of the Expedition Portal forums. These rumblings, evocative of an assemblage of rabble in a stand against the bourgeois, have but one message. That we at Expedition Portal only review and value expensive gear. To prove those voices wrong, I present to you the P-38 can opener, available at your local PX for the paltry sum of forty-five cents.

All kidding aside, we’re well aware we have featured $1200 watches and trucks worth more than many small villages. It probably is time for a sub one-dollar product review, and the P-38 is a perfect candidate. Actually, pulling on two semesters of college philosophy I could argue that to a starving man with a can of peaches a P-38 is priceless, but I digress.

The P-38, also known as the Type 1 Folding Can Opener, was first introduced in 1942 and included with the K-rations common to that wartime era. Roughly half the size of a stick of Beeman’s chewing gum, a P-38 could tear through a tin can in seconds. It was so effective, it continued to be an integral part of military equipment into the 1980s, dutifully opening cans from South Korea to Kansas. The origins of the name have never been fully confirmed, but the obvious theory is relative to the length of the can opener at 38mm. Some argue that a C-Ration requires 38 punctures of the P-38 to get fully opened. Fascinating stuff, really. I could go on, but we’re talking about a can opener, here. It is worth pointing out that like many military inspired items, the P-38 has also been a must-have for the outdoor enthusiast. It’s hard to imagine how many cans of beans have been opened by the P-38 in the backwoods of America. It is a timeless and invaluable camping tool.

As product reviews go, I’ll just wrap this up by saying it’s comprised of two pieces of stamped steel. There’s a sharp part attached to a not sharp part. That’s about it. Oh, it has a hole in the not sharp part so you can wear it on a lanyard, which is pretty handy. Don’t let it be said we don’t also appreciate inexpensive gear.


The P-38 Can Opener

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About the Author: Matthew Scott

Matthew Scott is a dedicated photographer, vintage car enthusiast, and regular contributor to Overland Journal. Growing up in Chicago in a family that valued “all things automotive” as much as exploring the region’s back roads, provided a solid platform for a career as an automotive journalist. He departed the Windy City in lieu of Prescott, Arizona, and the great open spaces and adventure opportunities of America’s Southwest. @matthewexplore