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Ammo Can? Can They Rust?

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Of all the cache containers I have and used for my hown caches, ammo cans seem to be the best. As they seem to hold up well to alos of weather conditions over a long period of time.


Though, can an ammo can rust?


I have an ammo can hidden near my home in San Diego for 16 months now. The ammo can looks to be in very good spape with no signs of rust. Though in San Diego, we don't get much rain and the temperatures tend be rather moderate most of the time (e.g., rarely drops below 50 and rarely gets above 85).

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As wth any steel it can rust over time.


Ammo cans from the "factory" come with a very durable green primer/paint. If this is in place I see no reaso why it would rust as the metal itself is protected. Whenever a scratch or nick exposes bare metal you can expect that it will eventually rust.

Unlike Ford's, it's usually just surface rust and nothing to really worry about.



Most hiders will put some type of cammo paint on their cans It's like taking out insurance.


This cache ended up with about 10 coats as I couldn't decide what pattern to put on it. I would try something, if it didn't work I would just paint over it and start again.


The top coat is a bronze green with a light dusting of fleckstone for texture. A few brown stripes, and many coats of clear make this a bombproof, rustproof container.




Joe Smith

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I have 8 ammo cans hidden around my area and what Bob&3LittleBears said about checking for rust before buying is very important. I paint all of my caches before hiding them and I bought one can that was rusted when I bought it. After about a month it rusted thorugh my new coat of paint (however, nothing inside got wet and it's still out there). They are really heavy and even a bit of rust would just add to the camo.

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In places all over Europe and SouthEast Asia they still find ammo cans in the ground

from WW II and the ammo in them is still in good ready to fire condition.

And sadly they also find mines and unexploded bombs in the same way

Hundreds die each year from a war that's been over for 60 years,

I wonder if the steel they used back then was a better grade? I routinely see ammo cans from the 80's in the surplus stores when I shop for one, but nothing from THAT far back...

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They definetly can and will rust. If the cans you purchase are in good shape, they probably won't rust very much. If they're not in good shape, or need various military markings sanded off - you'll want to give them a couple of fresh coats of paint.


There are several lines of "camo" paints out there - all you really need is a flat paint and some type of primer. I typically give mine a very good coat of primer then several other of the "camo" colors. If I'm feeling energetic I do the whole camo pattern, or leaf pattern, thing.


I think somebody out there has a good pictorial FAQ on this.


I went on a caching and maintenance run today and checked on a cache that's been out for 1.5 years. I sanded it down a bit (mainly to remove the markings) then covered it very well with paint. Only slight rusting around the edges (mainly on the lid and where the lid connects... not the easiest places to paint).


For reference, I live in the MS Delta which recieves fairly heavy rains in the winter and spring and has 90-99% humidity for most of the summer. It's wet and hot here.


In short, they will rust - but not badly and if you add some paint yourself they'll last much longer.



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Don't forget to check the lid gasket in addition to the current state of rust when you are buying ammo cans. A good gasket will keep moisture out of the can under the worst conditions. Northern Trekker told me about the time he pulled an ammo can cache from under water under a frozen layer of ice and expected to find an internal ice cube. Instead, he found a completely dry interior. I learned to set the loaded cache outside to cool off before closing it after taking a new cache from an inside the house +70° F to an outside 0° F and then trying to open it to take a photo of the enclosed TB at the cache site. The resulting air shrinkage from the temperature drop created a vacuum inside the cache that made opening the lid very tough even though I'd actually gone up a couple of hundred feet in elevation.


I can only imagine the explosive thunk an FTF experiences when opening a well-sealed ammo can that was loaded in an air conditioned house and then set to bake in the Arizona desert at +110° F ambient where the temperature in and enclosed car will rapidly go over +140° F :D. Of course, perhaps cachers quit going out when it gets that hot, but an opportunity to score an FTF can drive people to do crazy things :o.

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