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How to Stencil Ammunition Cans for Ammo Storage


How to Stencil Ammunition Cans for Ammo Storage
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The other day I showed you how I removed the markings from old surplus military ammo cans. Today I will show you how we went about stenciling ammunition cans with our own markings.

As I scoured the internet for options I found that stenciling ammo cans was the most popular by far, and I even found a guy that will custom cut stencils. The cost was reasonable – about 2 dollars a stencil, but I decided to try my hand at cutting them. I got some clear plastic, a hobby knife, and a printout of the words I wanted to paint on my cans. Let’s just say this was a fail.

Next I tried to get a friend of mine with a vinyl scrapbooking stencil cutter. My idea was to resale common stencils like 5.56 and .40 S&W. My powers of persuasion were not powerful enough to get the stencils in bulk.

Next I just went to the local hobby store and bought some stencils.  Spray-paint and stencils never work well for me and after turning my workbench a nice shade of yellow I threw the stencils in a box.

I then found that the military STAMPS the lot number – which makes a lot of sense. I then bought some rib type stamps, a stamp holder, pad, and yellow ink and decided to stamp my own cans.

½ letters work fine and you can get about 23 characters a foot
I chose ¼ letters so I could get more lettering on the locking end of my can (If I did it again I would stick with ½ inch) ¼ inch stamps is about 43 characters a foot.
If you go bigger ¾ is about 16 characters a foot and 1inch letters get you about 14 characters a foot.

Some Common Dimensions

30 CAL AMMO CAN is 10″ x 7″ x 3
50 CAL AMMO CAN is 11.5″x7″x6″
SAW BOX is 12″ X 6 3/4″ X 8 1/2″
20 MM AMMO is 18 3/4 X 8 1/4 X 14 1/4
81 MM MORTAR BOX is 14 1/2 X 5 1/2 X 22 1/2

My smaller cans I use for cast bullets so I stamped them “CAST and the caliber”.  I use another for casting supplies so I labeled it “CASTING SUPPLIES”

For my 50 caliber cans I labeled them the following way:


Stamping is easier for me than painting, and mistakes were easier to clean up.
But my pad was too large – I wanted to get a lot of room for letters, but ended up wishing I would have gotten a much smaller pad to make it easier to use even pressure.

My letters were too small. They were just right for the ends, but could have been a lot bigger on the sides.

But my biggest learning curve was my ink. I wanted to use yellow like the original cans, but high quality yellow ink was expensive so I did not buy what I needed and the ink I got did not adhere evenly and was hard to see.

Next time I am going to use a high quality white ink.

I know that there are easier ways of marking your ammo cans – one guy said he colors in his stencils with a white grease pencil – others use tape and sharpies. Whatever works for you. But personally while this does not follow K.I.S.S. principles to the letter, I like how it turned out, and since I put a lot of effort into making good rounds, I wanted to store them in nice boxes.

Published inDIY Prepper Projects


  1. NeoMatrixJR NeoMatrixJR

    Don’t suppose you happen to remember who you found that sold stencils do you?

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