Explains the Grades of Military Surplus Ammo Cans has recently expanded our ammo can line up to include Grade 2 and Grade 3 ammo cans. Previously, we only offered like-new condition, Grade 1 ammo cans. Since adding the Grade 2 and 3 cans, we have received a few emails from customers asking us to explain the ammo can grading system. In response, we wrote this article to explain the ammo can rating system used by so our customers can identify the best ammo cans for their application and price point. Read on to learn how ammo cans are rated and what the ammo can grades are.


The Grade 1 through Grade 3 rating system is an informal, but commonly used method for quickly describing the condition of military surplus goods. Simply speaking, it is a Good (Grade 3), Better (Grade 2), Best (Grade 1) rating system. It is also important to understand that this is a subjective rating system with variation in the interpretation of the grades by different military surplus dealers since the grading system is not defined by an official trade organization.


Lets take a moment to explain why the grading scale exists in the first place before going into detail about the Grades themselves. There are many paths for military surplus to reach the consumer market and different levels of use (or abuse) before it is released to the public. There are also different types of military surplus and wide differences in the way military surplus is warehoused and stored. The storage of surplus goods and the level of use of the goods by the military/government is what impacts the condition the most. There is issued and unissued military surplus which each have very different conditions since issued gear has been used in the field, and unissued goods are basically new-condition overstock.


For ammo cans, the conditions in which they are stored before being released to the public is the largest factor. Ammo cans are not a piece of gear that is worn or continuously used. They are generally in good shape when they leave the field. They are opened once then transported off the training range in the bed of a truck back to the collection point where they are palletized. It is at this point where the ammo cans begin to deteriorate. The method of palletizing and storage location are what separate good cans from bad cans. Most ammo cans are stored in uncovered lots before there are released to the public which severely degrades their condition. Many facilities treat the cans as scrap metal and palletize them in a manner which damages the structural integrity of the cans.

Now lets talk about the nuts and bolts of ammo can grades. Each dealer rates their cans and defines their grades slightly differently. A Grade 1 can from may not be comparable to a Grade 1 can from another dealer. Most dealers explain what their interpretation of each of the grades is in their product descriptions which allows you to be sure you are making an “apples to apples” comparison. We will explain in this article how rates our ammo cans, but please understand that other dealers may not rate their cans this way.


Best - Grade 1 Ammo Can

Grade 1 ammo cans will have little to no exterior surface rust or blemishes. Corrosion is very minor, and limited to the contact points or pivot points on the cans if any corrosion exists at all. The interior of the cans are also free of corrosion and the seals are in new condition. Minimal dents or dings and no attempts to “demilitarize” the cans by covering the original markings. Most Grade 1 cans are in like new condition aside from minor handling or transportation wear. Ammo Cans are shipped from the ammunition factory inside wooden crates which generally leave some minor scuffs on the exterior. Military ammo cans are not a commercial/retail product so they are handled and packaged much differently than retail goods which are intended to arrive in perfect condition. Grade 1 from is the peak condition for military surplus and is as close to new as possible with a used, surplus product. Most of our customer reviews describe our Grade 1 ammo cans as new condition despite being a surplus item.

Better – Grade 2 Ammo Can

Grade 2 Ammo Cans are likely to have light surface rust from exposure to moisture on the exterior of the cans. The ammo can seals are intact and the interior of the cans are in good condition. Small dents or dings may be present along with exterior blemishes or spray painted markings. Grade 2 cans are structurally sound and ready for service but will have some type of exterior blemish that is visible. By our rating standards, Grade 2 ammo cans are what are commonly found at gun shows. These are the most common military surplus ammo cans. Grade 2 surplus items are the junior varsity of surplus. They are in good condition, but are obviously surplus or used. They try hard and won’t give up on you but they just are not quite the cream of the crop. With light preparation and a little paint, Grade 2 cans be made into Grade 1 cans and look like new in most cases. 

Good – Grade 3 Ammo Can

Grade 3 is the “everything else” category. Surface rust present or heavy spray paint on the exterior to “demilitarize” the cans is likely. If a can has a lot of “character” it becomes a Grade 3. Grade 3 ammo cans are structurally sound but may have dents, dings, or evidence of heavy use. In some instances, the cans may show evidence of tool marks or kinked metal from being straightened. A lot of the Grade 3 cans are actually in great condition but have just been spray painted heavily. Grade 3 cans are ideal for the person that doesn’t mind an ugly can or plans to paint them anyway. Significant money can be saved on Grade 3 cans if the exterior appearance is not an issue since they are 100% functional and structurally sound. is fortunate to get most of our ammo can inventory from sources that warehouse the cans indoors or underneath a covered shelter which allows us to sell surplus ammo cans in the best condition possible. In an effort to add ammo cans at lower price points, we added Grade 2 and Grade 3 ammo cans to offer lower priced purchase options to our product line up. All of our ammo cans are backed by our satisfaction guarantee, even the Grade 2 and Grade 3 items. If you receive ammo cans that are not described properly or cannot be used, let us know so we can address it. We hope this information helps explain our process and eliminates any confusing with the grades of ammo cans. Please let us know if you have any questions or need any assistance determining which ammo cans are the best fit. Thanks!