Which is better for home use: the P-38 or the bigger P-51?
I'd consider either a sort of strange choice for home use- they were included with boxes of c-rations for field use, were considered pretty much disposable "in the day". Their virtues are their size (tiny, in the case of the P38) and weight, but pretty much any half-decent home can opener from the grocery store will work faster and easier.
Personally, I don't consider the P51 an improvement. It's a little easier and a little faster, but it weighs maybe three times as much. The old P38 could be worn on a dog tag chain for months and you'd never know it was there. I've carried one on my key chain for more than 30 years, and even though it's only saved a real hassle twice it's worth it because it's so tiny. The P51 isn't that much more useful, but just large enough to be annoying to carry for long periods. There also seem to be more P51 fakes out there.
The original P38 was a marvel. Cans were MUCH tougher back then, all steel, thicker and heavier than now. It was surprising that anything that tiny could cut them open... and they had to be good steel with a good heat treatment to do it. The only cans anybody had ever seen that didn't require a can opener were the ones sardines came in, with a key, and those weren't exactly easy.
For the full authentic experience you need to wedge the c-rat cans into the manifold of a vehicle while driving for a while for a welcome hot lunch on a cold winter's day without the hassle and lost time of building a fire.
I purchased a set of the "shelby stamped" p38/51 combo via Amazon and they look legit (although I am no expert) they are quite capable.
They could just be NOS items from many moons ago. You could (and probably still can) buy paint cans full of these quite inexpensively. Someone probably bought a boatload of these in both sizes and is making a killing selling them in pairs.
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