Recycling Military Equipment or My Contribution to World Peace




Introduction: Recycling Military Equipment or My Contribution to World Peace

The world has seen it’s share of wars; since recorded history, the world has only had a few years of worldwide peace, where nobody was beating up someone else. In fact, it probably has never seen a year without war.

As wars end, military surplus becomes available to the civilian population, where it is adapted to a worthy cause or peaceful use. Even now, almost 60 years after WW2, some pieces of surplus equipment can still be found in some surplus stores.

This Instructable is to demonstrate various uses for equipment that, when initially produced, only had one function. These are all items I have used or been issued at one time, or that I’ve picked up overseas. I don’t know where you can find them, but perhaps other items you find can be recycled.

Step 1: 1. Cleaning Kit for a 9mm Submachine Gun

This item was intended to hold all the items required to clean a Sterling L1A1 SMG. Now it serves the purpose of holding all the little bits and pieces of an extensive bicycle field repair kit; chain links, valve stems and caps, valve stem wrench, patches, allen keys and all the other little things that can go missing. The oil bottle portion serves better for stowing small items than it does bike lube.

[Note the ubiquitous slice of inner tube to keep the lid closed and prevent inadvertent spillage of bits.]

Step 2: Bayonets

1.The AK47 Bayonet, for the dauntless AK47 assault rifle; I bought one at a gun show for 40$, and strapped it on my web gear for quite awhile, mainly because of the integral wire cutters –which work very well, in combination with the rubber-coated sheath. I liked it so much, I brought a confiscated one back from the wars in Croatia in 1993 [my contribution to the U.N. disarmament plan]. I use mine as a survival knife- in conjunction with the sheath, it can be used as wirecutters or a hammer. I’ve also put a magnesium bar survival fire starter on the exterior. My missus weeds the garden with the other one.

Step 3: Ammo Pouches

The CADPAT C9 drum pouch was initially designedto hold a plastic box of 220 rounds of 5.56 belted machine gun ammo. It now serves a more peaceful purpose as a shaving kit bag. It will fit your mess tins, too. 

East German Grenade Pouch- I guess the East German doctrine was ‘less water- more grenades”. Originally designed for three grenades, it is excellent as a repair kit or small first aid kit. It can be threaded through a belt or mounted on an army belt.

The 1944 pattern Webb Pouch was produced in such numbers and with such quality, they are still found today. Initially designed to carry large magazines for machine guns, they are also good for toting a 1 liter water bottle.

Swiss Army ammo boxes
are the classiest way to carry ammo that I've ever seen; these have been recycled into bicycle panniers. Imagine the amount of chocolate you could haul in these?

Step 4: Field Kitchens, Tommi-style

1.Field Kitchen, Tommi Potx–style. These are items I retained after I got out of the army; considered obsolete, I kept them just for the sheer genius of them, and I have a lot of satisfaction out of using them on long mountain bike rides in the Rockies. A U.S. water bottle, nested in its canteen cup with a corresponding stove is nested on the exterior. The canteen stove inverts to hold the cup; fuel tablets underneath heat the water in the cup; purification tablets fit in the little pouch on the side of the waterbottle carrier.

Mess tins, ideally belong in a museum. They are good for use as bowls, pots to cook with, and a full 24 hours of emergency rations fit inside them when they are nested. They fit nicely in the C9 drum pouch. [While on a leadership course in the early 80’s, the directing staff made us dig trenches with them; it was challenging, to say the least.] The drawbacks of both of these systems is weight and hygiene; the metal cup and mess tins weigh a fair bit once loaded, and can be very difficult to clean if cooked in. Beware!!!

 Perhaps the very best thing to come out of the Norwegian Army is their Plastic Folding Cup; at a 1 cup /250 mil capacity, it actually folds in half and is literally pocket size; Coghlan’s sells them for cheap. They are ideal for a quick shot of something warm in the winter.

East German Water Bottle- I just don’t know how the East Germans expected to win anything, much less roll across cold war Europe, with such a small water bottle. Maybe they were expected to fight for water. Anyway, this item now holds about 750 milliliters[pint and a half] of Gatorade powder, and lives in the Camping Box. It also comes with an teeny weeny cup, which heats up quickly over a hexamine stove.

Yugoslavian Mess Kit- I salvaged this from a trash heap near Medak, in the former Yugoslavia; nested inside was a square plastic water bottle. The top half is a square rectangular plastic bowl, while the bottom half is a mated aluminum pot with afold-out latch/handle. I have only heated boil-bag rations with water heated in it, as its made of soft aluminum, and I don’t need to ingest aluminum fragments; It is an awesome item to carry other stuff in that you don’t want crushed.

The Swiss Army Volcano Stove- Fed with an initial igniter of a fuel tablet, just pile twigs and small branches in for a quick heating of a big cup of something hot in the lid that serves as a cup. When travelling, they are as noisy as a bull in a china shop, butI can be as noisy as I like now,so that doesn’t matter. Itcomes with an aluminum bottle which, unfortunately, utilizes a cork; I plan on purchasing a Sigg water bottle with a screw-top to replace it; then a whole bottle of water can be heated at one time- remove the lid before doing so!

Step 5:

Gas mask Containers- we used to lug these things around all the time, as have countless soldiers since 1914. I found the gasmask excellent for….Halloween costumes. On the other hand, gas mask containers from any country are excellent little bags for carrying your everyday stuff, or strapping on to your bike. This particular one is ofSwiss origins, and has a couple of small pockets inside for odds and ends. I made some paracord bracelets with fastex buckles to lash the bag to the handle bars.[

Step 6: West German Map Case

West German map case- Hmmm… this was a good map case, until it rained; the sewn-in leather stiffener tends to really soak up water. So, make sure your maps are waterproofed or bagged, or just use as a cool satchel for your art projects. Lots of room for writing sticks; paracord bracelets were also used to secure this item to the handlebars of my UAB [Urban Assault Bike].

Step 7: The H-Harness

Web Gear H-harness- first designed in WW2, the H-harness has come a long way. In 1984, the Canadian army was issued new web gear -aka load-bearing equipment- to replace the horrible 64 pattern LBE. This new issue was marginally better, and the only durable piece was the H-harness, or yoke straps;these are wideand well-padded, and I recycled mine into a double-gear rack for ice-and-rock climbing; I added a sternum strap, to keep it from slipping off while climbing. When I was in the army, after much tinkering,I had my web gear to a state where it was comfortable to wear with up to 10-15 kg [30 lbs] of food, water and ammo, plus survival stuff. I liked it so much, I use an H-harness system on long back-country rides to this day.

Step 8: Satchels

1.Yugoslavian Army Satchel- a friend of mine serving in the Medak with me, confiscated this from the battlefield, full of grenades; now it serves as the best book bag ever.

Step 9: Cooking

1.{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}Military Ammo Cans- Especially Canadian, British or U.S. 5.56mm, 7.62mm, 9mm or .50 cal boxes are the Best Storage Boxes Ever. Pile your ammo, treasures, money, books, or your lunch in them, and you are in; as mentioned by previous authors you must paint over any military markings on the cans; if someone sees you riding your bike around with a can strapped to the back that reads “200 ROUNDS 5.56MM BELT1 IN 4 TRACER”, someone is going to call the po-po on you, and then you’ll be off to the Crowbar Hotel…

Step 10: Goggles

U.S.Army Goggles- most importantly, the plastic lenses. As I wear prescription glasses, goggles have always been burdensome, bothersome and downright horrible to wear; fogging up, or getting lost or in the way, sunglasses were handier. However, with some sticky-sided Velcro and the plastic lenses, I managed to make a pretty good windshield for my bike helmet; stick the furry Velcro to the helmet; stick the pokey Velcro to the lenses; stick said lenses to helmet and you have enough windshield to keep the velocity wind from making your eyes water.

Step 11: Surplus Clothing

1.Clothing- Surplus clothing is some of the best stuff ever; some of it is right-off-the-shelf new. The pants especially, as they have lots of pockets, are durable, comfy and fashion-able; you can live out of surplus fatigues. However, don’t take them on holidays; in some countries, they are liable to slap the bracelets on you and you’ll be off to the Crowbar Hotel for interrogation!
The dual belt buckles- one Russian, one East German- might not go over well in some areas either....

Step 12: In Conclusion....

1.“Where to acquire such excellent treasures?” you ask? an excellent US site.

In Western Canada:

 Remember also…when the Zombie Apocalypse occurs, this stuff will be mighty handy!!

I hope this inspires comments on the recycling of other military surplus items. Comments are eagerly awaited!

 Surplus has always been a fashion statement that belongs to everyone.

Be the First to Share


    • Mason Jar Speed Challenge

      Mason Jar Speed Challenge
    • Bikes Challenge

      Bikes Challenge
    • Remix Contest

      Remix Contest

    5 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Maybe in Canada, but here in the states you do not have to paint over any markings on the ammo cans. Heck, here you could still have the ammo in them!

    I attached one 30cal (7.62mm) can to the side of my motorcycle. Markings fully intact.

    I don't see anything illegal about having a can that says it once contained ammo in it. Exactly what law does it violate?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I can't tell if you're agreeing with me or disagreeing with me. :)


    8 years ago on Step 9

    we have three or for that my dad used to have bolted onto his jeep


    8 years ago on Step 3

    we have three U.S.Army Generators