Meals Ready to Eat! The MRE

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Rations have been a necessity for US Forces since the Revolutionary War. Fighting in wars prevents you from entering into a Burger King to grab a burger- and men need to eat.


I’ve never had a MRE to eat before yet alone see someone prepare one. But all in all, its a simple task- and worth the 15 min of prep time. It’s no wonder why the MRE is still a top ask for item in the military surplus world. They’re useful, easy, and actually really good.

On todays menu, I chose the “Rib Shaped Barbecue Flavor Pork Patty”


military surplus mre meals ready to eat

The MRE meal came with the main entree the Rib Shaped Pork Patty and a side dish of Sante Fe style rice with beans. Some crackers with cheese spread, condiments with instant coffee and creamer with spoon, and a Orange Flavor drink mix that reminded me of TANG. Very good. Oh, and a oatmeal cookie that didn’t last very long.

military surplus mre meals ready to eat

MRE meals ready to eat at military surplus stores


The cook time with the heating bag is roughly 15 min. On the packaging, it clearly warns you to NOT OVERFILL with water. Let me tell you, they are not kidding! I went over just a tad- and the experiment of trying out this MRE could have ended before it began. Luckily, I was able to pour some of the water out before the chemical reaction began.

MRE meals ready to eat at military surplus stores

As I stated before, the orange flavor drink mix was fantastic. Noted that, you can’t really mess up a flavor drink mix- but orange was the best way to go. Half canteen cup of water dumped into the pouch, closed- shake for 30 seconds, and voila! A refreshing drink. If only they gave you two of those pouches, I wanted more!

The crackers and cheese are generic, but a good snack while you are waiting for your entree and side to heat up.

MRE meals ready to eat at military surplus stores

And here it is! The Rib Shaped Barbecue Flavor Pork Patty with Sante Fe style rice with beans. MmmMmm. The heat time was on point, 15 minute and my meal was ready. I chose to use the stainless steel mess kit to eat with, but most days people just eat straight from the bags. The choice is yours.

MRE meals ready to eat at military surplus storesOverall I rate this meal a 8/10. Good flavor and easy prep.

This meal is available at Omahas Surplus, Fort Worth Texas 76107


Vietnam Jungle Hammock

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military army surplus vietnam jungle hammock

Sleeping in a hammock

When you are outdoors.

It’s hot, wet, and infested with mosquitoes, bugs and snakes; and the last place you want to lay-in for the night is on the jungle floor. A hammock is the best way to sleep out in the wild , since it offers you an escape from the ravages of extreme environments. We know that when you think hammock, a net material comes first to mind. The ventilation provided by a netting is perfectly optimal on the beach or out in the backyard on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But if you are on top of a 1 inch square mesh fabric, there is no protection offered against mosquitoes and biting flies. So the military developed the solid nylon material  to sleep on. The nylon itself  is heavy-gauge weave like the latest issue nylon cot covers are today. The jungle hammock  is simple in design.  A sleeve, sewn on each of the ends, allows for a braided nylon support rope to slip through each end allowing a  simple bowline knot on the outside and the 10ft of nylon rope  to hang this hammock between two structures (most likely trees). However, many an enterprising sleeper, has tied-off one end of the hammock to a vehicle, large tent, building or unique rock structure.

The hammock is multi-faceted and the first component is strength. The next is  to shield against the elements such as  protect against the rain, which in the jungles of Vietnam, can be torrential at times and linger-on for days. U.S. military engineers devised a way that allowed  a rope down the length of the hammock, stretched between the two lines holding up the hammock.  A special guy-line attachment on the support ropes allows for the roof support for the military issue poncho. Yes, the poncho that every fighter in Vietnam carried and wore, would make for the perfect roof on top of the jungle hammock. In addition, if the mosquitoes were especially bad, one could lay a mosquito net under the poncho as well.

While these original issue Vietnam hammocks are hot on the collectible and display market, they are great for your next camping trip as well. The solid material design becoming the norm in high-end camping hammocks. They are simple and very comfortable. Mesh net fabric has its drawbacks, not the least of which, you can get yourself pretty darn tangled up in those things.

Mess Kits

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The design of the military mess kit was influenced by 2 factors. First, it was meant to serve men and women waiting in a food line. Second, it was never designed for hunting and foraging for food and then cooking, although, certainly that can be done. But even in the field of combat it was designed for mainly reheating and serving rations. 

The mess kit is perfect for campers,hunters,boy scouts,preppers,survivalist, as well as the military because of its size and versatility. One side of the 2 piece kit has the handle which also serves to lock the other side down. This handle side swings open to help form a skillet of sorts so that you can warm or heat food on a fire and keep your hand away from the heat. The other side is divided in 2 sections to help separate side dishes. 

One of the best parts about a real military issue messkits is how easy they are to clean. The side dish tray has a ring that can be slid over the handle on the skillet side and the whole kit can be dunked into a pot of boiling water for sterilization. This is very efficient for large groups of people to clean their food trays quickly.  after wiping clean of big food particles, each man could walk by the giant pot of boiling water to dip and sterilize. Most of the later issue kits after 1942 are made from stainless steel, rather than galvanized, or aluminum like the early predecessors. The canteen cup along with the three piece chowset is a  perfect complement to the messkit, as it can be used to boil water for coffee or cocoa.

Omahas has all three types of the US mess kits for sale on our website. They include m-1926,m-1936, and m-1942 style kits.

Most of the ones we have available are used, but we also have the later 1990’s dated kits new in the box.old mess kits mountain cook set


desert shemaghs

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shemaghsThe shemagh is a traditional middle eastern headwear scarf that is usually made from cotton. However, wool blends are very popular as well. Most of the shemaghs purchased at army navy stores, like Omahas Surplus, are made of cotton and come in a variety of colors. You can buy these scarves here at Omahas and they usually feature 2 colors that can serve to have meaning as well as provide a certain amount of  camouflage. 

The shemagh has also become quite the fashion accessory, especially among hipsters and college students. While some may also see it as popular headress among terrorists, our soldiers have adopted them since vietnam because  of the practicality in the field of battle. The loose woven cotton provides superb airflow and ventilation while at the same time keeping out the sand and uv rays from the sun. 

The vibrant color schemes and designs that are woven into  the shemagh scarves are often associated with different tribal origins from the middle east. For example red/white pattern is most often associated with Jordanians. Solid white is traditionally Saudi.  


M-1 Helmets

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m-1 helmet linerm-1 helmet ww2The military M-1 helmet was designed by the United States during world war 2 and was used until 1985. Its design is so simple and effective that many other countries adapted at least some form of the m-1.  The iconic 2 pc helmet system features an outer steel shell and an inner safety type hard hat that carries a suspension system to allow the wearer to fit the helmet according to the size. 

The steel pot  was made from hardened manganese steel with a crimped outer rim made of stainless steel to give the helmet a smooth edge. In early ww2 the crimped steel ring met at the front of the helmet(called front weld) . By 1943  the weld was moved to the back. The steel pot holds a chinstrap via 2 metal rings or bails that was rarely worn around the chin as soldiers were afraid that the enemy could grab them from behind and use the strap as a means to choke and pull them down. The “nape” strap that runs along the back of the neck was usually sufficient to hold the helmet securely to the head.

Early steel pots had fixed metal receivers or “bails” to hold the sewn cotton chinstrap. Because the fixed-bails were prone to snapping off when the helmet was dropped or sat on, the bails were eventually made to swivel. Later chinstraps were nylon and  easily clipped onto the helmet bails. steel pots tend to last forever and are still relatively easy to find at just about any army navy store. It is the more fragile fiber liners that are the more difficult part of the m-1 helmet to locate.

At Omahas, we have not been able to sell many of the  the liners separately for quite sometime as we have many more steel pots than liners and need them in order to sell complete sets.

The fiber liners have come in many different materials over the years and some even have paratrooper chinstraps on the them for special model helmets. We have a good supply of the 1980’s paratrooper style helmet  liners and it is the only m-1 liner we have available for sale separately


Ammo Boxes

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ammo box

An army surplus store staple, the revered ammo can is one of those genuine military issue items that can be indispensible in helping to store valuables as well as ammunition. Omahas Surplus stocks these in the thousands at all times due to such a high demand. While many ammo boxes from the military are made from wood, the most commonly reused for ammo are the metal variety. 

The metal cans have rubber gaskets on the lids, and clamp-down super tight through the use of a camover latch that heps seal the gasket to the rim of the opening. Also on most tyoes of ammo cans the lid can be removed by sliding it apart at the hinges. This removal comes in handy if you dont want the lid in the way. 

 They are good for all kinds of ammunition storage as well as just handy to have around the garage to help organize and store safely tools,car parts,chemicals,bolts and nuts,batteries,gun parts, and the list goes on. 

it is interesting that the military, for the most part, uses the cans for storage and transport. The makers of the ammunitions use them to ship and once they are opened and emptied, they are sent off for salvage to be bought and recylced by a variety of end users and resellers. 

The cans come in many different sizes, but the most common and popular  types seen in army navy surplus stores are the 50 caliber can, which actually is used for many different types of ordnance besides the 50 caliber machine gun rounds.


Vietnam Jungle Boots

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 jungle boots label

The use of jungle boots in the military actually predates world war 2 where small units in Panama were given these to experiment with a boot that would protect their soldiers from the harmful effects of wet feet. The concept was not to actually keep the water out of the boot. That was impossible without wearing rubber. Rubber boots in a hot humid environment would not have been a good solution. The lightweight canvas upper and leather lower design that the military came up with included water drain holes in the instep to let water flow through. Along with a Saran mesh insole, the idea was to keep the wearer’s foot up off of the sole so that air could be exchanged with water through the drain holes. The drain holes featured a screen in order to keep the bugs out. Also there was a staineless steel plate inside the sole to keep out the “punji” stakes that were hidden in booby traps by the “VC” 

By the time we were invloved in Vietnam, several modifications and improvements were made to the boots. Most noticeably was the introduction of the “Panama” sole. This sole was designed to throw-off mud quicker. The jungle boot continued to be used througout the 1970’s and 80’s. Some Marines even used the boot into the 1990’s. The green jungle boots were used in Desert Storm as well until the Type 1 Desert boot came along.jungle boots box label


P-38 Can Opener

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Many say the P38 can opener was named ofter the P-38 lighting fighter plane because you can get into a can of rations so fast . Others point to the fact that after you open a can of k-rations or c-rations with one of these little busters, you can count 38 puncture marks around the outside of the lid. However the can opener also has a big brother called the p-51, but it leaves less puncture marks because of the size.  Still another theory is that they are named after their measurement in millimetersp-38 can opener for c rations


They sit right there in front of any cash register, in any army navy store, all across the US. An army surplus staple, every other customer either has a question about, or wants to tell you about, the p-38 can opener. Whether you call them a “John Wayne” like the US Marine Corps, or just a can opener, they are an absolute essential impulse item for those that have never seen them or those that already have one,or two, or ten. 

At 98 cents a piece, you can’t go wrong. They do not take up any room in your gear bag or your pocket. Lightweight, strong and long lasting, they never run out of batteries. they never dull and you can open a can quicker with one of these than any other manual can opener on the market. There is a hole on one end so you can put one on your keychain and never be without a way into vintage can of k-rations, or beenie weenies.

Omaha’s has them available in all original issue or current production. We still have some of the issue in original brown paper wrapping with instructions. Most of the ones you see now  are manufactured by “Shelby’, but there were others who made them as well. 

Why are they called a John Wayne? Good question. 

They were actually developed back in World War 2,  but back in the 60’s,  the Duke did some training films for our boys in the military. One of those films just happened to be all about the can opener the military developed as a way for our boys to get into the cans of c-rations without having to carry a large scissor-type of kitchen utensil in their backpack . Cause lets face it, who wants to carry large kitchenware around when you’re fighting the bad guys.

p 38 can opener


WW2 Army Leggings

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ww2 leggings We happened across an incredibly large stockpile of the cotton canvas khaki leggings many years ago and bought them all.

Sizes available are 1 or 3. We at first thought that 3 was rather small and size 1 even smaller. However, that was before we realized that you do not wear them over an existing boot. Rather they become a way of turning a high-top leather shoe into a make-shift boot. 

Made of durable canvas, the leg protectors offer guard against bugs, plants, rough terrain, snakes, and other annoying critters that can leave a soldier stranded with a foot or leg injury. 

Dawning the leggings can seem quite daunting if you haven’t seen the procedure before. First, you lace the string back and through all the holes on one side of the spat. Tying the top and bottom off and leaving enough slack to pull each spaced string across the opposite hook on the other side of the leggings. In this way you can take them off and put them back on easily without having to pull the strings out of the holes like you would a traditional shoe or boot.

For the ww1 or ww2 reenactor the legging is one of the iconic clues to the time period of an army ground troops uniform, and is recognized the world over as classic to the look of a doughboy or ww2 soldier. 


Mk15 Mod 4 Practice Bomb

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Our Father bought these mk15 mod 4 100lb. practice bombs way back in 1982.

The blue metal bombs were new in the original packing crates of 20 each and probably one of the best finds “the Old Man” ever bought.  Our dad recognized that these were not something you could just call up and get anytime you wanted them, so he bought them all. Today we still have quite a few remaining, and it is one of our most popular items for sale on the website.

The bombs are completely inert, as they were only used for training purposes. Pilots will drop this type of training device to practice getting the bombs to their desired target. The hollow, steel structures were filled with water and sand to a weight of 100 pounds. Note: they only weigh about 20 pounds empty so don’t worry about the UPS driver throwing out his back getting them to your door:-)

We ship them in custom heavy duty stapled cardboard boxes made right down the street at Ward Packaging company. The box and packaging material alone cost us about $18.00, but it is well worth it to protect the fins and insure their safe arrival to you.

We have sold these eye popping attention getters  for just about anything you can imagine: movie props, man-cave decor, signs, donation and ticket-taking vessels, bar lights, door stops, trench art, etc.

Several of our cutomers have devised a way to cut them in half length wise and make pool table light fixtures.

If you have bought one of these from us, leave a comment and let us know how you used them!