Every once in a while, Spyderco sees fit to improve on some of their more popular products whether it’s a design change or just a change in materials. Never sitting still, Spyderco did that very thing this year with the upgraded version of their Para Military2. Woods Monkey has had the chance to use and review one for the past couple of months, and we’re able to finally share our impressions of this new offering today!
Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve probably owned in the range of 250-300 different pocket knives. I would call that a conservative estimate because I currently have around 50 and have not had any of them (except two) for more than four years. I only bring this up because I want to illustrate something in particular. Even though I’ve got around 50 pocket knives, there are only about 5 that sit on the dresser and make it into the carry rotation. These are the ones that I like the most and in which I have found the most utility on a daily basis. Three of those are Spyderco knives. Yes, I’ve got pricier pocket knives, but those sit in the safe most of the time. I have a hard time bringing myself to carry a $400-$700 knife out in the woods for fear of losing it. And, there’s something that hurts my feelings when using a knife that costs that much money. But, when you pull back from the custom stuff and look at the production knives on the market, you lose nothing to utility or quality and gain a lot in value–especially where Spyderco knives are concerned.
One of my favorite knives from Spyderco early on was the Military model, maybe because I visited too many surplus stores in my youth and have that military bent in my head. But, because of local laws regarding blade length in the last three states where I’ve resided, it didn’t make sense to get one because I couldn’t carry it. But, the Para Military knife is another ball of wax altogether. Sporting a blade length of 3 and 7/16 inches, it’s a viable carry option for me where the Military wasn’t. Spyderco has enhanced their original Para Military model with some design and material changes this year, and it just gets better and better. The Para Military2 uses S30V for the blade steel and this has proven out to be one of the best steels going in the cutlery business–especially for a steel that holds its edge for a much longer period of time. Additionally, the blade can be had in the regular stainless look or with Spyderco’s black Diamond Like Carbon coating. The grips are made of G-10 and sport a clip that can be changed by the user for tip-up or tip-down carry and it can be switched for either right or left hand.
Other enhancements include spine and choil jimping. I can’t say whether the choil jimping helped with better control during my cutting excercises, but the spine jimping definitely made a difference, at least to me. And, what a cutter the Para Military2 turned out to be! Of all the production knife companies going, Spyderco continues to impress me with the factory edge they put on their knives. Hopefully, I don’t sound like I’m in the tank for the company, but I am consistently impressed with the sharpness of their knives. The Para Military2 was no exception to that rule. In fact, it is one of the sharpest knives I’ve tried out of the box, if not the sharpest. I’ve got a new TriFlex Mora that I haven’t used to any great degree and the edge on the Para Military2 keeps up quite easily with the Mora. That’s no small feat when you consider the Para Military2 is a good bit thicker than the Mora blade. Scary sharp? Yeah, there’s no question. When shaving the hair on my arm, I couldn’t even feel it happening. The hair just seemed to fall away. I just wish I could keep my knives that sharp forever!
The blade profile of the Para Military2 is a modified clip point design and sports a full flat grind from spine to edge. The thing I like about the profile is its ability to facilitate precise cuts with the point. I just happened to be watching the pilot episode for Jericho where Jake does an impromptu Tracheotomy in a school bus. I looked at the Para Military2 on the table in front of me and thought, “Now that would be the perfect knife for work like that!” Maybe that’s just a bit of the survival fantasy coming out in my mind, but there’s certainly a benefit to having a knife that can do such precise work. I recently had to reroute some cables in the house and I had 4 cables bundled together with zip ties at numerous points along their length. To repurpose the cables, I had to cut through the zip ties to separate the cables. The Para Military2 worked perfectly for that task. With its narrow, sharp point, I was able to get enough of the point under the zip tie to cut through it without worry of hitting the cables. In no time, and with little effort, I had sliced through 23 zip ties and got the cables separated quite easily.
As for outdoors work, I did all the usual stuff with the Para Military2 that I would typically do in the woods. I cut open food packs and sliced as much paracord as you can imagine. Not exactly torture tests, but the normal stuff we do on the go. I also used the Para Military2 to do various repairs on items like a tent and one of my sleeping bags. Using the patches provided in the McNett Gear Aid kits, I covered some holes that showed up in my gear. For some reason, I’m getting more holes in one of my sleeping bags lately, but the McNett patches work very well in mitigating the damage. Often, the holes aren’t very large so an entire patch isn’t needed. That’s where the Para Military2 comes into the picture. Because of its sharpness and the clip point profile, I was able to cut perfectly sized custom patches from the patch sheets provided by McNett to make the necessary repairs. The work was effortless and quite exact as well. If I’m doing the repairs at home, scissors are the normal tool that I’ll use when using the McNett patch sheets. But, I don’t carry scissors out in the field aside from what you can find on my Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman multi-tool. The ones on my SAK aren’t very sharp and it’s just as quick and easy to use the Para Military2 as it would be to use the Leatherman scissors.
The one thing different about the Para Military2 from my other pocket knives is the lock system that is incorporated. It’s a compression lock and operates similarly to a liner lock except rather than being in the belly of the handle, the lock is accessible from the back of the handle. This took a little getting used to at first since using the regular style liner locks is second nature to me. After using the knife, the thumb does naturally fall to the lock in a normal grip. However, depressing the lock isn’t quite as familiar as the other systems, but you become accustomed to it in a short while. I did notice that the lock on the Para Military2 gave more resistance to thumb pressure than the lock on my Sage 2, so closing the knife is a more deliberate process than it is a natural one–at least until I get the muscle memory down. The up side is that the compression lock system is much stronger than a normal liner lock. That should give the user more confidence when pressing the knife into service on tough jobs that require a little more elbow grease. There’s a good picture of a partially assembled Para Military in this thread that will let you give a better idea of how the lock works.
I wanted to see how the folder handled wood carving tasks and set about a little project I had been thinking about the past week. I’ve got a nephew that likes everything Harry Potter and I was wondering if I could make a homemade wand for him as a birthday gift. I ended up taking one of the pieces I had processed with a larger knife and went to town trying to come up with a passable wand. Though the flat grips of the Para Military2 aren’t ideal for extended periods of time working with wood, I was still able to work quite a long period of time without feeling any real fatigue. After about an hour, I noticed a little cramp in the hand and I was feeling a small hot spot on my finger from the choil. I don’t know if a smooth choil would have been better, but it wasn’t that serious. After another hour, I didn’t even notice the choil point. So, maybe I just needed to get used to it.
I tried to make the wand a little curved in spots to try and give it a little character and not just be a straight piece of wood. But, I confirmed my suspicions about my carving abilities. Despite the sharp blade and ability to do some precise work, I basically ended up with a stick. Oh well…That’s more an issue with me than the knife. The Para Military2’s blade did an excellent job biting into the wood and giving me good control while shaving off the wood. It wasn’t too long before I had a good sized pile of shavings that would have worked well for getting a fire started. After looking at my work, I pretty much figured I’d just have to buy him the DVD, but I might still give it a go with some sandpaper to try and shape it better.
I wouldn’t call the Para Military2 the ultimate outdoors knife since that would invariably lead me to choose a fixed blade. However, the Para Military2 is an excellent EDC folder that will back up your primary blade in the field or serve on point when you’re puttering around town. When you consider that the scales are G-10 and the blade steel used is S30V, the Para Military2 is a real bargain when you can get it for under $110 street price. Throw in the top-drawer fit and finish and the fantastic blade geometry that makes this little folder a phenomenal slicer, it’s tough to find a better value on the market for the same money. Oh, and it’s made in Golden, Colorado as well. Even better!
I don’t know if the Para Military2 will replace one of my 5 normal EDC folders. I’ve dedicated a lot of time and effort to figuring out which knives work best for me and my daily routine. But, it’s real easy for me to bump the number from 5 to 6 for the carry rotation and not have to worry about losing any of the others. I’m so impressed with the ergonomics and its performance, I know this is one I’m going to carry quite a bit going forward. If you’re looking for great value in a folder that you can depend upon, check out the new Para Military2 from Spyderco. It might just find a home in your own carry rotation!