MilSpec Paracord vs. Commercial Paracord: Know the Difference


Whenever a company launches a new product, the fake versions follow. The same goes for MilSpec paracords. Though commercial paracords are not exactly a “fake version” of the former, they are still sold under the label of MilSpec paracords — and the ignorant buyers end up making a purchase.  To avoid getting scammed, you should only buy from trusted, U.S suppliers like Tough Grid.

Since there is no governing body to regulate the manufacturing and distribution of commercial paracords, no one tests if the claims made by the sellers are true. This also means that many commercial paracords do not undergo quality checks, which results in low-quality, inefficient products that do not meet the needs.  

Here is our blog to save you from this scam — keep reading. 

What is a commercial paracord, and how is it different from the MilSpec paracord?

First, let us look at what MilSpec and commercial paracords are — paracord, in general, stands for parachute cords. 

The MilSpec paracords are manufactured as per the military specifications set by the United States Department of Defense. Unlike the producers of the MilSpec paracords, the manufacturers of commercial paracords are not obliged to adhere to any manufacturing standards. They can use any technique and raw material to make commercial-grade paracords.

Thus, these paracords are made using various materials, including nylon, polyester, and cotton. In contrast, the MilSpec paracords are only made of nylon. Not only are these paracords made to meet the construction method and material specifications, but there are limitations to what can be done with these paracords post their construction: they cannot be bleached, knotted into longer lines, or treated with any oils. Once made, they should retain their MilSpec status.

Again, this is not the case with commercial-grade paracords. The break strength of the ones touted as being able to hold up to 500 lbs can range from under 100 lbs to over 850 lbs. This, again, highlights that the claims they make are never put to the test. 

Having said that, not all manufacturers of commercial paracords sell low-quality products. And some commercial-grade paracords are often produced using almost the same techniques used for making MilSpec paracords. Meaning, many do sell the product for what it is, but these paracords are unpredictable. Thus, they are not ideal for serious buyers who want to use them for parachute rigging purposes.

Now, the significant difference between a MilSpec paracord and a commercial-grade one — apart from the material used — is that the former has 7-9 inner strands that are covered by an outer braided sheath. These core strands further consist of 3 smaller strands of nylon. However, in a commercial paracord, they are only made of 2 strands. Interestingly, this means that an authentic MilSpec paracord has around one-third more material than the knock-offs.

So, whenever buying a MilSpec paracord, make sure you have thoroughly read this blog and know the major differences.