Learn how to identify real Mil-spec 550lb Paracord. Save money on your preps, don’t get ripped off on cheaply made yet overpriced China cordage.
Is your paracord mil-spec, or a cheap china knockoff?
Paracord, short for parachute cord, is a survivalist’s bread and butter. It has a million and one uses, none of which we are going to talk about here.
Instead, today I hope to educate you on the difference between real and “fake” paracord.
550 Paracord, which goes by the spec number “C-5040H Type III“, is also one of the most bootlegged survivalist tools.
In fact it’s hard to find the real stuff on sites like eBay or Amazon unless you know exactly what to look for.
So how can you identify REAL mil-spec paracord from the cheap china knockoffs? Look for these signs.
How to identify real mil-spec 550lb paracord
- The cord will be rated to hold 550lbs of weight, and should clearly state so. Good cord sellers may even link to test data for their cords.
- If you have the cord in front of you, look at the end. Mil-spec paracord will have seven to nine internal strands as is required by C-5040H Type III specifications.
- The cord will be advertised as “C-5040H TYPE III” somewhere on its packaging. It’s a big deal to meet the specifications so manufactures will advertise it.
- Each strand will be tightly braided and made of three smaller strands. Not two, but three.
- The biggest sign your cordage is real mil-spec is if one or more strands are colored. These colored strands are used to identify the manufacturer. Without exception, almost all knockoff paracord will not have these colored threads inside the sheath.
Note that “C-5040H” is the actual military specification for paracord supplied to the US Army. C-5040H defines several different strength grades. “Type III” indicates that the cord is 550lb rated, the most common mil-spec paracord by far.
Bootleg cords will usually be called simply “mil-spec” or “military grade” but if they do not say “C-5040H Type III standard” rest assured they are a cheap knockoff.
So how does your cord look? Does it pass the test? If it doesn’t, don’t throw it away just yet! It doesn’t mean it’s worthless!
There are plenty of good uses for less than mil-spec paracord. Some manufacturers produce good quality 550lb paracord, just not to full military specifications, so it’s not the end of the world. Just know that you probably could have paid a lot less and make sure you avoid polyester or single-strand cores for any serious job.