What is Mil-Spec Paracord?

 What is Mil-Spec Paracord?

Military-grade Paracord, or mil-spec paracord, is a paracord that meets military requirements outlined in the “Mil-C-5040” paper. Essentially, this document details the strengths, elasticity, color, and design of accepted and authorized military nylon cordage.

People prefer mil-spec paracord over commercial-grade paracord because of a hard-held belief that it eliminates the possibility of purchasing sub-par paracord. To some extent, this is correct and valid since a mil-spec cord undergoes rigorous testing and thereby guarantees a certain level of quality.

Here is everything there is to know about mil-spec paracords.

What Exactly is a “Paracord?”

As previously said, “paracord” is the shorthand term for a parachute cable. Originally designed to attach a parachute canopy to a parachute harness, parachute cords caused a stir among military service members and personnel for any application that requires a solid, flexible, small-diameter utility cord.

Now, Why “Mil-Spec?”

When it comes to parachute cords, “Mil-Spec” refers to parachute cords that conform and meet the MIL-C-5040h or PIA-C-5040 military specifications in the United States. These requirements regulate the manufacturing of parachute cords and determine technical specifications that the cord must match or exceed.

To be approved for use in assembling parachutes, manufacturers of Mil-Spec paracords must have their products reviewed by independent laboratories. Furthermore, manufacturers must subject their mil-spec paracords to random checking to guarantee policy compliance and adherence.

Moreover, the manufacturer must provide a certificate of conformance for each batch of Mil-Spec parachute cord, specifying that the cord meets or exceeds the MIL-C-5040h or PIA-C-5040 standard. This certification gets issued for any parachute cord purchased from 5col Survival Supply, covering mil-spec paracords of different types, including:

  • Type 1: 95 lb min. break strength
  • Type 1A: 100 lb min. break strength
  • Type 2: 400 lb min. break strength
  • Type 2A: 225 lb min. break strength
  • Type 3: 550 lb min. break strength
  • Type 4: 750 lb min. break strength

So, What Should I Look For?

Instead of concentrating on mil-spec paracord and commercial paracord comparisons, potential buyers may want to pay attention to the product’s particulars, as well as the seller and product feedback.

Mil-Spec Paracord

If you plan on purchasing a mil-spec paracord, keep the following considerations in mind while shopping:

  • Material: In terms of material, Nylon is preferable over polyester. Nylon, in particular, has a distinct feel from polyester. Moreover, polyester is less durable than nylon and has a lustrous, shiny finish.
  • Core Strands: In terms of core strands, an authentic mil-spec paracord will have 7-9 core strands and a tracer with the manufacturer’s ID included.
  • Color: Color is also a factor to consider, especially for people who want to be a stickler on a genuine mil-spec paracord. Specifically, for buyers who are insistent on buying an authentic mil-spec paracord, the only color options available are army green and off-white. In addition, any other color will technically and theoretically fail to meet the initial mil-spec paracord requirements.

Commercial Cord

Buyers who deem commercial cords appropriate and enough must be cautious about where they purchase them. While the cheapest cord is okay for children’s crafts and other simple projects, no one wants to use it to tie a mattress to a car’s roof! It is best to consider the following:

  • Color: Keep away from neon-colored cords. These cords usually are mostly made of polyester or a poly-nylon blend.
  • Inner Strands: Take a look at the strands on the inside. There should be at least seven inner strands in a good commercial cord. Also, check if they get twisted with 2 or 3 plies per strand and not fluffy.
  • Texture: Remember, if it feels cheap, it probably is. In this case, rely on your best judgment.

Although nylon gets deemed superior to polyester, just because a cord contains polyester does not automatically mean low quality. Polyester has a range of advantages over nylon, including the fact that it does not absorb water, is less prone to kink while lying in a pile, is more UV resistant than nylon, is heat resistant, and recyclable.

Why Should I buy a Mil-Spec Paracord instead of a Commercial Cord?

Mil-spec paracord is the best tool for the job because of its quality and dependability. Since American factories produce mil-spec paracords to a strict specification, people are aware of its strengths and limitations and can predict when it will succeed and fail.

On the other hand, it is impossible to predict when a commercial cord would fail. The commercial cord has no requirements or specifications; it can break even in light-duty installations.


A Mil-Spec Paracord is an excellent general-purpose utility cord. With its guaranteed reliability and quality, people can rest assured that it can do the job dependably. However, it does not mean that commercial cords are bad. The decision boils down to a specific need and liking.

Danny White