550 Cord (Para Cord)

The cord used in World War II for the suspension lines of a parachute was called parachute cord. The military specified a 32 strand outer sheath with 7 - 3ply cabled inner strands and a minimum 550 pound break strength. It also required the use of 100% nylon and a minimum elongation capacity of 30%.

The military eventually adopted this cord for everyday use and made it available in nine or ten colors. 550 cord and paracord became its two most common nicknames along with the misspelled version para cord. 550 cord because of its 550 pound break or tensile strength while paracord was shortened from parachute cord and poor spellers like me did para cord. The incorect spelling of paracord (para cord) is so oftern searched advertisere use it as a key search term. Within the first few lines or listings of a google search for para cord that name will quickly give way to paracord and parachute cord. It further gives way to just paracord because that is the poplular name today.

The general public began to find 550 cord or paracord in military surplus stores. It was pretty well known that it was parachute cord. However, the nicknames 550 cord and paracord carried over from these names being used by military personnel. They are still today, seventy years later, the most common names used.

As 550 cord became more popular among the public, manufactures created Type III Commercial Cord. This cord was slightly different from the Mil Spec parachute cord. It still had the 32 strand woven sheath but it used 7 - 2ply cabled strands inside instead of the 3 ply strands use in the military parachute cord. The commercial version has the same 550 pound break strength and comes in a large variety of colors and patterns. The best commercial cord comes with either a nylon or polyester outer sheath and the 2 ply nylon inner strands. 

550 cord has become the all purpose cord. It is very popular among the prepper (emergency preparedness), everyday carry (EDC), and survivalist groups. They liked the 550 cord for its survival and emergency use. The survival bracelet uses the 550 cord. It's a way to always have eight to ten feet of 550 cord with you all the time. The cord can be taken apart and the pieces used individually. The inner strands can remain cabled and use that way or unwound for a smaller single strand of cord. Some of the many uses for the inner strands could be sewing or mending, sutures, snares, tripwires, floss, fishing line, make a fish net, or whipping the end of a rope. These were just a few examples of the emergency use of paracord.

550 cord is also that perfect size for use around the house. It can be used to secure whatever needs securing and has plenty of strength for small rope or cord needs.

Servicemen started using the cord to make bracelets and that soon carried over to the civilian population. The 550 cord or paracord bracelet has become very popular. A very large home-based business has come from making 550 cord bracelets, crafts or paracord projectsParacord bracelet instructions and paracord bracelet patterns can be found by clicking on the highlighted links.

Paracord is one of the most popular cords or ropes on the market today. It is extremely popular in the USA and is making a strong showing in foreign markets as well.

Variations or names used for parachute cord include 550 cord, paracord, para cord, 550 paracord, Mil Spec cord, Mil Spec paracord, Mil Spec 550 parachute cord, Mil Spec 550 paracord, Mil Spec parachute cord, and paracord 550. Most of these names refer to the military parachute cord or the Type III commercial version of it.

M. Shane Sullivan, Owner/Manager of Paracordgalaxy.com