Questions and Answers About Paracord

Where can I buy “real” paracord?

550 paracordAll 550 cord sold by is high quality Type III paracord manufactured in the USA. Some of our cords are classified as “commercial grade” and some are “Mil Spec.” They are basically the same and both have a breaking strength of 550 pounds. The Mil Spec cords are certified to meet Type III MIL-C-5040H specifications. The commercial grade cords are manufactured to the same specs but are not certified.

All quality 550 paracord has 7 inner strands composed of 3-ply cabled nylon fibers. Mil Spec cord has an additional “marker” strand that identifies the manufacturer and shows that it is certified.

Mil Spec cords are more expensive because they have to be certified. At this writing, our normal price for 100 ft of commercial 550 cord is $7.29. The Mil Spec version of the same cord sells for $12.49.

Interestingly, the US military buys quite a lot of commercial cord from us. They use certified Mil Spec cord in combat and other situations where lives depend on quality. For casual use, they buy and use our less expensive commercial cord.

Again, both our commercial and Mil Spec cords are made by top US manufactures to Type III specifications and have the same breaking strength.

What is the difference between nylon/nylon and polyester/nylon paracord?

550 paracord has 7 inner strands that are encased inside a sheath. One of our manufacturers uses nylon for that exterior sheath. The other uses polyester.

The majority of the cord’s strength comes from the 7 inner strands. The outer sheath adds only a small amount of strength. All of our 550 cord has a breaking strength of 550 pounds, weather it has a nylon sheath and nylon inner cores (nylon/nylon) or a polyester sheath and nylon inner strands (poly/nylon).

On our website, cords with model numbers beginning with 167- are manufactured by Atwood Rope and most are poly/nylon. The polyester sheath makes these cords feel stiff, rough and substantial.

Cords with model numbers beginning with 163- are manufactured by E.L. Wood Braiding Company. They feel soft and flexible.

Both styles of cord can be joined by melting the ends and pushing them together. The polyester melts a little differently than nylon and so you need to get use to the type of cord you choose.

Which type is best? That is totally personal preference. They have the same breaking strength and other qualities. Some of our customers love the one, some the other. That’s why we sell both.