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Old 12-21-2008, 12:04 PM
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Default The best paracord, how to tell it, where to get it



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I'm the kind of person who likes the best I can get of something if I can afford it. I bought so-called paracord from Cabela's, and a couple other places and they were all different.

This started me doing hours of on-line research to find the best paracord and what the difference is. I then bought some and tested it against the imposters to see if it is stronger, using a leg-press machine at the YMCA loaded with 45lb. plates until they broke. This is what I found out:

The military has used 550 parachute cord from several different suppliers over the years. The current supplier is a company in Marathon, NY, by the name of E.L. Wood Braiding Co. They wont sell to you unless you are a distributor and purchasing great quantities. I found a distributor: Best Glide Aviation in Texas (Bestglide.com). It's only 9.95 for 100'.

Now the difference: this cord from NY (which I will now refer to as "true" paracord) has the traditional 7 strands in a finely braided sheath. However, each strand is made up of 3 small strands, not 2 (like some of the knock-offs I have purchased). E.L. Wood makes their cord distiguishable by having one of the seven strands made up of some black fibers (as some knock-offs do), AND some yellow fibers (none of the knock-offs I bought have yellow). The description for true paracord is Mil-C-5040H TYPE III. A cheaper cord will say something like Mil-spec, or Military Grade. Don't be fooled.

That's how you tell them apart and how you can get the real deal (buy the way, I don't have any affiliation with Best Glide, it's just the only place I found so far that has it). Now the testing:

I tied one length of cord to the top of the leg-press machine frame and the other to the sled of the machine with double-half-hitch knots. The cordage, whether true or not, always broke within the knots (no surprize there).

The sled weighs 65lbs. I then added 45lb. plates until the cord failed. The Cabela's cord failed at 650lbs. (I was surprised). The cord I got at an outdoor supply store in Maine (don't remember brand name of cord, sorry) failed at 650lbs., also (but stretched much more than the Cabela's). The true paracord failed at 785lbs. (with about the same stretching as the Cabela's, maybe 6", I didn't measure it).

I did not test the inner strands (wish I did, maybe I will someday, as it was I was laughed at by other gym-rats while doing what I did). I assume that the ratio would be similar if I had tested the smaller strands.

Some of you don't care about having "true" paracord, and the cheap stuff will lash a shelter, make a trap, or tie down a tarp just about as well as the best cord. I like the 3 strands of each inner strand (more cordage available if needed), I like the added strength in case someday my life and gear depend on it. But that's just me. I wanted to share this with you all in case you cared (and I'm sure some of you do).

If you know of anywhere else that sell this true cord, please post.

Thanks for reading my long post.

The Bum.

Last edited by Backwoods Bum; 12-21-2008 at 12:19 PM..
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Old 12-21-2008, 01:37 PM
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Thanks for in info. I run into allot of crappy knockoffs of paracord all the time.
Old 12-21-2008, 02:09 PM
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thanx i was wandering where to get some good paracord
Old 12-21-2008, 02:48 PM
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Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracord

It's called 550 cord or 550 paracord cause it's supposed to have a minimum tensile strength of 550 lbs. At a 650 lb failure, the Cabelas and the other unnamed brand of paracord were both exceeding the minimum specs.

Besides - who among us is going to try to hang 750 lbs from a single length of paracord?
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Old 12-21-2008, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HammerHand View Post
Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracord

It's called 550 cord or 550 paracord cause it's supposed to have a minimum tensile strength of 550 lbs. At a 650 lb failure, the Cabelas and the other unnamed brand of paracord were both exceeding the minimum specs.

Besides - who among us is going to try to hang 750 lbs from a single length of paracord?
Agreed.

But, at the same time, I do thank the OP for spending time testing this. That's some good info irregardless. And I can see why people want the best. But personally, I'm content to spend the $4.99 / 100' I can get it for and have a little less than the best.
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Old 12-21-2008, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HammerHand View Post
Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracord

It's called 550 cord or 550 paracord cause it's supposed to have a minimum tensile strength of 550 lbs. At a 650 lb failure, the Cabelas and the other unnamed brand of paracord were both exceeding the minimum specs.

Besides - who among us is going to try to hang 750 lbs from a single length of paracord?
Right. They exceeded their stated strength. That's why I said I was surprised when they did. (which was LESS than 650lbs., I was adding weight in 45lb. increments)

I also said that it is not necessary to have cord that strong! So don't buy it. You stick with the cheap sh@t and be happy. I prefer better.
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Old 12-21-2008, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Backwoods Bum View Post
Right. They exceeded their stated strength. That's why I said I was surprised when they did. (which was LESS than 650lbs., I was adding weight in 45lb. increments)

I also said that it is not necessary to have cord that strong! So don't buy it. You stick with the cheap sh@t and be happy. I prefer better.
1) I don't buy cheap s**t. Read any of my posts. I recommend people get the best they can afford.

2) I don't waste money on supposed "extra quality" when normal quality will do. (ie titanium crowbar vs. plain old steel crowbar...)

So you stick with your overpriced s**t, and be happy.
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Old 12-21-2008, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HammerHand View Post
1) I don't buy cheap s**t. Read any of my posts. I recommend people get the best they can afford.

2) I don't waste money on supposed "extra quality" when normal quality will do. (ie titanium crowbar vs. plain old steel crowbar...)

So you stick with your overpriced s**t, and be happy.
They make titanium crowbars? Wow, where can I get one of those?!?
It will go great with my titanium sledgehammer!
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Old 12-21-2008, 03:47 PM
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I would think a titanium sledge hammer would be counter productive. You want weight in a sledge hammer.

I bought some not-true paracord. It has the inner strands but they are not all the same size. Two are much smaller; more like dental floss. I do not have a convenient way to test it like you have but I did hang from a loop of the stuff with my go-bag (@300lb) and it did not break or stretch significantly. The stuff is better than some of the alternative like twine or that awful yellow plastic rope.

But I spent $9.95 for the 100 feet so I would rather have your 'true' cord for the price. I just can not get it locally.
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Old 12-21-2008, 03:59 PM
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Great input!! So much crap we just blindly accept... I've been railing intermittently for years on the inability to find authentic 550 paracord. To me it's not about the "test strength," it is about having the specified 7 strands that make 550 paracord so versatile. Numerous times I've even called the supplier and they verify "authentic 7 strand..." (Gunny's Surplus comes to mind!) and I purchase it. Nope, some teased up white extruded filler, chinese crap. Thanks.
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Old 12-21-2008, 04:16 PM
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I have been getting my true para cord (surplus)from my local Army/Navy Store for $1.00 problem is it's only in 18 foot length's, I guess because it's cut from old parachute's or whatever. They also have "mil-type" & "mil-spec" cord right beside the true stuff. some U.S. made some from China.
I use some U.S. made "mil-spec" to tie up my bear bag when backpacking & keep the true stuff in survival kits and wrapped around knives etc. I have noticed the true para cord seems to grip a drill better than my "mil-spec"cord when used in a bow drill set up.
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Old 12-21-2008, 06:07 PM
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Interesting tests. Glad to see they all exceeded the weight limit. Thank you for taking the time to do the testing.
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:43 PM
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I should have added this with my openning post. I just took a close-up of the good E.L. Wood Braiding Co. cord so you can see the one strand of seven that is made up of black+white yellow+white yellow+white.

If yours doesn't look like this, it's not what the military is currently using, but it may vary well be an older version of true military cord if you got it at a surplus store.

As I keep saying, I know most of you don't really care about having the real thing. That's cool, it all works.

The Bum.
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Old 12-22-2008, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Backwoods Bum View Post
I should have added this with my openning post. I just took a close-up of the good E.L. Wood Braiding Co. cord so you can see the one strand of seven that is made up of black+white yellow+white yellow+white.

If yours doesn't look like this, it's not what the military is currently using, but it may vary well be an older version of true military cord if you got it at a surplus store.

As I keep saying, I know most of you don't really care about having the real thing. That's cool, it all works.

The Bum.
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I'm with you man, the real deal or no deal.
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Old 12-22-2008, 08:58 PM
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I just want to use it to tie up my hammock. I am 235lbs. I have not tried it yet, but I am thinking that any 500 test paracord will work fine.
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Old 12-22-2008, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Royal Dragon View Post
I just want to use it to tie up my hammock. I am 235lbs. I have not tried it yet, but I am thinking that any 500 test paracord will work fine.
Based on my tests, I'd say you're safe with any cord for a hammock. I still have all my cheaper cord and I intend to use it up on lighter duty things such as lanyards and tarp tie-downs.
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Old 12-22-2008, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Backwoods Bum View Post
They make titanium crowbars? Wow, where can I get one of those?!?
Titanium 21 Inch Crowbar; weighs a little more then a pound.


http://www.materials.com/Titanium_tools.HTML
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Old 12-22-2008, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
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Titanium 21 Inch Crowbar; weighs a little more then a pound.


http://www.materials.com/Titanium_tools.HTML
Thanks, but I was just trying to be a smart-ass to the antagonistic guy that wanted to share the fact that he "doesn't buy cheap sh**t" (unless it's paracord, I guess).
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Old 12-22-2008, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smith View Post
Titanium 21 Inch Crowbar; weighs a little more then a pound.


http://www.materials.com/Titanium_tools.HTML
Reply]
Those are used by Search and Rescue guys a lot.
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Old 12-22-2008, 11:10 PM
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That has got to be the coolest thing I've seen this month.

WOW, I want one of each.
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