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Spyderco Para-Military

rated 4.5 of 5 stars

The Para-Military has been discontinued. It was replaced by the Spyderco Para Military 2.

photo: Spyderco Para-Military folding knife

A functional and safe folding knife for hiking. It's safe, it's fairly light, extremely durable, and easy to use. The thumb hole is great, but some might not prefer it.


  • Great blade steel
  • Outstanding quality and durability
  • Unusual and very good lock blade


  • Price
  • Thumb hole could turn some off

A short note: I reviewed this knife a while ago, but did not include photos. This also has some additional information about durability after more use, and it is slightly better organized.


Basic Summary Observations

Short of chopping wood or extremely heavy work best left to a fixed-blade knife, or tool-like versatility you would get with a multi-tool, this is one of my favorites for hiking. This is a folding lock-blade knife that weighs about 3-3/4 ounces and is about five inches long, closed; the blade is 3-1/2 inches long.


This knife is very solidly made — nothing loose or wobbly, which is important for a folding knife.  the handle has proved to be exceedingly durable, and so has the knife blade. The locking mechanism has also been problem-free.  The knife also holds a sharp edge for a very long time. (There is a price for that — it takes somewhat longer to sharpen because the steel is so hard.)


It has an excellent locking mechanism the company calls a "compression lock," the equivalent of a liner lock but along the spine of the knife.  so, it has a strip of metal that springs into place against the wide end of the folding blade, just like a liner lock, when you  open the blade. 

the lock is right under the knuckle of your index finger.  while it takes some getting used to, i like the fact that when i disengage the lock, my fingers don't need to be in the path of the blade as it closes. the blade absolutely will not close by accident. the photo below shows the spine of the knife - you will note the small strip of metal that has sprung inward to keep the blade from closing accidentally.  by the way, this also shows how easy it is to keep the knife clean because the handle is "open" at the back.


The scales of the knife are made of G10 — a fiberglass/epoxy composite that is extremely durable.  the outer surface is lightly textured, which helps make the knife more grippy, less likely to slip.  It's worth noting that the texturing is less aggressive than you will find on some other G10 handles. Because G10 is so durable, scales with very deep texturing tend to scrape anything around them. Not a problem here.

Like many knives Spyderco makes, the blade unfolds via a large round hold at the back of the blade - it is very easy to open, even if you are wearing relatively heavy gloves, by just putting your thumb on the hole and flipping it open. The parts of the blade and handle you are most likely to hold when using the knife for lighter tasks, at the base of the blade, has a series of shallow notches that, like the handle, help keep the knife from slipping. 

Function — How Does it Cut?

I like the blade because it is relatively wide along the spine for a folding knife this size; because it is a clean, flat-ground blade that makes cutting things a little easier; has a nice, sharp, pointy tip; and because the steel used (CPM S30V) is very durable, stainless, and takes a very long time to dull. It is extremely sharp out of the box and stays that way. because it is such a hard steel, sharpening it takes some care and some time.  This manufacturer has a relatively inexpensive sharpening service; I have been able to keep this sharp on my own with a fairly basic sharpening stone and an edge guide, a small plastic gizmo that grips the blade and keeps it oriented toward the sharpening stone at a uniform angle.  

as far as the basis tasks - meals and utility cutting are what I use it for most of the time - it is uniformly great.  it slices, it dices.....seriously, the shape and size of the blade, the comfortable and reasonably grippy handle, make this very easy to use.  

apart from cutting, it helps to have something to keep the knife handy yet less likely to get lost or dropped.  the knife has a metal spring clip, if you're one of those people who carries a knife in their pocket, and it has a large round hole at the bottom of the handle -  I put a piece of round webbing through the hole and sometimes use it to secure the knife to a carabiner. That's helpful in some situations.


Other Observations

If you aren't wearing gloves and really bear down on this knife with a lot of pressure, the compression lock can dig into your palm. Because the locking mechanism is different than more widely-used liner locks or lockbacks, you have to get familiar with it; some might not like it, i guess.  On the other hand, you can operate the lock without having your fingers in the way of the blade, unlike liner locks.  

The blade tip is narrow and pointy, which serves a purpose, but it does not seem robust enough for any laborious prying - I could see that breaking the tip. I don't use knives as pry tools.  if you tend to do that, this might not be the best choice.  

This is by no means an inexpensive knife, but it is built to last and works very well. Worth the price in my view. Along with the Fallkniven PXL that I recently reviewed, it is my favorite folding knife.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $105

This is an excellent slicing knife with a very clever locking mechanism. The blade is thin, but very capable. For every day use, this knife will be more than up to the challenge. However, for hard use, you may need to search elsewhere.

Blade length is good, and there is enough belly to make this knife excellent for slicing food, rope, or game with extreme ease. The tip is a bit delicate due to the flat grind and blade thickness. Blade play may occur over time, but is easily solved by tightening the pivot joint.

I would absolutely recommend this knife, as it is an all around great performer.


  • Clever locking mechanism, great for one handed operation
  • Flat grind
  • Can be made very sharp given the blade profile and grind
  • Light weight
  • Very good lockup
  • Solid jimping
  • Good steel (S30V on this version)
  • Feels good in hand


  • Thin blade
  • Handle is longer than blade
  • Handle is thick
  • G10 scales may wear your pocket
  • Prone to blade play

For the price, this knife cannot be beat, especially when compared to knives such as the Benchmade Griptilian or the Benchmade 940.

The flat ground blade with a decent belly makes this knife a great slicer. The lock up is solid, and gives the user great confidence that it will not fail. The jimping on the thump and index finger holds is nice and aggressive, and gives no indication that your hand will slip forward while thrusting the knife.

The "compression lock" as it is called, is a very clever design. It is similar to a liner lock, with the exception that it is operated from the backside of the knife. This gives the user the ability to open and close the knife without ever having to put their fingers in the path of the blade.

The knife is very well constructed, however it is prone to blade play. If the knife is ever used to pry (which it should never be), it may become loose at the pivot joint. This can be resolved by tightening the screw at the joint, but will also hinder rapid deployment of the blade.

I own several versions of this knife and have carried it over the course of 3+ years. I have used it extensively for opening countless packages, mail, slicing food, rope, and plant life. I keep it clean and sharp, and it continues to serve me well.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $110

I have the foliage green handle CPM-D2 plain blade steel version. This is a super solid, durable, tough, simple, and light knife! What more can I say? This is definitely the knife I carry when going into the backcountry. I just whip open and lock to a very comfortable secure grip! And that blade steel is unbelievably sharp!

Sharpest knife I have ever owned. It is a superior blade steel. Definitely a 5 star from me.

Price Paid: $100

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Price MSRP: $174.95
Historic Range: $107.95-$179.99
Reviewers Paid: $100.00-$110.00
Weight 3.9 oz / 111 g

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