What is Paracord?

parachute-cord-paracord

Paracord (a/k/a, parachute cord) is a soft, lightweight nylon rope originally used as suspension lines of U.S. parachutes. The paracord used in Paracord Shop products is “550 cord”, which is made up of a 32 strand woven nylon outer sheath with an inner core of seven, 2 ply nylon yarns. Because of the high number of woven strands, the exterior sheath has a smooth feel. Paracord has a diameter of roughly 1/8th of an inch.

All of Paracord Shop’s products are made in the U.S.A. with “Type III” paracord which is manufactured to have a minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds. The paracord comes from a government contractor which supplies the military.

Although originally used as parachute cord, paratroopers found paracord useful for many other tasks. As such, it is now used as a general purpose utility cord by both military personnel and civilians. This type of cord was even used by astronauts during STS-82, the second Space Shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

Currently, virtually all United States military units have access to paracord. It is used for many situations where light cordage is needed. Typical uses include attaching equipment to harnesses, as dummy cords to avoid losing small or important items, tying backpacks to vehicle racks, securing camoflage nets to trees or vehicles, and so forth. When threaded with beads, paracord may be used as a pace counter to estimate ground covered by foot. The threads of the core (commonly referred to as “the guts”) can also be removed when finer string is needed, for instance as sewing thread to repair gear or fishing line in an emergency situation. The nylon sheath is often used alone, the yarn in the core removed, when a thinner or less elastic cord is needed. Ends of the cord are almost always melted and crimped to prevent fraying.

Unraveled Paracord

Paracord is quick drying, and is rot and mildew resistant.

Paracord Military Usage

Despite the historic association of pararopes with Airborne units, virtually all US units have access to the cord. It is used in almost any situation where light cordage is needed. Typical uses include attaching equipment to harnesses, as dummy cords to avoid losing small or important items, tying rucksacks to vehicle racks, securing camouflage nets to trees or vehicles, and so forth. When threaded with beads, paracord may be used as a pace counter to estimate ground covered by foot. The yarns of the core (commonly referred to as “the guts”) can also be removed when finer string is needed, for instance as sewing thread to repair gear, boot laces, or fishing line in a survival situation. The nylon sheath is often used alone, the yarn in the core removed, when a thinner or less elastic cord is needed. Ends of the cord are almost always melted and crimped to prevent fraying.

In addition to purely utility functions, paracord can be used to fashion knotted or braided bracelets, lanyards, belts, and other decorative items.

Paracord Tactical / Survival Usage

Use for lashing together a shelter, leashing stray dogs, muzzle dangerous dogs, secure open doors, improvised handcuffs, hog tie, trapping, fishing, use as a tie down for your trunk, hang food, self defense (with proper training,a small amount of 550 cord can be an excellent SD tool), improvised repairs, or tie down’s for the bed of your truck. Deploy your paracord cord and drop it from a second story window to hoist heavy gear. These are just some of the many uses that were provided for us as feedback from our police, military, and professional survivalist testers.

Paracord Types

US Military issue paracord is specified by MIL-C-5040H in six types: I, IA, II, IIA, III, IV.[2] Types IA and IIA are composed solely of a sheath without a core. Type III, a type commonly found in use, is nominally rated with a minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds, thus the sobriquet ”550 cord”.

The US military specification for paracord outlines a number of parameters to which the final product must conform. Although it contains specific denier figures for the sheath strands and inner yarns, there are no overall diameter requirements for the cord itself. Below is a table of selected elements from the specification.

TypeMaximum strengthMinimum elongationMinimum length per poundCore yarnsSheath structure
I95 lb (43 kg)30%950 ft (290 m; max. 1.57 g/m)4 to 732/1 or 16/2
IA100 lb (45 kg)30%1050 ft (320 m; max. 1.42 g/m)<no core>16/1
II400 lb (181 kg)30%265 ft (81 m; max. 5.62 g/m)4 to 732/1 or 36/1
IIA225 lb (102 kg)30%495 ft (151 m; max. 3.00 g/m)<no core>32/1 or 36/1
III550 lb (249 kg)30%225 ft (69 m; max. 6.61 g/m)7 to 932/1 or 36/1
IV750 lb (340 kg)30%165 ft (50 m; max. 9.02 g/m)1132/1, 36/1, or 44/1

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