When it comes to choosing the single best EDC knife (read more in this article), it’s hard to argue against the Spyderco Paramilitary 2. Though it is marketed for outdoor and survival scenario uses, this extremely popular knife is considered to be good at just about everything. Find out more in this detailed Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Review.
A Brief Introduction about Spyderco
Spyderco is based in and manufactures its knives in Golden, Colorado, USA. The company, which was founded in 1978 by Sal Glesser, is well known in the knife industry for its quality knives and innovative designs. For example, Spyderco was the first company to include pocket clips on their knives, to include serrated blades on a folding knife, and to have the now-renown Spyder-hole or opener hole which allows easy one-handed opening.
This American company continually sets the bar high for all other cutlery companies in the world. Spyderco abides by a strict code of “CQI”, or Constant Quality Improvement. As such, their knife designs go through multiple redesigns, testing phases, and modifications over the years. Even their most popular knives are upgraded. Nothing remains stagnant at Spyderco.
Furthermore, Spyderco refuses to focus on manufacturing appealing-looking knives. Instead, they aspire to create functional and ergonomic tools. Someone once remarked to company founder and owner Sal Glesser that, “You must design in the dark because your knives look so strange.” Strange as they may look, Spyderco knives are continually recognized as reliable, high-performing, quality tools.
The History of the Spyderco Paramilitary Knife
Like all of Spyderco’s knives, the Paramilitary Design has gone through multiple different renditions before arriving at its current, widely-popular design. The original Spyderco Military model was created to be the kind of knife you would give to your son if he was joining the military. At 9.5 inches overall length and a weight of 4.5 ounces, the Military knife by Spyderco is a high-performing, relatively light-weight folding knife designed for hard use.
Even though the Spyderco Military knife was well received, the Colorado-based company didn’t rest on its success. In 2004, the Spyderco Paramilitary 1 was released as a more “pocketable” version of already popular Spyderco Military. The Paramilitary 1 received a lot of attention, with fans eagerly awaiting its release.
At two-thirds the size of the Military, the Paramilitary 1 was marketed as a folding survival knife. No longer in production, it had an overall length of 7.88 inches and weighs only 3.75 ounces. The Spyderco opening hole was 14mm, which easily permitted large or gloved fingers to open the knife one-handed. The knife also featured a G-10 scale handle and Spyderco’s exclusive Compression Lock, which was inlaid into the handle to prevent excess bulk and thickness.
The first version of the Paramilitary knife did have flaws, however. For one, the rear tang of the knife (otherwise known as the back portion of the blade near the connection to the handle) was exposed when closed. Additionally, the clip placement resulted in nearly an inch of the knife sticking out of one’s pocket.
These small flaws, combined with Spyderco’s goal of constant innovation and improvement lead the company to create the Paramilitary 2.
The Modern Day Paramilitary 2 Knife
The updated knife named the Spyderco Paramilitary 2, was released in 2010. This knife was originally quite scarce in the marketplace and still to this day it can be tough to find one. The Paramilitary 2 is widely considered to be the best do-it-all folding knife available.
Spyderco made many improvements from the first model. One such change was that Spyderco slimmed the handle down at the end. This improved the handling and ergonomics compared to the Paramilitary 1 knife. Additionally, the blade length was extended from 3.09 inches to 3.44 inches. In addition to the increased length of cutting edge, the new version has “jimping” on both the spine and finger choil (a choil is the cut-out area of the blade next to the handle often used to fit a finger when choking up on the knife). The jimping, or notching, alone the spine and choil provide additional grip on the knife.
Another update to the Paramilitary 2 knife is that Spyderco updated the clip. Now, the clip can be positioned in four different locations. The knife can now be carried tip-up or tip-down, and it can be positioned deep in the pocket to increase concealment. Finally, the clip allows the knife to be adjusted for left-hand and right-hand use.
Another important update was that the tang was adjusted so that it lined up smoothly with the handle when closed. This means that the corner of the blade no longer sticks out which prevents the blade from catching on items in your pocket. The changes also resulted in a thinner overall knife, so it sits in your pocket better. The tang adjustment also makes for a more aesthetically pleasing knife.
Additional improvements include an oversized lanyard hole and a new bushing pivot system that allows you to open more fluidly and close the knife. To sum up, the improvements over the Paramilitary 1 include:
- Slimmed handle for increased ergonomics and control
- Four-way adjustable clip
- Tang no longer sticks out when closed
- Lanyard hold made larger
- Recessed pivot pins for fluid opening action
The Paramilitary 2 retained some of the well-loved features of the original model, including the Spyderco proprietary compression lock. A Spyderco compression lock has much more strength than a liner lock, but with the same space efficiency. This is because the lock’s weight bearing dimension is based on the locking leaf’s width rather than its thickness. A Spyderco compression lock will not develop play over time and use.
The selling points of Paramilitary 2
The most impressive thing about the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 is that it is great for both heavy-duty tasks and fine detail task. The updated Paramilitary is 8.28 inches in length when opened and 4.81 inches when closed and it weighs 3.75 ounces. The blade has a pronounced belly and precise point which allows the knife to penetrate and move through materials easily. Compared to other knives, the Paramilitary 2 is wider in width than most.
The single biggest selling feature of the Paramilitary 2 is its incredible ergonomic design. Most agree that the Paramilitary 2 has better ergonomics than any other knife on the market. This is due to the knife’s slim handle which does not have scalloping or grooves which can limit your ability to hold the knife comfortably. Since everyone’s hands are different in shape and size, the simple design of the Paramilitary 2’s handle allows for multiple places you can put your hands. Additionally, even though this knife if a relatively large, heavy knife, the ergonomic handle allows you to choke up on the knife for delicate tasks.
The Paramilitary 2 is made with S30V steel which takes a good edge and holds that edge for a long time. S30V is a fairly hard steel at 60HRC and as a result, it can be difficult to sharpen. However, if you desire a knife that is easier to sharpen then you are in luck. The Paramilitary 2 was produced in sprint runs or what Spyderco calls limited edition productions. These limited production runs allowed the company to produce the popular knife in additional steels. The following steels have been used to create Paramilitary 2 knives: CTS-XHP, M390, CTS-20CP, S35VN, Elmax, CTS-204P, S90V, and Composite of 154CM stock with S90V blade.
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Review: Conclusion
The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 is universally considered to be one of the best knives available on the market today. The knife certainly lives up to the hype of being good at everything. The sturdy design makes this knife perfect for heavy duty uses, and its ergonomic design makes it also ideal for detail work. In addition to purchasing new units directly from Spyderco and their vendors, many Paramilitary 1 and 2 models are available on the secondhand market. Pricing varies widely based on model versions and years, production runs, and colors, but the standard Paramilitary 2 model sells for about $115-$150.