Double Review: Spyderco Military vs Spyderco Paramilitary 2
Many knife aficionados find Spyderco knives to be different, weird, and even peculiar. In fact, according to the Spyderco web site, a person once said to Sal Glesser (Spyderco’s owner), “You must design in the dark because your knives look so strange!” But, their distinguished design is actually a result of striving to create ergonomic, functional, tools rather than simply applying the same old ideas to a folding knife. Also, making knives that consistently deliver reliable high-performance to their owners requires an ongoing commitment to testing. Thus, in their million-dollar testing facility, Spyderco examines edge retention with a CATRA machine, looks for rust development with Q-FOG, and even researches the force needed to open and close a knife. They also repeatedly test for stress, wear, and optimal heat-treating and, they actively search for higher quality, performance enhancing, steels and materials. Of course, as a customer, you are probably unaware of all of this but, such rigorous testing ensures that when you purchase a Spyderco knife, you receive a reliable, high quality, cutting tool.
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Blade Design: Spyderco Military vs. Spyderco Paramilitary 2
When it comes to Spyderco knives, blade design becomes an especially subjective matter since Spyderco blade designs are unlike any other knife company’s. However, the blade design of the Spyderco Military is nearly identical to that of the Paramilitary 2 but, if you look closely, you will see that there are differences in addition to the similarities. For instance, the blade of the Para Military 2 measures 3.43” in length whereas, that of the Military measures a full 4” in length and, while this may not seem like much, it drastically changes the shape of the blade on each knife. For instance, the shorter blade of the Para Military 2 causes the edge to have a shorter straight section near the choil and to ascend into the belly of the blade much quicker than it does on the Military with its full 4” blade length which makes it a little more difficult to perform cutting tasks with the Para Military 2 for which you need the straight part of the edge. However, the shorter blade of the Para Military 2 also provides more control over both the tip and the cutting edge than that the longer 4” length of the Military. Furthermore, the large thumb hole in the spine of both blades may cause them to appear somewhat unusual but, it also serves to make the blades significantly easier to open with one hand and, the flat grind on both blades provides the best possible compromise between a tough edge and a sharp edge.
Spyderco Military – 8/10
Spyderco Para Military 2 – 7/10
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CPM S30V is a proprietary blade steel developed by custom bladesmith Chris Reeves and manufactured by Crucible Materials Corporation to be the ultimate stainless blade steel! In fact, it starts life as a metal powder which is then heated to the melting point and which contains nothing more than 1.45% Carbon, 14% Chromium, 4% Molybdenum, and 2% Vanadium. Widely considered to be the best blade steel ever made, its chemistry promotes the formation, and even distribution of, vanadium carbides which are harder and more effective at cutting than chromium carbides. In addition, vanadium carbides give the steel a very refined grain structure which further contributes to the sharpness and toughness of its edge.
Therefore, CPM S30V is a very tough and highly corrosion resistant stainless steel that is capable of being honed to a very fine edge and then, has the ability to retain that edge even over prolonged use. Thus, its performance easily surpasses other blade steels in its class such as D2, 440C, ATS34, BG42, and Bohler N690. Consequently, although it is a somewhat expensive choice for use on folding knives, it cannot be said that Spyderco hedged on blade steel for these knives since they instead chose what is arguably the top blade steel ever developed although, it is also probably the most expensive blade steel in existence!
Spyderco Military – 10/10
Spyderco Para Military 2 – 10/10
Handle Design and Material
Like the blade designs, the handle design of Spyderco Military and the Spyderco Para Military 2 are nearly identical. In fact, they are so close to being the same that the minor differences between the two are really not worth mentioning. However, what we can say about them is that they are some of the most ergonomic folding knife grips ever developed! In fact, they are so comfortable that they literally feel as if they have been sculpted to fit the human hand and, in fact, that is most likely the case! From the arched back to the gracefully curved belly, the handle of this knife has been specifically designed with the Human hand in mind and the large finger choil combined with the jimping on the spine of both knives provides a means of “choking up” on the blade for even greater control when performing precision cutting tasks. Furthermore, both knives feature handle scales made from G10 which is a high quality Glass Reinforced Epoxy that is very tough, impervious to immersion in water, and to extreme changes in ambient air temperature.
Spyderco Military – 9/10
Spyderco Para Military 2 – 9/10
Concerning locking mechanisms, while the Spyderco Military features a classic Liner Lock, the Spyderco Para Military 2 features a Compression Lock. Thus, while the locking mechanism of the Military is formed by cutting a leaf from the front edge of liner near the tang and then bending said leaf such that it protrudes into the space between the liners and positions itself directly behind the blade’s tang to prevent it from accidentally folding, the Compression lock featured on the Para Military 2 is essentially the same in that it too is formed by cutting a leaf from the liner but, in this case, the leaf is on the back side of the handle and, when deployed, it springs out to wedge itself between the blade’s tang and the anvil pin (aka stop pin) in order to prevent the blade from accidentally closing. Thus, while both locking mechanisms are sufficiently strong, the Compression Lock is somewhat more complicated than the Liner Lock and thus, it is more expensive to manufacture. In addition, the Liner Lock is released by using the thumb of your knife hand to move the leaf spring aside before closing the blade while the Compression Lock requires that a button be inset into one handle scale which must be either pushed or pulled in order to unlock the blade and allow it to close. Consequently, the Compression Lock is designed to retain a tight lock with the tang as it wears and thus, it will allegedly always remain tight whereas, the Liner Lock could possibly become slightly loose over an extended period of time and use.
Spyderco Military – 8/10
Spyderco Para Military 2 – 9/10
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Value for the Money
When it comes to weighing the value of these two knives, let me start by saying that they are both expensive knives. However, CPM S30V is a proprietary blade steel and is widely considered to be best in existence and thus, it’s not cheap. However, its performance is commensurate with its cost and thus, it really is quite possibly as good as blade steels can get. Therefore, in this particular case, you do get what you pay for. Also, G10 is widely considered to be the best possible choice for folding knife handle scales since it consistently provides a high quality product and is nearly indestructible and, both the Spyderco Military and the Spyderco Para Military 2 incorporate these same materials. Therefore, it is difficult to say that one represents a better value for the money than the other. However, considering Spyderco’s reputation for meticulous attention to detail combined with their choice to incorporate the best materials available in both of these knives, it seems safe to say that both of these knives represent a good value for the money.
Spyderco Military – 8/10
Spyderco Para Military 2 – 8/10
Conclusion: Total Scores
Last, in adding up the scores, you can see that although it was not expected or intended, these two knives have actually managed to achieve equal rating. Thus, this is one of those rare occasions where both knives turn out to be an equal value for the money.
Spyderco Military – 43/50
Spyderco Para Military 2 – 43/50