Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Review

I get reader requests from time to time to take a look at a particular knife. I try to oblige, although it isn’t always possible. I really appreciate the feedback and it’s extremely humbling to hear that someone wants my take on a particular knife. So I gotta start this off by saying that no knife has ever received as many reader requests as the Spyderco Paramilitary 2. This is a knife that I have had my eye on for a long time now too, and eventually the urge to pick up a Para 2 simply became too strong to resist. This is a larger USA made folder with all the trimmings, and having carried mine now for a while I can totally see why this particular knife has received so many requests – it’s an awesome cutting tool.

So this review is dedicated to all the awesome people who have been on this knife review journey with me. My Para 2 has been purchased, carried and thoroughly tested, so I am finally ready to share with you some of my thoughts on this knife. Let the blade review begin!

General Dimensions and Blade Details

The Para 2 has an overall length of 8.3″, a 3.4″ blade and it weighs 3.75 ounces. This is a larger knife, designed to be either a tactical knife or a heavy-duty utility folder. I also know that for many, this is an EDC knife, and that is exactly what I did with my Paramilitary 2 for about 6 weeks before I sat down to write this review. All in all I really like the Para 2 as an EDC option. It’s a little bigger than what I typically like to carry, but it’s very light for it’s size and packs a ton of utility.

Spyderco Paramilitary 2

The Para 2 features a classic Spyderco drop point blade. It’s been given a full flat grind and is made from 3.5mm blade stock. The knife has a nice amount of belly, an excellent tip and has proven to be a tremendous slicer. Rounding things out is a well ground edge that came extremely sharp. I have found that this is a great knife for food prep. For example, I had to slice a lot of large ciabatta rolls, and the 3.4″ blade really made easy work of the task.

You have the option of a satin finish (shown here) or a diamond like carbon (DLC) coating for the blade on your Paramilitary 2. I like DLC coatings a lot, they are about as good as a knife coating can get, but I have no experience with Spyderco’s formulation. I can say that everything I read about their DLC coating was favorable, and I love my satin finished version.

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Blade

Blade steel is the very excellent S30V. Knife knuts won’t need me to say much about S30V, but for the uninitiated this is an all around excellent steel. It’s relatively easy to sharpen, takes a very nice edge, and can hold a good working edge for a very long time. It’s also quite resistant to rust and corrosion. I’m a huge fan of S30V and Spyderco does an awesome job with their heat treatment of it.

Handle, Ergonomics and Pocket Clip

The Paramilitary 2 handle is black G10 over nested stainless steel liners. The liners have been milled out somewhat to reduce the weight, and at 3.75 ounces the knife is very light overall. The corners have all been nicely rounded and the liners sit flush with the G10. Everything is screwed together and you have an open construction design with 2 pillars and a very large lanyard loop. All in all, handle construction is top notch.

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Handle

The ergonomics on the Para 2 are outstanding. Spyderco has once again made excellent use of a 50-50 choil to give you more options and better control over your knife. A 50-50 choil is a finger choil made fromboth the blade stock and the handle. What I like about this is that you have the option of setting your hand back on the knife to maximize reach, or you can choke up for more detailed cutting tasks. Either way the handle is plenty big and extremely comfortable. The 50-50 choil is part of the reason why so many Spyderco knives (like the Dragonfly and Sage 1) consistently get excellent ergonomic ratings from me. Rounding things out is perhaps one of the best jimped thumb ramps I’ve ever come across. The jimping is just phenomenal on this knife – it practically super-glues your thumb in place.

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Pocket Clip

The pocket clip is a standard Spyderco hour-glass shaped clip. It’s large and has a bright satin finish, but it offers good retention and a decently deep carry. I’d love a blackened clip to come standard on my satin finished Para-2, although I admit it wouldn’t look quite as nice in my hand.

Deployment and Lock

Deployment on the Paramilitary 2 is accomplished via an oversized Spyder-hole. And I really do mean oversized. At 14mm in diameter it is really a much bigger thumb hole than I am used to – but I quickly grew accustomed to it and now I absolutely love it. Deployment is incredibly, fast, smooth and consistent. This is a great knife to use with gloves and it ensures a smooth and effortless deployment with every flick. Backing up that oversized thumb hole is a pair of large phosphor bronze washers. These washers are very smooth and only get better as the knife breaks in. So deployment is just outstanding.

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Deployment and Lock

The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 makes use of a compression lock to hold the blade in place. This is my first review of a knife with a compression lock, and my impressions of the mechanism are extremely favorable. At first glance this might just appear to be a liner lock on the back of the knife – in practice that really couldn’t be further from the truth. The compression lock works by wedging a piece of the liner between the tang and a stop pin. As force is applied to the knife (from either the spine or the edge) the lock compresses and the sandwich of tang, liner and pin hold the blade firmly in place. The harder you push on the knife, the tighter the lock gets. It’s an incredibly strong design and is really quite ingenious.

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Compression Lock

Another thing I really like about the compression lock is how easy it is to disengage with one hand. It may take a little practice at first, but it’s easy to close the knife one hand without putting your fingers anywhere near the path of the edge – a total impossibility with a liner lock or frame lock. This makes the knife infinitely fun to manipulate. In terms of pure blade-flicking enjoyment I rank it right up there with an axis lock. I’ve heard some accounts of the lock being sticky, I have not experienced that personally and would think that any stickiness would go away as the knife breaks in.

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 – Final Thoughts

The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 is just an outstanding knife. It’s no surprise that this is the EDC of a lot of serious knife collectors. If you poll a group of people who routinely purchase $100-500+ knives, odds are very good that a Paramilitary 2 is a serious part of their EDC rotation. This is for very good reason, you have a tough knife with premium steel that is wonderfully balanced, highly ergonomic, and extremely functional. When you factor in the ~$100 price tag and fact that it’s made in the USA, well, the knife just speaks for itself.

If you want a workhorse of an EDC or a robust folding tactical knife, I think that the Paramilitary 2 should be very high on your list.

I recommend purchasing the Paramilitary 2 at BladeHQ or Amazon. Purchasing anything through any of the links on this site helps support BladeReviews, and keep this review train running. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated!

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Comments

  1. Earl Sweatpants says

    That is actually a very good price for a S30V blade that size from a brand like Spyderco, a few years ago that could have easily been a $150-200 knife. Looks like a beauty, too. Definitely on the wish-list. As I said re: the Native, Spyderco makes an excellent knife, as good as anyone’s.

    Re: larger EDC blades, is legality an issue where you live? Out here (east coast) it can be; in the wrong place at the wrong time it could draw some scrutiny, unless you have a good reason to be carrying it. So I make up for it by carrying several smaller ones…..:)

    • says

      I totally agree Earl, I think ~$110 is a nice deal considering – I think we have online shopping to thank for that!

      In Florida it can be a legality issue, really it depends. If you get a concealed carry permit you can carry pretty much whatever you want, fixed blades, large folders, etc. I generally feel more comfortable carrying a 3″ or under blade here from a legal standpoint (and a “deadly force” standpoint).

      • says

        I doubt any brick and mortar stores will carry the blade anytime soon. I was on a waiting list with http://www.bladehq.com for over 6 months and then I got an email saying it was available and I waited 3 days till payday to buy it and it was already sold out. A month later I got another email saying it was available but instead of the black blade with the camo handle which is the one I wanted they had the satin Finish with the camo handle so I swooped it up no more then five minutes after receiving the email I wasn’t gonna waste a single second because I might not have another chance for 6-12 months. This knife is probably one of the most high demand knife in it’s price range due to the high quality you get for such a reasonable price. S30V steel in this size is impossible to find under $150-$200. I had never purchased a knife over $100 but it was worth every penny. Next $100 knife on my list is the SOG Kiku, super bad knife if you haven’t heard of it check it out ASAP.

        • says

          Thanks, Paul. Sounds like supply has gotten even tighter over the months. I’ve heard good things about the Kiku, wouldn’t mind checking it out at some point.

          Dan

  2. rawsted says

    Dang man, I might have to sell that Benchmade Griptillian that I hardly ever carry anymore and pick one of these up after watching that review. I’d be interesting in seeing a cutaway of how that compression lock engages; or, if anyone wants to take a stab at explaining it to a fellow who has a hard time visualizing things, have at it.

  3. Lew says

    Good write up!

    The Para2 is by all accounts a handsome blade. I have two gripes about it. First of all my local brick-and-mortar shop seems to be physically unable to get one in stock which makes me a bit pissed off (I want to give them my money in exchange for goods, Y they not have stocked inventory?!), secondly I find the off-centre tip-up clip a bit of an aestetical eye-sore. This is strange as Spydie always does great clips and clip placement but I guess that mahusive Spydie-hole (who needs room for more than gutten 550 anyways?) makes a centred and symmetrical clip impossible. I think it looks too Cold Steel, my opinion. I think it’s a shame as a Para3 with the clip design from the Military/Tenacious-family would really float my boat.

    • says

      Thanks Lew – I agree entirely! The clip position strikes me as a little odd with that big honking lanyard loop – it also makes carry slightly less then ideal. It’s still good, but could be improved slightly with different positioning (and a smaller lanyard hole). As always thanks for the great comment. Oh and I will take my Para 2 apart and make a picture of the compression lock to add to the review – excellent idea! :)

  4. Greg says

    Great review Dan!

    I have read so many positive threads about it on various forums over the past year that I recently picked one up.

    I can’t find anything to complain about it at all — mine was perfect out of the box — the only problem is having to decide to carry it or the Kershaw Skyline for my smaller EDC knife!

    I am looking forward to picking up some of the sprint runs of the Para-Military 2 soon too.

    • says

      Hey Greg! Thanks so much man. Glad you like yours too – it’s hard to find much to dislike about the knife. I know some people have got sticky compression locks and maybe the pocket clip isn’t in the absolutely most perfect position possible, but really it’s just a well done knife. I’ve really been enjoying mine too. Thanks again for stopping by man. Have a good one!

  5. Justin Teh says

    I love my two Military, one manufactured in 2003 and the other bought in 2010!
    Both came with a different screw head on the clip, though!
    After pondering what knives shall I buy again!? I have decided few days ago asking my buddy to buy (from NG) one more Military and a Para Military, because it’s smaller and comes with a compression lock, that aroused my interest! But never mind because I trusted Spyderco for their design, folder making process & selection of materials associated with it!
    I haven’t get a chance to own a compression lock knife! After watching your video..I think I like it!
    What is the two marking on the round hole?
    My Dodo has a marking that looked like one of yours…the E!

    • says

      Hey Justin!

      I think the Para 2 is an awesome knife. If you like the Military, odds are you are going to like the Para 2. Like you said, it’s a little smaller but it’s still a very rugged and functional knife.

      To answer your question, the 2 markings by the Spyderhole are the logos for Sal Glesser and Eric Glesser (the owner of Spyderco and his son). They both worked on the design of the Para 2, so that’s why their logos are there. I believe Eric also designed the Dodo – another really cool Spyderco.

      Thanks so much for stopping by Justin. If you do happen to pick up a Para 2 I’d love to hear what you think of it.

      • Justin Teh says

        Hi Dan,
        Just received confirmation from my buddy that he had ordered the Military & Para Military both in Digi Camo also included is a Manix 2 XL…with NG!
        I will keep you posted once I have grabbed hold of it!
        It will be much later since he can only manage to pass it to me some where in Jun later!

        • Justin Teh says

          Wednesday, October 10, 2012
          Hi Dan,
          Late for this report!
          Come to think of it on the phrase “have knife will travel”…I have just collected my Mili, Para Mili both in Digi Camo & Manix 2 XL yesterday nite 09 Oct 2012 from my buddy’s (in US) father’s house in KL.
          His dad with his whole family have traveled to China from KL in Sep 28 to meet him and his family in China (from US), just got back from China and arrived in KLIA on that very morning!
          So to speak..the 3 Spydie travel back to KL from US (Junior) via China (Senior), then brought back by the Senior and presented to me!
          Viola! I was so delighted, excited and so cool feeling after taking a glimpse on the Spydie!
          Para Mili is the classic one..thought I was not aware (not so sure) on the PM II and it’s differences!
          I have been waiting to grab this piece some time before I place my order instead on the PM II which was to no avail then! When I have come across this PM II, I notice the blade is thinner from the spec when it was put up for sale then..so I still opt for the classic without noticing the more ergonomic design on the PM II.
          Never mind, will grab this later when I got the chance again!

          Manix 2 XL…it’s heavier and comes with a solid feel! There is a contrasting feeling when you hold the two different knives one at a time! It’s kind of ironic..on both great knives! I cannot tell from here the durability and the functionality from here without actually putting both to use and to see and tell the difference!
          I will keep it instead of using it! I can still afford to abusing my Benchmade 905.
          Don’t get the mix feeling from my swaying statement on my actual scenario of using…905, because a Spidie is still a Spydie!
          Manix 2 XL…solid & heavier vs. the Mili for god’s sake! It’s two different stories all together!

          • says

            Hey Justin,

            Thanks for the follow up! So happy to hear you have been enjoying your Para 2 and Manix XL. The Manix 2 XL is one I haven’t handled myself yet but have heard so many good things about it. Really nice knife. I hate to send you on another goose chase but if you get the chance to handle a Superleaf I think you may like it a lot. I played around with one this past weekend and was super impressed. Big, flat ground blade, smooth and easy action, yet still lightweight and manageable.

            Anyhow, thanks for the report. :) Take care,

            Dan

  6. Spanky says

    Haha! Nice review and I find it funny that I am reading this now. I borrowed my co-worker’s knife today (she actually got me into knives). A Spyderco with a compression lock like this one has. Sure enough I thought “an upside down liner lock” and I thought it a dumb design.

    Thanks, Dan, for the knowledge as I now know what an actually good design it is (and how it is meant to be closed)! I thought when I first used it, why would they require me to use two hands to close the thing? After watching your video I realize I still got a lot to learn about knives!

    The para 2 looks like a beauty. Might have to add this to the small but growing collection. Man! So many cool knives out there!

    • says

      lol! Thanks Spanky! I stand on the shoulder of giants man – I can’t claim that I understood the merits of this particular lock until I used this one a lot, took it apart, got some feedback from other people, and really spent some time with it. We are all on the same path here (to further our understanding of knives) and I’m just happy you are here with us.

      I really like the Para 2 a lot man, it makes a nice addition to anyone’s collection imo. Thanks again and take care. :)

  7. Alex says

    Thank you for your review. It was one of the reviews that made me buy a black DLC paramilitary. DLC coating is awesome – super hard. And completely black paramilitary looks somewhat special ;).
    What I like about DLC coating is that it improves wear resistance of the knife, an it’s easier to wash off fat from it (from cutting meat). On the other hand it makes cutting fruits and vegetables harder – it is not as smooth as steel when gliding on wet surfaces.

    • says

      My pleasure Alex, glad you have been enjoying your Para 2. I have heard great things about Spyderco‘s DLC coatings – I agree, it does look special. Thanks for the info about slicing, that makes sense although honestly I wouldn’t have guessed it would have had that big of an effect on cutting. I appreciate that info and I am sure others who are contemplating the Para 2 appreciate it as well.

      Dan

      • Alex says

        As a side note, I think that tip-down carry is safer with paramilitary 2, because compression lock doesn’t hold the blade that well in the closed position. For tip-up carry that means that the knife could be opened with the force of gravity, and consequences could be quite grave.

        • says

          Thanks Alex – it’s certainly something to consider when carrying tip up! For me, I continue to tip up carry my Para 2 without issue – I keep the blade up next against the seam of my pocket to help prevent it from opening. But yes, carry tip up at your own risk.

          Dan

          • Shannon says

            I received my PM2 this week and I am a little disappointed that the blade centering is a bit off with the blade listing a little to the lock bar side of the knife. It seems there is some extra friction in the pivot, perhaps the lock bar against the blade, because this particular knife is not flying open without active assistance. It does however open with ease using the thumbhole. Flicking the knife closed with one hand is also a bit difficult. It can be done, but you have to really put some umph in the motion. Perhaps i’ve been a bit spoiled by the ease with which my mini-grip flies open and closed.

            I had expected better build quality in a $100 U.S. made knife but that one gripe aside I am very impressed with this thing. Everything else about the PM2 is absolutely perfect. It is an awesome knife I and plan to keep it and beat the hell out of it for many years to come.

          • says

            Hey Shannon,

            The Para 2 generally will break in with time and get smoother. It might take a little tweaking with the pivot too. At any rate I am glad you generally enjoy it. It’s not the prettiest knife with the most amazing fit and finish but it’s sturdy and a very good design. It should serve you well.

            Best,

            Dan

      • Alex says

        After carrying it for more than 2 years I can say that while DLC coating protects the knife from corrosion, it is a subject to scratches, and will show some wear over time. I managed to scratch the surface (it became not so smooth and polished, but just matte in spots) by cutting branches, pumpkins, and chicken bones.
        And sand scratched through some spots on the coating, so now it is not as smoothly black.

        I would say that satin S30v on my Sage 1 fared better, even though I did whittle branches with it too, and did abuse it on some trips.

        • says

          Alex,

          Thanks for the long term thoughts on the DLC coating. I found it interesting, and I am sure a lot of people will benefit from you sharing your experience.

          Dan

  8. Shannon says

    It seems like most Spydercos come tip up as a factory standard and I found it interesting that the PM2 arrived tip down out of the box. I immediately changed it to tip up but started to get some discomfort from the clip when using the knife. I switched it back to tip down and noticed that the bend in the spoon clip is perfectly placed to cradle the knuckle pad at the base of the index finger, eliminating any hot spots. It seems that the clip was intentionally placed there to make a more comfortable grip for the user.

    I generally prefer to carry my knives tip up but I carry my PM2 tip down. With the clip in that position this is one of the most ergonomically perfect tools I’ve ever had in my hands. What a fantastic design.

    • says

      Very interesting Shannon! Glad you found out a way to carry it that works well for you. I agree that it is a very comfortable knife – thanks for stopping by!

      Dan

  9. jacksterp (Jack) says

    Dan – thanks for this in depth review. It really has me questioning the purchase of the Para 2 – a knife I didn’t think I would be interested in regardless of the hype. Of my meager assortment of knives, Spyderco is one of the least represented. That my change as a result of your review.

    Thanks again,
    Jack

    • says

      You are very welcome, Jack. Thank you for stopping by. Spyderco has a lot of nice patterns but the Para 2 is a crowd pleaser for good reason. It’s an honest hardworking tool. If you decide to get one I hope you like it.

      Thanks again,

      Dan

  10. TP says

    Great review. I want one. I already have many (my wife would say too many) folders including a Sebenza and a Spyderco Yokimba 2 which I love for that ruler straight awesome. Edge. But my favorite EDC is a Spyderco Military. The ONLY issue I have with this beauty is the jaw dropping reaction it generates when it snaps open. So maybe the Para 2 is the way to go. Ah, decisions, decisions.

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