Last Updated: July 13, 2019
Poll any knife reviewer, knife YouTube Channel, or knife forum, asking what the best Every Day Carry (EDC) knife is, and the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 is going to come up time and time again. It’s a rock star in the EDC world, and for good reason. It’s a form follows function design with great cutting ability, great ergonomics, and that difficult to describe “X” factor that keeps people coming back year after year.
I originally purchased and reviewed this knife in 2012. Looking back, the review is a little stale, but the knife continues to be in my personal rotation of daily carry blades, and it continues to have captured the hearts and minds of knife enthusiasts around the globe. So I am going to try to break down why the knife is so good in this updated Spyderco Paramilitary 2 review.
And let me assure you that this is not some flash in the pan hot take. I’ve owned this knife for over 5 years now, and have compared it to hundreds of knives. I’m giving the review a major update in 2018. So strap in and lets explore why this USA Made gem continues to hit all the buttons for edged enthusiasts.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Para 2 has an overall length of 8.3″, a 3.4″ blade, weighs 3.75 ounces, and is made in the USA. 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. Personally, the Para 2 is a little bigger than what I typically like to carry, but my knife has seen plenty of use on the weekends.
I must not be alone in finding the Para 2 on the large side, because in 2017 Spyderco released the Paramilitary 3. Ben wrote a full review on it.
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.
Blade steel is the very capable S30V. Knife enthusiasts won’t need me to say much about S30V, it has been popular for close to a decade now. But for the uninitiated this is an all around excellent steel. It has been usurped by S35VN and other even more premium steels over the year, but S30V remains more than adequate for most people. S30V is 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.
Spyderco has released a number of sprint runs of the Paramilitary 2 over the years in a wide range of exotic steels and handle colors. I’d like to see them upgrade the standard Para 2 to S35VN or CTS-XHP at some point. For the time being a premium version of the knife in S110V with blurple scales is available (apparently as a non-sprint run on Spyderco’s regular lineup for the foreseeable future).
And here is a size comparison with the Para 2 next to my Sage 1:
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.
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 from both 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 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 without being so toothy it’s uncomfortable.
The pocket clip is a standard Spyderco hour-glass shaped clip. It’s large and has a bright satin finish. It offers good retention and a decently deep carry. The clip works, but I’d love to see a blackened deep carry clip to come standard. That would make the knife more discreet in your pocket. Casey Lynch has developed a deep carry titanium pocket clip for the Para 2, and frankly I think I should get one of these. The standard Spyderco clip works, but it’s not my favorite.
The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 carries great in the pocket. Although this is a larger knife, the Para 2 is thin and relatively lightweight, so it doesn’t weigh down your pockets and doesn’t create much bulk. It’s no Dragonfly II, a knife I routinely forget I’m carrying, but the Para 2 carries surprisingly well for a larger knife thanks to the thin design.
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.
The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 makes use of a compression lock to lock the blade open. 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.
There is no blade play of any kind with my knife, and the compression lock is easy to use with one hand. I like how you can disengage the lock and fold away the blade without placing your fingers within the path of the blade.
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.
Here is a parting shot of my Para 2 next to the Benchmade Griptilian. And while I’m at it, here is a link to an article I wrote on the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 vs. the Benchmade Griptilian if you are trying to decide between the two.
Blade centering on my knife is perfect.
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 vs. Para 3
I’m sure many readers are looking for a size comparison between the Para 2 and Para 3. Ben reviewed the Para 3 back in 2017, and I acquired and reviewed a Para 3 Lightweight in 2019. Here is a size comparison between the two knives:
As you can see the Para 3 is significantly shorter. Now, I’ve got the LW version of the Para 3 so this isn’t exactly an “apples to apples” comparison, but the major difference between the Para 2 and 3 that I noticed is the shorter handle of the Para 3. It’s a good deal shorter. I’ve found the ergonomics aren’t quite as good on the Para 3, but it’s much more pocketable. That’s the biggest trade off.
You sacrifice some comfort and blade length for a smaller, easier to carry knife. True Spyderco fans will inevitably acquire both.
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Review – 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. It easily makes my best EDC knives list and receives my highest endorsement.
- PARA MILITARY - Undeniably one of our most popular and in-demand designs, the Para Military distills the world-class performance of our legendary Military into a compact, pocket-friendly package.
- PLAINEDGE BLADE - This knife has a sharpened blade with no serrations or teeth sometimes referred to as a smooth blade.
- G-10 HANDLE - An epoxy filled woven glass fiber that is rigid, non-slip, and impervious to temperature changes and chemicals.
- COMPRESSION LOCK - Developed and patented by Spyderco, the compression lock mechanism uses a leaf-like spring from a split liner in the handle to wedge laterally between a ramp on the blade tang and the stop pin (or anvil pin).
- SPECIFICATIONS - Closed Length (Inches): 4.82, Overall Length (Inches): 8.24, Blade Length (Inches):3.42, Blade Steel: CPM S30V, Grind: Full-Flat
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