Folding knives are a relatively recent innovation in the world of cutlery, but it seems that every year another model comes out that improves upon previous designs and sets a new standard for what a collapsible blade can do.
Versatile, portable, and suited to a variety of situations, “flippers” are the workhorse of the knife world, and can be called upon to handle everything from cardboard boxes to muggers to deep woods survival situations.
One folding knife that has earned exceptionally high marks from knife enthusiasts the world over is the Spyderco Paramilitary 2. A unique flipper with some very interesting design attributes, the Paramilitary 2 is a perfect representation of what the Spyderco company wants in their line: innovative, versatile, reliable knives.
Below, we’ll perform a full Spyderco Paramilitary 2 review to see how it will stand up to everyday situations and survival situations alike.
- Blade - 9.2/109.2/10
- Handle - 8.5/108.5/10
- Deployment and Lock Up Mechanism - 9/109/10
- Quality and Features - 9/109/10
The Spyderco ParaMilitary 2 is a crowd-pleaser, make no mistake. As one of the highest-rated folding knives in the world, it should make a happy customer out of anyone who can get their hands on it.
|4-way clip for multiple belt and pocket carry options.||Rather expensive for a flipper.|
|Totally ambidextrous design.||Spyderco designs are unique-looking and not for everyone.|
|Ergonomic handle made of slip-resistant G-10 scales.||A commonly-counterfeited knife. Shoppers must verify authenticity.|
|Spine and choil jimping for excellent control when cutting or slicing.|
|Maximized edge retention from the high Vanadium steel.|
|Tight lock upon opening and closing and zero play when open.|
Tips for Picking a Great Folding Knife
Everybody sees something different when they look at a folding knife. Where some see a utility tool that will help them perform jobs faster, others see a tactical weapon. Still, others see a tool that they can call upon in a variety of situations, and shape to their immediate needs.
Whatever you see when you see the Spyderco Paramilitary 2, there are a few things you need to consider before attempting to evaluate any knife.
Things to Consider:
Overall Size – Just because a knife is a flipper doesn’t mean that the manufacturer won’t take a “go big or go home” approach to designing it. In fact, message boards are filled with “I didn’t think it would be this big” complaints from people who ordered folding knives for their back pocket and ended up with a collapsible sword.
Geography – The versatility of flippers makes them great for a lot of jobs, but not all of them are suited to extreme climates. From rusty blades and deployment mechanisms to heat damage, be sure to take into account where you live when evaluating what a knife can handle.
Deployment Mechanism – One-handed deployment is almost always the goal when it comes to folding knives, but many still deploy manually. Of course, perhaps even more important is identifying the mechanism that keeps the blade open, as its failure could result in a serious injury.
Weight and Portability – If you can’t carry it around comfortably, it’s tough to call a flipper “portable.” While there are large-sized folding blades out there – and some very big fans of them as well – the majority of customers want something they can attach to their belt or stick in their pocket until needed.
Your Budget – Folding knives may not have the “full-tang cred” that many of their fixed blade brethren do, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be pricy – and well-worth every penny in some cases. As with any product, be sure to evaluate your budget before making a purchase, and keep an eye out for warranties that may mitigate the risk.
The Paramilitary 2 is designed to be a versatile, EDC knife that will stand up to a lot of jobs, maintain a sharp edge for a long time, and open and close just as smoothly throughout the life of the knife. Its blade is a 3.4” clip-point, it’s handle is made of high-quality G-10, and it boasts an impressive 8.28” in overall length. In short, it’s big enough to make a difference when you need it to, but small enough to be easily concealable when you want it to be.
Next, we’ll take a look at all the components of the Spyderco ParaMilitary2 in detail.
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Specifications
Steel: CPM S30V
Weight: 3.9 oz.
Given its relatively light weight and small profile, many users are surprised to find that the Paramilitary 2 has a hefty and reliable feel to it. Its CPM S30V steel is an interesting choice (seen on many Spyderco knives) and offers excellent edge retention, durability, and corrosion resistance. By all accounts, the mechanism that deploys the knife is quite smooth on both open and close thanks to the manufacturer’s compression lock and bushing pivot system.
Most importantly, there is minimal play in the knife when deployed to prevent the mechanism from failing and causing an injury.
Blade Design and Steel
The team at Spyderco pulled out all the stops when redesigning their original PM knife into the ParaMilitary 2. From the edge-retaining, Vanadium-rich steel to the dual jimping on the spine and choil, every detail of this knife makes sense and has a specific purpose.
Highlights include the versatile clip-point design, the 14mm thumb hole which is ideally suited to deployment by a gloved or otherwise encumbered hand, and the more extended tip, which will provide some very nice depth for skinning or other detailed bushcraft activities. Thickness is about what you would expect from a versatile folder, though a few more 10oths of an inch wouldn’t have hurt.
With few complaints to be had that don’t involve the unique needs of the purchaser, it’s fair to say that the Spyderco boys knocked this blade design out of the park.
A clip point is a smart way to go for a knife that might see 1000 different uses in its lifetime. It will provide a nice deep puncture no matter what it’s inserted into, and allow for quick withdrawal if another hold needs to be made quickly. That being said, the tip won’t hold up against anything that provides too much resistance so discretion will be required to keep it from breaking.
Its nice slim profile and thin design will help the Paramilitary 2 glide through slices and make precision cuts. In tactical situations, it would be a great companion and a fearsome opponent. If kept sharp, this is a blade that will make short work of many different materials – organic or man-made.
CPM S30V is one of the most expensive steels out there today – so much so that its presence will often dramatically affect the price of the knife. It is a powder-made stainless steel that offers natural corrosion-resistance and excellent hardness. Thanks to a high quantity of vanadium carbines, CPM S30V has a refined grain that is both extremely sharp and tough.
In layman’s terms, this steel is hard, sharp, and resists wear, rust, and damage better than almost anything else on the market. Some less-experienced knife enthusiasts may find it hard to sharpen at first, but will eventually get the hang of it (though the Paramilitary 2 might hold an edge too long to allow them much practice).
The Spyderco team did a lot of work to improve the ergonomics on the Paramilitary 2 from the previous version. They ended up slimming the handle down quite a bit and narrowing it at the end to make it sit a bit more comfortably in the palm. The handle is also rather generous, nearly 5” for a blade of only 3.4”. This will ensure control and comfort with or without gloves.
The effectiveness of G-10 scales is pretty well-established in the knife community by now. As far as handle materials go, it should hold up in many most weather conditions and help the user maintain a good grip when wet. One concern is the lack of much in the way of a finger guard. While dramatic examples are not often seen in flippers, it would be an innovation worth considering.
Deployment and Lock Up Mechanism
The deployment mechanism on the Paramilitary 2 utilizes the “Bushing Pivot System” for a fluid motion that engages every single time regardless of method. The generous 14mm diameter hole allows for deployment using any finger and can be done from virtually any position. Essentially: if the knife is in your hand, you can open it without little issues.
In most cases, the deployment has remained smooth despite the knife seeing some serious use. However, there have been reports of knives where the deployment mechanism has become faulty over time. Depending on the situation and the reason, it’s unclear if any particular cause or solution is applicable.
One of the best features of the Paramilitary 2 is the compression locking mechanism. Not present on many knives, it is far and away one of the most reliable ways to anchor a flipper, maximizing not just safety, but effectiveness in the field as well. Compression locks rely on a piece of liner which is wedged between a stop pin and the tongue. Once pressure is applied, the lock compresses while the liner, pin, and tongue all anchor the blade, rendering it immobile until the appropriate force is installed to release it.
All in all, this is one of the safest and most reliable locking systems that can still be used with one hand. It may take a bit of practice, but many users get the hang of opening and closing it quickly.
Overall Quality and Features
Taking into account all of the features and innovations that are jammed onto the Spyderco Paramilitary 2’s eight-plus inches, it’s a wonder that it isn’t a much bigger knife. Made from ultra-premium ingredients and designed with function put well ahead of form, this is a high-quality knife that will perform any (reasonable) job you ask it to.
From the compression locking mechanism to the extra jimping to the unique, extra-large “spyder hold” to ease deployment – everything on this knife has a purpose and performs it well. The biggest problem seems to be ensuring that you get your hands on a legitimate version, as counterfeiters have run rampant with this model.
Some Alternatives to Consider
There are alternatives to the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 if you want to check out other options. Here is a look at some of the best ones.
#1 Benchmade – Mini Griptilian 556
The Griptilian series from Benchmade carries a lot of weight in the knife world, so it makes an excellent contender to the Spyderco Paramilitary 2. Simply designed to maximize functionality, the 2.91” drop-point blade is half-serrated, adding an additional level of versatility to an already versatile knife.
The steel is 154CM stainless, which will hold a great edge and be naturally corrosion resistant. The mechanism features an Axis Lock that will keep the action smooth on both open and close. Overall, it’s lighter, smaller, and easier to carry than the Paramilitary 2. The drop-point design makes it a bit more suited to penetrating tough materials as well, while the sawtooth serrations will help it get back out quickly. Overall, this is a utility knife that can easily transition to bushcraft or tactical and back again.
Benefits / Features:
- ½ the edge is serrated for extra cutting versatility.
- 154CM stainless steel will retain an edge and be corrosion resistant.
- “Grivory” handle is textured and ultra durable.
- Axis locking mech for smooth locking, open, and close.
- Lanyard hole and reversible clip increase carry options.
- Made in the USA quality
#2 Ganzo G7392 Folding Knife
If the price tag of the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 is the main sticking point keeping you from clicking “Buy Now,” than the Ganzo G7392 may provide a high-quality, low-price alternative. At roughly the same size (though a bit heavier), the G7392 features a G-10 handle and 440C blade, which is pretty outstanding considering the price point.
Overall, this is a practical and straightforward knife. It features a G-lock mechanism that – while far from revolutionary – has not been associated with any cataclysmic failures. A quick search of this knife turns up review after review praising its “price-to-quality” ration, so it certainly seems to be the “real deal.”
Benefits / Features:
- Super cost-effective, high-quality flipper.
- 8.07” open, 3.38” blade.
- G-lock locking mechanism is nothing fancy, but still reliable.
- 440C blade is stonewashed for extra corrosion resistance.
- 4.76 oz. Weight for a little extra heft.
- G-10 material on the handle will provide an excellent grip wet or dry.
# 3 Zero Tolerance ZT0350ST
The ZT0350ST from Zero Tolerance is one heck of a mean-looking blade. With a larger profile than the Paramilitary 2 and (depending on where you get it), a comparable price point), this is definitely a knife that is designed for hard work and serious performance.
The handle of the ZT0350ST is G-10, while the partially-serrated blade is S30V (sound familiar?). Weighing in at about 5.6 oz, it is heavier than the PM 2 by nearly double. The blade length is comparable, but the overall length of the knife a bit shorter, so the handle is quite a bit smaller. The unit comes with a Speedsafe brand manual assist for easy, one-handed opening, as well as ambidextrous thumb studs. Aside from being made in the USA, it also has a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
Benefits / Features:
- Speedsafe manual assist for easy one-handed opening.
- S30V stainless steel has a tungsten DLC coating.
- Lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
- Serrated blade portion will make for easier cutting of man-made materials.
- G-10 handle and ambidextrous thumb studs for improved grip.
- Made in the USA.
Few knives can hold up to scrutiny and come out looking quite as good as the Spyderco Paramilitary 2. From the mechanism to the steel to the blade design – this is a serious folder for serious knife owners. Providing you know what you want it to do (and are aware of what it can’t do right out of the gate), you should have no problem getting what you need from the PM 2, be it on the job or in the deep woods.
As survivalists, we have a responsibility to judge every knife on its ability to perform in the most extreme of situations. Considering the ratings on this knife, the reputation of the manufacturer, and the quality of the components, it’s fair to call this one of the best flippers on the market for anyone who wants reliability, versatility, and performance.
For more details on the Spyderco Paramilitary 2, click the link below.