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Paracord, 550 cord vs True Parachute Cord | Mil C 5040h

Paracord & 550 cord vs True Parachute Cord | Mil C 5040h

What is the difference between true Parachute Cord and what you commonly see referred to as Paracord and 550 cord?

Some may claim their cord is the same type of cord the United States Military uses for its specifications (mil spec 550 paracord). THIS IS FALSE. Don't be fooled by all the "550 cord, or 550 paracord. These seemingly similar products are not made with the same standards true, certified, military spec (mil c 5040h), parachute cord is made with.

There is a big difference between paracord and Parachute Cord

Don't confuse 550 cord with 550 Parachute Cord (the official product used by the United States Military). The military designation MIL-C-5040 Type III has a rated strength of 550 lbs and is the actual cord used in the construction of United States Military. 

There are massive amounts of knock-offs on the market that claim to be five hundred and fifty-pound test but are by no means certified manufacturers of the cord. Authentic parachute cord must come with a government-issued certification that states the authenticity of the product.  

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Why does authentic military spec 550 Parachute Cord (mil c 5040h) matter?

This sturdy cord is the cord actually used to build military issued parachutes to ensure it will be able to hold the weight as it is trusted by thousands of parachute manufacturers to ensure safe jumps. Many online retailers claim to sell Military Spec Parachute Cord, therefore it is wise be careful when searching for these products. Always ask to see the products "certification" and if it doesn't look like the certification found here, do not buy it. 

10 things you need to know about true Parachute Cord

    1. Parachute cord is often mistakenly referred to as paracord and you should always check items descriptions and certifications for true Parachute Cord
    2. Military Spec Parachute Cord is made of nylon kernmantle rope which is used in suspensions of parachutes. 
    3. The outer braided layer of the cord includes many interwoven strands for its size and the all-nylon build makes Parachute cord much suppleness and elasticity.
    4. The inner guts of the cord include yarns which can be removed and used for many different applications such as dental floss, sewing and fishing line.
    5. The inner stands consist of 1/3 more stands than most
    6. MIL-C-5040 Type III is a United States Military specification that requires the breaking strength to be 550 pounds.
    7. The breaking strength of true Parachute Cord is actually around 800 lbs depending on testing conditions
    8. In a survival situation, your gear and life may depend on it, why wouldn't I have the best possible cord in my pack?
    9. Most products titled 550 have 5 inner stands, compared to the 7 of true Parachute Cord. The knock-offs have 2 inner-strands compared to the true Parachute Cord which has 7 inner stands in which each have 3. (21 total inner stands.).
    10. Orange is the best color for survival to help with visibility and so you can find it if you drop it in the snow!

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What's the exact difference between the fake stuff and the real thing? 

Parachute cord (we will just call it "true Parachute Cord" to simplify things). True Parachute Cord has 7 inner strands on the inner-core of the outer braided sheath. Now here is a big difference, each of these strands consists of 3 smaller strands unlike a lot of the fake stuff that's out there which consists of only 2 strands. So true Parachute Cord is usually having at least one-third more material than the knock-offs.

What happens when the two different cords are tested?

For testing purposes here is what you will most likely see from these different brands of "paracord" that you see out there on the market. The uncertified brands and 550 cords actually test up to five hundred and fifty-pound strength, however, true Parachute Cord will test close to 800 pounds. This difference may not seem like a lot although, in a survival situation, it may be handy to have an extra couple hundred pounds in case your life depends on it. Also, if you test the inner stands you will find them to be stronger and a one to one comparison against the knock-off brands. You will also have more cordage if you need it with each inner strand being made up of 1 more stand (3 total) giving you 21 total inner stands.

What are the best uses for true Parachute Cord?

True Parachute cord comes in handy in survival situations for many different reasons and applications. One of the biggest is shelter building. The single easiest way to "build" a survival shelter is to use an Endure Instant Survival Shelter. Next is a simple 8'x10' waterproof tarp with grommets. A waterproof tarp this size combined with a simple technique to set up a leaning tarp shelter. This shelter can be used as a heat reflector when combined with a fire and can be set up in less than 10 minutes with the right conditions. Using your true Parachute cord follow these steps:

  1. Wrap Parachute Cord around a tree using a timber hitch (wrap cord around tree using a lasso effect, then wrap the tag end back around the lasso multiple times and pull tight)
  2. Now attach cord to tarp by passing a loop of cord through the grommet hole in the corner of the Endure Survival 8'X10' Waterproof Survival Tarp. Pass a stick through the loop and pull the cord tight. You want to get as close as you can to the anchor. Working your way across the tarp each time you see a grommet put a cord looped around a stick and pull tight.
  3. Tie off on opposite anchor tree with a couple of half hitches.
  4. Tie bottom corners of tarp to ground anchors