The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 has been around since 2010, so my review is not going to introduce any new, earth-shattering revelations. I’ll go out on a limb and wager that, just maybe, the Para 2 (or PM 2) could be the most popular knife in Spyderco’s lineup.
Certainly, the PM 2 has a cult following, as does the Para 3. Both are the same general configuration, with the only real differences being the Para 3’s smaller dimensions. Naturally, those with smaller to medium hands gravitate to the Para 3, with the rest of humanity opting for the PM 2. Most people who are Spyderco enthusiasts consider the PM 2 (and/or the Para 3) to be a staple of their collection.
The blade length of the Paramilitary 2 is 3.44 inches (Para 3 is three inches). The overall length of the PM 2 is 8.28 inches (Para 3 is 7.3 inches). The weight of the PM 2 is 3.75 ounces (Para 3 is three ounces). Are the comparisons relevant? I think so, given the relationship between these two knives. We can see that the PM 2 is the big brother who came before the Para 3 and that the size/weight differences are not massive, but they most assuredly are there. Of course, either would be easier (and more practical) to carry in your pocket than an exothermic flamethrower, just not as much fun.
The blade design of the PM 2 is a sort of clip point (or maybe a leaf shape) that has a straight spine with a full flat grind (FFG). The wicked cutting edge is capable of a great deal of precision cutting, given its very pointy tip. To add to the knife’s control, there is a forward choil so that the user can choke up on his grip. While it’s a great slicer, toward the base, the blade is stoutly built, (3.5mm blade stock) so it does have some strength to it. There are knives that might slice better than this one, but given its wonderful balance between thickness and thinness, it has amazing slicing ability, and I believe this can largely be attributed to the FFG. Other knives might have a thicker, more durable blade, but they will likely not slice as well as the PM 2. Spyderco seems to have found a great balance here. Not too thick, not too thin, but just right; Goldi Locks and the Three Bears would approve!
Just behind the opening hole is a thumb ramp that is naturally facilitated by the hump in the spine of the blade that includes jimping, which makes for a perfect place for the user to rest his thumb. This, combined with the choil underneath, locks the knife into the user’s grip for an extraordinarily secure grip! Of note, the choil is of the 50/50 variety, which means that it is made up of 50% blade, 50% handle, and they meld together to form that choil.
Blade steel seems to most often be S30V currently, with various steels being used in the sprint runs that Spyderco is extremely well known for. Personally, I’m satisfied with S30V steel; it holds an edge well and is not overly difficult to sharpen. As a matter of point, the ease that S30V can be sharpened is one of the main points that has endeared it to my heart.
G-10 comprises the material of the scales, which provides a satisfyingly secure grip, even with wet hands. Standard G-10 color is black, although again, sprint runs offer a plethora of colors. There are nested steel liners in the PM 2 for added strength. Phosphor bronze washers are utilized for the action, and they tend to smooth out over time, which only makes opening and closing the action more smooth.
The PM 2’s lock is the Compression Lock, which is probably my favorite type of lock on any knife by any manufacturer (although the back lock is incredibly close in my book). The Compression Lock just works so smoothly. So far, none of mine have ever developed issues that originate from wear like other knife designs in my collection.
Initially, I assumed the Compression Lock was simply an upside-down liner lock, but I was wrong. Rather, it is a liner that wedges between the tang of the blade and a stop pin. I’ve never seen one slip. They’ve proven 100% perfect and enjoyable to use, and I can’t say enough good things about them. I’ve had frame locks on knives costing FAR more money fail, but not my Compression Locks. The system is smooth in operation and very easy to disengage and close. Spyderco gets super high marks from me for inventing the Compression Lock.
Naturally, opening the knife is accomplished via the ever-present opening hole, which is an efficient system that works well for most people. It even seems to work well if the user is wearing gloves.
One great point about Spyderco is that they universally use top-shelf materials when constructing their knives. Handle materials and steels are always of excellent quality. Fit and finish are also normally great to excellent on their knives, and I can’t ever remember getting an example that I thought was mediocre. Some models are extraordinary.
In that vein, a cottage industry of aftermarket parts has cropped up because people seem to love customizing their knives. Specifically, handle scales and carry clips are the most popular and sought-after items, and there is no shortage of these on the market. If you’re looking to “dress up” your Spydies, a quick internet search will net you a smorgasbord of goodies that you can affix to your cutlery. Deep carry clips, scales in materials such as carbon fiber, copper, and micarta are just a few items you’ll realize are possible.
The Paramilitary 2 is considered a solid workhorse in the Spydie lineup, and most of their other knives are judged by comparing them with the PM 2 as a yardstick. It is that popular and iconic of a knife.
In years gone past, when Spyderco first introduced their knives, I despised the hump-back look with the hole. To me, it just looked bizarre and I had no time for that. After a time, it didn’t look so odd to me. Eventually, I bought a Spyderco Native (one of their lineup that does not have the hump). I found the opening hole to be a great way to open a blade and fell in love with it immediately, the Native still being one of my favorite knife designs ever created. Eventually, I no longer minded the hump-back configuration, and these days, I’m good with it. It simply works, and that’s what Spydercos do best – they work!
As far as looks are concerned, the PM 2 is relatively mundane, a Plain Jane, and I’m perfectly okay with that. In fact, the vast majority of knives that I own are Plain Jane, functional knives with absolutely no “bling.” I’m not one to turn my knives into “pocket jewelry”, for the most part. No mother of pearl prettiness for this guy (not that it’s a bad thing, and if the reader is into that style, more power to you), to each his own. Some folks like Chevy, others go with BMW. Variety is the spice of life, and it’s a beautiful thing to have options to choose from!
How about the value for what the user gets? In my opinion, it’s pretty darn good; the PM 2 with black DLC (Diamond Like Coating) that I have lists for around $168 at the time of this writing. In comparison to many other knives on the market, it’s probably average, or maybe even a bit better. Taking a look at what we get for that (top grade materials, design, functionality), it’s pretty hard to beat. Just the design alone really makes the knife and is worth quite a bit. Plus, it’s made in America, which appeals to me very much.
Apparently, quite a few other people have taken a fancy to it as well, considering it has been in nonstop production since 2010. Military, police, ranchers, farmers, survivalists, woodsmen, fire service, construction workers, everyday folks…the list would take pages and pages to fill if we named every profession that uses this knife, which is a testament to its practicality. And like I mentioned, they’re not using it because it’s pretty and fetching to look at.
Is it fair to compare the PM 2 with the Para 3? I’d say, absolutely! They’re similar designs, accomplish the same mission, and are not drastically different in size, both from the same company.
We’ve already looked at the comparison of their respective stats, so at this point, it’s all subjective. Does the PM 2 take up much more space in the pocket than the Para 3? Naturally, it takes up more room, but I didn’t find it to be a huge difference, and certainly not enough to make me take much notice. The 3’s handle and blade length are noticeably shorter. However, the height of both knives when folded is about the same, so they both stick out about the same from the pocket’s seam. All in all, the extra footprint of the PM 2 in your pocket is minimal and I wouldn’t sweat it.
Because the blade of the PM 2 is longer than the Para 3, it seems as if it is more narrow, but in reality, they are both about the same width. With the PM 2, you get a little more reach in the event the folder is being used for defensive purposes, which could be an advantage. It also translates into more cutting power for everyday tasks.
On the other hand, the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 has a solid, no-nonsense feel to it. It feels great in my medium-sized hands, which is a testament to its design, making it appeal to a wide audience.
There are two factions of Spyderco fans: One group worships the PM 2 and the other worships the Para 3, with a wide divide separating both. The opposing cliques will readily fight to the death in their allegiance to their respective knives in this love/hate relationship. No small amount of time has been expended by both groups attempting to convince the other side why their knife is inferior, and why their chosen cutlery is The One.
Although it’s early in my stint carrying the Spyderco Paramilitary 2, I believe I might be falling into a fringe minority that actually accepts and loves both knives! I’m quite aware that this is sheer heresy, and that I could be burned at the stake for my fence-sitting, but there it is. I see a definite future for the PM 2 and Para 3 in my life.
The PM 2 is a badass cutting device that sports perhaps the best locking system in the knife world (the Compression Lock) as far as reliability and durability are concerned. The action is ultra-smooth and a real pleasure to open. The materials used, coupled with the design, make this one of the best values on the knife market. It’s large enough for serious cutting tasks.
Now the dilemma…which one to carry? Well, that’s a silly question. I’ll carry them both! Will the PM 2 knock the Para 3 out of my pocket over the long haul? I guess we’ll have to stay tuned and see.
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