The History Of Paracord

By Jeremy Silver

Parachute cord also known as paracord or 550 cord is a lightweight nylon rope first popularised during World War 2 as the material of choice for suspension lines of US parachutes. Soldiers finding themselves with limited resources soon realised the benefits of dissecting paracord and the infinite uses of the inner strands and outer sheath.

The braided sheath has a high number of interwoven strands for its size, giving it a relatively smooth texture. The all nylon construction makes paracord fairly elastic and is now used in a number of applications including bracelet making, survival accessories, hiking products and of course parachutes. Due to this demand manufacturing of paracord is aimed at both military and civilian purposes.

Within bush craft and survival communities paracord has reached an almost iconic status where it is considered that its uses are only limited by a person's imagination to use it. Take the second Space Shuttle mission in February 1997 for example... A bright and resourceful astronaut decided the best way to repair the Hubble Space Telescope was with the outer sheath of a length of paracord.

Despite the historic association of paracord with Airborne units, virtually all US units have access to the cord. It is used in almost any situation where a light cord is needed. Typical uses include attaching equipment to harnesses, as lanyard cords to avoid losing small or important items, tying rucksacks to vehicle racks, securing camouflage nets to trees or vehicles, and so forth. When threaded with beads, paracord may be used as a pace counter to estimate ground covered by foot. Melt the ends of paracord with a heated knife or naked flame and they can be joined together.

Six types of paracord are commonly supplied. These are Type 1, Type 1A, Type 2, Type 2A , Type 3 and Type 4. Type 3 which has a minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds (hence the name 550 cord) is the most widely used today. Similar to any manufactured product, there can be variations in the quality of paracord supplied from different factories. However, All US Military issue paracord is certified to conform to the standards of MIL-C-5040H. There are no requirements specified in regards to the diameter of pacacord. - 33381

About the Author:

Sign Up for our Free Newsletter

Enter email address here