“Commercial” paracord is essentially a less expensive, and sometimes considered to be a “cheap knockoff” of “original” paracord, or “real” or “Mil-Spec” Paracord.
The biggest challenge with commercial paracord is that it is simply not manufactured to any single agreed-upon manufacturing and quality control standard. So manufacturers of commercial paracord make paracord significantly differently from each other.
Some manufacturers make paracord to a “higher” standard, and other manufacturers make paracord to a “lower” and “cheaper” standard. The differences between “higher quality” commercial paracord and “lower quality” commercial paracord are essentially impossible for a “normal, regular” person to determine. As such, there are now many manufacturers of “cheap” paracord selling miles of paracord both online and in retail stores.
Commercial Paracord – Colors and Description Cues
Commercial paracord is manufactured in a large variety of different colors, and is regularly marketed very suggestively as: “as good as,” “the same as,” or even “better than” Mil-Spec Paracord. Manufacturers and marketers of commercial paracord regularly describe their commercial paracord with official-sounding accolades, such as:
– manufactured by a certified U.S. Government contractor
– official military manufacturer
– authentic commercial Paracord
– official military paracord rope
– GSA compliant
– better than military specifications
– made and tested in the United States
– U.S. Made Military paracord 550
– super strong military issue
– Type III 550
To be sure, none of the above artificial accolades in and of themselves define whether paracord IS or IS NOT compliant with Mil-Spec C-5040H.
For example, paracord that is “manufactured by a certified U.S. Government contractor” or made by an “official military manufacturer” may or may NOT be compliant with Mil-Spec C-5040H. Certainly one of the requirements of Mil-Spec C-5040H, and especially The Berry Amendment, is that the Paracord must be manufactured in the United States. However, there are many “certified U.S. Government contractors” and “official military manufacturers” of Mil-Spec C-5040H Paracord who ALSO make commercial paracord, manufactured to any standard that they choose.
Perhaps because of the increase in the numbers of “cheap” paracord manufacturers, the Number One discussion on internet forums, chat rooms, and e-commerce websites that have customer reviews available (e.g.: Amazon), is whether any given paracord is “real” paracord, or “Mil-Spec” paracord, “Mil-Spec C-5040” paracord, Mil-Spec C-5040H” paracord; OR … is the “cheap stuff” or “cheap commercial”paracord.
Quite simply, Paracord either IS … or IS NOT compliant with the Mil-Spec C-5040H. So there is technically no such thing as “commercial mil-spec” paracord.
The MANUFACTURERS who actually MAKE Mil-Spec compliant Paracord know for certain what the requirements are, and that their Paracord is compliant. These manufacturers who presently sell Paracord to the United States military are also audited by Military inspectors who are quite strict about the manufacturing compliance for their Paracord.
Making false or incorrect claims about whether Paracord IS or IS NOT compliant with the Military Specification is a serious issue. There are reports available of people being incarcerated for attempting to sell MilSpec compliant paracord to the United States military that was not, in fact, compliant with MIL-C-5040.
Manufacturers who make genuine MilSpec compliant paracord will readily make their “compliance” documentation available, sometimes in the form of a document called a: Manufacturer’s Physical Materials Analysis Certificate.
If the manufacturer or marketers of paracord merely suggest that their paracord is “real” Mil-Spec paracord, as with the official-sounding accolades above, it can be safely assumed that the paracord is NOT “real” Mil-Spec Paracord. If it WERE compliant with the Mil-Spec C-5040H, the manufacturers and marketers would know for sure and would definitely state this fact very specifically.
The next challenge, then, becomes with the very many disreputable manufacturers and marketers who just outright claim, either out of ignorance blatant dishonesty, that their paracord IS “Mil-Spec” Paracord when it is not.
Certainly most of the requirements of the Mil-Spec C-5040H would be impossible for a “regular, normal” person to determine just by looking at their paracord.
However, there are FOUR easily learned observations that a “lay” person can use to determine: that their paracord PROBABLY IS Mil-Spec Paracord; OR, that their paracord definitely IS NOT Mil-Spec Paracord.
Check out Kacey’s video about “The Big Four,” or the four easily observed ways that a “normal regular” person could easily determine whether or not their paracord was “real” mil spec paracord, or cheaper commercial paracord.