Extremely conducive to everything from survival to hiking to overloading to tactical and self-defense use, Paracord knives lend themselves to a wide variety of outdoor applications, largely thanks to their immense durability, unparalleled versatility, and customizable nature. Like every other genre of knife, blades with cord-wrapped handles can hugely vary in terms of overall quality, ruggedness, and performance. This reality can make it difficult to sort through the seemingly endless sea of available options in order to hone in on the few standout models in the segment — the latest and greatest of which we’ll be counting down today in this curated guide to the best Paracord knives.
The Six Main Factors To Consider When Buying A Paracord Handle Knife
Now that you’re up to speed and the strengths and weaknesses of Paracord knives, let’s dive into what you need to know when in the market for one. Shopping for a Paracord knife isn’t all that different from the process of buying a regular outdoor, survival, or bushcraft knife, however, there are a handful of areas that one needs to be privy to when looking to buy. Below, we’ll briefly touch on half a dozen of the most crucial factors to take into account before pulling the trigger on buying a new Paracord knife.
Intended Use: The first to consider when buying a Paracord knife is your intended use, as figuring out this area will help you determine other pivotal factors such as the size of the knife you’ll need — both in terms of the blade’s length or thickness — and what type of edge it has.
Blade Steel: Considering that a Paracord knife is little more than a single piece of steel — that either ships by itself or comes wrapped in Paracord — the type of steel used to construct it plays an enormous role in determining areas such as its durability and edge retention. What’s more, the type of blade steel used will also play a massive role in a given model’s price, as the more costly Paracord knives tend to utilize markedly more high-end blade steels such as S30V, S35VN, Bohler M390, Cru-Wear, and MagnaCut, just to name a few.
Size: The dimensions of a knife will not only play a significant role in determining what applications that it’s conducive to, but also the type of jobs and tasks that it’s capable of performing. For example, a backpacker will likely want a more lightweight and compact blade as where an overlander doesn’t need to be as concerned with the limitations stemming from a knife’s size or heft. As touched on above, this area ultimately circles back to one’s intended use.
Blade Edge & Thickness: Another factor primarily guided by intended use, how you plan on using a knife will help you to figure out if you require a blade with a straight edge, serrations, or a combination of the two. Additionally, the thickness of a blade will help to determine if its capable of taking on tasks such as being hammered into logs for chopping firewood.
Paracord Wrap & Handle: Unlike a traditional outdoor fixed blade knife or hatchet that sees its tang sandwiched between a set of handle scales, Paracord knives sport bare metal handles that come outfitted with a series of drilled-out holes that allow the handle to be custom-wrapped in Paracord. The shape of the handle and the number of holes drilled out will also play a major role in how many different ways it can be wrapped as well as the types of wrap-patterns that can be utilized. It’s also important to point out that some Paracord knives are sold by themselves, while others ship with handles that come pre-wrapped in Paracord. What’s more, there are also kits that are sold that include the knife and the Paracord needed to wrap it. Lastly, it’s also worth reviewing the type of Paracord being used, as some are markedly stronger than others — though 550 (i.e. Paracord with a 550-lb weight limit) has long been the standard in this space.
Warranty: Quite a few of the more premium Paracord knives on the market are designed and engineered to withstand a literal lifetime of hard outdoor use. As such, many of today’s more reputable knife brands frequently stand behind their respective cord-wrapped blades with peace-of-mind-affording warranties that are often of the lifetime variety.
The Many Strengths & Benefits Of Paracord Knives
Sporting handles that are or can be wrapped in a material that was originally developed for use in parachutes in WW2, Paracord knives are incredibly durable and lend themselves extremely well to outdoor and off-grid use, though so do standard survival knives. What makes Paracord knives unique is their immense versatility and customizability. One of the biggest and most obvious advantages of carrying a Paracord knife is that users can remove the Paracord at will and use it for a variety of different applications, from stringing up shelters to making snare traps to mating the fixed blade to a stick or branch to create a spear for hunting or fishing. Also possessing the bonus factor of allowing its user to personalize the knife to their taste and style, Paracord also has the benefit of being ridiculously lightweight relative to its strength.
The tang of a Paracord knife can be custom-wrapped to be as thin, thick, or ergonomic as the user desires. With Paracord being pliable, it also allows these custom-wrapped handles to perfectly conform to the contours of its user’s hand over time with regular use. Should a Paracord handle become frayed or get damaged, it can always be removed and replaced — and only costs at most a few dollars to do so thanks to Paracord being extremely inexpensive when compared to regular rigid handle constructions. Paracord knives also possess the bonus factor of being able to be personalized.
Where The Concept Frays
The Downsides & Drawbacks Of Paracord Knives
While there are only a few, there do exist a small handful of minor downsides to arming oneself with a Paracord knife. And while there’s no denying that mil-spec Paracords like 550, 750, and 1100 are incredibly durable, the material is nowhere near as hard-wearing as rigid scale constructions like Micarta or G-10. Add to that the fact that Paracord isn’t waterproof and can and will soak up water. This not only has the potential to degrade the handle’s wrap but can also cause the underlying steel to rust or corrode (albeit depending on the type of blade steel).
It’s also worth pointing out that once the Paracord has be removed from the handle for another purpose, the knife’s grip and ergonomics are pretty greatly compromised. And because the Paracord has to completely encompasses the handle, wrapping all the way around it, there’s no way to deliver a folding Paracord knife design, and as such Paracord-wrapped knives only exist as fixed blades (with the exception of Paracord-inspired foldering knives like the CRKT Parascale knife). Add to that the fact that paracord-wrapped handles are also known to cause blisters on the user’s hand during prolonged hard use. Lastly, Paracord-wrapped handles are notoriously difficult to clean.
Cold Steel 80TFTC True Flight Thrower
While this knife was designed and balanced to be a budget-friendly throwing knife, it isn’t solely functional as a hobbyist tool — thanks largely to its serviceable 1050 steel construction and compounded by the useful and re-purposable Paracord wrap around the handle. Still, the knife’s intimidating 12″ total length might serve knife-throwing best overall — but that’s an activity that certainly has its own merits, Paracord handle or not.
Blade Steel: 1050 Carbon Steel
Blade Length: 6.50”
Total Length: 12”
By now, you should all be aware of our well-earned affinity for ESEE knives. And it should come as no surprise that one of the brand’s offerings made our list, especially when it’s the outstanding Izula. This super-skeletonized compact fixed blade comes in numerous colorways, but all of them are crafted from either 1095 or 440C steel — both of which are reliable even through hardcore usage — and were designed for paracord-wrapped handles (which you’ll have to learn to do yourself, as it doesn’t come pre-assembled). Still, if you’re serious about your paracord knife, you’ll not go wrong with this offering.
Blade Steel: 1095 Carbon Steel
Blade Length: 2.875”
Total Length: 6.25”
TOPS Knives Mini Hoffman Harpoon
Particularly useful for spearfishing and hunting small game via attaching this blade to a stick or branch, the TOPS Knives Mini Hoffman Harpoon is a scaled-down version of Terrill Hoffman’s full-sized survival harpoon. Spanning just 5.50” in total, this product is comprised of a full-tang 1095 Carbon Steel blade with a black traction coating and a skeletonized handle that comes pre-wrapped in Paracord. Weighing only 1.7oz, this knife is also sold with an included black leather sheath.
Blade Steel: 1095 Carbon Steel
Blade Length: 2.50”
Total Length: 5.50”
Spyderco Mule Team M398
Made in America, the Spyderco Mule Team M398 is a compact fixed-blade knife that’s crafted from Böhler M398 MICROCLEAN — an ultra-advanced martensitic chromium powder metallurgy blade steel with stellar wear and corrosion resistance. Outfitted with a full flat grind, the knife’s 3.50” blade sports a mini version of the Colorado company’s signature thumb hole opening and classic leaf-shaped profile. It is also worth noting that this knife doesn’t ship with a sheath or any Paracord — though Spyderco does also sell optional scales for the Mule Team.
Blade Steel: Böhler M398 MICROCLEAN
Blade Length: 3.50”
Total Length: 7.63”
White River Knives M1 Backpacker
If you came here looking for a solid, reliable outdoor fixed blade, the White River M1 Backpacker might be the fixed blade of your dreams. It has a hard-working S35VN steel drop point blade that’s as versatile as it is handsome and that’s mated to an ergonomic full-tang handle wrapped in useful Paracord. That Paracord wrap even extends beyond the butt of the knife, functioning as a handy lanyard for easier access. Pair all of that with a KYDEX sheath and a USA-made construction, and you’ve got yourself a great go-to for survivalism, emergencies, camping, and all things outdoors.
Blade Steel: CPM S35VN
Blade Length: 3.25”
Total Length: 7.0”
Made in Maniago, Italy, the GiantMouse GMF1-FS is a compact Paracord knife that was designed to offer as much utility as possible in a small, sub 5.5” package. Crafted from satin-finished Böhler M390 super steel, the GMF1-FS features a uniquely-shaped sheepsfoot blade and an ergonomically three-finger handle that sports a trio of chamfered holes. Jimping adorns three separate areas on the knife, with the trio of textured locations collectively affording the blade ample grip — even more so once wrapped in 550 Paracord. This knife is also sold with a handmade Italian black leather sheath that was also designed by both Jens Ansø and Jesper Voxnaes specifically for the GMF1-FS.
Blade Steel: Böhler M390
Blade Length: 2.60”
Total Length: 5.40”
Kanetsune Karasu Damascus
Tipping the scales at just 6.57oz while spanning 10.125” overall, the Kanetsune Karasu Damascus is a high-end Paracord knife that’s made in Japan and sports a design that draws ample and obvious influence from the island nation’s Samurai-age swords and daggers. Alongside its Katana-inspired clip-point blade — which is composed of a 15-layer Blue Damascus steel — the knife also features a Paracord handle that takes inspiration from traditional tsuka-ito sword handle wraps. Designed for both survival and tactical use, the Karasu Damascus is also sold with a nylon sheath with a hard plastic insert.
Blade Steel: 15-Layer Blue Steel Damascus
Blade Length: 4.875”
Total Length: 10.125”
Benchmade Fixed Adamas
You might scoff at the price of Benchmade’s Fixed Adamas knife, but this blade is what Paracord knives are all about — meaning it’s the shining example, the one you might find in the dictionary next to the definition of “paracord knife.” It’s also recently been improved, now crafted entirely from high-end, hard-wearing CPM-CruWear steel that’s extremely durable and corrosion-resistant. Oh yeah, and it is made here in the USA — which is a super-solid added bonus. And while it doesn’t come with paracord, you can get some for extremely cheap and Benchmade actually has an instructional video on how to properly wrap the handle.
Blade Steel: CPM Cru-Wear
Blade Length: 4.20”
Total Length: 9.17”
Medford Knives The Liberator
In a bid to help Ukrainian soldiers defend their sovereignty, boutique knife outfit Medford Knife & Tool USA decided to develop a karambit-hole-equipped compact Paracord knife that’s equal parts utilitarian, versatile, and deadly. Due to red tape, Medford was never able to ship the knives to Ukraine, so opted to do the next best thing by selling these knives to the public and donating the proceeds to Ukraine’s ongoing war efforts. Shipped with a custom-fitted KYDEX sheath, the 8.18” Liberator features a D2 steel blade that spans 3.59” and boasts a whopping 0.25” thickness, making it tough enough for even the most demanding and abusive tasks.
Blade Steel: D2
Blade Length: 3.59”
Total Length: 8.18”
Montana Knife Co. Speedgoat MagnaCut Fixed Blade
Handcrafted and hand-finished by master bladesmith John Smith in Frenchtown Montana, the Montana Knife Company SpeedGoat MagnaCut Fixed Blade is a top-shelf American-made Paracord knife that currently represents one of the best outdoor fixed-blades that money can buy. Weighing only 1.7oz, this version of the Speedgoat features a full-tang CPM MagnaCut construction that’s been double-tempered before being specially cryogenically heat treated, with the steel being blasted to 2,150 degrees before finally being nitrogen quenched. Wrapped in 7’ of 550 Paracord, the knife is also sold with an included MKC-exclusive KYDEX LOCKTIGHT sheath. Lastly, in addition to offering versions of the Speedgoat with a 52100 ball bearing steel construction — as well as an ultra-premium limited edition Damascus steel variant — MKC also sells the MagnaCut-spec with bare or black-finished blades and in a myriad of Paracord wrap color options.
Blade Steel: CPM MagnaCut
Blade Length: 3.75”
Total Length: 7.75”
Our ‘Unobtainable’ Pick
Triple Aught Design Joseph Bowen Explorer TAD Edition
While the Triple Aught Design Joseph Bowen Explorer TAD Edition was produced in a limited run that quickly sold out, it nonetheless still represents one of the best Paracord knives on the planet — making it more than worthy of a spot on this list. Sold with a custom KYDEX sheath, the TAD Edition Bowen Explorer boasts a full-tang CTS XHP construction with a skeletonized handle that’s adorned in a special 550 Paracord wrap that was designed to lend itself to hard and heavy use without plaguing its user with hotspots. Like most TAD Edition items, the attention to detail and overall craftsmanship on display on this high-end fixed-blade knife is absolutely stellar.
Blade Steel: CTS-XHP
Blade Length: 3.65”
Total Length: 7.67”
The Best Survival Knives for Off-Grid Living
Interested in checking out some rugged outdoor-focused fixed blade models that aren’t confined to just blades of the paracord-wrapped variety? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the best survival knives for a handpicked selection of ultra-tough and utilitarian blades for off-grid living.