Confused by Descriptions of Paracord Sizes

Discussion in 'General Paracord Discussion' started by Cueball, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. Cueball

    Cueball New Member

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    Being a newb at this hobby, I have a lot to learn. One of the first things I need to know is how to differentiate sizes and quality in paracord I'm considering purchasing. I read the wiki on parachute cord at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parachute. I couldn't relate the wiki to the information I see on most websites selling the stuff.

    Probably the most common size in 550, but I think that not all 550 is equal. I read about 'mil-spec' when reading about some 550 but not others.

    Next, I see 440 fairly commonly on offer. TIAT uses this size a great deal in his YouTube videos. Having knotted a few bracelets, monkey fists, and handle wrappings, it seems that 440 might be a more suitable size for some things but not others. What makes 440 different from 550? Fewer internal strands? If so, how many strands should there be in each?

    Then, I see some cord offered as 275. What is this? What uses does it have? When should I consider 275 as opposed to other sizes?

    Finally, I'll ask about the use of the terms 'micro' and 'nano' to describe cord. I really haven't seen this much - mostly from one online seller - and would like to know what these terms mean, especially in relation to 550 and 440 sizes.

    BTW: I think this would make a good subject for an expert to write up and post here as a sticky or in FAQ (which I haven't found on this forum).

    Cheers!
     
  2. GrapeApe

    GrapeApe New Member

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    The number refers to the weight it can support. 440 supports 440 lbs, 550 supports 550lbs 650 and so on. The weight is able to be supported by the inner strands. The more strands the heavier weight and higher number and the thicker the cord is.
     

  3. MidwestCord

    MidwestCord New Member

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    550 is the most common, for craft applications there is no need to go with "Mil-Spec" (the actual definition of Mil-Spec is hazy anyways, so it is likely you will buy it and overpay for normal cord.)

    275 is thinner, it is typically called "accessory cord" 275 lb test strength 4 inner strand rope.

    Terms like Micro and Nano, in reference to cord being called paracord, seem to have stemmed from the market place, but are now being used by manufacturers as well.

    From what I can see Micro cord refers typically to 1.18mm diameter, which is typically polyester instead of nylon.

    Nano seems to be .75mm diameter cord most commonly with a 36lb test and 3.6lb work load which is not any specific material (whereas 550 Paracord is typically nylon, though I have seen people selling polyester 550 Paracord.)

    It can be very confusing, and it gets more confusing when people use the term paracord so liberally to describe extremely thin cord with such low strength.

    I hope I didn't make it even more confusing for you!
     
  4. Cueball

    Cueball New Member

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    Thank you for the replies, folks!

    Numbers denoting the test poundage makes a great deal of sense, but the micro and nano didn't. Since posting, I've read more on the Internet. I've learned about the number of core threads used in 550, 440, and 275. It all makes sense now.

    I have also discovered another piece of information (the hard way, as is usually the case with me). That information is that not all fids are created equal. I bought some that turned out to be 4mm and my 550 paracord will not fit into them.

    Live and learn, they say. Guess that means I'm still on the green side of the grass.
     
  5. HardcoreSlot

    HardcoreSlot Member

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    Remember that not all 550 is created equal either...
    I find that the cheap stuff that comes in 15 or so feet hanks is pretty cheap. Its not solid round cord, and can even be lumpy (inner strands wadded and twisted)
    The mil-spec (i find) has better quality inner strands and outer case. it holds a rounder shap better than the other stuff that tends to lay flat.
     
  6. MrParacord

    MrParacord Moderator

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    Have you tried cutting the end of the paracord at a angle to form a point then singe the point a little then try inserting it into the fid?

    Or if you ever try some micro or nano cord your fid might work for that.
     
  7. Cueball

    Cueball New Member

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    I PM'd the seller and got instructions on how to cut and fit the cord to the fids. A cut on a steep bias and a slight heating of the outer portion and the fids work perfectly.

    Thank you all for the help.

    My next foray will be with some 440 cord. TIAT seems to use that almost exclusively for his work.
     
  8. MidwestCord

    MidwestCord New Member

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    Yeah fids can be a little challenging, but the tight fit is definitely important.

    What is most confusing to me is when you see stuff called Paracord at Walmart or the craft store. I hope no one is making and marketing survival gear made with that stuff!
     
  9. Cueball

    Cueball New Member

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    Amen, Brother, Amen!
     
  10. MrParacord

    MrParacord Moderator

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    You never know what your getting when buying so called survival bracelets.