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Discussion Starter #1
Without kicking the "Mil-Spec vs. commercial" horse too much more, I found something interesting yesterday. The only paracord colors with NSNs assigned are Natural (white), Red, and Camo Green. Unless I am badly mistaken, this means that these are the only three colors ordered with any regularity by the U.S. military.

That is not to say that there is not, somewhere, a spool of Coyote Brown cord in service in some military unit. But, it is obviously uncommon for any other colors to be used. I even found threads on the Army Property forum where guys were complaining that they couldn't find an NSN for black or tan cord in order to requisition it.

It makes sense, as the only cord I've ever seen as true surplus has always been camo green, usually cut from a parachute with the ends left frayed and daisy-chained together. Anyway, this type of information intrigues me. This also leads me to believe that the MIL-C-5040H compliant cord that you see being made in colors like Coyote, Foliage, Orange, Sea Blue, etc. is not being made with the DOD in mind as a customer. I wonder who actually buys these colors in enough quantity to warrant their manufacture.

Feel free to chime in if you have different info or some insight on the matter.
 

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I read last year that some MIL spec paracord manufacturers are making different colors because the demand is so high due to people making things with paracord.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Found some more info tonight to indicate that the military does, in fact, order mil-spec cord in other colors, such as Tan 499, Coyote, Foliage, Olive Drab 107, Intl. Orange, Maroon, Khaki, and Sea Blue. They just must not order these nearly as often as the other three colors.
 

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Found some more info tonight to indicate that the military does, in fact, order mil-spec cord in other colors, such as Tan 499, Coyote, Foliage, Olive Drab 107, Intl. Orange, Maroon, Khaki, and Sea Blue. They just must not order these nearly as often as the other three colors.
Interesting information. I've always been of the understanding the colors were only Natural White & Olive Drab. Manufacturer's may make Mil-Spec cord in other colors, but it may be of the same Military Grade standard but for regular civilian use. That doesn't mean it's of any less quality, as I am sure it goes through the same processes. I recall reading a blog about someone who did some really in-depth research and some of the things that they do that separates them from regular commercial grade include:
Pre-shrunk
3-ply versus 2-ply
visual inspections
Elongation tests
Added identification strand(s)
pH washing tests
So many twists per inch or foot
and many more tests.....

A lot goes into it to ensure quality. But it really depends on what you are going to use the cord for. True MIL-Spec should cost more than what you find commercial for.

But if strength and reliability is what you are looking for out of #550, spend a few extra bucks.
 

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Interesting information. I've always been of the understanding the colors were only Natural White & Olive Drab. Manufacturer's may make Mil-Spec cord in other colors, but it may be of the same Military Grade standard but for regular civilian use. That doesn't mean it's of any less quality, as I am sure it goes through the same processes. I recall reading a blog about someone who did some really in-depth research and some of the things that they do that separates them from regular commercial grade include:
Pre-shrunk
3-ply versus 2-ply
visual inspections
Elongation tests
Added identification strand(s)
pH washing tests
So many twists per inch or foot
and many more tests.....

A lot goes into it to ensure quality. But it really depends on what you are going to use the cord for. True MIL-Spec should cost more than what you find commercial for.

But if strength and reliability is what you are looking for out of #550, spend a few extra bucks.
I read a similar article before.
 

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We're probably referencing the same blog. The one blog, that I am thinking of, did two blogs about it back-to-back.

Pretty good read though, it's interesting on how so much can go into rope / cord making.
I watched how rope is made on that show How's it Made.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I've read the same blog. I think the vast majority of the cord used in the military is Camo Green 483 (replaced OD 7, according to MIL-C-5040H, by the way) or white. But, the BestGlide site says that the Intl. Orange cord they carry from E.L. Wood is a specific shade developed by special request for the military.

It doesn't make a great deal of difference, but I'm interested in details like this.

BTW, the camo green cord I got in from 5col today is PRECISELY the same as a hank I have that came off a chute at Fort Bragg, down to the marker strand. Made by Miltex, I'm pretty sure.

If I'm ever hanging from one of those chutes, I'll be really glad that so much went into making the cord!
 
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