One of the most popular and recognizable knives from Spyderco is their Para Military 2. Nearly a decade has passed since its first release, but the PM2 remains as popular as ever. It is because of its popularity that Spyderco released their Para 3, a new but reminiscent variant of the PM2 and the Military model before it. The Para 3 is almost exactly a year old now. It was one of the best selling knives of 2017 but has also received mixed reviews from its users. I may be late to the party, but here are my thoughts and review on the knife.

Specifications 

  • Overall Length: 7.24″ (184 mm)
  • Blade Length: 2.95″ (75 mm)
  • Edge Length: 2.62″ (67 mm)
  • Closed Length: 4.29″ (109 mm)
  • Blade Thickness: 0.145″ (3.8 mm)
  • Weight: 3.4 oz (96 g)
  • Steel: CPM S30V
  • Handle: G-10
  • Grind: Full-Flat
  • Lock Type: Compression
  • Tip Carry Position: Tip-Up/Down
  • Clip Position: Ambi
  • Origin: United States

(Courtesy of Spyderco)

My thoughts and review

The Para 3 doesn’t have any glaring issues, but a few features immediately attract my attention. It’s fairly lightweight (3.4 oz), has a quality G-10 handle, and features the Spyderco-patented compression lock. The compression lock is located on the spine of the handle and is kept out of the way from your fingers as you work. The standard Para 3 comes in CPM S30V steel; though not the best steel, has all the ideal qualities for a folder. If you don’t have a knife with S30V, don’t shy away from it. If you already do and are interested in the Para 3, it is also available in S110V and Cru-Wear. The quality of a knife can’t be judged based on steel choice alone, but in Spyderco’s case, their ardent fans claim these superior knife steels live up to the hype.Spyderco Para 3 | A worthy compact EDC knife

Addressing insecurities: How much does size actually matter?

From one owner’s approval to another’s disappointment, the Para 3 was designed to be a compact version of the PM2 rather than an actual successor.The Para 3 isn’t an incredibly small knife; it’s just slightly smaller than others. Based on my personal use, I appreciate the ergonomic design of the knife, but I will say that the finger groove directly adjacent to the compression lock feels a little too thin for my liking. I don’t mind the overall length of the knife or blade itself, but the width of this finger groove on the handle isn’t ideal. Just in case you’re wondering, I have average size hands so that medium-sized gloves run tight and large gloves run loose across all manufacturers.

Spyderco Para 3 | A worthy compact EDC knife

Some people might have to worry about blade-length restrictions because of their location or occupation. Some localities or institutions have specific laws while others have a more tacit restriction. If you happen to live in one of these areas, the blade length on the Para 3 has a listed measurement of 2.95,” and its edge is 2.62” (courtesy of Spyderco). I went ahead and used measuring tape to check the edge for myself out of curiosity, and it was just a hair shy of 2.7”.

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Versatility

Despite its minor drawbacks, I do appreciate the size of the Para 3. It isn’t the lightest, shortest, or even the most compact, but the Para 3 offers one of the best combinations of features that makes it a practical pocketknife. The folder is convenient to carry regardless of your clothing. The knife carries comfortably in gym shorts with an elastic waistband or even skinny jeans (I mean—I’d think so). With the surplus of knife models available on the market, there are indubitably more compact options out there, but the Para 3‘s combination of features is ideal for an EDC knife across most wardrobe choices. The Para 3 carries the essence of a true pocketknife and neither the blade nor handle feels undersized to perform its job.

If I were to nitpick…

I have stated in my review of the Spyderco Manix 2 that it is one of the best EDC knives on the market because of its ergonomics, especially the intricate details in the handle design. It may be unfair to compare the compact Para 3 to the burly Manix 2, two folders built for two different purposes, but there is one area where the Manix 2 excels in its design while the Para 3 falls just a little short, its choil.

Spyderco Para 3 | A worthy compact EDC knife
The Para 3 features Spyderco’s compression lock and jimping across its spine and choil.

A quick word about knife choils, it is not essential. What I like about a good choil is how well I can “choke up” on a blade for better control, but what I appreciate just as much is a blade’s edge that comes down as close to the handle as possible. Both of these features serve the same exact purpose so I’m mostly indifferent, but I do prefer a well-designed choil.

The choil on the Para 3 isn’t well-designed, it’s just there to be there. The choil is a little flat and not as concave as other knives I own; this ties back to the possible size issue some users might have with the knife. As I mentioned earlier, if the Para 3 were to have a slightly wider handle or even just a little more jimping on the choil rather than the miniscule amount that is on there, I probably would not have been bothered by the choil at all. Though the choil felt weird at first, I grew used to it after a few days. Again, I’m nit-picking here, but if you have thick fingers then I would check the knife out in person before making a purchase online.

Spyderco Para 3 | A worthy compact EDC knife

The verdict

The good
-Compact and lightweight design that doesn’t compromise practicality
-Compression lock is a great locking mechanism
-Comfortable to carry regardless of clothing 

The bad
-Handle might be too small for some

 The Para 3 is a worthy adaptation of the Para Military 2. The handle might run a little too small for some people’s liking, but the practicality of the knife isn’t compromised for the sake of being a compact design. Though smaller in size, this is another knife that lives up Spyderco’s reputation. At the time of writing this review, the Para 3 has an MSRP of $199.95, but you can find it significantly cheaper from other retailers.

We enjoy hearing from our readers. If you have any experience with other Spyderco knives, let us know what you think!