How to Identify Fake Mil-Spec Paracord


Mil-Spec Paracord is just one of those cool things that everybody loves. Its uses are endless, whether it’s being used in a last-ditch attempt to parachute out of a burning airplane or being used to secure your smartphone. But with so many different colors and patterns out there, how can you tell what’s real and what’s fake? Well, the spec alone won’t tell you everything. There are loads of fake paracord products on the market which look exactly like the real thing.  For genuine Mil Spec paracord, buy from Tough Grid.

False paracord products are purported to be paracord by the manufacturer but do not meet the military specification definition of a 550 parachute cord. This is a guide explaining how to identify if your paracord product or supplier is false, counterfeit, or manufactured below military standards.

Most of the time, you would never know the difference between normal paracord and actual Mil-Spec Paracord. Still, if you need it for a survival situation and it is fake, well, we can’t stress enough how much that could affect your outcome.

The best way to tell if your paracord is fake or not is by looking at its construction. The Mil-Spec paracord has 7 individual strands inside of it. Most fakes only have 3 strands. Also, the Mil-Spec cord will be a beige color and feel rougher than the fake one, which will be a brighter color and feel smoother than the real thing.

If you aren’t sure if your paracord is fake, we recommend buying from someone you know and trust. Also, we recommend storing 3-5 feet in a fire-proof container as well as 10 feet as an emergency kit.

One common way to identify fake Mil-Spec Paracord is the lack of a core. As mentioned above, Mil-Spec paracord will have a seven-strand center core. Fake paracord can have different strands in the core depending on the type but will never have 7 strands.

Also, you should be able to see a sheath on one end of the cordage, where it was formed into a rope. The sheath will be smooth and formed over time from use. You will need to examine both ends of the cordage before making any judgments. However, the outside sheath can sometimes be removed from the rope by rubbing it with sandpaper or wire brush to remove the outer coating. Sometimes this can give you an idea about what is inside without cutting the cordage open.

If you are still not sure whether your paracord is fake or genuine, you can perform a burn test on it! The burn test involves burning or melting some part of the cordage and observing how it burns.


Fake Mil-Spec paracord has been a problem for a long time. I have seen it offered for sale by “reputable” vendors on eBay, Amazon, and even in person at gun shows. I have also heard from many customers who have been duped by the fake stuff. The take-away from all this is that it is 100% impossible to tell from looking at the cord whether it is a genuine Mil-Spec 550 paracord.


The surest way to be sure you are getting real mil-spec paracord is to purchase it from a reputable vendor who will replace it if it fails due to manufacturing defects or poor workmanship.

This is especially important with colored cords because they are more likely than traditional olive drab or black cords to be fake due to the costs of dyeing them correctly and consistently.


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