Does the Spyderco Para 3 Live Up to the Hype?

A big thank you to Cutlery Shoppe founder Jeff Loffer for sending us a dealer sample Para 3 to examine for this story.


Spyderco customers have been impatiently waiting on the arrival of a certain knife ever since Founder Sal Glesser confirmed that it was in the works.

Since that day in early in 2016, the model has gone through several aliases including the Para Military 3, PM3, and Minuteman. It’s finally about to hit the market as the Para 3. Spyderco says it picked the name to recognize its roots in the Military line and at the same time distinguish it as an EDC. In case the company ever decided to upgrade the Para Military 2, it also leaves room for a ‘Para Military 3’ .

We got to handle an early edition of the knife from behind Spyderco’s prototype case back in January at SHOT Show 2016. That knife was a perfectly scaled down version of the esteemed Para Military 2 – smaller, but identical in every other way. We wanted to love it but something wasn’t quite right.

Imagine taking a car and shrinking EVERYTHING by exactly 15%. Problems arise because space is more scarce and the average occupant is not 15% smaller. To improve on the design, more space would need to be allocated for cabin seating at the expense of lower priorities like trunk space. Many adjustments like this would be necessary to re-optimize the car for the smaller package.

Spyderco recognized that adjustments needed to be made so that the Para 3 could shine on its own. Small changes made since January make all the difference, without compromising the mission of delivering a more compact version of the Para Military 2.

Para 3 (Top) Para Military 2 (Bottom)

Handle Adjustments
Compared to the Para Military 2, the Para 3 features a less dramatic outline near the base of the handle which offers a more neutral grip to comfortably accommodate a bigger range of hand sizes and grip positions. Shaquille O’Neal probably shouldn’t trade in his Para Military 2 anytime soon, but unless you’re a giant the new grip will fit.

To the naked eye, the width of the handle is indistinguishable from the Para Military 2 which makes manipulating the compression lock less of a challenge. Spyderco also chose more pronounced contouring of the handle ledge for added comfort in hand.

Blade Adjustments
At the Spyderhole, from spine to edge the blade height is also unchanged from the Para Military 2. As a result, the spine takes a much steeper angle toward the tip than its bigger brother. The result is a stronger and stouter blade that offers the same tip utility but is less prone to tip breakage.

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Performance & Quality
In recent years Spyderco’s Taichung facility has gotten all the accolades. But the Para 3 is more proof that its Golden, Colorado factory has raised the bar. The knife Cutlery Shoppe sent us is flawless. Out of the box, the action is smooth and the compression lock functions without any break-in required. The factory edge is scary sharp and the blade is perfectly centered.

Unlike the Para Military 2, the Para 3 is configured for tip up carry out of the box. The handle rides noticeably higher in the pocket than the Para Military 2 because Spyderco chose to keep the widened lanyard hole which it squeezed between the clip and the butt of the handle. If you insist on a deeper pocket carry, there is a solution – but you’ll have to move the clip into the tip down configuration.

“The Para 3 is an American made EDC folder with ergonomic features designed to take on the toughest cutting jobs,” Spyderco’s Joyce Laituri tells us. With the adjustments Spyderco made to the design, the Para 3 lives up to the billing. It may be smaller than the Para Military 2, but it still feels like a workhorse.

The base Para 3 comes in CPM-S30V blade steel & black G-10 handle scales and will be available for sale within a couple of weeks. It’s all but certain that in the coming years we’ll see countless sprint-runs and exclusives. This knife truly has the potential to rival the Para Military 2 in popularity.

So, does the Para 3 live up to the hype? Our answer is an unqualified yes.

Knife featured in image: Spyderco Para 3