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Thread: 550 Paracord

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    550 Paracord

    I'm watching the video that Gunn Parker found on wrapping the knife handle with 550 paracord. I am a contractor with the Army, and in conversation sometimes paracord will come up because "you know, when your're in the Army it's all around". I know what it is, and that it has inner strands. However, I've never really used it and don't know the characteristics.

    What kind of load weights will it take? Does it stretch? I'm assuming that there is some reason that it's not used a lot for things like ridgelines and tarp lines. Or, is it? How does it compare to the Speer orange line, which I tend to use a lot? Other than the whole inner core thread thing...

    It just seems that it could be a useful thing for me to get but I want to use it where it will work. I've already discovered that making a temporary ridgeline from some cord I just grabbed didn't work well (stretched...).
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    It stretches because it is nylon... I think. Stretch is a good thing for parachute cord because that handles the sudden force when the parachute is deployed, it cushions the shock making it less likely for everything involved to break. Not so good for hammock suspension line, structural ridgelines, tarp guyline because... well it stretches and makes things sag.
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    Please use caution when wrapping your knife handles!
    If it is in the Sheath it is still dangerous!!!
    This is a thumb after the Knife slipped out of the sheath while wrapping, it took 27 stitches and I still get a chill when I think about it

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    OUCH!!!

    uh, noted!
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    I carry 100ft of 550cord in my pack. It's light weight and less bulky than regular rope. For me, it has multiple purposes.

    -hang stuff from trees
    -cloths line
    -inner strands can be removed to make fishing line and sewing thread
    -lanyard for knife and other tools
    -quick replacement for straps on pack should one break.
    -boot laces

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    550 paracord is manufactured to Military Specification Mil-C-5040; it has a breaking strength of at least 550 pounds.

    It does stretch nicely under load, right about the time you want it to!

    I like the stuff because it has so many survival uses. I use it for shoe laces and made a belt from it. In non-chute applications, you can engineer around the stretchiness.

    - Chuck
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    Quote Originally Posted by caboyer View Post
    550 paracord is manufactured to Military Specification Mil-C-5040; it has a breaking strength of at least 550 pounds.

    It does stretch nicely under load, right about the time you want it to!

    I like the stuff because it has so many survival uses. I use it for shoe laces and made a belt from it. In non-chute applications, you can engineer around the stretchiness.

    - Chuck
    "ain't no straight leg!"
    "550 cord" is white, it is used for reserve parachute lines. The OD green stuff is 375# test and is used on main parachutes, which are larger and have more (hence smaller) lines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Take-a-knee View Post
    "550 cord" is white, it is used for reserve parachute lines. The OD green stuff is 375# test and is used on main parachutes, which are larger and have more (hence smaller) lines.
    I have some OD 550 and some OD 440 on hand. USAF parachutes, in the mid '60s at least, had white 550 which is what we used in survival training at the time.. My memory may be faulty, but I believe it was OD 550 connecting me to the T-10 at Ft Benning; never had to use the reserve, fortunately.

    Late edit - I just looked up the T-10 info, Take a Knee - I stand corrected on the 375#. USAF did use white cord on their chutes, though, and I do recall that it was 7 strand cord.

    Last edited by Frawg; 02-22-2009 at 15:34. Reason: I stand corrected

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    Quote Originally Posted by caboyer View Post
    I have some OD 550 and some OD 440 on hand. USAF parachutes, in the mid '60s at least, had white 550 which is what we used in survival training at the time.. My memory may be faulty, but I believe it was OD 550 connecting me to the T-10 at Ft Benning; never had to use the reserve, fortunately.

    Late edit - I just looked up the T-10 info, Take a Knee - I stand corrected on the 375#. USAF did use white cord on their chutes, though, and I do recall that it was 7 strand cord.

    That B-4 bailout chute on Airforce aircraft, IIRC was a 28 ft diameter chute like an Army reserve parachute, so it may have had the larger diameter lines (550#). It also had gores/panels of four different colors (orange, white, sand, and green) for use in survival shelters.

    Let me qualify my statement about the paracord test strengths, what you can cut off of an Army issue chute is white/550# (reserve) and green/375#(main parachute). What was available in rolls through the supply system was the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Take-a-knee View Post
    That B-4 bailout chute on Airforce aircraft, IIRC was a 28 ft diameter chute like an Army reserve parachute, so it may have had the larger diameter lines (550#). It also had gores/panels of four different colors (orange, white, sand, and green) for use in survival shelters.
    ...
    Okay, cool. The ones we got to play survival with were all white, although I did see some at the time (again, mid '60s) with some international orange panels. Never saw other colors, although I'd bet the older specs were being updated in those days. I'd understood at the time that the chutes we got were decommissioned USAF ones, although in retrospect it wouldn't surprise me if we'd actually gotten some old reserve chutes from the Army*. Anyway, thanks for the clarifications!

    Incidentally, the Gearskin pack approach reminds me, functionally, of how we were taught to make a crude backpack from chute fabric, harness and paracord. I just wish they'd taught us to make a hammock!

    Edit: They had to be USAF bailout chutes; as I recall, Army reserve chutes clipped onto the front of the harness, and would not have come with harness, pack, and the associated survival kit. It's been a few years...

    Last edited by Frawg; 02-22-2009 at 16:22. Reason: recalled something

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