Our intrepid blade expert isn’t shy about giving Spyderco’s new Military 2 folder the kind of high praise that makes you say, “I want!”

by Dexter Ewing; photos by Marty Stanfield, Marty Stanfield Photography

Spyderco has enjoyed a long-standing reputation for designing and manufacturing refined cutting tools that are definitely off the beaten path. They were among the first to bring us such knife industry innovations as pocket clip carry and serrated edges, as well as quite a few innovative knife designs that, at the time, pushed the envelope in terms of usability and convenience. Their most recognizable feature is the round hole in the blade, which is meant for easy, one-hand opening with either hand and has become somewhat of a signature look for the company. All their knives have a blade hole.

One such Spyderco model that has enjoyed a huge success in the knife market is the C36 Military model. The Military (aka “Millie,” as aficionados nicknamed it) was designed by Spyderco CEO and founder Sal Glesser as a large folding knife that would serve well in law enforcement and military circles. Sal’s guidepost for the design was that, if his son were to enlist with the armed forces, what knife would he send him to serve with?

Thus was born the C36 Military.

The Military made its debut in 1996 and is currently about the 2nd largest folder that Spyderco makes — the first being the Police model. The Military’s clip point blade sports a full flat grind and a slight belly to the cutting edge, further enhancing its cutting efficiency.

Early Military models were fitted with CPM S60V stainless steel blades and, years later, switched over to CPM S30V, which it now has.

An ergonomic-shaped handle of black G-10 provided user comfort and safety. The sturdy steel liner-lock ensured the Military ‘s blade stayed open and locked. It has been regarded as one of the best production liner-lock tactical folders on the market. A steel pocket clip affixed to the pivot end carries the Military tip down in the pocket.

Due to the Military’s thin profile, it carries exceptionally well for such a large folder, at 9 ½ inches long overall. Blade length is four inches, which gives plenty of sharpened real estate to get serious work done. It’s this combination of easy portability and high value use that has earned the Military model a devoted fan base.

Spyderco responded by making variants of the Military, with different blade steels and handle materials. Often these would be a part of a sprint run, limited number of variants, thereby increasing the collectability of such. The company switched up the blade steel to use BG-42, S90V, CPM-D2, CPM S110V, CPM M4, CPM 4V, CPM CRU-WEAR, CTS XHP, CPM REX 45, and 52100 to name a few blends used to produce limited runs. They also switched up handle materials to include foliage green G-10 and dark blue G-10 (which some called “blurple” due to its purple hue).

In 2023, Spyderco released an updated, improved version of the Military in the form of the Military 2. The new version builds upon the rich heritage of the original Military model in terms of ergonomics and high-performance cutting. The most noticeable improvement was the inclusion of the Compression Lock — a blade lock design of Spyderco’s own engineering.

The Compression Lock is an extremely strong and safe blade lock that promotes smooth action and a high user safety factor. Currently, this blade lock is found on several high-end Spyderco models and is critically acclaimed as one of the best new-generation blade locks.

To release the Compression Lock and fold the blade closed, you pinch the exposed lock bar with your thumb and forefinger to release it. Give the handle a slight jerk downwards and the blade will rotate closed on its own without you touching it. This is the beauty of the Compression Lock.

To say the Military has been a success is to understate. The flat-ground blade slices like there is no tomorrow. It’s such an efficient cutting tool that it is equally at home in the garage or yard as it is in the kitchen. In some cases, it’s a better kitchen knife than some kitchen knives! In fact, I have frequently used my Military models in the kitchen. The blade and edge geometry responds well to food prep tasks where cutting up of produce or meat is required. The textured G-10 handle accommodates wet hands and provides a great grip. The curvature of the handle’s grip area also helps to seat your grip.

In the garage or shop, the Military does well with on tough cutting media like cardboard, hose, foam insulation board, plastic yard edging, rope, twine, and even some thinner plastic. Again, that flat-ground blade with its distal taper does the trick. It is a highly efficient slicer.

The Military is a folding knife that punches above its weight class in terms of the variety of tasks it can perform.

One area where I must point caution is the thinner tip. The blade spine has a distal taper, as mentioned, from the tang to the tip, and that’s one of the contributing factors to the knife’s stellar cutting performance. But do not pry with the blade nor do any side-to-side movement while cutting. Tip damage or even breakage could occur. If you let the blade slice through, you will be just fine.

The standard S30V steel definitely has the horsepower to work through your toughest cutting tasks, but be warned…if you allow the edge to go completely dull, it is tough to resharpen. Rather, shift to a maintenance mindset where you hone the blade frequently, depending on how often you use the knife. The objective is to preserve the factory edge as long as possible. Using a diamond type sharpener is the quickest and easiest way to achieve this. Currently, I own close to 10 variants of the Military, and each has been used heavily. I also own quite a few other Spyderco models. The Military has been and continues to be the knife I grab when I want to use a Spyderco.

If the full-size Military 2 is too much for you, consider the Paramilitary 2 (Para1) or Paramilitary 3 (Para3). The Para2 has a 3.4-inch-long blade and 8.2 inches overall, making it a bit more compact and more pocket friendly. Yet, remaining true to the original Military design, it still has the elements to take on big cutting jobs. The Para3 is a nice EDC size with a 3-inch blade length and a 7.2-inch overall length, so it is pocket friendly. Both models feature CPM S45VN premium stainless-steel blades and G-10 handles for light weight and rigid construction. Both models also feature the Compression Lock for rock-solid blade engagement in the open position and ease of release and user safety. The Para2 has an MSRP of $265.00 and the Para3’s MSRP is $250.00.

There’s also a Para2 Lightweight version, which uses injection molded FRN (fiberglass reinforced nylon) to reduce weight further, as well as reducing cost. MSRP starts at $178.00. Like the full-size Military, the Para2 and Para3 models are made in the USA. For the regular Military 2, its MSRP is $280.00. There also is an option of a partially serrated edge as well as a full serrated edge in addition to the plain edge version that was tested here.

For a large folding knife with a high-performance pedigree, you will be hard pressed to beat a Military 2 from Spyderco.

Dexter has been writing about knives for over 25 years. He currently serves as Field Editor for BLADE Magazine, and he runs a knife and tool sharpening service. Dexter has a passion for knives and knife collecting. His specialty is production (factory-made) knives and the trends and technology associated with them.

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