Spyderco Para 3: A Compact EDC Knife with Exceptional Performance


Spyderco Para 3 Folding Knife: A Sturdy and Reliable Cutting Tool

Sep 07, 2023

In the last 20 years, the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 knife was probably the most popular model among knife collectors and users. A few years ago, Spyderco launched the Para 3, and this new version has become a favorite choice for those who love to use short knives. If you’re among this group of customers, who are looking for compact and lightweight pocket knives, this Spyderco Para 3 review is for you.


1. Spyderco - An innovative knife manufacturer

Based in Colorado for more than 30 years, Spyderco makes the best lines of folding knives and fixed blade knives. The company is well known for providing the market with lots of innovative product features and continuously refining its designs. While Spyderco has some budget-friendly blades, they also offer customers more premium options to choose from. No matter what your expectations are, there is always a Spyderco knife for you.


Lock Feature
Quality of material
Light weight

Innovation and ease of use are two critical qualities of Spyderco knives. Since 1976, Sal Glesser - the owner and founder - has dedicated their time talking with countless potential customers about what they wanted in a knife.

Together with his wife, Sal traveled the country to sell their knives and gathered information from their customers that would help them improve their products. The result was the creation of unique, original, and functional knives that won the users' trust.

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2. Spyderco Para 3 - Specifications, pros, and cons

The Spyderco Para 3 lightweight was not well received when it was first launched. However, after about two years, it has gained traction and gradually attracted many loyal fans, especially those keen on a smaller and lighter version of the Para 2. In this Spyderco Para 3 review, I will list Para 3's specifications before sharing with you what I like and do not like about this knife.

The Para 3 is ultra-compact and carry-friendly

The Para 3 is ultra-compact and carry-friendly Via: Amazon


  • Weight: 3.75 ounces
  • Blade thickness: 0.145 inches
  • Overall length: 7.24 inches
  • Blade length: 2.95 inches
  • Steel type: CPM S30V
  • Closed length: 4.29 inches
  • Edge length: 2.62 inches
  • Handle type: G10
  • Clip position: Ambi
  • Lock type: compression
  • Grind: full-flat
  • Tip carry position: tip-up/down
  • Deployment mechanism: thumb hole


  • Excellent fit and finish
  • Feels stable and firm in the hand
  • The stainless steel is tough
  • The left-shaped blade is ideal for everyday use
  • The thumb hole is large and easy to use
  • The handle comes with a lanyard hole to it
  • The Compression Locking system is well-designed and easy to use
  • Well-made compression lock mechanism
  • Super useful at multiple cuts
  • The pocket clip is reversible in four directions
  • Average price range


  • Not suitable for large hands
  • The pocket clip is uncomfortable to use
  • It does not open as quickly as an automatic knife

Spyderco Para 3 review

1. Sharpness and cutting performance

This three-inch knife is made from martensitic CPM S30V power-made stainless steel, and produced by Crucible, a US-based company specializing in steel making. The S30V is specifically designed to be used for premium knives and expensive kitchen cutlery, so you get all of the best qualities you expect in a high-quality blade.

The S30V contains Vanadium Carbides, which is a rigid refractory ceramic material. The S30V perfectly combines hardness, toughness, wear, and corrosion resistance, so it is less likely to chip or snap. The S30V is also easy to re-sharpen - another plus point of this stainless steel.

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After a few years after releasing the S30V, Crucible released the S35V - an upgraded version of the S30V. Because of this new release, the S30V has become more affordable than it used to be, allowing Spyderco to provide its customers with the best choice of material while still maintaining a reasonable price range for the Para 3.

The Para 3 is made from S30V stainless steel 

The Para 3 is made from S30V stainless steel Via: Amazon

Left-handed people might be wondering whether this knife can be opened with their left hand only. Fret not! Its round hole, which was introduced in Spyderco’s C01 Worker Model In 1981, allows for quick ambidextrous opening. It also offers one-handed access to the blade, regardless of the users’ hand size.

The blade also features a full-flat grind for an excellent balance of strength and low-friction cutting performance. Also, it offers enhanced control for precise cutting tasks. Thanks to a textured index-finger thumb ramp, the knife gives users a solid forward grip.

Compared to Para 2, the Para 3 has the same cutting performance even though it is smaller. However, it is weaker than the Para 2, which is reasonable for its weight and size. I prefer this smaller size pocket knife than the Para 2 as it is more convenient for everyday carry.

2. Ease of use 

The Spyderco Paramilitary 3 release date was August 2018, and since then, this small-size knife has gained popularity among users thanks to its ease of use. Different factors contribute to users’ convenience of the Para 3, and this Spyderco Paramilitary 3 review will go into these features, one by one.

The Para 3’s manageable size is what I like about this knife because using a blade of fewer than 2.95 inches long for day-to-day tasks is much more comfortable than carrying a longer knife in hand.

The Para 3 has full-flat grind 

The Para 3 has full-flat grind Via: Amazon

The blade is satin-finished and it features the same compression lock with a large thumb hole opener as seen in the Para 2, so its lock-up and deployment are excellent for multiple tasks around the house and in the wild. Also, the knife’s forward choil allows users to choke the blade forward, making sharpening easier.

Both Para 2 and Para 3 have the smooth bushing pivot design, ensuring the blade is easy to open. The Para 3’s compression lock works like an inverted liner lock. It locks the edge by putting the lock bar between the blade's tang and the stop pin. Users open this Spyderco knife by merely rolling the coin with their thumb.

The forward choil works perfectly as its trailing edge does not get into your thumb. Alternatively, you can open it with your wrist by holding the lock and snapping the blade. I prefer to flick it open with my middle finger as it is simple and straightforward.

Knife users are often recommended not to use a knife when their hands are wet or greasy. This recommendation makes perfect sense for almost any types of blade because for those who use a pocket knife nearly every day like I do, security is essential. However, the Para 3 is an exception. Thanks to the knife's textured index finger thumb, I feel very secure holding it, even when my hands are wet or greasy.

3. Leaf blade and slim handle

The best pocket knife is usually the one that cuts well, is easy to use, and is portable to fit users’ pockets. The knife’s well-designed blade and handle significantly contribute to the performance, so I will review the Para 3’s leaf blade and slim handle in this section to help you decide whether this Spyderco knife could be the knife of your choice.

The Spyderco Para 3 has leaf blade and slim handle 

The Spyderco Para 3 has leaf blade and slim handle Via: Amazon

The Para 3 blade is a leaf-shaped blade, which is a signature feature of Spyderco. As the name suggests, this blade resembles a leaf, which is ideal for all purposes, especially slicing and piercing - two critical aspects of an everyday knife.

There are several other reasons that Spyderco chose this shape since its first innovation, and I will go through all of them right below.

First, it creates a unique look, setting them apart from their competitors.

Second, this shape allows space for the oversized thumb hole, making it easy to open. Third, the leaf shape gives room for a slight curve of the belly, giving it the ability to slice well. Lastly, the point of Para 3 is super strong, so users do not have to worry that the tip of the blade might break or snap easily.

The Para 3’s handle is a G-10 handle, a laminate composite made out of FRN (fiberglass reinforced nylon). FRN is chosen by many high-end knife and kitchen utensils manufacturers because it is tough yet lightweight.

Fiberglass is very similar to carbon fiber but comes at a much lower cost; its affordability is probably the reason many pocket knife manufacturers choose G10 to make their handles.

Since the G10 handle is rugged yet lightweight, it makes the Para 3 ideal for an everyday knife or a travel knife. Spyderco gives patterns to the Para3’s handle by etching into it to give users a good grip.

There is also a lanyard hole at the bottom of the handle, helping to secure your knife. This little loop adds better visibility to your knife when you travel in the dark. I also like this small detail as it gears up my personal style when I attach it to my hiking pants or jeans.

The Para 3's lanyard hole can help to gear up my style

The Para 3's lanyard hole can help to gear up my style Via: Amazon

Buying guide

A great pocket knife can make everyday tasks easier. It is an indispensable tool for outdoor adventure. However, choosing the right one is an uphill task because there are thousands of pocket knife models on the market. Given this, I believe a short and actionable buying guide would greatly help the readers. 

A well-made pocket knife is essential for outdoor adventures 

A well-made pocket knife is essential for outdoor adventures 

1. Number of blades

A single-blade pocket knife is usually compact and easy to use compared to a multiple-blade knife. However, a knife with two or more blades allows users to handle more tasks with ease when it comes to versatility. 

A multiple-blade knife combines a drop point blade, a pen blade, or a spey blade, giving you the flexibility you need in one single tool. For example, the Old Timer 104OT Minuteman Folding Pocket Knife features a stainless steel clip point and pen blade, the Schrade Walden 1775 MinuteMan Stockman MM2 provides users with 3 blades: a Turkish clip point blade, a spey blade, and a pen blade.

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2. Blade length

Blade length ranges from 2 to 7.5 inches, and each of them has its specific purposes. Blades 2.7 inches or smaller are usually easy to carry, and they are also legal to carry on planes. However, they are not as strong as the knives with longer blades.

Medium and large blades are made for any tasks, from everyday use to DIY, tactical, and urgent requirements in the wild. Those of 4 inches or above are usually not legal to carry on planes, and they are typically made for self-defense purposes.

3. Open and lock system

There are three main types of lock: manual, automatic, and semi-automatic. Manual opening knives require users to pull the blade out of the fold with two hands. True to their names, the automatic models need only a button press to open and lock the blade. Semi-automatic opening knives require users to pull the blade out just a bit before it pops itself out.

When buying pocket knives, it is always a good idea to learn the opening system's legalities. Certain states in the U.S. allow people to carry knives with a fully-automatic system, while others do not. Besides, users will need to consider the locking system as well, and I will briefly explain the functions of some main types of lock right below.

Liner locks are probably the most commonly used for safety as it is easy to use and assemble. Thanks to the ball detent, the liner lock is familiar to almost anyone who has used a folding knife before.

Frame locks are also quite popular, but they are more premium than liner locks. The frame itself is thicker and more robust, while the cutout lies along the axis of the spine, creating inward pressure for the entire locking system. Whenever the blade is opened, the lock bar engages with the blade's rear to securely lock it in place.

Compression locks are the improved versions of the liner locks with increased strength. Also, they are safer to disengage because the user’s fingers are not in the path. These locks were initially developed by Spyderco to be used on Para 2 and 3. Recently, its application has expanded to other models.

Button locks are usually seen in automatic knives. They are also called plunge locks. These locks are safe, as the hand is out of the blade's path when closing or opening. They are also easy to use, as you simply need to press the release button to open and close, so the obvious benefit is that it can prevent the knife from accidentally opening.

4. Materials of the handle

The better the material of your knife’s handle, the better grip you can have. Given this, if you intend to use your knife in harsh weather conditions, choose a knife with a handle made from aluminum or titanium.

G10 is made from fiberglass - a strong, durable, water-resistant, lightweight, material. Stainless steel tends to be heavier than aluminium, titanium or G10, but it also has good resistance against corrosion. 


1. Spyderco Delica 4

If you prefer a larger pocket knife and you are also interested in a back lock instead of a compression lock, the Spyderco Delica 4 is an excellent knife to consider. This short Spyderco Delica 4 will explain why.

Spyderco Delica 4 

Spyderco Delica 4 Via: Amazon

The Delica 4’s blade is made from VG-10 steel - a Japanese steel that is super resistant and can sharpen easily. The Delica 4 weighs only 2.5 ounces, making it a carry-friendly pocket knife. This knife allows users to quickly reposition the pocket clip for tipping up or down and for left-handed or right-handed carrying with a quad-mount pocket clip.

This Spyderco knife has a handle made of FRN (fiberglass reinforced nylon). Its full length is 4.1 inches, which is quite long for a typical pocket knife. The blade is perfectly positioned inside the handle, allowing it to open smoothly. The handle features bidirectional texturing, so users can have a solid grip with their entire hand.

Like the Para 3 and Para 2, the Delica 4 also has a one-handed thumbhole, making it easy to open. Its pocket clip is tight, and the Delica 4 is one of only a few pocket knives that offers four different carrying orientations.

2. CRKT Drifter

CRKT Drifter

CRKT Drifter Via: Amazon

Spyderco Para 3 and Delica 4 are both high-end options, but maybe they are a bit more expensive than your budget, and you are looking for a more affordable pocket knife. If you are among this group of customers, then the CRKT Drifter could be a great choice. However, this does not mean you will have to sacrifice quality for affordability. This brief CRKT Drifter will provide a quick evaluation of this budget-friendly yet well-made knife.

The CRKT Drifter is a sturdy knife with a 3-inch long blade. Its G10 handle has a light texture to improve the user’s grip, and it also fits different hand sizes and gloves. The Drifter also features a lightweight titanium frame-lock construction, making it easy to open and close.

Even though this US-made knife costs only a little more than $20, it is made of stainless steel with excellent hardness, abrasion, and corrosion resistance. This knife also has a grey titanium nitride coating, adding an extra layer of rust and corrosion resistance to the high-quality stainless steel.

The Drifter has a classic drop point shape, giving users a large belly for slicing. The knife’s perfectly-made recurve and point tip is ideal for everyday tasks and tactical jobs when traveling.


I hope this Spyderco Para 3 review has provided you with sufficient information to make a well-informed decision. The Para 3 is a premium pocket knife made from S30V stainless steel. It is also a lightweight knife that weighs just 3.75 ounces. Its blade length is 2.95 inches, making this knife an ideal choice for everyday carry.

The Para 3 features a compression locking system, so if you prefer a back lock system, the Spyderco Delica 4 is probably worth your consideration. In case your budget is limited, the CRKT Drifter can be an acceptable alternative that is worth looking at. It is well-designed with stainless steel, yet affordable and portable.

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