The Para 3 Lightweight is another member of a proud Spyderco family that began with the introduction of the original Military model in 1996. One of the most iconic folding knives ever created, the Military later inspired the first-generation Paramilitary design in 2004 and the more refined Paramilitary 2 in 2010. While the Paramilitary and Paramilitary 2 were specifically created to distill the high-performance features of the Military into a more compact package, the process didn’t stop there. To meet the needs of end users who wanted an even smaller format and a more legally friendly three-inch blade, in 2016, Spyderco unveiled the Para 3.
Initial production of the Para 3 followed the pattern of its predecessors, featuring textured G10 scales supported by nested, skeletonized stainless steel liners. This style of construction supported the knife’s patented Compression Lock mechanism and allowed the rapid introduction of a number of different model variations that paralleled the popular Paramilitary 2 family. That was just the beginning, though. Spyderco had bigger plans for the Para 3.
Because it offered such an exceptional balance of compact size and big-knife cutting performance, Spyderco felt the Para 3 design had tremendous potential. They were also determined to share the design in a budget-friendly format that made it affordable to as many knife users as possible. So, Spyderco gave their Research & Development team and in-house engineers marching orders to develop an economical version of the Para 3 that took full advantage of lightweight, injection-molded parts. After many months of design, prototyping, performance testing, and refinement, the Para 3 Lightweight emerged and they knew they had created something truly special.
The defining feature of the Para 3 Lightweight is its handle construction, which incorporates lightweight scales injection molded from tough fiberglass-reinforced nylon (FRN). In addition to being more economical than scales machined from solid G10, the FRN scales also allow the precision molding of Spyderco’s non-slip Bi-Directional Texture pattern on the outside surfaces of the scales and intricate structural details on the interiors.
Instead of the large nested liners used in the G10 Para 3, the Lightweight’s streamlined design includes a minimalist liner on one side of the blade’s pivot and a separate stainless steel lockbar. Both are firmly nested into molded cavities in the scales, which also include molded-in threaded inserts that anchor key assembly screws.
The Para 3 Lightweight’s blade is crafted from nitrogen-enriched CTS BD1N stainless steel and sports an attractive tumbled finish. Available with a choice of a PlainEdge or fully serrated SpyderEdge, it pivots on a specially designed precision bushing. A phosphor bronze washer provides a low-friction bearing surface between it and the partial stainless steel liner, while an integrally molded boss provides a smooth bearing surface on the other side. The blade’s Trademark Round Hole is fully accessible from both sides for swift, ambidextrous, one-handed opening.
Like other Para 3s, the Lightweight has an easy-to-clean open-backed construction style that helps further reduce its weight. And although it is almost 30 percent lighter than its G10 counterparts, its patented Compression Lock mechanism still ensures outstanding dependability, structural strength, and ease of operation.
Another significant difference between the Para 3 Lightweight and its G10 brethren is the configuration of its pocket clip and lanyard hole. The lanyard hole is located closer to the spine of the handle, providing clearance for the clip, while still allowing the easy attachment of lanyards and fobs. Instead of the four-position stainless steel clip of the G10 Para 3, the lightweight sports a deep-pocket wire clip that mounts at the very butt end of the handle. Although the reversible wire clip allows the knife to ride significantly lower in the pocket and blends easily with pants material, the trade-off is that it only offers tip-up carry.