California Knife Law

california state sealCalifornia has very friendly knife laws. Unlike other states who’s knife law is out of date, California’s is modern and up-to-date. This article will talk about what is legal, illegal, and in the gray area concerning knives in California.

Legal Knives in California

  • Bowie knives are legal.
  • Large knives are legal (no restrictions in size).
  • Carrying knives in the open is legal in California.
  • Carrying knives concealed is legal in California for most knives.

Illegal Knives under California Knife Law

  • Misleading knives are illegal. These include: cane knives (and shobi-zues), lipstick knives, belt knives, pen knives, air gauge knives, and pen knives.
  • All undetectable knives are illegal. These include knives that won’t set off metal detectors.
  • Dirks, daggers, and stilettos are illegal.
  • Ballistic knives are illegal.

What the law is trying to get at are knives usually used by criminals to commit crimes. These are knives that don’t look like knives or don’t have a use as a tool. For example, you can’t do much with a dagger besides stab things.

Legality of Balisong Knives and Swithblades

21510. Every person who does any of the following with a switchblade knife having a blade two or more inches in length is guilty of a misdemeanor: (a) Possesses the knife in the passenger’s or driver’s area of any motor vehicle in any public place or place open to the public. (b) Carries the knife upon the person. (c) Sells, offers for sale, exposes for sale, loans, transfers, or gives the knife to any other person.

It is legal to own, sell, buy, and transport a switchblade as long as it is less than 2 inches. The state of California has ruled that a Balisong knife is a switchblade because of how easily it can be opened. However, you can still buy Balisong knives that are over 2 inches if you do not carry it in the driver or passenger seat or on you. Simply put, if you buy Balisongs to collect and leave it at home, it is 100% OK.

Conclusion on California Knife Law

If you are in California you can buy, own, transport, and carry any knife you want as long as it is not a forbidden knife. You can also collect Balisongs without worry.

Note that this is not legal advice and there is no client-attorney relationship.  You should talk to a California lawyer if you want a real legal opinion. If you have a question, leave it in the comment below. Some cities and municipals might have their own knife laws so check with your city. We are also looking for an attorney to do a quick interview about California knife laws.

  • crazycayote

    Isn’t there no length limit on a folding knife as long as it’s concealed? I plan to buy a kershaw cryo 2 that has a framelock is more than 3 inches length is that CA legal?

    • Jak

      I’m sure its legal. justread over the legality of the balisongs and switchblades section

  • Anthony Ramos

    My girlfriend recently got me the Schrade 13 Fixed Blade Knife i wanted with a 3.7 inch blade , its legal to carry it openly on my belt correct ?. I usually carry my spyderco tenacious openly on my pocket & have no problems . California, Los Angeles

  • Christan McDaniel

    niggers are fucking stupid and smell like shit fuck niggers fuck porch monkeys

    • Riz

      You lousy piece of shit. Go Fk yourself with these racial Azzz comments. It’s people like you that has the world in uproar. You COWARD these individuals you’re talking about probably took your lunch money. You worthless trash!

    • Aaron Harford

      It is true though. Blacks have lower IQ’s and every bad thing that comes with it. Sad but true. You go live in a black neighborhood and come back in a year to tell me how colorblind you are. It is a fact.

    • Riz

      I never understood the mindset of you Caucasian Cowards. You say nasty things about Blacks but then when one beat yo ass then you deem them as violent or crazy. Every last one of you bigots stay hiding behind your computers or a badge. I never seen a bunch of cowards that can’t say the things on their minds in the faces of those they hate. You see history shows us that the black man is stronger and will defend hisself accordingly and victoriously again the Caucasian cowards. You see what happen to that pig in Texas the other day. Black Lives Matter!

    • Aaron Harford

      Of course black lives matter. All life matters. So, why is it blacks kill more blacks than anyone else?

  • PeteH

    There are many local laws that supercede State and County laws.

    A knife that is legal in your County and city may be illegal in a different city in the same County.

    This resource may help clear up many of the questions here:

  • david

    What does a assisted opening knife fall under

  • Wolf Herobrine

    May I buy a training balisong knife? and keep it at home and try to learn it and not get arrested?

  • Aaron Harford

    I carry a Bowie with me everywhere I go, but obviously don’t brandish it or threaten anyone unless they foolishly threaten me first (which has not happened yet). Had a guy tell me it was illegal to carry a Bowie in California, and I just laughed and told him…..let them try to take it from me sir. It is a utility knife, and I am surprised by how many people tell me they are intimidated by it. I never want to intimidate anyone, but quite a few women have said they feel intimidated by it. I would protect them and anyone else in a heartbeat if it was needed, but I am getting tired of people saying I somehow should not be able to protect myself or carry a utility knife. Thoughts? Comments? Yes. I carry a Bowie knife to church.