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 Unlike other states who’s knife law is out of date, California’s is modern and up-to-date.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.


  1. No matter what, I cannot find the answer to my question. I want to know if it’s illegal to have TAC-FORCE-Spring-Assisted-Opening-BLACK-TACTICAL-Pocket-Knife-Folding-Blade? Overall Length : 9.00 inches

    Blade Length : 4 Inches

    1. Its only illegal if it 2 inches longer than your palm

  2. Each city has its own length laws.
    Over rides County length law.
    Mostly 3″ knifes only within city limits
    So if your pocket folder is longer
    You are subject to arrest , confiscation or both.
    Guide for city knife lengths can be found online.

  3. It is not illegal to have a TAC-FORCE-Spring-Assisted-Opening-BLACK-TACTICAL-Pocket-Knife-Folding-Blade. I’ve got searched and that’s the same kind of knife I had on me when I got searched, and he didn’t question me about it. I was 17.

  4. Assisted Opening Knife / not a switchblade right? Can I conceal a folding knife that is assisted open? it uses a lever not a button. there is a difference but how is it viewed by the law here? I saw federal law trying to classify them by one hand open?

  5. Are Karambit knives legal in the Komminist paradise of Kalifornia?

  6. Is a push knife legal if it is clipped on your pants (hence not concealed) and about four inches long blade?

  7. What about fixed blades in purse/ backpacks/fanny-packs? is that still considered a concealed dirk or dagger?

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