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 Unlike other states who’s knife law is out of date, California’s is modern and up-to-date.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

  • Kirito Yagami Vi-Brittania

    What are the regulations for knife usage with minors?

  • Madame Ost

    There’s something very disturbing about the idea that anyone in America can buy a gun yet there is an issue with auto knives?

  • barbara

    My mom recently let me open my dad’s old footlocker from his career Army days …he’s been dead 29 years. Inside were some old knives. One I want to find out more about is about 10 inches and curved, the entire knife is 14 inches and 16 with the ornate sheath……and there are two little bitty 3 inch knives that are “hidden” behind the sheath…………….so, if I want to take it to a dealer or historian to find out more about it………how do I take it, legally, from my car to the store? Any help greatly appreciated.

  • Tibo Smolders

    What about swords? I’m asking because while I understand that any fixed blade over a certain length in this are identified as a knife yet I remain confused. The sword of which I speak would be a black wire hilt rapier with the total length being just over 40 inches, and entirely unsharpened (I’ll add the link for anyone who needs to see it to give their ideas) and it would entirely be for costume purposes, and afterwards for display within my apartment. The costume I have gathered so far does involve a large overcoat which would cover the scabbard approximately 18 inches in the middle, but both the tip of the scabbard and hilt would remain visible. If anyone has any suggestions on what to do please let me know. I have been told by others to just wear an empty scabbard with only a hilt attached to it but I always go all out with my costumes and believe the weight plays a role in how one carries themselves (I get too into it I realize).

    Thank you

    the link:

  • Tibo Smolders

    They’re good for cheap katana’s but not for more medieval ones. I do like how cheap their clothing is compared to some other sites that sell the same items, so thanks!