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 Unlike other states who’s knife law is out of date, California’s is modern and up-to-date.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. There’s something very disturbing about the idea that anyone in America can buy a gun yet there is an issue with auto knives?

    1. An auto knife, or a switchblade knife is a knife where a button or switch is pressed to automatically deploy the knife.

      The difference between that and an assisted opening knife is that pressure needs to be applied to the actual blade of an assisted opening knife and opened about 15 – 20 degrees in order for the spring to kick in, whereas a switchblade only requires the press of a button.

    2. It’s also very disturbing that people believe than anyone can buy a gun in America.

      Ask these people sometime:

      Persons under indictment for, or convicted of, any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding on year;
      Fugitives from justice;
      Persons who are unlawful users of, or addicted to, any controlled substance;
      Persons who have been declared by a court as mental defectives or have been committed to a mental institution;
      Illegal aliens, or aliens who were admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa;
      Persons who have been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces;
      Persons who have renounced their United States citizenship;
      Persons subject to certain types of restraining orders; and
      Persons who have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
      Persons under eighteen years of age are prohibited from purchasing handguns.

    3. The reason is knives are more dangerous than guns. Semper Fi

  2. 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.

    1. I think that is a kukri knife. Kukris are used by the Ghurka people, and the Ghurka are still famed for their prowess in combat, both with knives or guns. Keep in mind that I am not a historian so what I say should be taken with a grain of salt.

    2. As long as it is single edged (meaning only one side of the blade is sharpened) and it is open carried. But you should be ok if you are just going to an antiques dealer in a bag or something. Just use common sense.

  3. 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:

  4. Is there a limit to how many knives one can carry concealed or open there person

    1. No. I have carried 3 on me without any problems.

    1. I do because I don’t want to go to PRISON.

  5. me and my wife and dog live in our volkswagon camper van. We keep a hunting knife about 9 inches inside because it comes in handy and safety issues just incase someone were to break into our van while we were asleep. my issue is if its legal or not. cops would alreadly love to pick a chance to fuck with us because of our alternative lifestyle, i just wanna know how legal it is. i cant seem to find anywhere online that states california knife/car laws

    1. Its a legal blade fixed can be open carry any length Cali. Also in Cali your home campsite and to and from your business you own you can carry a concealed firearm


  7. I love Liberal scum. They are worse than the pussies out there, and they are all arrogant, egocentric, self righteous, and weak.

  8. Can i legally own a spring assisted knife?
    (knife which you must push down a “lever” for it to open quickly)

    1. That would be a switchblade lol

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