Colorado Knife Law

colorado state sealKnife laws in Colorado are tricky, luckily we are here to help. Below is a list of legal and illegal knives in Colorado written in plain English. We will also than give you more specific details with quotes from the law and case precedence.

Colorado Knife Laws in Brief

These knives are legal to own:

  • Dirks, daggers, push knives and stilettos are legal.
  • Bowie knives and other large blades are legal.
  • Disguised knives like belt knives, pen knives, cane knives, and lipstick knives are legal.
  • Balisong/buterfly knives are in a legal gray area.
  • Ballistic knives are illegal.
  • Gravity knives and switchblades are illegal.

These knives are illegal to carry concealed:

  • All knives less than 3.5 inches are legal.
  • All fishing and hunting knives of any length are legal.
  • All knives over 3.5 inches are illegal.

Knives that are Banned in Colorado

18-12-102. Possessing a dangerous or illegal weapon – affirmative defense

(1) As used in this section, the term “dangerous weapon” means a firearm silencer, machine gun, short shotgun, short rifle, or ballistic knife.

(2) As used in this section, the term “illegal weapon” means a blackjack, gas gun, metallic knuckles, gravity knife, or switchblade knife.

(3) A person who knowingly possesses a dangerous weapon commits a class 5 felony. Each subsequent violation of this subsection (3) by the same person shall be a class 4 felony.

(4) A person who knowingly possesses an illegal weapon commits a class 1 misdemeanor.

(e) “Gravity knife” means any knife that has a blade released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force.

(j) “Switchblade knife” means any knife, the blade of which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or other device in its handle.

What the Colorado knife law states is that it is a crime to possess a dangerous or illegal weapon. A ballistic knife is a dangerous weapon and is a felony offense (1 or more years in jail). Gravity knives and switchblades are illegal weapons and are misdemeanor offenses (less than 1 year in jail).

A balisong knife can be considered a gravity knife and has been classified as a gravity knife in many other states. There are no case precedence in Colorado that specifically states that a balisong knife is or is not a gravity knife however. This can go either way.

What Colorado Law Says About Concealed Knives

18-12-105. Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon – unlawful possession of weapons

(1) A person commits a class 2 misdemeanor if such person knowingly and unlawfully:

(a) Carries a knife concealed on or about his or her person;

“Knife” means any dagger, dirk, knife, or stiletto with a blade over three and one-half inches in length, or any other dangerous instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing, or tearing wounds, but does not include a hunting or fishing knife carried for sports use. The issue that a knife is a hunting or fishing knife must be raised as an affirmative defense.

It is illegal to carry a knife other than a fishing or hunting knife that is greater than 3.5 inches concealed. Concealed means to be out of sight and close enough to be available for immediate use. It is not illegal to carry a concealed knife on your property. It is also not illegal to carry a concealed knife when you are driving if you are carrying the knife to protect yourself.

It is legal to carry concealed a push knife if it is less than 3.5 inches.

It is legal to carry concealed a push knife if it is less than 3.5 inches.

In the case A.P.E vs People in 2001, it was found that a knife that is less than 3.5 inches is not a weapon if the prosecution can not prove that the person intended on using it as a weapon. In the case, the defendant was found with a push knife that was less than 3.5 inches and the police charged him with unlawful carry of a concealed weapon. Prosecution could not prove that he intended to use it as a weapon and he was found not guilty of the charge.

Conclusion on Colorado Knife Law

In Colorado you can own almost any knife as long as it is not a gravity knife, switchblade, or ballistic knife. All legal knives can be carried in the open. It is illegal to carry concealed a knife that is larger than 3.5 inches unless it is a fishing or hunting knife.

This article is not exhaustive and there are city laws that also come into play. Check with your city before you consider doing anything. For example, it is illegal to carry any knife concealed in Boulder county.

Note: this is not legal advice and I am not an attorney. Talk to a real attorney if you need legal advice. Post any question you have below and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my abilities. We are also trying to find an attorney in Colorado who is willing to do an interview.

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29 comments on “Colorado Knife Law
  1. vince says:

    Sweet. I can get myself a butterfly knife now. Thanks!

  2. oz says:

    Question, I’m a small person and git targeted because of it. I own a 22 inch short sword that I want to carry as a deterrent for said problem. Can I git a license to carry it? Thanks.

  3. Roger says:

    Concealed carry permits are only for guns in Colorado. Also, a 22″ sword is not very mobile. You are better off with a 3.5″ knife.

  4. Neil C. says:

    Since ANY “Knife” with a blade less than 3.5 inch “IS NOT A KNIFE” according to 2013 Current Colorado law then you can legaly carry any knifefolding or not whether or not a switchblade or assisted spring opening or out the front spring type or not and “ITS NOT A KNIFE”!!Perfectly Legal to Csaarry concealed.. Check your RULER before carrying to be lawful.

  5. Jared says:

    Im sorry but your comment about carrying a 22 inch sword made me laugh. Im sorry grasshopper but you have not reached sword mastery yet.

  6. Neil C. says:

    Not totally CORRECt any blade less than 3.5 Inch is NOT a knife. It si the Blade Lentgh NOT the Total langth that matters Even a switchblade is NOT a prohibited carry conceale item IF its blade is less than 3.5 inch

  7. John says:

    Is an out-the-front knife illegal? I thought I read that if the opening mechanism is part of the blade, then it is not considered a switchblade…

  8. Sensei says:

    I own several Chinese broadswords and a 34″ Jian: steel spring sword that is not sharpened on the cutting edges, but could be used to impale Is it legal to practice/carry these in on public property in Denver?

  9. vinay says:

    I want to carry a Bowie knife on my belt… its got a 11 inch blade and i was wondering if there are any restrictions on knife length when attached to a belt

  10. Nick says:

    Hi. Is the 3.5″ overall length? Or just the length of the blade? If it is the blade length, do you start your measurement from the guard or handle if folding, or do you start from the beginning of the blade’s edge/cutting area? Thanks so much!

  11. Kevin says:

    Nick: 3.5″ blade. Not OAL (overall length).

  12. Rich says:

    What is the legal definition of concealed? My knife has a clip that I attach to the inside of my front pants pocket. The top 1/2-3/4 in of it is showing. Does the law state that 100% of the knife has to be visible or is it a lower percentage?

  13. Peyton Quinn says:

    In studying cases from a number of States, it seems that juries and the law are harder on people who use knives than guns in claimed self-defense situation.

    I have CCW to carry a concealed pistol in Colorado, but if I carry a knife with a greater than 3 1/2 inch blade I am likely illegal.

    A box cutter, the kind with the replaceable single edge razor blades is apparently legal to carry as it is lees the 3 1/2
    inches blade wise and it is not a gravity knife or switchblade.

    Most any lock back folder can be opened like a gravity knife so this term is not well defined legally.

  14. shiloh says:

    It is legal to open carry a sword in you can carry ur 22 inch blade openly.

  15. Sean says:

    It’s legal to open carry any legal knife, anywhere. It’s frowned upon heavily in the cities, but legal none the less. State law superceeds any local law always. Pocket knives are generally accepted even in cities as long as you keep the blade under 3.5. I’ve carried up to 4.25 though and the cops never cared. I currently carry a 3.75 inch Gerber thumb action in my right pocket, or a 4.5 inch fixed blade MTech sheathed and open on my right hip belt. I get some hassle sometimes but never any trouble. Don’t be an idiot tho. Carrying a sword around is too much. In fact I am certain any type of sword, of any length is illegal to carry. Open or closed carry. I’ve been in CO most of my life. And been harrassed by the police enough to know. Back when I was a teen the law was 3.75 and not 3.5. I wonder when it changed?

    I wonder too what the definition of ballistic knife is exactly. Does that mean Tanto?

    Assisted Opening knives(aka auto folders), are in a legal grey area. Although the law pretty much classifies them as Switchblades. I’ve read some case law from all over. For the first 10 or so years they existed, auto folders were for military and police personnel only. I had to get one on EBay. Now they are everywhere. It’s hard to say something is illegal when it’s readily available for purchase at any store that sells knives. They really aren’t a threat. Switchblades are illegal because you could easily conceal it, walk right up next to your victim and stab them without all the commotion and stabbing motion. Just put the end to their body and open it. Auto folders are essentially no more dangerous then thumb action knives. Again, keep the blade legal and you should be fine.

    Gravity knives are not thumb action knives. Unless your blade is so loose it opens by itself, in which case you’re going to get stabbed in the leg soon. Just to clarify that. Gravity knives open by gravity or inertia(like a throwing or thrusting motion, i.e. a knife that opened out of your sleeve when your release it by a trigger or inertia you exert through motion. You’ve all seen them in the movies.)

  16. Andrew White says:

    Hey so I was wondering. A lot if states have seperate laws banning throwing knives. What is Colorado’s position on shorter than 3.5 inch blade throwing knives.

  17. Lee Woiteshek says:

    So these flipper knives as I read the code are illegal? The kind that are not spring assisted, but have a lever on the back of the knife you push down to open it up with.

  18. Ko says:

    Sooo that means i can carry my 4.5″ karambit knife around as long as its hanging from my belt in plain sight yes?

  19. Utah says:

    Lee, those (like a S&S tactical folder) knives are legal. There is no button or mechanism in the handle, the lever is on the blade.

  20. William says:

    Air Force Reserve here, Just bought the Benchmade Infidel (3.91″ Blade length) Am I reading correctly that only in uniform I can carry this blade? Would the Police really make that big of a fuss about it? One team One fight..

    Colorado State law Exemptions:

    5-8-25 Exemptions From Chapter.

    Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to forbid United States marshals, sheriffs, constables and their deputies; any regular or ex-officio police officer; any other peace officers; or members of the United States Armed Forces, Colorado National Guard, or Reserve Officer Training Corps from having in their possession, displaying, concealing, or discharging such weapons as are necessary in the authorized and proper performance of their official duties.

    (Ordinance No. 5462 (1992))

    Direct Link:

  21. Dr. Larry Lindsey says:

    The amount of incorrect information here is staggering! Believe these back-alley lawyers at your own peril. The information that I just got from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department is as follows: In Colorado, a switchblade, gravity knife or ballistic knife of ANY LENGTH is still an illegal knife. This is based upon knife “type” and not blade length. It is illegal to conceal ANY knife with a blade longer than 3.5″ but perfectly legal to carry any folding or fixed blade utility, hunting, fishing or Bowie knife OPENLY on your belt. In cold weather, if your coat covers your knife, you are technically breaking the law, and you are at the mercy and discretion of any law enforcement officer, so be careful!

  22. Geoffrey Thomas says:

    Neil C. – you are totally incorrect friend. You are confusing part of the law and then using that part incorrectly – hoping you can get away with something. ANY SIZE SWITCHBLADE – GRAVITY ASSIST – OR BALLISTIC KNIFE IS ILLEGAL. Don’t confuse knife blade lengths as being the only thing that matters. Read the law and read it again so you don’tend up in jail, and so you don’t spread bad information to others.

  23. Zander says:

    I have a 10 inch (blade) bowie knife that I wish to carry, in a sheath next to my leg. I’m 18 and I’m curious to know how that would work, it would be just for self defense and to deter threats, I’m a small guy and I need a way to effectively defend myself.

  24. Uncle RayRay says:

    Just get a machete, put it in a sheath and clip to your belt. That’s all the “Deterrent” you need! lol

  25. KT says:

    Are there age limits for possessing knives? My son is 15 and we bought him a machete… Is he legal?

  26. Ethan says:

    sorry it posted so many times, it’s a bug

  27. rich says:

    So does this law apply to swords or not? Law enforcement I asked was not too clear. Does anyone have definite proof one way or another?

  28. Charles Spears says:

    May question is if I am military am I allowed to carry automatic knife?

  29. G says:

    As the law states, any knife that is not previously prohibited; gravity, switchblades, and ballistics(knives that shoot the blade from the hilt into a target down range); is legal to carry. The law requires that all blades, fixed or folding, 3.5 inches and over be openly carried and visible. Any blade, fixed or folding, under 3.5 inches can be partially or completely concealed. This is what the law states. If you have any questions, ask a lawyer or lawman.

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