Florida Knife Laws Explained

Florida has one of the most vague concealed carry knife laws of all 50 states. This means that you must read case precedence to see what is legal and what is not. Don’t worry, we did all the hard work for you. Below is what Florida law says about knives in everyday English. It includes excerpts from the law as well as case decisions.

What is Legal to Own

  • Balisong knives are legal.
  • Belt knives, cane knives, and other disguised knives are legal.
  • Bowie knives and other large knives are legal.
  • Throwing stars and throwing knives are legal.
  • Undetectable knives (knives that will not set off metal detectors) are legal.
  • Ballistic knives are illegal.

The law does not limit individuals from owning, selling, or buying any knife except for ballistic knives.

Limits on Carry

  • You can open carry any knife.
  • Box cutters, multi-tools, and other work knives are legal to carry concealed.
  • In most cases, conceal carry of a common pocket knife with a blade of less than 4 inches is legal.
  • Anything outside of this has not been expressly banned or allowed.

What the Law Says

Fla. Stat. § 790.01 (2012)

§ 790.01.  Carrying concealed weapons

[A] person who carries a concealed weapon [...] on or about his or her person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

“Concealed weapon” means any dirk, metallic knuckles, slungshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another person.

“Weapon” means any dirk, knife, metallic knuckles, slungshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon except a firearm or a common pocketknife, plastic knife, or blunt-bladed table knife.

It is a crime to carry a concealed weapon. Concealed weapon means any deadly weapon that is outside of sight of others. Courts have found that deadly weapons are weapons that can cause death or grave bodily harm. So, what kinds of knives counts as deadly weapons? What is a “common pocket knife? Well, the law doesn’t say so it is up to the courts to determine.

The case of Porter vs. State in 2001 found that a pocket knife is a “common pocket knife” only if the blade is less than 4 inches in length and the knife is in the closed position. Police found Porter with a 4 inch folder knife in the open position in her purse. She was arrested for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and found guilty. She appealed stating that the knife is a common pocket knife but the appeal court turned down her appeal. This means that, if a pocket knife is over 4 inches and in the open position, it is a weapon and excluded from being a “common pocket knife.”

However, if the pocket knife has too many features, it might not be a “common pocket knife.” The case of F.R. vs State in 2012 found that 3 inch pocket knife with serrations, a notch grip, hilt guard, and locking mechanism does not count as a “common pocket knife.” If his knife did not have serrations, a notch grip, hilt guard, and locking mechanism, it might of been a “common pocket knife.”

If the knife was designed for utility and not harm, it is not a deadly weapon. In the case of Holley v. State in 2004, it was found that a box cutter or razor knife does not qualify as a deadly weapon because it was designed for utility not bodily harm.

In addition to the physical characteristics of the knife, the courts also decided that how the knife was used and handled needs to be taken into account as well. In the case of Mims v. State, Mims was found guilty of carrying a concealed weapon for having a pocket knife in his pocket during a robbery.

These cases still do not present that clear of a picture of what type of knife is a weapon and the case of Bell vs. State in 1996 found that it is up to the jury to decide if a knife is a deadly weapon given the definition of a deadly weapon, the knife, and how the knife was used into consideration. Judges can not make the decision.

The case of Hardy vs. State in 1992 found that a knife inside of a vehicle is not concealed if the knife and sheath is visible from the outside. Having a knife in the vehicle usually counts as having a concealed weapon but, if it is visible threw the windows, it is not concealed.

What does this all mean? It means that you should stick to a plain 4 inch pocket knife, multi-tool, or box cutter. Any other type of knife can be illegal.

Ballistic Knife Ban

Fla. Stat. § 790.225 (2012)

§ 790.225.  Ballistic self-propelled knives; unlawful to manufacture, sell, or possess; forfeiture; penalty

(1) It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, display, sell, own, possess, or use a ballistic self-propelled knife which is a device that propels a knifelike blade as a projectile and which physically separates the blade from the device by means of a coil spring, elastic material, or compressed gas. A ballistic self-propelled knife is declared to be a dangerous or deadly weapon and a contraband item. It shall be subject to seizure and shall be disposed of as provided in s. 790.08(1) and (6).

Ballistic knives are also illegal under federal law so it is best to stay away from them.

Conclusion on Florida Knife Laws

For the most part, Florida knife laws are easy. You can own any knife as long as it is not a ballistic knife and, if you keep your knives at home, you should be fine. You can also open carry any knife you want. You can conceal carry any box cutter, multi-tool, or 4 inch pocket knife. Conceal carry of any other type of knife can or can not be considered carrying a concealed weapon so watch out.

There are also local laws outside of this so look up the laws in your city as well. Most cities in Florida have clearer guidelines on what is legal and illegal than the state law.

If you have a question, post it below. Note that this is not legal advice and I am not an attorney. Talk to an attorney if you are looking for legal advice. If you happen to be an attorney reading this, we are looking for an attorney to do a quick interview about Florida knife laws, please contact us.

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47 comments on “Florida Knife Laws Explained
  1. scott thirion says:

    what about belt clips and assited opening knives

  2. Toki Inokuma says:

    im 16 can i open carry a 6″ knife kabar style

  3. Paul Burns says:

    A neighbor’s dog made a serious attempt to take my leg off when I went out for a 0500 walk here in Tallahassee, FL. When the police arrived the dog was back in its fenced yard, and no one would answer the door. The police said that since they did not witness the attack, all they could do is attach a warning to the door, unless I want to make a formal complaint and be ready to go to court. The dog was vicious, and could do serious damage to someone. Any problem with me carrying a machete? Or an African tribal knife I have that is about 18″ long? Spear? I don’t have a concealed weapon permit so do not want to carry a gun.

  4. Patrick says:

    I am 19 years old and currently own 2 knives, both of which have switches on them. Would they be classified as a “ballistic” due to the switch or are they illegal to carry in the state of Florida in general?

  5. rev, richard goodman says:

    do i need a licence to carry a knife in fla ( like to drive a car)

  6. Devon says:

    Hi I’m 18 and I go walking around a lot, and living in Miami it isn’t the safest thing to do honestly. Sometimes I have to bus home really late too and it gets kind of scary. I’m always worried about some guy trying to draw a knife on me or something to mug me. I wanted to know that would it be illegal to conceal a like 3″ bladed dagger, with a sheathe in my pants pocket or something like this? It doesn’t fold so it doesn’t count as a pocket knife but at the same time it’s a small blade so I’m not sure. Thanks.

  7. amanda says:

    Is it legal to openly carry a belt knife or a big knife on your belt to ensure no one in your family gets hurt im 20 and live in tampa and scared to walk down my street

  8. Jim says:

    I have never had any problem in FL with a 7″- 10″ bladed fillet knife, carried openly, or just tossed on the dash. These are cheap, very sharp, lightweight knives. There’s nowhere in the state that isn’t near water, and the police don’t seem to freak out upon seeing one. which they might do with combat/tactical fixed blade knives.
    I’ve been stopped with a machete laying in plain view in the passenger floorboard, which was ignored while they took my EDC “for our protection” and returned it unloaded!
    Both are usually considered ‘tools’, and not a concern to law enforcement.
    However be very careful about ‘threatening motions’!

  9. Jon says:

    Can I legally have a Kabar (7″ fixed blade tactical) mounted in plain view on the upper fork of my motorcycle, in a sheath?

  10. HOFFHACK says:

    As easy as it is to get a concealed carry license in Florida, I don’t know why everyone does not have one. I am assuming, since it does not say otherwise, that just about any knife except a ballistic knife could be carried concealed with the license. However, I prefer my .45 GAP Glock 39!! That way there is no chance of showing up with a knife at a gun fight!!

  11. Rob says:

    Is a real filet knife legal to carry it on me and in my truck. I live in florida. Thanxs

  12. Logan Miller says:

    Is it legal to carry a kbar in a sheath thats attached to my belt loop?

  13. Jose LopezCotto says:

    I was wondering what are the legal knives you can have cause I’m a hunter and would like to know more about the state rules on hunting knives.

  14. James Tomberlin says:

    I live in a semirural area and do long walks with my dog every day. I always carry my Ka-Bar on my belt. Sometimes it’s in open carry mode and sometimes my shirt covers a portion of it. I’ve never had any problems with law enforcement or anyone else.

  15. Roger Tuten says:

    I live in florida and im a felon. I was wondering if I could carry my 4″ gerber knife in my pocket?

  16. Roger Tuten says:

    its a folding knife with a clip to attach it to my belt or pocket

  17. Jimmy says:

    Can you carry like a fixed blade in a sheath on your belt loop?

  18. jared says:

    im 16 can i open carry a kukri?

  19. Hoz says:

    Can a belt loop fixed blade be partially covered by a jacket or vest?
    And what if your not from this state can you still carry a 4″ fixed blade in a sheath attached to your belt?

  20. John says:

    I have a punch dagger and the blade is about 4 invhes. There is a lock you press on the bottom that can make it from a regular looking knife to the knife perpindicularly to the handle so you can hold it in your fist easily. It dosent close, it goes into a sheath. I put the sheat on the inside of my shorts so it cant be seen but you can still see the metal clip on the outside but my shirt usually covers it. Is this legal? If not what charges could i face for it?

  21. Paul says:

    Does Florida have a preemption law with knives? Can local communities and counties make more stringent regulations? I have read in places that people say Miami-Dade County has stricter knife laws, but I can not find them in print any where.

  22. Rusty says:

    Does a spring assist knife count as a legal or illegal type of knife?

  23. Gage says:

    Am I allowed to openly carry a 14 inch bowie knife on my belt if I am on my property ?

  24. Mike says:

    Hi I’m 19 can i carry an RPG on my belt in FL for protection?

  25. undara12 says:

    I have a rescue / divers knife attached to my canoeing life vest. I am planning a paddling trip in FL. Should I ditch the knife?

  26. John J says:

    Getting ready to hike thru Florida with a full framed back pack, is having a Bowie in the pack considered concealed carry? Any input would be appreciated.

  27. Ron says:

    Under conclusion of Florida knife laws it is quotes as saying ” You can also open carry any knife you want”. REALLY??? I hardly think so,,,, if you look close at the Statutes of Florida, the State has a NO go on ANY “weapon” in an open carry mode.

    Knives happen to be a real passion of mine, and Florida has done a POOR job of properly defining the “laws”. Much is left to personal interpetation, and that will include the LEO on the scene.

    I was told (by LEO) NO to carrying a SMALL K Bar in a Kydex sheath on my belt (openly carried). Yet I got a GO on carrying Karambits in the pocket, knife clip exposed. Go figure.

    To search out better answers, I went imto three surrounding Counties and went to different LEO centers in each to ask,,,, I got 27 different interpertations. Point being,,,, what may seem “easy” as stated above, is very confusing. Black & white would be much easier than “gray”. YMMV.

    And as for this mystical 4″ rule,,, can ANYBODY actually show me that in black & white print in the State of Florida Statutes?? I think not.

  28. Anthony says:

    ~REGARDING LONGER BLADES

    This is fine and all, but on another question of the same topic: Machetes and similar. I am from maine, going to be moving to Florida and we have no written law about not being able to carry a longer blade. I carry a machete with me when I go out walking for safety and as a potential tool. I am curious if Florida is the same as it sounds like it might be. However I would rather not think that, go walking around with my machete on my belt and get arrested for “seeming threatening” or some rubbish.

  29. Joseph Lee says:

    I have a spring assisted pocket knife with a seatbelt cutter and glass breaker. It was intended to be used if i were to go off a bridge or have to pull someone out of a vehicle during a acident. The blade is 3.5 inches in total. 2.5 blade and 1in saw blade. I live in florida and i normaly carry on my belt thanks to a belt clip. Is this knife legal or illegal. I dont believe i did anything wrong.

  30. Wayne J. Barricklow says:

    “Under conclusion of Florida knife laws it is quotes as saying ‘ You can also open carry any knife you want’. REALLY??? I hardly think so,,,, if you look close at the Statutes of Florida, the State has a NO go on ANY ‘weapon’ in an open carry mode.”

    This does not prohibit knives:

    790.053(1: ”Except as otherwise provided by law and in subsection (2), it is unlawful for any person to openly carry on or about his or her person any firearm or electric weapon or device. It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.”

    “I was told (by LEO) NO to carrying a SMALL K Bar in a Kydex sheath on my belt (openly carried). Yet I got a GO on carrying Karambits in the pocket, knife clip exposed. Go figure.”

    Cops aren’t lawyers or judges. Sometimes they’re wrong. Sometimes they’re wrong even in situations where the law is very well defined in the statutes.

    “To search out better answers, I went imto three surrounding Counties and went to different LEO centers in each to ask,,,, I got 27 different interpertations. Point being,,,, what may seem ‘easy’ as stated above, is very confusing. Black & white would be much easier than ‘gray’. YMMV.”

    Let’s not define it any further. Right now almost anything is legal. You could literally walk down the street wearing a sword in its scabbard. As long as you use some common sense, you’ll be fine. Get ridiculous about it, and you’ll beat the rap but not the ride.

    Let’s say we start defining this. How long a knife can you carry? 6 inches? Then what about machetes? 18″? Then what happens when I’m working in my yard with a cane knife or a Kaiser blade? Doesn’t fit either definition and I go to prison.

    We’re better off in a situation where almost everything is legal to open carry.

    “And as for this mystical 4″ rule,,, can ANYBODY actually show me that in black & white print in the State of Florida Statutes?? I think not.”

    It’s not in the statutes, it’s established in case law. L. B. v. State, 700 So. 2d 370, 373

  31. Ted A says:

    OK…I understand what you said but: If I do have a concealed weapons permit, I am allowed to carry an auto knife? I am a retired deputy but being a civilian confuses me now.

  32. Jason says:

    To Paul Burns who asked ” neighbor’s dog made a serious attempt to take my leg off when I went out for a 0500 walk here in Tallahassee, FL.”

    My opinion is you should get training, a carry permit, a Glock 19, and a good Inside the Wasteband holster. I love dogs but it sounds like that dog is dangerous and that its owner is trying to cover for it. I suggest if it seriously attacks you again and you have to defend yourself that you kill it.

  33. Jason says:

    It looks like anti-self defence, anti-knife, lying, manipulative, scumbag politicians deliberately worded Florida’s law so that it will basically be up to the cop and the judge to decide what they arrest, charge, and convict you for.

    The laws should not be this complicated and grey.

    I’d like to carry a 4 inch Titanium Dive knife on me if I ever go on vacation to Marco Island Again. One of those would be downright useful. Looks like that may or may not be legal. Ill probably get convicted even if it is legal though!

    I wonder if having a carry permit would make the law less vague and grey.

    Freaking unconstitutional commies!!! Whoever wrote that law was a degenerate.

  34. Jason says:

    Well if I ever go on vacation to Florida again I am going to make sure I get a letter from the local police Dept ok’ing the exact type of knife I will be carrying and the method or methods in which I will be carrying it.

    I have swam with my Glock 19 before and I would be carrying the to G19 concealed anyways BUT the reason I wanted to carry a knife wasn’t for self defense. I would want to carry the knife concealed preferably so as to not scare the morons. The Police don’t need their time wasted and I got better things to do then scare pansy liberals.

  35. Joseph says:

    ‘Ka-Bar Original TDI Law Enforcement Serrated Knife’
    Is this One considered a Legal Carry Knife?

  36. Jenny says:

    I got arrested a few nights ago and had a small knife in my purse, the blade is maybe two inches at most. They didn’t give it back, is that illegal to have? I was arrested for Dui.

  37. 1776 patriot says:

    Why dont you idiots read the damn article???!!! All your queations are qnswered in there

  38. Jarred says:

    I’m 16 years old, is it illegal for me to carry a karambit that is in a sheath In plain view on my belt while I go fishing? Also is it legal for me to carry a butterfly knife sense its considered a folding knife & not a gravity knife. The blades are under 4inches with no hilt guard, notches, or serations.

  39. lenny says:

    When i go fishing and going to and back from my trip I open carry a buck knife 10″ in length and a knights arms Sr-15 E3 with 3 mags over my shoulder and ive had no problems you can legally open carry under the folowing conditions going fishing and back home, camping,hunting. Which you can open carry from knives,machetes,tomahawks,axes,rifles,shotguns,handguns.

  40. Mike says:

    Can I open carry a 7 inch blade Ka-bar knife I’m a 10 year old worried about getting mugged I live in tampa

  41. Michael says:

    Can I open carry a 7 inch blade Ka-bar knife I’m a 10 year old worried about getting stabbedI live in tampa

  42. jon says:

    You have some incorrect grammar you may want to fix:

    1. Section “What the Law Says,” Paragraph 3, it says “might of.” “Might of” doesn’t mean anything, it should say “might have.”

    2. 2nd paragraph right before “Balistic Knife Ban,” it says “if it is visible threw the windows.” “Threw” should be replaced with “through.”

  43. jon says:

    So you’ve stated you can open carry just about any knife. Does that mean I can carry a Karambit as long as the finger loop is visible, or it is clipped to my pants? What about if it it is clipped to my pants, but I happen to wear a long shirt that happens to cover the clip (as most shirts normally do that)?

    What about concealed carrying a folding karambit with wave-opener that has a blade length of 3″? The karambit was invented in Indonesia for utility, so even though it can be used as a weapon, it is a utility knife. In my opinion, it is the best knife available to work with.

  44. jon says:

    “Well if I ever go on vacation to Florida again I am going to make sure I get a letter from the local police Dept ok’ing the exact type of knife I will be carrying and the method or methods in which I will be carrying it.” – Jason

    That sounds like a great idea. I’ve asked a few cops what the law was regarding guns in the car, but I never thought about getting a statement in writing so I have proof of what was said. I didn’t know I could do that! I guess I should do that too.

  45. Angel Mendoza says:

    Is it legal to carry a Bear Grylls Ultra Compact Fixed Blade Knife in a sheath around my neck.

  46. IanP says:

    How does this impact people who wear a knife as part of a regalia, national costume, etc?
    For example.. I’m Scots, and, if I dress “full formal”, I wear a short, non- folding blade tucked in my sock. Traditionally, you put it there so it’s on display, as a courtesy… But I was told I needed a CC permit to wear it in a public park….

  47. Robert says:

    I would like to know the specifics for Kabar TDI knife. It is solid blade knife approx 2-3″ blade that is carried in a sheath mounted on your belt , hung around the neck or around the ankle.
    Still confused about the interpretation and the law.

    Thank you

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