Kentucky Knife Laws

The knife law in Kentucky is pretty confusing. This article will give you a clearer idea of what is legal and illegal in everyday English. The article will discuss the law, important cases, and implications.

What is Legal to Own

  • It is legal to own ballistic knives.
  • It is legal to own balisong knives.
  • It is legal to own switchblades and other automatic knives.
  • It is legal to own dirks, daggers, stilettos, and other stabbing knives.
  • It is legal to own disguised knives like belt knives, lipstick knives, and cane knives.
  • It is legal to own undetectable knives (knives that will not set off metal detectors).
  • It is legal to own Bowie knives and other large knives.

There are no banned knife types in Kentucky.

What is Legal to Carry

  • It is legal to open carry any knife.
  • It is legal to conceal carry any ordinary pocket knife or hunting knife.
  • Anything besides a pocket or hunting knife can be considered a deadly weapon and would be banned from concealed carry.

What the Law Says

Limits on Concealed Carry

KRS § 527.020 (2012)

527.020. Carrying concealed deadly weapon.

(1) A person is guilty of carrying a concealed weapon when he or she carries concealed a firearm or other deadly weapon on or about his or her person.

KRS § 500.080 (2012)

500.080. Definitions for Kentucky Penal Code.

(4) “Deadly weapon” means any of the following:
(a) A weapon of mass destruction;
(b) Any weapon from which a shot, readily capable of producing death or other serious physical injury, may be discharged;
(c) Any knife other than an ordinary pocket knife or hunting knife;
(d) Billy, nightstick, or club;
(e) Blackjack or slapjack;
(f) Nunchaku karate sticks;
(g) Shuriken or death star; or
(h) Artificial knuckles made from metal, plastic, or other similar hard material;

This law limits the concealed carry of dangerous weapons. The law considers throwing stars and metal knuckles dangerous weapons. The law states that a pocket or hunting knife is not a dangerous weapon. The law does not give any maximum blade length for pocket or hunting knives.

The gray area here are knives that are not ordinary hunting and pocket knives. Here is what case precedence says.

The case of Kennedy v. Commonwealth in 1976 found that any thing can be considered a deadly weapon if the person using it convinces the victim that the weapon is life threatening. Therefore, threatening someone’s life with a trainer knife (a trainer is a knife that has no blade) is illegal if the person who you threatened actually believed that the trainer was deadly.

Deadly weapons are only things that are weapons. The case of McCombs v. Commonwealth in 2006 found that a crowbar is not a weapon because the legislature intended for deadly weapons to be only things that are designed to be weapons and not things that also have a utility use.

However, the case of Stout v. Commonwealth found that a utility knife was a deadly weapon since it falls under the definition of a knife.

Conclusion to Kentucky Knife Law

So, what does this mean? It means that pocket knives and hunting knives will always be legal to carry concealed. If you want to stick on the right side of the law, only conceal carry a pocket or hunting knife. Other knives outside of those are probably deadly weapons since they are knives. If you conceal carry something like a plastic knife, it might not be illegal because of McCombs v. Commonwealth.

You can own any knife you would like in Kansas and you can open carry any knife.

Note that there is no client-attorney relationship here and this is not legal advice. Talk to a real attorney if you need legal help. There are also municipal laws that apply as well so it is in your best interest to research that.


  • Carry concealed deadly weapon. KSA 527.020 (2012). Retrieved January 19, 2013, from LexisNexis Academic database.
  • Definitions for Kentucky Penal Code. KSA 500.080 (2012). Retrieved January 19, 2013, from LexisNexis Academic database.
  • Emma

    How old would one have to be to conceal carry a hunting knife?

  • rome

    does a bowie knife that is about 9in count as a hunting knife

  • Gary

    KEY Words ” Open Carry” and “Concealed”. You can carry anything (knife wise), any length or style as long as you do not try to conceal or hide it. Gun conceal permits do not cover knives..only Guns. If you can’t have a gun (concealed or open carry) in the area at which you are attending.. such as public schools, Gov. restricted places or buildings, etc…. then don’t have a knife either to be on the safe or correct side of law.