North Dakota Knife Laws

ndNorth Dakota knife law is short but very disorganized, and can be difficult to find and understand. This article puts the law in an organized and easy to understand order and language, telling you exactly what is legal and what is not legal when owning and carrying knives in the state of North Dakota.

What is Legal to Own

It is legal to own any type of knife in North Dakota. North Dakota has no laws making it a crime to own any kind of knife.

Restrictions on Carry

  • It is illegal to conceal carry a gravity knife or switchblade
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a machete
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a scimitar, backsword, or sabre
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a stiletto
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a sword
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a dirk or dagger
  • It is illegal to conceal carry any knife with a blade 5 inches or longer
  • It is legal to open carry any type of knife

What the Law States

62.1-04-02.  Carrying concealed firearms or dangerous weapons prohibited.

No person, other than a law enforcement officer, may carry any firearm or dangerous weapon concealed unless the person is licensed to do so or exempted pursuant to this chapter…

Definition of Concealed

North Dakota considers a dangerous weapon concealed if it is worn on the body or kept in a vehicle where it is within reach of the carrier and is not discernible as a weapon by ordinary observation. The statute provides that a dangerous weapon is not concealed if it is locked in a trunk or luggage compartment of a vehicle, carried in a holster or case where it is wholly or substantially visible, or carried in any manner while lawfully hunting, trapping, or target shooting.

Definition of Dangerous Weapon

Under North Dakota law, “dangerous weapon” includes any switchblade or gravity knife machete, scimitar, stiletto, sword, dagger, or any knife with a blade 5 inches or longer.

License to Carry a Dangerous Weapon

A North Dakota resident may obtain a permit to carry a concealed dangerous weapon upon a showing that he or she has a valid reason for conceal carrying the weapon, including self protection or for work-related purposes. In order to issued a permit to carry a concealed dangerous weapon an applicant must be twenty-one years of age (eighteen for a class 2 license), not have been adjudicated by a Court of law as mentally incompetent, qualified to purchase and possess a firearm under federal law, and never convicted of a/an:

  • felony
  • crime of violence
  • offense involving the use of alcohol
  • offense involving the unlawful use of narcotics or other controlled substances
  • offense involving moral turpitude
  • offense involving domestic violence

Applicants must also successfully complete a classroom course, pass an open book test, demonstrate familiarity with a firearm or dangerous weapon, and complete an actual shooting or certified proficiency test.

Conclusion on North Dakota Knife Law

North Dakota knife law is short and to the point. It allows for the ownership and open carry of any type of knife.

It is illegal to conceal carry gravity knives, switchblades, dirks, daggers, stilettos, scimitar, swords, or any knife with a blade 5 inches or longer.


  • N.D. Cent. Code, § 12.1-01-04 (2013)
  • N.D. Cent. Code, § 62.1-04-01 (2013)
  • N.D. Cent. Code, § 62.1-04-02 (2013)


    1. Please do not carry around an ax. Especially not a battle ax.

      “Grey states” like North Dakota leave it up to the police officers on site/duty to determine weather something is being carried with utilitarian or violent purpose. Even if it’s for your job, common sense will keep you out of jail and away from conviction

      A professional chef will raise some eyebrows and scare people if he’s carrying around his best kitchen knife outside of a transport container.
      A martial arts instructor will probably prompt a call to the police if there’s a sword on her hip.
      A person carrying an ax (battle or otherwise) that isn’t in a bag or box will usually invite the attention of the law. Or at the very least be asked to leave the area.

      If you need an ax for your job, or you’re just an avid ax enthusiast, you’ll be fine if you keep it in the box while in public.

      If you have a safety concern so severe that you feel the need to carry an ax with you, it’d be a much better idea to voice your safety concerns about the area/situation to the police, apply for a conceal carry permit, and, if possible, purchase a firearm.

      If you just want to carry around a weapon because you can, then at least be honest and stick to pepper spray and a good combat knife. If it’s a big knife you might still get some attention, but its WAY better than being armed with an ax. Otherwise you’re just gonna get arrested and/or loose your right to carry anything at all. Open or not.

    1. Only if you have a valid reason, like going on/returning from a hunting trip, or that it’s somehow useful to your line of work to carry a large knife. Though if either of these are the case its best to just keep it in the box when in public.

      You could probably get away with something 6 inches, but anything over 5 inches long is legally considered a dangerous weapon, and carrying it could attract the attention of the law.

      For example; if someone sees the large knife on your hip and it makes them feel nervous or unsafe to be in the area for any reason, they would have every right to call the police and say so. In that case you could be subject to arrest, or at least removal from the area and/or confiscation of the item(s) in question based on the responding officer’s assessment of the situation.

      This is also true for knives that are under 5 inches, though unless you brandish the knife or demonstrate other “scary” behavior (intoxication, aggressive body language, shouting or threats, etc.), smaller knives are usually unlikely to cause much concern at all.

      But keep in mind that a police officer only needs to see the item and determine that you don’t have a legitimate reason for carrying something large and sharp in public in order to do anything about it.

      It’s the kind of situation where you shouldn’t do something just because nobody told you not to. If you don’t have an honest, valid reason (which self-defense is not) for carrying a knife that big, you’re only inviting some serious trouble that could have a very negative impact on your rights and opportunities in the future.

      People with dangerous weapons charges on their record tend to have pretty crappy lives.

  1. Is fishing a valid reason for open carrying a 6 inch fixed blade in a sheathe?

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