Oregon Knife Laws

orOregon knife laws are found mostly in the Court’s decisions, or case law, and not in the statutes, which can make it not only hard to understand, but difficult to find. This article puts the law together in an easy to read way that even those without legal training will be able to find and understand what is legal and what is not, when it comes to owning and carrying knives in Oregon.

What is Legal to Own

  • It is legal to own a dirk, dagger, or other stabbing knife
  • It is legal to own a Bowie knife
  • It is legal to own a switchblade or other automatic knife
  • It is legal to own a ballistic knife
  • It is legal to own a gravity knife
  • It is legal to own a Balisong, or butterfly knife and Balisong trainer
  • It is legal to own a stiletto

What is Illegal to Own

Oregon law does not restrict the ownership of any type of knife for those who have not been convicted of a felony. As a matter of fact, in 1984 in State v. Delgado, the Supreme Court of Oregon found that former Oregon statute § 166.510(1) was unconstitutional because it prohibited the mere possession and mere carrying of a weapon. The Court believed that restricting the possession and open carrying of weapons for non-felons was a violation of a person’s right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.

What the Law Says

166.240 Carrying of concealed weapons.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, any person who carries concealed upon the person any knife having a blade that projects or swings into position by force of a spring or by centrifugal force, any dirk, dagger, ice pick, slungshot, metal knuckles, or any similar instrument by the use of which injury could be inflicted upon the person or property of any other person, commits a Class B misdemeanor.

Possession and Carry of Weapons by a Felon

A person who has been convicted of a felony may not own a knife with a blade that projects or swings into position by force of a spring or by centrifugal force. He or she also may not open or conceal carry a dirk, dagger, or stiletto.

Restrictions on Carry

  • It is illegal to conceal carry a dirk, dagger, or any stabbing knife
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a Balisong, or butterfly knife
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a gravity knife
  • It is illegal to conceal carry any knife with a blade that projects or swings into position by force of a spring or by centrifugal force (swinging the knife around)
  • It is legal to conceal carry a pocketknife
  • It is legal to conceal carry a switchblade
  • It is legal to open carry any type of knife

It may appear that a switchblade has a blade that “projects by force of a spring” and therefore is a knife which one cannot legally conceal carry. However, the Court in State v. Ramer found that because a switchblade is type of pocketknife, and it is not illegal to carry a concealed pocketknife, it could not be illegal to conceal carry a switchblade.

In 1987, The Appellate Court ruled, in State v. Boswell, that one must be carrying one of the weapons listed as illegal to conceal carry or a weapon similar to one of those listed which was designed or intended for use a weapon to be convicted of carrying a concealed weapon. It then reversed Mr. Boswell’s conviction for carrying a concealed weapon because the weapon he was found carrying was not similar to any of those listed by the statute as illegal to conceal carry.

Definitions of Various Types of Knives

Oregon statutes fail to define any type of knife. The case law in Oregon, however, has offered definitions of dirk and dagger, and guidelines to follow when determining if a knife is a pocketknife or not.


In 1978, in the case of State v. Pruett, the Supreme Court of Oregon found that a “Sportman’s” knife with a 3 ½-inch blade, which folded manually into the handle of the knife, but locked when fully open, was an “ordinary pocketknife”. One year after the Pruett decision, in State v. Strong, the court found that a knife with a 4 ¾ inch folding blade fit the definition of a pocketknife. However, in 1986, in State v. Witherbee, Mr. Witherbee was indicted and convicted for carrying concealed a six inch Survival Knife, and the Court upheld his conviction finding that the knife he was carrying was not an ordinary pocketknife.

Dirk and Dagger

In the case of State v. Ruff, the Oregon Court of Appeals declared that since the terms “dirk” and “dagger” were not defined by statute, the legislature intended that the ordinary meanings of the words apply. When a Court uses the ordinary meaning of a word, it generally looks to Webster’s Dictionary for that meaning.

Definition of Concealed Carry

Oregon statute does not define concealed carry. Case law in Oregon, however, has offered some guidance on what exactly concealed carry is.

In State v. Turner, the Supreme Court of Oregon declared that a weapon was concealed if it was not readily identifiable as a weapon or if the person carrying it attempted to obscure the fact that he or she was carrying a weapon.  The Court also said that a weapon was concealed within the meaning of the statute even if it was recognizable if there is also evidence of an imperfect attempt to prevent it from being discovered or recognized.

In State v. Crumal, the Court found that the conceal carry statute referred to weapons that were on and moved along with the carrier’s body. It did not include weapons that were just in reasonable proximity to the person or in some place where the weapons would be deemed to be in the constructive possession of the person. Thus, the Court ruled that a defendant could not be convicted of carrying a concealed weapon, where the weapon was being carried under the floor mat on the passenger side of a vehicle.

Conclusion on Oregon Knife Law

Oregon may be one of the most lenient states when it comes to owning knives. Unless you have been convicted of a felony, you can own any knife you choose in Oregon. Those who have been convicted of a felony, may not own a knife with a blade that projects or swings into position by force of a spring or by centrifugal force.

It is illegal in Oregon to conceal carry, on your person, a dirk, dagger, or stabbing knife, a butterfly knife, gravity knife, or any knife with a blade that projects or swings into position by force of a spring or by centrifugal force.


  • ORS § 166.240 (2011)
  • ORS § 166.270 (2011)
  • State v. Delgado, 692 P.2d 610 (1984)
  • State v. Ramer, 671 P2d 723 (1983)
  • State v. Boswell, 745 P.2d 436, (1987 Ore. App.)
  • State v. Pruett, 586 P2d 800 (1978)
  • State v. Strong, 598 P2d 1254 (1979 Ore. App.)
  • State v. Witherbee, 717 P2d 661 (1986)
  • State v. Ruff, 211 P.3d 277, (2009 Ore. App.)
  • State v. Turner, 191 P3d 697 (2008)
  • State v. Crumal, 633 P.2d 1313 (1981 Ore. App.)


  1. State v Ramer was decided in 1983, 166.240 (and surrounding laws) have been amended since then which my make that decision moot. In fact, 166.510 no longer even exists on the books, so Ramer’s comments in re that law are completely void now.

  2. Sir,

    There are two statements related to concealed carrying of automatic knives which as written are mutually exclusive.

    Under “Restrictions on Carry” it’s stated:
    It is legal to conceal carry a switchblade
    Under “Conclusion to Oregon knife law” it’s stated:

    It is illegal in Oregon to conceal carry, on your person, a dirk, dagger, or stabbing knife, a butterfly knife, gravity knife, or any knife with a blade that projects or swings into position by force of a spring or by centrifugal force.

    I”m sure that readers would be appreciative of any clarification.

  3. Bear in mind that “concealed” is always subject to considerable interpretation especially dependent upon circumstance.

    1. lol omg you can open carry a LONG SWORD.

    1. Oregon does not prohibit ANY kind of open-carried blade by non-felons, with some exceptions like Courthouses or past TSA checkpoints. A titanium Gladius would be practical for carrying light.

  4. Is it ok for me to keep a USMC k-bar in my car between my seat and the center console?

    1. yes. it’s even ok to carry it on you as long as it’s visible.

  5. I own a Kershaw Special Agent boot knife. I’m not entirely sure what type of blade it classifies as, but I’m sure it’s classified as a dagger. Can anyone confirm what kind of blade the Kershaw Special Agent is?

  6. I’m a Wiccan and thus it is one of our practices to “cast a circle” with a dull blade called an athame. My regular athame has a dull blade about 5 inches long, so when we want to celebrate outdoors at a park (similar to a picnic) I very rarely bring my athame because I’m worried it could be illegal to have a blade (however dull) in public, even for religious purposes. Today I bought knife from eBay. It’s pretty dull but I plan on dulling it a little more. It’s a mini knife that doesn’t fold, the blade is a little less than 3 inches long. Very small. I bought it because I thought no self respecting police officer could consider such a tiny thing any danger or any more dangerous than a dollar store pocket knife.
    What do you think? Could this 3 inch dull knife lead to me getting into any trouble in public?

    1. Also, this brings up the question, if someone were to have a picnic at a public park and brought steak knifes and a large knife to cut cheese or fruit or whatever, could they get in trouble? If not, I don’t think it would be fair for a small group of people practicing their religion with (dull) knifes to get in trouble either.

    2. The main issue there is that steak knives, chef’s knives, etc., are not considered “daggers, dirks, or stabbing knives” to begin with (even though they can be used for stabbing, that’s not their primary purpose as designed), while a dagger-style athame is very likely to be considered a stabbing knife if the tip is sharp.

    3. should be fine trust me I am an ex cop

    4. “It is legal to open carry any type of knife.”

      As long as you aren’t concealing it, disturbing the public, being a menace, or whatever, I don’t see what the problem would be.

    5. Alright thank you. By concealing you mean hiding it in my pocket and saying I have no weapon to an officer? Because what if I’m traveling to the area and have it in a backpack?

    6. Concealed means concealed in any way, as long as it’s on your person or moves with your person, which most likely includes inside a backpack. If it is not visible to casual inspection, it’s concealed.

      Either knife would be 100% legal to carry, dull or sharp, if it’s in a belt sheath where both the sheath and the handle are visible outside your clothing, or strapped to the outside of your backpack in a fully visible manner.

      But hiding a portion of the knife, i.e. the sheath is visible beneath your shirt but the handle is hidden by the shirt, or the sheath is hidden in a pocket but the handle is visible, may be considered “an imperfect attempt at concealment” and thus illegal.

      If it’s too dull to cut or stab, however, I seriously doubt any court of law would actually consider it a knife. The important thing there would be for the tip to be rounded enough that it can’t be used to stab with, since Oregon law specifically prohibits stabbing knives. If only the edges are dull but the point is sharp-ish, that leaves you with a “stabbing knife” for sure, as it cannot cut, only stab.

    7. Have to disagree with Heartcall here, repectfully. If you have a knife in a backpack, in such a way as you have to set the thing down and dig the knife out to use it, it’s not concealed carry, because it’s not “carry”. Carry means you can get at it easily. Most jurisdictions let you carry a knife in a toolbox or tool roll. Shoving what is essentially an ineffective butterknife into the bottom of your pack should be no problem at all. And, even in Oregon, if you can’t convince them with the 2nd Amendment, you can piffle them with the First–it’s a religious item. End of discussion.

      Also, there’s the 4th Amendment. If the thing is in your pack, insist the officer get a warrant to search it.

      Really. I lived in Portland for over 20 years and talked to a police officer about twice. Just be cool 🙂

    8. I’m down here in Texas, and I’ve been stopped a couple times for my kirpans… and I carry miniature ones that are perfectly legal in my jurisdiction. Carrying the minimum size as prescribed by my faith would end up with some sort of court battle. Nowadays, I tend to conceal mine (an officer suggested that I do so, in order to avoid being stopped… for openly carrying a blade which is clearly legal), which is also against my faith. You can’t trust an officer to know the law, and therefore you can’t expect an officer to accurately/justly enforce the law. You also can’t expect the Bill of Rights to actually mean anything without a lengthy, expensive court battle, during which the burden of proof is on you, and you are not guaranteed to win, although the spirit and letter of the law are obviously on your side.

    9. If you are wearing the backpack it will be considered concealed carry, but I am pretty sure the cops aren’t going to bother you if your just going camping. most cops aren’t going to bust your balls about the whole backpack knife thing unless you have your blade party out of the backpack than you can get in some trouble.

    10. Unfortunately, a lot of states don’t make exceptions for religious blades. These statutes do technically violate your rights which are supposedly granted by the Bill of Rights, since you could not reasonably carry your black-handled athame (typically dull) and white-handled knife (typically sharp) (both of which are traditionally double-edged daggers, and should be wrapped in a black or white cloth except when in use during a ceremony… i.e., tradition prescribes that the blades and all other ritual tools be intentionally concealed from the uninitiated).

  7. I was stopped while walking home in downtown Springfield with a kershaw blur on my pocket. This is a 3.4″ blade that swings to lock open and, due to the knife´s torsion bar, otherwise is held closed. Although it is A) a pocketknife (under any definition), B) there was no aggression or violence, C) kershaw´s SpeedSafe opening function is federally legal, and D) it was in view (clipped to my pocket) – the officer was stretching for an arrest and called it a concealed weapon. Along with a Disorderly for disagreeing with him. They will be overturned, but I still had to wear cuffs to jail. No matter what you´re carrying be aware that the vagueness of the statutes work both ways regardless of intent.

  8. I’d like to clarify that the simplest way to avoid any entanglement with the law over the “stabbing weapon” lingo, such as “dirk” or “dagger,” is to make certain the blade you carry concealed is single edged. A single edged knife takes you straight away from any logical or legal discussion of “designed for stabbing.”

    Also, a pocket clip on a folder, no matter how deep the knife sits, is not considered partially of fully or imperfectly “concealed.” Pocket clips are legally accepted as a form of open carry, just like a belt sheath is not “partially concealing” that a Buck 110 is in there.

  9. What about blades that are built into everyday objects such as a cane knife for example? The cane would be in the open and not concealed and acts as a sheath for the blade. Is it still considered a concealed weapon?

    1. RE read the definition that was listed for concealed. Second paragraph, first sentence. A cain would be both readily available and distinguished.

  10. The article and laws don’t seem to address a non stabbing knife, non pocket knife, that is concealed. For example, I carry a large fixed blade knife (Becker BK5) when camping and hunting or working in my yard (in Portland). I often will head into a store with it on but I pull my shirt over it so I don’t make anyone uncomfortable. It rides high so it is basically hidden from anyone not looking for it. The blade is 8 inches long.

    1. It is always better to open carry a fixed blade, who cares if someone gets uncomfortable, it is within your right as a law-abiding citizen to carry a knife.

  11. I am slightly confused here as this article states that “It is legal to conceal carry a switchblade”, but in the same section also states that “It is illegal to conceal carry any knife with a blade that projects or swings into position by force of a spring or by centrifugal force (swinging the knife around)”.

    Are switch blades not a subset of blades that swing into position by spring?

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