State Knife Carry Laws: Know Your Rights

The US is based upon federalism and, for that reason, laws are created at the federal, state, and municipal level. With regards to knife law, this makes things particularly tricky since a certain knife can be legal in one state and illegal in the next as well as legal in one county and illegal in the neighboring county. The infographic below highlights where certain knives are legal and illegal at the state level. This article goes on to explain some common misperceptions about knife law in the US.

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Did you know that ballistic knives are illegal in California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington? Ballistic knives are illegal on the federal level thanks to 15 USC § 1245 but federal law only applies when you are traveling between states, are on federal land (such as a federal park or in Washington D.C. or a DOD military base), or moving between countries.

These aren’t the only states buckling down on knife laws. Switchblades are also illegal in the following states: Alaska; Colorado; Delaware; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Kansas; Louisiana; Maine; Michigan; Minnesota; Missouri; Montana; Nevada; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; Pennsylvania; Tennessee, and Washington. On the federal level 15 USC § 1241-1244 makes switchblades illegal as well.

Almost all states allow knives to be openly carried and it is only Georgia who limits the open carry of pocket knives to 5 inches. Note that, besides this limitation, Georgia has really nice knife laws.

Furthermore, it is also illegal to carry concealed knives that are three inches or more in Colorado, Delaware, Florida and Rhode Island. In Kansas, Montana, Missouri and Tennessee, it is illegal to carry concealed knives that are four inches and above. Idaho, Kentucky and West Virginia are three states that requires licenses to carry knives that are three inches and above.

For more details on your state’s knife laws, check out KnifeUp’s knife law guide for all 50 states. KnifeUp also has great review articles on such things as the best survival knives, best pocket knives, and best machete.

  • Anthony Amity

    Nothing in the Nevada revised Statutes says anything about blade length. It does however specifically prohibit the public carry of machetes.

  • Rob L
  • lloyd

    switch blades is legal to carry in ind is that correct

  • James Walker

    It’s legal to carry switch blades in WV? Does that include so called “automatic knives”? You can’t buy one unless you’re L.E. or military

  • JP

    The title should read “State Knife Carry Laws: Know Which of Your Rights Will Be Violated”.

  • TheGriz

    What is considered a Ballistic Knife ? Be nice..Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question…lol

  • TheGriz

    p.s. Great information.

  • Bob

    great maps but the little red blood splash at the bottom left takes away from its professional courtesy.

  • StalkingZombies

    Thanks for the awesome graphic! I just have one small bone to pick. All types of automatic knives over 2 inches are illegal to sell or carry in California. This includes switchblades which can technically be possessed but not carried (I’m not lawyer. NOT legal advice.) I would suggest that if some of the maps pertain to carry and others to possession you should specifically state it on the map so the casual observer doesn’t get confused.

  • armystrong

    I see this infographic making its rounds on the Internet. Someone should have done better research before publishing. Knives over 3″ are not illegal in MI. Item #4 from the Michigan State Police website clearly says they are not illegal:,4643,7-123-1878_1591_3503_4654-10953–,00.html
    And here is the law itself from the MI legislature website:

    Knives over 3″ are only illegal if a person has the intent to use it unlawfully. I’m sure they wrote the law this way to be able to add one more charge to a person who assaults someone with a large knife. It’s much the same as the MI law that says it is a crime to wear a ski mask while committing a felony. Ski masks are not illegal, however, so don’t go creating an infographic saying they are.

    I don’t know where the myth came from, but the laws in MI have been this way for as long as I can remember. From the other comments, it looks as if there are many inaccuracies. I hope you adjust these before anyone else shares it so people actually know their rights.

  • Justinian

    What if it is a switchblade comb? Is it still illegal?

  • Judge Garry Hoffman (ret.)

    NY Penal Law Dangerous Weapons265.20 Exceptions (6). Possession of a switchblade or gravity knife for use while hunting,
    trapping or fishing by a person carrying a valid license issued to him
    pursuant to section 11-0713 of the environmental conservation law.

  • GlenMo

    In Connecticut carrying on you person or in a vehicle it is illegal to possess any Dirk knife or switchblade ,gravity knife. The blade lenth one and one half inches or over THE EDGED PORTION OF THE BLADE,a stiletto,or any knife the Length of the blade FOUR inches or longer the EDGED PORTION of the blade….Exemption of blade length is if one holds a valid Hunting Or fresh water fishing license ,or a salt water fisherman while engaging in fishing. (The reason is at The time the law was revised ,there was no salt water licence ) (There is much debait on whats difference between a dirk knife &a stiletto ,but most local cops I have talked to say a Dirk knife is any double edged knife & a stiletto is single edged.

  • Blue

    Switch blades have been legal in Alaska since September 2014. I’m glad to hear that ballistic knives are as well, I just but a Russian Ismash armory ballistic knife.