Texas Knife Laws

txTexas knife laws are mostly found in the Court’s decisions, or case law, as the statutes are short and do not provide much information about what any of the terms mean. This article summarizes the case law and the statutes so that anyone can understand what is legal and what is not when it comes to owning and carrying knives in the state of Texas.

What is Legal to Own

What is Illegal to Own

  • It is illegal to own a gravity knife

The Texas state legislature does not limit other knives.

What the Law States

State legislature is covered by the Unlawful Carrying Weapons law as well as some case precedence.

§ 46.02.  Unlawful Carrying Weapons

(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on
or about his or her person a handgun, illegal knife, or club if the person is not:

(1) on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or

(2) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control….

§ 46.01.  Definitions

In this chapter:
…..(6) “Illegal knife” means a:
(A) knife with a blade over five and one-half inches;
(B) hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown;
(C) dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stiletto, and poniard;
(D) bowie knife;
(E) sword; or
(F) spear.
(7) “Knife” means any bladed hand instrument that is capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by cutting or stabbing a person with the instrument.
……..

Definitions of Various Types of Knives

Switchblade

The Texas code defines switchblade knife as a knife, which has a blade that folds, closes, or retracts into the handle, and that opens automatically by pressure applied to a button or other device located on the handle, by the force of gravity or by the application of centrifugal force (spinning the knife). The term does not include a knife that has a spring or other mechanism designed to keep the blade closed and that requires exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist, or arm to overcome the bias and open the knife. A switchblade does not have to be operable in its original condition in order to qualify as a switchblade under the law. In Smith v. State, the Texas Court of Appeals upheld Mr. Smith’s conviction for carrying a switchblade with a broken release mechanism, because Mr. Smith had used a rubber band to hold the blade in place, and could still operate the knife as a switchblade. The Court held that there was no statutory requirement that the knife operated in its original intended fashion to obtain a conviction under the statute. Update – as of September 1, 2013, switchblades are no longer illegal in the state of Texas.

Throwing Star

In 1983, in Albert v. State, the Court found that the arresting officer’s testimony, calling the objects found under Mr. Albert’s floor mat “martial arts throwing stars” and describing them as “having seven or eight points, like a saw blade, and very sharp” was sufficient to conclude that the objects were throwing stars and therefore, illegal to carry.

Dagger and Bowie Knife

Former Texas Penal Code 1161, in connection with the law of assault with intent to murder, defined “dagger” and “bowie knife” as any knife intended to be worn upon the person, which is capable of inflicting death, and is not commonly known as a pocket knife. In Armendariz v. State, the Court upheld Mr. Armendariz conviction for unlawfully carrying a dagger. It found that the weapon Mr. Armendariz carried, which was slightly over seven inches in length when open, equipped with a double guard, had blade that locked in place when open, and was sharpened on both edges for slightly more than an inch from the point, was a dagger, not a pocketknife.

Butterfly Knife

In 2005, in an unpublished decision, the Texas Court of Appeals found, in Cook v. State, that a butterfly knife fell within the statutory definition of a switchblade, and was therefore illegal to possess or carry. However, because the law which made switchblade knives illegal was repealed in 2013, butterfly knives are now legal to own in Texas.

Restrictions on Carry

  • It is illegal to conceal or open carry any knife with a blade over 5 ½ inches long
  • It is illegal to conceal or open carry throwing stars or any type of throwing knife
  • It is illegal to conceal or open carry dirks, daggers, stilettos, and other stabbing knives
  • It is illegal to conceal or open carry a bowie knife
  • It is illegal to conceal or open carry a sword or spear

Carry restrictions do not apply to a person’s own vehicle or a vehicle that is under their control, as long as the weapon is being carried for a lawful purpose.

Definition of Blade

In Rainer v. State, Mr. Rainer was charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon for having a large hunting knife concealed on his person when he was arrested at a lounge for failing to appear in Court the Texas Appellate Court held that blade was defined in the dictionary as the cutting part of a knife, not the sharpened part. Therefore, the blade of a knife was the part of the knife from the handle to tip, and not just the sharpened portion.

Conclusion on Texas Knife Law

Texas knife laws are some of the most restrictive in the United States.

It is illegal in Texas to own a gravity knife.

It is illegal to open or conceal carry any knife with a blade over 5 ½ inches long, throwing knives or stars, dirks, daggers, stilettos, and other stabbing knives, bowie knives, swords, or spears.

Sources

  • Tex. Penal Code § 46.01 (2012)
  • Tex. Penal Code § 46.02 (2012)
  • Tex. Penal Code § 46.05 (2012)
  • Rainer v. State, 763 S.W.2d 615 (Tex. App. 1989)
  • Smith v. State, 1988 Tex. App. (Tex. App. 1988)
  • Albert v. State, 659 S.W.2d 41 (Tex. App. 1983)
  • Armendariz v. State, 396 S.W.2d 132 (Tex. Crim. App. 1965)
  • Cook v. State, 2005 Tex. App. LEXIS 3053

Comments

  1. So in texas is it illegal to carry a fixed blade with a blade length of 4″ and a total length of 10″ and an e.d.c.?

    1. It’s legal. Your knife may measure a total of 10″ but as long as the blade is less than 5 1/2″ you’re good to go.

  2. Last that I heard, it is legal to openly carry a fixed blade knife with a blade length of less than six inches. I shall, and should recommend that we all check for any/all law changes since Perry has been in-house for such a long time. I have a good friend, looks like an old time mountain man, carries a knife within a sheath on his belt, less than six inches blade, everywhere that he goes daily. Never been messed with. This entire restrictiveness disgusts me. Texas! My home state, but talk about paranoid.

    1. unless you have CHL!!!!!!!! THEN you can carry just about anything. penal code 46.15
      YOU CAN CARRY A SWORD, A FREAKING MACE, ANY BATON, TOMAHAWK, MACHETE.
      You just have to have your CHL license and also your handgun on you!!! Just found this out!!! CHL cop instructer either didn’t know this or failed to mention. I’m getting a bowie knife, samauri sword, expandable baton……I’m not sure about a battle axe, however but it doesn’t say you can’t!!!!!!! I would print out the penal code and put it in your wallet tho. ;-}

  3. Anthony/Will/Anyone else – Blade length and sharpened edges, not overall length, is what matters per Texas law, as of today.

    ANY single-edge knife with a BLADE length of 5.5″ or less is legal to carry, openly or concealed, in Texas.

    As of 01 Sept 2013, switchblades, balisongs and gravity knives became legal to carry in Texas, as long as they meet the other criteria for being legal to carry – 5.5″ max BLADE length AND SINGLE edge.

    No where in the Texas Penal Code is a “gravity knife” specifically prohibited to be owned. The only place in the Texas Penal Code that the words “gravity” and “knife” appear in the same place is in the definition of a switchblade knife and even then they were not prohibited from ownership, just public carry.

  4. I need my knives so I can kill me some negroes if they ever try to come after me!

    1. And you just landed yourself in prison. Legal terms you were in fear of severe bodily harm and lawfully used your knife to stop the threat. You’re welcome.

  5. Considering that it is theoretically possible to throw any knife, wouldn’t that make all knives illegal to carry?

    1. It is possible to throw any knife but a throwing knife is only a knife that is more specifically designed to be thrown unlike other knifes that aren’t meant to be thrown.

  6. As far as throwing stars are concerned it is legal to OWN one, however it is illegal to CARRY one. I’m just glad butterfly knives are back on the menu.

    1. NINJA STARS ARE GOOD TO GO IF YOU HAVE A CHL……….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! as are any blade. boom.

    1. yeah I agree with you because its stupid that you can own them but you can’t carry them with because I carry my knife for self defense……then why the hell do they let us own them? like wtf

    2. A knife for self defense is almost always a horrible idea. Unless you are trained with a karambit, most knives are useless unless they also have a knife. Who robs someone with a knife you ask? No one.

    3. it doesn’t matter if it is a horrible idea or not. if i feel more safe carrying a sword, spear, ax, or numerous knives, then why should i be able to. most people who carry around a pistol aren’t trained in them. they only think that having one should at least scare the robbers away. and FYI, there are more stabbings than shootings because knives are easier to get than guns, so apparently a lot of people try to rob with knives rather than guns.

    4. Show me a shred of evidence that proves what you just said. A karambit is a fighting knife for martial arts. A pistol does not really require training. If we let people do whatever they wanted to because it made them feel safe, by that standard many people would have mounted weapons on their vehicals. This Isnt mad Max, and it’s not Rambo. This is the real world, as sad as it is we have to deal with that fact.

    5. listen bro, if you have ever shot a gun before, which im assuming you have then you know dang well that you need about as much training to use one as you do to use a longbow, point and shoot. you probably need more training in the maintenance of the weapon than actually using the weapon. as far as doing whatever you want. i dont see anywhere in my previous comment that says anything about doing what you want unless you are talking about me feeling more safe with a knife than a gun. if that is the case, then i can see what you are coming from, but we are just talking about melee weapons and ranged weapons, not siege weapons are military grade weapons which should be left to the military. and dont even start with that whole real world bull. the world can be changed as it has been numerous times in the past, that realization you are talking about is just giving up because you are tired of trying. if that is the case then i see no reason for our convo to continue. i eagerly await the next person who wishes to debate.

    6. Any knife can be used as a fighting knife – who cares if it’s a karambit or not???

    7. I’m sorry but you are a tad bit of a moron if you think knives are useless as self defense weapons. A gun definitely requires more know-how to operate and a lot of people are still assaulted, killed, robbed and raped using a knife. As long as you know how to hold a knife and what parts of the body are more vulnerable to it, you can use one effectively for self defense.

    8. Where you get this from?? Plenty of people are robbed/assaulted at knife point.

    9. I carry a knive….well I always have a variety of knives at hand and I’d go for it a hell of a lot quicker than I would the 38 I got

    10. I’ve had friends robbed with a knife.

    11. I guess they think that if you have a Bowie knife you should just frame it above your fireplace.

      This state was settled by people carrying Bowie knives. I wonder if the dadgumb Texas legislature understands that.

    12. unless you have CHL!!!!!!!! THEN you can carry just about anything. penal code 46.15
      YOU CAN CARRY A SWORD, A FREAKING MACE, ANY BATON, TOMAHAWK, MACHETE.
      You just have to have your CHL license and also your handgun on you!!! Just found this out!!! CHL cop instructor either didn’t know this or failed to mention.I’m not sure about a battle axe, however but it doesn’t say you can’t!!!!!!! I would print out the penal code and put it in your wallet tho. ;-}

    13. Call me stupid if you want to but what exactly is CHL?

    14. It seems to me that TX P.C. 46.15 is providing exemptions rather than permission. It really doesn’t apply only to CHLs. A CHL is for handguns as oppose to a “concealed carry deadly weapons” permit, like in KY.

    15. Yes. Because a gun is in our legal rights, 2nd amendment

  7. So can I legally carry a balisong (butterfly knife) either concealed or open carry in Texas? Or is it illegal to carry period?

    1. There is literally a section titled “butterfly knives” that explicitly states that they are now legal. Presumably only the length restriction applies.
      “Butterfly Knife
      In 2005, in an unpublished decision, the Texas Court of Appeals found, in Cook v. State, that a butterfly knife fell within the statutory definition of a switchblade, and was therefore illegal to possess or carry. However, because the law which made switchblade knives illegal was repealed in 2013, BUTTERFLY KNIVES ARE NOW LEGAL TO OWN IN TEXAS” … unless I’m missing something else.

    2. It’s legal to own it. But it’s illegal to carry/take it to places you don’t own or control

    3. wrong!!!!! legal to carry. says so at the top of this very page!!!!!!!

    1. Gray area. Lawful use, sure, but if you’re carrying a kitchen knife on your belt and not wearing a chef outfit it looks highly suspect. Keep it in your mess kit and it’s probably ok. In any case I suggest consulting with your local Sheriff’s office if you plan on carrying one around.

  8. I carry a open blade knife everywhere I go.with it in the same sheath is also a locking type folding knife.san antonio laws confuse me couse they say I can’t carry eather one.now I was at denny’s a police officer asked if he could see my knifes I did so.he and his partner both said they liked my knives handed them back.i don’t git it . confusing

    1. As of September 1st of 2015 a law was passed in the Texas State Legislature that state laws concerning knives supersede ALL laws of county and city or principality. San Antonio’s archaic weapons laws just became null and void. They can no longer pass any weapons laws which are more restrictive than State laws.

  9. HI I have a question. Is it legal for me to carry my foot long K-Bar in my truck. I had someone tell me that in their conceal carry class it was said that it is illegal to have anything over 5.5″ in your car or on your person. If any of you know Texas state law or could tell me how to find it I would be greatfull.

    1. Texas Knife Laws
      Texas knife laws are mostly found in the Court’s decisions, or case law, as the statutes are short and do not provide much information about what any of the terms mean. This article summarizes the case law and the statutes so that anyone can understand what is legal and what is not when it comes to owning and carrying knives in the state of Texas.
      What is Legal to Own
      It is legal to own throwing stars or any type of throwing knife
      It is legal to own dirks, daggers, stilettos, and other stabbing knives
      It is legal to own a bowie knife
      It is legal to own a sword or spear
      It is legal to own a switchblade knife
      It is legal to own a pocketknife
      It is legal to own a Balisong, or butterfly knife

    2. § 46.02. Unlawful Carrying Weapons

      (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on

      or about his or her person a handgun, illegal knife, or club if the person is not:

      (1) on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or

      (2) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control….

      § 46.01. Definitions

      In this chapter:

      …..(6) “Illegal knife” means a:

      (A) knife with a blade over five and one-half inches;

      (B) hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown;

      (C) dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stiletto, and poniard;

      (D) bowie knife;

      (E) sword; or

      (F) spear.

      (7) “Knife” means any bladed hand instrument that is capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by cutting or stabbing a person with the instrument

      basically if it counts as an illegal knife you cant carry it unless its in your home or in your vehicle/going towads your vehicle, also handguns and clubs apply this as well. in the article it defines an illegal knife that you cant carry, so as long as the blade is within those parameters your should be fine (Ex: A butterfly knife can be carried as long as its not a double edged dagger or longer than 5 1/2 inches or designed to be thrown) might still want to check in with local authorities (local laws vary) and have the laws at hand just in case. might be wrong

    3. If you have a CHL, these are aallllllllll LEGAL!!!!!!!

    4. I’m not sure how copying and pasting the article into the comments is helpful.

    5. not with a CHL. THAT ALLOWS YOU TO CARRY ANYTHING but maybe not a gravity knife. what’s the deal with gravity knives? who wants one of those? why are they illegal?

    6. As of September 1st of 2015 a law was passed in the Texas State Legislature that state laws concerning knives supersede ALL laws of county and city or principality. San Antonio’s archaic weapons laws just became null and void. They can no longer pass any weapons laws which are more restrictive than State laws. Check it out.

  10. Carry restrictions do not apply to a person’s own vehicle or a vehicle that is under their control, as long as the weapon is being carried for a lawful purpose.

  11. What is the age to purchase a Poket Knife (Switch Blade) I am 16 1/2 and wanted to know can I buy one

    1. I don’t know the answer to your question, but anyone over 6 shouldn’t say, “and a half”, after stating there age.

    2. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA SO TRUE OH WOWEEE THATS shome sheriously funny shtuff

  12. Concealed Carry license makes you Immune to § 46.02 as long as you are carrying your license and ccw..

    1. It does not make you immune. What an ignorant statement.

    2. the CCW permit allows you to carry firearms, but not knives

    3. Uh yes sir it does.

      PC §46.15. NON-APPLICABILITY. (b) Section 46.02 does not apply to a person who:
      (6) is carrying a concealed handgun and a valid license issued under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, to carry a concealed handgun

      There for granting Immunity to § 46.02 as long as the person is carrying their handgun and their license.
      I can go into more story time reading if you would like or you could read it yourself.

      https://www.txdps.state.tx.us/internetforms/Forms/CHL-16.pdf

    4. Kamron, save yourself a lot of headache and trouble and have this conversation with your attorney.

    5. Are you still arguing this point??? There it is, Written in the state law. allow me to drive it home for you. I am a cc holder, and I have discussed this with my attorney. Guess what? He showed me the same thing I just Posted! Concealed Carry license makes you Immune to § 46.02 as long as you are carrying your license and concealed handgun. <— Educated, proven, and legally binding fact.

    6. Thank you for your comments, Kamron. Great Info. @Brian, you’re an idiot. I don’t know it could have been more clear. I talked to a cop today about it and he also confirmed the law. I would say that if a cop arrested a person, as mentioned by Ricky Moore, you would have a great lawsuit.

    7. That was my understanding, too. It’s what the law says, so I’m not sure how it can be misinterpreted. It’s pretty plainly written.

    8. hey everyone. he’s right. get a chl and carry a dang lance!!!

    9. you are so awesome for knowing this and sharing. time to finally start carrying some freaking ninja stars boooyyyeeeeee!!!!!!

    10. it does make you “immune technically” it is you who are ignorant. as was I lol. :-]

    11. The only problem with that theory, is that one of those open carry activists was concealed carrying his pistol, had his CHL on him, had a knife with a 6 inch blade on him, and a Texas DPS officer arrested him for carrying an illegal knife.

      Apparently, at least some Texas law enforcement don’t give a shite about the law, and will arrest you anyways.

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