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. I don’t see a karambit listed among the illegal weapons (or weapons you can’t carry.) Since it’s not a stabbing weapon, is a karambit legal to carry concealed? The blade’s only about 3 1/2 inches.

  2. Hatchets, Hand-Axes and Machetes are legitimate camp and yard tools and even a homeless vagabond, who owns no vehicle, should be allowed to carry such inside their pack. … If a tool has a legitimate peaceful use, such as an 8 inch Chef’s Knife or an 18″ Machete, then, ANY citizen should be allowed to have and carry that tool inside personal luggage, in a back-pack, on a motorcycle, etc. … Basically, guilt and threat are assumed in advance of any violent act. … This is PRE-CRIME and it is NOT CONSTITUTIONAL !!

    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. ;-}

    2. 46.15 only seems to apply to peace officers, bailiffs, security, and the like.

    3. …actually, that section goes on and says exactly what you said. Whoa.

    4. If you read section 46.15, it specifies that if you have an LTC/CHL, you may only be carrying a handgun.
      “(6) is carrying:

      (A) a license issued under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, to carry a handgun; and

      (B) a handgun:

      (i) in a concealed manner; or

      (ii) in a shoulder or belt holster;”

    5. “(b) Section 46.02 does not apply to a person who…” It doesn’t say I can only carry a handgun. It says 46.02 doesn’t apply if I’m legally carrying.

  3. So any knife worth a damn is illegal in TX,. so much for your right to bear arms.

    1. You can own almost any knife you want, besides a gravity knife. You just can’t open/conceal carry. Hell, just keep the knife you’re not allowed to carry in your car.

    2. it just sucks to me that Texas says all the tie it prides itself on the right to bear arms, yet has the most restrictions on civil rights I have seen, 5 1/2″ blade length? Really? I mean I don’t want to carry around a machete unless I am bush whacking through forest. But do you know how hard it to find a good knife that is full tang with a blade 5 1/2″ of shorter? I do a lot of survival stuff and a knife that short is pretty much useless. I did find a knife set that I just got that was ok, but still not what I want to carry. Its a Shrade set of a full tang and a folding knife set: COM5CP High Carbon IS THE SET that included a Schrade – SCH002 – Folding knife with a 3 1/2″ blade and the Schrade – SCHF29 – Fixed Blade at 5″ blade that comes with the holder that carries both of them. They are pretty nice knives. Its kind of a heavy knife to use but still I would not want to try to bush whack with it too much here. Self defense? Mmm Maybe?

    3. Concealed Carry license makes you Immune to § 46.02 as long as you are carrying your license and ccw i just keep reposting. can you believe it?!! funny thing is California allows to carry ANY blade openly. weeiirrdd.

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

    1. unless you have a CHL …….then……excaliber

  4. As usual, there is a lot of bitching and complaining about Texas Knife laws, being so restrictive. But, on my last visit to my state representatives office, I asked about the influx of complaints pertaining to these laws and guess what he told me? He said, “I dont hear much at all about knives in general”. So, I gotta ask, Do any of you good folks, who complain, even vote? Do you call or write your congressmen?? You pay them a lot of money to represent you and trust me, they do want to hear from you.

  5. 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.

  6. So unless I have my CHL then I could open carry and be able to conceal my bowie knife legally ?

  7. so, im confused. Is it illegal to own a blade(machete, knife, kukri, sword, ect.) over 5 inches or is it illegal to carry it publicly?

  8. This is ridiculous. This is what a carry. I live in Austin. Legal or no? No one has said anything yet… I do not own a handgun therefore I do not have a CHL. I do not have restrictions where I could not have either of the two, I am just a broke ass artist that can’t afford to deal with police harassment, and can’t afford to not be able to defend myself in this wacky ass world.

    http://www.midwayusa.com/product/728687/buck-655-short-nighthawk-knife-4-7-8-serrated-420hc-stainless-steel-clip-point-blade-black-rubber-handle-olive-drab-and-black-with-nylon-sheath

  9. Texas knife laws must be changed so we can carry our battle knives as well as our rifles and handguns openly.

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