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


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.


  • 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


  1. Okay, quick question i own a 13″ heavy blade full tang Bowie knife i frequently carry this knife on my hunting trips as it is shorter than a machete but has the weight to cut small tree limbs and brush as i need to. I know the law states that i am not allowed to open carry this knife. My question is am i allowed to carry this knife in the function of a tool while hunting?

    1. Section 46.15 subsection (b) lists several things that makes 46.02 not apply. One is having a CHL and your handgun on your person. Another is hunting, fishing etc. You should be good to go.

  2. I consider Texas laws bullshit, I will continue to conceal carry, and fuk Texas permit and laws

  3. The thing is, the penal code describes “ILLEGAL” & “PROHIBITED” weapons, and 46.15 does not allow those in the manner you think. It allows a legal weapon to be carried with a valid permit…a concealed handgun. That’s it. You can try and spin it how you like, but I promise you, there’s nothing in the penal code that reverses illegal and prohibited weapons being carried in instances other than what’s directly mentioned. If it meant allowing illegal or prohibited weapons everywhere, then that would be listed along with the concealed weapon as being exempt. I see how you can read that and interpret it that way, but I promise you, any charges brought would be help up. There’s a thing called reasonable person standard. A reasonable person would not carry that shit around and think its good to go.

    1. Where does the penal code describe “ILLEGAL & PROHIBITED?” All I’ve been able to find is 46.01 which defines “Illegal Knife” and 46.02 which prohibits carrying them. 46.15(b) makes 46.02 non-applicable to CHL holders that also have their handguns with them.

  4. That is the perfect life goal carry 2 IMI Desert Eagles and go DeadPool…. makes amazing feel on person anywhere

  5. What is the point 🙂 ? In Texas you can legally open carry a loaded assault rifle or any long gun for that matter without needing any special license. Activist groups even walked in the state capital carrying these weapons to prove their point 🙂 ! They should cut out the knife restrictions. Government can get whacky at times. In Austin an adult can drive 70 miles per hour on a motorcycle without a helmet but if he gets on a bicycle he must wear a helmet. Stupid laws. http://www.texastribune.org/2015/01/13/gun-rights-activists-cause-stir-texas-capitol/

  6. actually in tx its not a chl any longer its now a LTC License to Carry

  7. -you cant carry a gravity knife around!
    but its spring assisted.
    -Oh… Then my bad, you’re good
    yayy 😀

    You can’t carry a throwing knife around!
    – But its a tacti-cool survival paracord handle knife
    Oh… My bad, you’re good
    – Yayy 😀

  8. Complaining about tight knife laws does nothing, contact your representative about the issue, I did.

  9. More control over the citizens of the USA. This is all bullshit!

  10. The definition of switchblade knife above includes knives opening by gravity, so why are gravity knives illegal. What am I not understanding. Thanks.

  11. Go on YouTube and look up if stiletto switchblades are legal in Texas then you will find news reports saying that they are, according to this website they say they are illegal to carry is this up to date? Somebody please respond. Plus if you have a stiletto switchblade that has a blade length of 6 inches but the cutting length is the legal limit is it legal to carry?

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