Knife laws in Colorado are tricky, luckily we are here to help. Below is a list of legal and illegal knives in Colorado written in plain English. We will also then give you more specific details with quotes from the law and case precedence.
Colorado Knife Laws in Brief
These knives are legal to own:
- Dirks, daggers, push knives and stilettos are legal.
- Bowie knives and other large blades are legal.
- Disguised knives like belt knives, pen knives, cane knives, and lipstick knives are legal.
- Balisong/butterfly knives are in a legal gray area.
- Gravity knives and switchblades.
These knives are illegal to carry:
- Ballistic knives
These knives are illegal to carry concealed:
- Any knife with a blade over 3.5 inches in length
Knives that are Banned in Colorado
18-12-102. Possessing a dangerous or illegal weapon – affirmative defense
(1) As used in this section, the term “dangerous weapon” means a firearm silencer, machine gun, short shotgun, short rifle, or ballistic knife.
(2) As used in this section, the term “illegal weapon” means a blackjack, gas gun, metallic knuckles, gravity knife, or switchblade knife.
(3) A person who knowingly possesses a dangerous weapon commits a class 5 felony. Each subsequent violation of this subsection (3) by the same person shall be a class 4 felony.
(4) A person who knowingly possesses an illegal weapon commits a class 1 misdemeanor.
What the Colorado knife law states is that it is a crime to possess a dangerous or illegal weapon. A ballistic knife is a dangerous weapon and is a felony offense (1 or more years in jail).
What Colorado Law Says About Concealed Knives
18-12-105. Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon – unlawful possession of weapons
(1) A person commits a class 2 misdemeanor if such person knowingly and unlawfully:
(a) Carries a knife concealed on or about his or her person;
“Knife” means any dagger, dirk, knife, or stiletto with a blade over three and one-half inches in length, or any other dangerous instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing, or tearing wounds, but does not include a hunting or fishing knife carried for sports use. The issue that a knife is a hunting or fishing knife must be raised as an affirmative defense.
It is illegal to carry a knife other than a fishing or hunting knife that is greater than 3.5 inches concealed. Concealed means to be out of sight and close enough to be available for immediate use. It is not illegal to carry a concealed knife on your property. It is also not illegal to carry a concealed knife when you are driving if you are carrying the knife to protect yourself.
In the case A.P.E vs People in 2001, it was found that a knife that is less than 3.5 inches is not a weapon if the prosecution can not prove that the person intended on using it as a weapon. In the case, the defendant was found with a push knife that was less than 3.5 inches and the police charged him with unlawful carry of a concealed weapon. The prosecution could not prove that he intended to use it as a weapon and he was found not guilty of the charge.
Conclusion on Colorado Knife Law
In Colorado, you can own almost any knife as long as it is not a ballistic knife. All legal knives can be carried in the open. It is illegal to carry concealed a knife that is larger than 3.5 inches unless it is a fishing or hunting knife. Any knife with a blade shorter than 3.5 inches can be carried openly or concealed.
This article is not exhaustive and there are city laws that also come into play. Check with your city before you consider doing anything. For example, it is illegal to carry any knife concealed in Boulder County.
Note: this is not legal advice and I am not an attorney. Talk to a real attorney if you need legal advice. Post any question you have below and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my abilities. We are also trying to find an attorney in Colorado who is willing to do an interview.
*updated May 8, 2018