This article will tell you what Delaware’s knife laws are in everyday English. It will also go into details about the law. Knife laws change from state to state and even city to city so make sure you talk to a local attorney.
Knives that are Legal in Delaware
- Balisong knives are legal.
- Bowie knives and other large knives are legal.
- Disguised knives like belt knives, lipstick knives, and cane knives are legal.
- Throwing knives are legal.
- Stilettos, dinks and daggers are legal.
Knives that are Banned in Delaware
- Knives that will not set off metal detectors and have a point tip are illegal.
- Knives with brass knuckles are illegal.
- Switchblades and gravity knives are illegal.
- Throwing stars are illegal.
If a knife does not fall into any of the banned category above, it is legal to own.
Limits to Carrying Knives
- It is legal to carry a 3-inch (blade) pocket knife concealed.
- Other than a 3-inch or shorter (blade) pocket knife, carrying any other type of knife concealed is illegal.
If the knife is not banned, you can carry it in the open. Only concealed carry is limited. Concealed means close enough by you that you can readily use it while being covered by something. Having a knife in your car counts as being concealed.
What the Law Says
Concealed Carry is Limited to 3″ Folders
11 Del. C. § 1442 (2012)
§ 1442. Carrying a concealed deadly weapon; class G felony; class D felony
A person is guilty of carrying a concealed deadly weapon when the person carries concealed a deadly weapon upon or about the person without a license to do so as provided by § 1441 of this title.
(5) “Deadly weapon” includes […] a knife of any sort (other than an ordinary pocketknife carried in a closed position), switchblade knife […] or any “dangerous instrument”, as defined in paragraph (4) of this section, which is used, or attempted to be used, to cause death or serious physical injury. For the purpose of this definition, an ordinary pocketknife shall be a folding knife having a blade not more than 3 inches in length.
Switchblades are Illegal
11 Del. C. § 1446 (2012)
§ 1446. Unlawfully dealing with a switchblade knife; unclassified misdemeanor
A person is guilty of unlawfully dealing with a switchblade knife when the person sells, offers for sale or has in possession a knife, the blade of which is released by a spring mechanism or by gravity.
Switchblades might or might not mean balisong knives. The law here bans knives where the blade is released by a spring or gravity. A balisong’s blade is not released by gravity or a spring. It is released by inertia and a centrifugal force (flipping).
Since the law here does not state a ban on balisongs, it is up to the courts to determine if a balisong is indeed a switchblade. Delaware has no case law on this yet but some states have determined a balisong is a gravity knife whereas others do not.
Undetectable Knives are Illegal
11 Del. C. § 1446A (2012)
§ 1446A. Undetectable knives; commercial manufacture, import for commercial sale, or offers for commercial sale; or possession
(a) Any person in this state who commercially manufactures or causes to be commercially manufactured, or who knowingly imports into the state for commercial sale, keeps for commercial sale, or offers or exposes for commercial sale, or who possesses any undetectable knife is guilty of a class G felony. As used in this section, an “undetectable knife” means any knife or other instrument with or without a handguard that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict serious physical injury or death that is commercially manufactured to be used as a weapon and is not detectable by a metal detector or magnetometer because there is no material permanently affixed that would be detectable by a metal detector or magnetometer, either handheld or otherwise, that is set at standard calibration.
This bans ceramic point-tip knives that do not have any metal in them. Also, because of this, all point-tip knives made in Delaware needs to have some sort of permanently affixed metal that will set off metal detectors.
Ban on Martial Arts Stars
11 Del. C. § 1453 (2012)
§ 1453. Unlawfully dealing with martial arts throwing star; class B misdemeanor
A person is guilty of unlawfully dealing with a martial arts throwing star when the person sells, offers for sale or has in possession a sharp metal throwing star.
Ban on Knuckle Knives
11 Del. C. § 1452 (2012)
§ 1452. Unlawfully dealing with knuckles-combination knife; class B misdemeanor
A person is guilty of unlawfully dealing with a knuckles-combination knife when the person sells, offers for sale or has in possession a knife, the blade of which is supported by a knuckle ring grip handle.
This means that any knife with a brass knuckle is banned. This includes WWI trench knives and some push knives.
Conclusion on Delaware Knife Laws
You can legally own any knife as long as it is not a switchblade, throwing star, has a brass knuckle or is undetectable by metal detectors. This includes things like Bowie knives, swords, and cane knives. You can also open carry any knife you want as long as it is not banned. However, you can not conceal carry a knife unless it is a 3 inch folding knife.
This article is not legal advice and it might be wrong. There are also local laws that can come into play as well. Check with an attorney if you need legal advice.
If you have a question, post it in the comment section below. We are also looking for an attorney in Delaware who would be willing to do a short interview on Delaware knife law.
What is the definition of “concealed”? I carry a 3.25″ SOG that is an assisted release blade with a belt clip. While there are obvious self-defense capabilities inherent with any blade, I conside mine a true tool, having used it for everything from chipping inches of ice off of frozen windows to cutting improvised tow ropes on the side of the highway. Is it considered “concealed” if I wear it with the blade/handle on the inside of my pocket with the clip on the outside?
Don’t know if this will help, but an open carry firearm must have the entire weapon and holster visible. IWB holsters with the pistol butt visible outside the shirt is technically illegal and considered concealed. Most of the LEO’s I have consulted do not take this seriously as long as they see the butt. Don’t trust that. There are always LEO’s with an agenda, few may they be.
a Delaware state issued Concealed Deadly Weapons permit allows the holder to conceal any knife that you are legally allowed to own in the State of Delaware.
I have a smith and Wesson knife that I use for fishing is it against the law to have it in the open on my side?
When I was 15 years old I was arrested for possession of a concealed deadly weapon. I had a Balisong “probably longer than 3″ in my back pocket on my front porch. 3” is the legal limit for concealed pocket knives in Delaware. If you insist on carrying a Balisong in Delaware, I would not carry concealed.
What is the legal length for a pen knife before it is a weapon?
I have a tac force 3.25 inch that I keep on my pocket, is that concealed? it has a clip which is very visible to anyone who walks by.
IANAL but this may help.
Are Karambit knives legal because i may have a few
If you are stopped by the police for any reason and you give them the knife so they don’t feel theatened and the knife is 3.5 inches will they confiscated it?
I would like a better definition of concealed. If I have a folder in a velcro or bottom snap closing sheath on my belt, is that concealed?
What are Delare’s policies on OTF (out the front) knives?
I am 16 can i carry a knife that follows these rules?
I was convinced of a felony ( non violent) , is it legal for me openly carry sheathed fix blade knife on my side
Is it considered concealed and illegal if I am moving and/or visiting family and have a knife in my luggage?
I know, right? Can’t even have a throwing star just for display only. But guns…no problem, and go figure throwing knives are fine.
What is the difference between a butterfly knife and a balisong knife??? What makes a butterfly knife illegal and a Balisong legal?
are brass knuckles illegal without the knives
Balisongs are completely legal and follow the same rules as “folding knives.” I was confused so I asked my friend on the police force.
I ordered a few of Doug marcaida knives. Is it the knife length or the glad length? all my knives are way more then 3″ but wall the blades are 2.35 or less
I’ve been reading on this about the laws in many other states, and then I get to my home state Delaware.. and realized we’re one of the most screwed on these laws. Every other state I’ve read first thing said was “what’s legal to own” then I get here and it says “knives that are banned” like come on really Delaware ????????
I was glad to see Dean’s statement above. Delaware offers a Concealed Carry Deadly Weapon permit after taking an eight-hour course that deals with both laws and active shooting training and tactical instruction (some better than others, especially the tactical part). It permits exactly what it says – deadly weapons. Another benefit of this permit is that holders can legally buy and sell between holders and at FFL dealers without a background check as long as they can prove by permit number that it was as described. There are other perks, such as the impending legislation that may limit magazine size. As written at this time, it will not pertain to CCDW holders. Be aware that this is a May Issue state. Meeting all requirements (and there are many) does not guarantee that a permit WILL be issued. Minimum cost for this permit, including application, CCDW course, posting in a public format (newspaper, For Sale type brochure that covers at least thirty five per cent in your Community ),) background check through State Police and five references from citizens IN YOUR COUNTY will be $350 and as much as $500, depending on how much copying of forms you do and where you post your notice. Worst part is that so many people will know that you are applying to conceal. Not Constitutionally legal in my opinion, but worth keeping once issued. This process may take as little as a few weeks and as much as six months. Delaware is an open carry legal state, except for a couple cities whose prohibition of this was established before about 1985 (give or take a year or two). In my opinion, it is unfortunate that New Castle County (northern-most of our three counties) is dominated by Democrats whose driving force seems to be disarming the citizenry of the whole state (country?). Maybe Pennsylvania would take back everything north of the canal and let the remaining two counties live in the Delaware and United States Constitutional freedoms as God and the founding fathers meant them to be.
Absolutely correct .Founding fathers and God support our right to defend ourselves ,even our obligation. I just wrote to my state senator Walsh letting him know that Jesus at the last supper instructed,not suggested that his disciples GET A SWORD even if they had to sell their coat or pack He didn’t say get a shap stick or a bag of rocks ! I sent this in light of the insane proposal and vote today to ban semi automatic weapons in the state. These who propose or support such are only one of two types Stupid or wilfully evil. Jesus also said that you are either for him or against him .
Having a knife in your car counts as being concealed. The second you step open carry into a vehicle, you can be arrested for concealed. This seems to have been overlooked and is probably the most important detail to this article.
Thanks for that insight. However, the issue of conceal carry being in a car is addressed in our article.
“If the knife is not banned, you can carry it in the open. Only concealed carry is limited. Concealed means close enough by you that you can readily use it while being covered by something. Having a knife in your car counts as being concealed.”
Thanks for checking out our site,
This really makes it questionable for the many people who buy a new box of large kitchen knives and want to take them home in their car… Hmm.
does it mean 3” closed, 3” blade, or 3” overall
So, I can carry a 5 1/4″ blade if I have it visible like on my belt then? Because I have an 11” dagger with a 5 1/4 blade and I kinda wanna carry it. Also is there an age requirement for carrying a knife in Delaware?
What about Bali trainers? Can you carry them concealed, since they aren’t even a blade?
Are karambit knives illegal? I would like to know, as i bought one for self defense, and it has a rope on it as well.
Right? Carrying the gun around is fine, but god forbid if you had a single little throwing star sitting in a display box on a shelf in your house. lol
Not just brass knuckle guards, but ANY knuckle guard.
What do emerson knives, or knives that have the “wave” opener fall under? Curious, because it’s not using gravity to open or a spring either, its catching part of the pocket.
I have a bowie knife with a single knuckle hole grip is would that be considered illegal
Would I be able to carry a neck knife bc it can be in the open but sheathed?
Is a sword cane in my car considered concealed?