state knife laws feature

Kentucky Knife Laws

The knife law in Kentucky is pretty confusing. This article will give you a clearer idea of what is legal and illegal in everyday English. The article will discuss the law, important cases, and implications.

What is Legal to Own

  • It is legal to own ballistic knives.
  • It is legal to own balisong knives.
  • It is legal to own switchblades and other automatic knives.
  • It is legal to own dirks, daggers, stilettos, and other stabbing knives.
  • It is legal to own disguised knives like belt knives, lipstick knives, and cane knives.
  • It is legal to own undetectable knives (knives that will not set off metal detectors).
  • It is legal to own Bowie knives and other large knives.

There are no banned knife types in Kentucky.

What is Legal to Carry

  • It is legal to open carry any knife.
  • It is legal to conceal carry any ordinary pocket knife or hunting knife.
  • Anything besides a pocket or hunting knife can be considered a deadly weapon and was FORMERLY banned from concealed carry before an amendment to KRS 500.080 which now allows for concealed carry of deadly weapons as of June 27, 2019.  This is a “Constitutional Carry Statute”.  You can access it directly HERE.

 

What the Law Says

Concealed Carry

KRS 237.109 captioned Authorization to carry concealed deadly weapons without a license became effective as of June 27, 2019. It provides:

Persons age twenty-one (21) or older, and otherwise able to lawfully possess a firearm, may carry concealed firearms or other concealed deadly weapons without a license in the same locations as persons with valid licenses issued under KRS 237.110.237.109 Authorization to carry concealed deadly weapons without a license.

(1) Persons age twenty-one (21) or older, and otherwise able to lawfully possess a firearm, may carry concealed firearms or other concealed deadly weapons without a license in the same locations as persons with valid licenses issued under KRS 237.110.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow the carrying or possession of any deadly weapon where it is prohibited by federal law.

Effective: June 27, 2019 History: Created 2019 Ky. Acts ch. 10, sec. 1, effective June 27, 2019.

 

What is a Deadly Weapon?

According to KRS (Ky. Rev. Stat.) § 500.080 (2019)

“Deadly weapon” means any of the following:

(a) A weapon of mass destruction;
(b) Any weapon from which a shot, readily capable of producing death or other serious physical injury, may be discharged;
(c) Any knife other than an ordinary pocket knife or hunting knife;
(d) Billy, nightstick, or club;
(e) Blackjack or slapjack;
(f) Nunchaku karate sticks;
(g) Shuriken or death star; or
(h) Artificial knuckles made from metal, plastic, or other similar hard material;

So, just to cut to the chase (in case you haven’t figured it out from all this “legalese”, here’s the deal:

If you live in Kentucky, and you’re at least 21 years old, you can carry (concealed or otherwise) any knife – including deadly weapons.  You can also carry a deadly weapon if you possess a concealed weapon license.

If you are under the age of 21, you may carry any “ordinary” hunting or pocket knife.  The gray area here is the question of what knives do or do not fall into the category of ordinary hunting and pocket knives.

According to what we’ve found, it looks like there is no clear legal guidance as to what determines the characteristics of an “ordinary pocket knife” or a “hunting knife” in the state of Kentucky.  So, with that said, you would be SURE to stay within the boundaries of an “ordinary pocket knife” if you carried one of the thousands of knives available almost anywhere that generally fit the qualities of:

  • 3.0 – 3.5 inch blade
  • 4.0 inch handle
  • folding blade

 

Notes:

Don’t Threaten Even with Fake Weapons!

The case of Kennedy v. Commonwealth in 1976 found that anything can be considered a deadly weapon if the person using it convinces the victim that the weapon is life-threatening. Therefore, threatening someone’s life with a trainer knife (a trainer is a knife that has no blade) is illegal if the person who you threatened actually believed that the trainer was deadly.

That’s NOT a “deadly weapon?”

The case of McCombs v. Commonwealth in 2006 found that a crowbar is not a weapon because the legislature intended for deadly weapons to be only things that are designed to be weapons and not things that also have a utility use.

However, the case of Stout v. Commonwealth found that a utility knife was a deadly weapon since it falls under the definition of a knife.

Minors

There is no restriction of knife ownership by minors. Restrictions regarding the carrying of concealed deadly weapons apply to anyone who’s younger than 21, but there are exceptions for a hunting or ordinary pocket knife.

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Conclusion to Kentucky Knife Law

So, what does this mean? It means that pocket knives and hunting knives will always be legal to carry concealed. If you want to stick on the right side of the law, only conceal carry a pocket or hunting knife. Other knives outside of those are probably deadly weapons since they are knives. If you conceal carry something like a plastic knife, it might not be illegal because of McCombs v. Commonwealth.

You can own any knife you would like in Kansas and you can open carry any knife.

Note that there is no client-attorney relationship here and this is not legal advice. Talk to a real attorney if you need legal help. There are also municipal laws that apply as well so it is in your best interest to research that.

 

References

  • Ky. Rev. Stat. § 500.080 (2019)

  • KRS 527.020.  Concealed Carry of a deadly weapon

Peter Stec
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Comments

  1. I am 15 can I legally carry my Bradford g3 in public it is scout carry my shirt covers the sheath

    1. Hi April;
      While I’m not “allowed” to give you official legal advice online, I can give you my opinion. My “opinion” is that it’s any knife that is smaller than a full-sized kitchen knife and has a belly on the blade (opposite of a switchblade dagger) and you could buy it at an outdoors store. That opinion doesn’t matter NEARLY as much as the opinion of the police officer with whom you may be having an issue. You see, ultimately there’s a lot of ambiguity in this area and different cops will have different ideas. It often depends on what you look like, how to talk/act with him, where you are and what it appears that you’re doing. Just to be safe, get an actual hunting knife from Pro Bass Shops or something and wear it when you’re in the forest. Hey, that’s my opinion!
      Thanks for your question,
      J.

    2. I’m 16 and I got a Bradford g3 witch is scout carry am I aloud to carry this in public?

  2. I want to purchase a short samurai sword from an auction that was used in a movie from a long time ago. Is it legal for me to import and own such sword in the state of Kentucky?

    1. Gun laws regarding concealed carry of firearms have changed in Kentucky, you need to update the information on your site… It is incorrect.

  3. Could I open carry a sword if I claim it’s a hunting knife and ensure no one feels threatened by it?

    1. You can open carry a sword.
      You may call it a sword.
      You may open carry any deadly weapon.
      People will ask you about your sword.. It’s a sword.

  4. I have a camillus gut hook know and a buck game trail knife can I legally carry both open or concealed???

    1. I just came into possession of a gerber8971219A. It is an extremely small possibly 2.5 inches when folded and contains a utility razorblade. I use this tool on numerous occasions during the day. I guess what I’m asking is if I am a felon in Kentucky can I legally go to jail for carrying this tool in my pocket? What if I clip it to my belt and my shirt falls over it, can I go to prison for concealed? What are Kentucky the options for a felon in Kentucky who just wants a tool handy when it’s needed and not a prison sentence?

  5. So, would it be legal for one to open carry a “knife” that would be much larger than any modern hunting or pocket knife if it were on your hip, say, in a scabbard or sheath?

  6. My question is about pocket clips on knives in Kentucky.
    If a knife has a pocket clip, and the clip is visible outside the pocket, is that considered “open carry.”

    1. IANAL, but that would be concealed carry just like a Kel-Tec P3AT pistol with a pocket or belt clip installed is a concealed weapon UNLESS the weapon is in the open.

      This of course assumes you are it wearing transparent pants.

  7. Yes so I carry a 7 inch trench knife(knuckles) as the handle with me because I walk back and forth to work and I carry open carry on the side of my bag is it illegal to carry it I read somewhere that it doesn’t matter about the handle is this true

    1. Hey Wes;
      Thanks for the question; My advice is not official so I’d suggest contacting legal counsel in the state of Kentucky. However, unofficially I can say that Kentucky’s definition of “deadly weapon” includes metal knuckles which would be illegal to carry concealed. However, as per the quote below (from Knifeup.com), you may be walking a bit close to the edge of the law by carrying even a visible metal knuckle;
      However, you could get into trouble if you carry (concealed or open) anything that a judge or “normal citizen” would deem to fall outside of the category of “hunting knife” or “pocket knife”.

  8. Halfway through “Conclusion…” the article switches to talking about KANSAS. I didn’t double check the references, but in Kentucky the abbreviation is normally KRS (Kentucky Revised Statute) or KAR (Kentucky Administrative Regulation); I have never seen the abbreviation KAS used for any Kentucky law or regulation.

    Two things not mentioned:
    1) Concealed Carry of a knife other than a hunting knife or ordinary pocket knife IS LEGAL in Kentucky with a concealed carry permit (yes, Kentucky concealed carry permits cover all “Deadly Weapons”)
    and
    2) Kentucky honors all other state concealed carry permits (even states that do not honor Ky permits).

  9. Be safe. Get your license to carry something to go Booom! Carry what ever almost wherever you want.

  10. have to be the guy who asks, but what about a sword? are they legal. I mean it be really be hard to conceal one. so Could i open carry one?

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