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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

Hey Knife Up gang!  I'm Pete and I'm just a small man in a small rural town who loves the outdoors as much as the other million internet users that cruise sites like Knifeup.com every day.  The difference is that I like to share what I know, and research what I don't totally know, so that YOU can have all the info you need to feel confident and prepared for all things outdoors related! And, for those who care, I have 42 years of wilderness canoeing and bushcraft experience in Northern Ontario and spend most of my Summers covered in mosquitos and fish slime, but hey, it's a lifestyle choice eh?
Peter Stec

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Comments

    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.

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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”.

  7. Would i be able to conceal carry a gerber lmf 2 knife or would i need to open carry it

  8. Do you need a concealed carry lisence first to carry a hunting knife?

  9. I own 2 karambits for self defense cause there’s a lot of violent activity where I am and I carry one on the back of my belt with a jacket over it or shirt whatever now I know that’s illegal would it make it legal if I kept it in front on my clothing or is it just illegal overall I’d really like to know in case i come in contact with the law I also forgot I’m near Lexington KY

  10. So, open carry would be in plain sight and sheathed if possible, right? I’m planning on buying a Karambit, but it’s longer than allowed for concealed, so I need to know.

    1. Yes you can have any deadly weapon you want including all the ones on the list just make sure you don’t consea them unless you have a CCDW license.

      There is no law that keeps a person from owning deadly weapons but only make it illegal to conceal them.

    1. Yes it is legal just not legal to conceal with out a CCDW permit.

    2. You can buy them at Red hill cutlery right next to bashams lumber so I don’t think so

  11. KEY Words ” Open Carry” and “Concealed”. You can carry anything (knife wise), any length or style as long as you do not try to conceal or hide it. Gun conceal permits do not cover knives..only Guns. If you can’t have a gun (concealed or open carry) in the area at which you are attending.. such as public schools, Gov. restricted places or buildings, etc…. then don’t have a knife either to be on the safe or correct side of law.

    1. In the state of KY the permit is a CCDW(Concealed Carry of a Deadly Weapon)

      As used in the Kentucky Penal Code, (See KRS 500.080.) “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;

    2. Government can’t ban open carry in public buildings they can only prohibit conceale carry and it’s still not a crime. Now there is no law saying that government building can’t ban knifes so be careful.

      KRS 65.870 actually make it illegal for anyone to make new gun laws but for the congress. So if you city hall post a sign that says no loaded guns they messed up Bc they made a knew gun law are are not allowed.

    1. Only openly as it is not a pocket and hunting knife.

    2. Unless you have a concealed carry permit. They you can.

  12. Noticed a typo under “Conclusion to Kentucky Knife Law” where it says “You can own any knife you like in KANSAS…” where it should say Kentucky.
    Other than that this is great and very informational.

  13. OK I just got the word from Lexington Ky Police dept. That it is legal to carry swords into public areas. Further more they are to be treated the same as open carry for fire arms. So if your not allow to open carry or concealed carry a fire arm into a building the same applies to swords. The number I called d to verificate this was the Lexington police dept. Non emergency number 859-285-3600 this number is non emergency.

  14. Democrat, you sound stupid and your English sucks.
    Nag Brown, why would you think he was talking about you? He didn’t say anything about veterans, or liberals, or gays, or Taoists. Unless you want all weapons banned, why include yourself? By the way, your English sucks.
    Captain America, it should be “you’re”. Take an English class.

  15. Nag Brown. You are most certainly not what is wrong with this country. I fought for this country and it was my understanding at the time of enlistment that it was for the purpose of defending peoples rights.

  16. Democrat. Wth? I’m a liberal don’t care if Captain American knows it. But if you think for one second I would use my Tai Chi straight sword or a broadsword to slaughter people. You’re just a dim wit. Captain American, I guess I’m what wrong with this country. Ya know being a gay Taoist veteran maybe I should just leave this country right? I blazed my m-4 in Afghanistan and now I prefer peace.

  17. I own a Benchmade Auto Stryker 9100 SBT knife which was issued to me in the Army. Since I am still active-duty, I wonder if I am “legal” in carrying it on duty/at work. Can’t find any law here in KY which prohibits me carrying a auto-blade….any help?

    On the other hand, is this knife considered a “regular pocket knife”, or, because it is a spring-opened mechanism…is it a deadly weapon?

    Thanks!

    1. If it’s anything other than a pocket knife it is a deadly weapon while you can open carry it concealing it is a crime without a CCDW. It should be a crime but that’s a nother topic. There is nothing in the law that gives a pass or mentions active duty be exempt from the law. I suggest you get a permit.

    2. You can own any knife in Kentucky. But you cannot conceal any knife that is not considered hunting and or pocket knife. (Pocket knife and hunting knife that is modified to be anything else Such as spring assisted or switch blade like.) Without a conceal and carry permit .

  18. Democrat, your an idiot! You are what is wrong with this country. Learn proper English then take a long walk off a short pier…..and please wear a heavy necklace

  19. WOW….. Thank you for your information about all of this. Needed to know this

  20. Bann all knifes, if knifes all ilegal then noone get stabbed. You are murder if you cary knifes.

  21. Kennith: Assisted blades are covered as they are NOT switchblades. Though to be safe make sure it is a very untactical design. The leatherman should be fine as it is a multitool. They are so common that they wouldn’t want to go after you for them. They’d have a hell of a legal fight on their hands.

    Ben: Open carry is protected by the state constitution. You might get hassled in big cities, but it covers all weapons. Concealed carry permits are needed for any concealed weapons, but they cover ALL weapons. Knives, swords, guns, machineguns, saps, blackjacks, and anything else remotely dangerous. I want to talk to the guys in knife rights about getting our law clarified better.

  22. You have a big typo on this page-
    The bottom “conclusion” statement says:
    “Conclusion to Kansas Knife Law”

    This is the KENTUCKY page. 🙂

  23. What about swords, like a katana? Can you carry them in public or is their a law on blade length in Kentucky?

  24. Thanks. I have always heard that I could not carry a knife that had an assist or own one. I don’t carry any knives other than the one that is attached to my Leatherman, but it’s good to know what I can and can not carry. Thanks for clarifying these issues in a way that makes sense.

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