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Kentucky Knife Laws

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 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


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.


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.


  • Ky. Rev. Stat. § 500.080 (2019)

  • KRS 527.020.  Concealed Carry of a deadly weapon


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