Amerian flag with knife

Missouri Knife Laws

missouriMissouri knife laws are fairly unrestrictive but can be vague and confusing, as one must look at several statutes and some case law in order to determine exactly what the law is. The following article pieces it all together, so you know what Missouri knife laws really say.

What is Legal to Own

What is Illegal to Own

Up until 2012, it WAS against state law to carry a switchblade.  Since that time, the law was amended to remove switchblade from its list of prohibited weapons.  The law basically states it’s legal to have a switchblade insofar as it does not violate any Federal laws.  The federal law, which governs possession of switchblades, is 15 USC Chapter 29. The law allows a person to possess and/or carry a switchblade on or about his person if the blade is less than three inches long and the person has only one arm, or the knife contains a spring or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade.  Essentially, it is not a violation of law to simply carry a switchblade.  The only catch is that “in certain Federal jurisdictions” it is in fact, illegal to possess a switchblade.

What the Law States

*571.030.  Unlawful use of weapons — exceptions — penalties. — 1.  A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons, except as otherwise provided by sections 571.101 to 571.121, if he or she knowingly:

  (1)  Carries concealed upon or about his or her person a knife, a firearm, a blackjack or any other weapon readily capable of lethal use into any area where firearms are restricted under section 571.107

§ 571.030 was revised in 2017 from item (1) above (plain text) to the entire statement including the bold, italicized section.  So, what once was illegal to carry concealed anywhere, appears to be only illegal to carry into areas where firearms are restricted.  Practically, that means you can carry a concealed knife most anywhere other than obvious locations like schools, public courthouses, police stations, etc. You can research the details on restricted locations at THIS LINK. However, in order to find out what a “knife” is, and what “conceal” means, one must look to other sections of the code, as well as case law.

Definition of Various Knives

§ 571.010 defines a “knife” as any dagger, dirk, stiletto, or bladed hand instrument that is readily capable of inflicting serious physical injury or death by cutting or stabbing a person, unless it is an ordinary pocket knife, with a blade no more than four inches long. According to the Court in the State of Missouri v. Weir, a knife must also contain a folding blade that is not double-edged, in order to be considered a pocketknife.

A switchblade is defined by statute as any knife with a blade that folds or closes into the handle and that opens automatically or by the force of gravity.

A dagger was defined by the Missouri Supreme Court, in State v. Martin, as “a short weapon with a sharp point, used for stabbing”.

Limits on Carry

  • You may conceal carry any pocketknife with a folding blade less than four inches
  • You may not conceal carry any other knife in Missouri, on your person or in your vehicle
  • You may open carry any knife that is legal own

In the case of State v. Dowdy, the Court found that a paring knife, concealed on Dowdy’s person, was a knife under Missouri law, and could not be conceal carried.

Definition of Concealed

A knife is considered concealed in Missouri if it is not readily and practically visible to approaching persons under ordinary circumstances. In the case of State v. Rowe, Thomas Rowe was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, when a search of his pickup truck revealed a knife with a six-inch blade hidden in the pocket of the driver’s side door. The Missouri Court of appeals found that even though the handle of the knife was visible, the weapon was considered concealed because the handle was not easily recognizable as part of a weapon. The Rowe Court also concluded that in order to convict a person for conceal carrying a knife, the knife must be in easy reach of that person.

Exceptions to the Concealed Carry Law

Missouri concealed carry laws do not apply to certain government employees and process servers who are carrying a concealed weapon while doing their job, members of the armed forces, hunters who are also legally carrying an exposed firearm or bow, or to those who are ‘peaceably’ and continuously traveling through the state.

Several defendants have challenged the phrase “peaceably traveling” and “continuous journey” and the Missouri Courts have made some decisions about what peaceably traveling and continuous journey mean and do not mean.

In 1978, the Court found in State v, Mason that a traveler did not have to be traveling to or from a point outside of the state to be excluded from the concealed carry law under its peaceable traveler clause.

In 1990, in the case of State v. Wilkerson, the Supreme Court found that transporting a ‘considerable quantity’ of illegal narcotics through the state did not qualify as peaceable travel.

In 1992, in the Missouri Supreme Court held, in State v. Purlee, that the travelers’ exemption did not apply to defendants traveling through the state during the commission of a felony, or for any unlawful purpose.

In 2001, the Missouri Appellate Court found, in State v. White, that possession of a small amount of marijuana, which was a misdemeanor, did not exempt a defendant from the peaceably travelers defense to carrying a concealed weapon.

Conclusion on Missouri Knife Law

Missouri is fairly relaxed about its knife ownership laws. It is legal to own any type of knife in Missouri.

Knife laws in Missouri allow for the open carry of any legal knife, but do not allow residents to conceal carry any type of knife, either on their person or in their vehicle.

There are a few exceptions to the conceal carry law, which allow some government employees and private citizens with certain jobs, as well as persons simply traveling through the state, to carry a concealed knife on their person or in their vehicle.


§ 571.020 R.S.Mo.  (2017)
§ 571.010 R.S.Mo.  (2017)
§ 571.030 R.S.Mo.  (2017)
15 USC Chapter 29
State v. Rowe, 67 S.W.3d 649 (Mo. Ct. App. 2002)
State v. Weir, 752 S.W.2d 461 (Mo. Ct. App. 1988)
State v. Dowdy, 724 S.W.2d 250 (Mo. Ct. App. 1986)
State v. Wilkerson, 796 S.W.2d 388 (Mo. App. 1990)
State v. Purlee, 839 S.W.2d 584 (Mo. banc 1992)
State v White, 58 S.W.3d 627 (Mo. Ct. App. 2001)
State v. Martin, 633 S.W.2d 80, 81 (Mo. 1982)

*Article updated July 3, 2018

Peter Stec
Latest posts by Peter Stec (see all)


  1. Is it legal to carry a fixed blade knife with knuckles built into the handle?

  2. Since you can open carry any knife in Missouri does that include switchblades? I have a switchblade knife that I really like for harvesting mushrooms (hawkbill with a unique blade compared to others) and want to be able to bring it mushroom hunting. I am considering clipping it on the outside of my backpack somewhere. Would this be acceptable?

  3. how about with religious beliefs i will die by my axe and will also live by my axe its the woods chogan RMJ design by CRKT can i carry it in public in the state of missouri

    1. Knuckle dusters of any type are 100% illegal, do not open or conceal carry.

  4. What about a sword? Legal to carry unconcealed? What about a spear? Anyone know?

  5. I have a Damascus steel knife having a fixed blade length of 4″ and overall length of 8″. It has a leather sheath that hangs vertically and horizontally if preferred, is it illegal to carry and considered concealed if my shirt covers most of the sheath? Looking for some advice on it being legal or illegal. Any advice would be great!!

    1. I would say don’t risk it. One of the court cases mentioned in this post, State v. Rowe, the plaintiff was found guilty when the entire handle of the knife was visible. For most of us a knife handle is a knife handle. If we can see the handle then its not concealed but the state chose otherwise and that set a court precedence that other judges will look at in making a ruling.

      If your shirt is tucked in and the entire sheath with handle are visible then its open carry. The way the law is written you must assume that a novice who knows nothing about knives must be able to readily recognize that you are carrying one. To you and I a knife sheath is a knife sheath. We see a few inches of leather hanging down from a shirt and we say “oh that dudes got a knife” but the way the law is written you have to try to think like a person who is afraid of all types of weapons and would be appalled that you have a knife on…especially if they can’t see it from afar and avoid you at all costs.

      My personal opinion is that its a stupid garbage law. I like to carry a similar style knife horizontally on my belt. Its a breacher style blade and to me its a handy tool. However according to the law as i read it if i throw a jacket on to head to the hardware store its now a concealed weapon.

      Thankfully my favorite knife maker now offers that same style blade in a legal folder but i still prefer a small fixed blade that is readily available.

    2. I just had a police officer show me in his handbook best switchblades are Class D Felony

  6. Yeah they don’t want it to be very clear so they can make money off of you because its what all governments do. So, I say if you have a knife and its concealed don’t advertise it to the police. Plus you don’t have to ever let the police search you unless they have a court ordered warrant. So don’t let them ever touch you or your car or belongings period. Carry what you want to when you want to. Why? Because the criminals do and its your God given right and constitutional right to carry anything on your person. You can sue them for deprivation of rights under color of law if they try to charge you with anything and take away your rights. Codes statutes and ordinances are not real laws. They are color of law which is maritime law or Roman civil law.. All of which are fraud!!! Its your responsibility to know the law. Any judge will tell you that. So research real law which is the Constitution of the united states and not fraudulent crap!

  7. As far as I know, the constitutional carry change to this law legalized carrying any knife concealed as well as everything else listed in 571.030.1 with the exceptions being the same as where licensed ccw holders could not carry these.

  8. I have a knife that I really want to know if it’s legal for me to carry inside the city limits Springfield Missouri. This knife has a four and a half inch handle with a folding 6 inch blade, it is worn on a belt. I am not seeing anything about this knife or this type of knife anywhere on here. If anyone knows anything about this type of knife weather is legal or illegal to carry inside the city limits please any information is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. According to my understanding you’re perfectly allowed to carry that knife based on the description you gave. You said it is worn on a belt, which would generally mean that it is not concealed and as long as it isn’t concealed you can carry anything you want. Hope this helps.

  9. I am 71 and handicapped in several ways. I cannot walk without a cane. I have been told by local police that such facts and the fact I was the Chief Psychologist of the 22nd Judicial Court and gave professional Court testimony that resulted in being shot at and otherwise attacked because of the testimony I rendered. I continue to be in harm’s way although I am no longer the Chief Psychologist.
    I would like for functional walking ability and for protection to use a cane sword.

  10. How bout small 3’ double edged fixed knife carried in a boot while horseback riding

  11. I want to know about karambits legalities in Missouri…they way it is stating the law of any slim Knife that basically has no double edge and is no longer than 3 inches ,does not have any assist open or springs loaded.but what if you make it a tool like using a 17 mm ratchet wrench and making it into a karambit style blade less than 3 inches….and having it on my personal open to see ..ofcourse with a sheith….not double edged.of course I’ve seen folders at stores that have the karambit style but with a straight blade instead of the curved

  12. Question about belt looped knife holders?
    Would I have to carry in front?
    On my off hand?
    The knife is longer than four inches has it’s seath but is clearly a knife looped on my belt.
    Same question I’m regards to throwing knives are those considered concealed if they are seathed?

  13. Under the New Permitless carry law that went into effect, you no longer have to have a CCW permit to carry a concealed weapon. Thus anyone can legally carry concealed a Firearm and or any knife except for a switchblade as the law states. Just wanted to update that Missouri is now Constitutional Carry. However you must be aware of City ordinance that ban open carry. If Open carry is prohibited so then is Permitless Carry.

    1. I was told by a highway patrolman that you can’t use a conceal and carry license for a knife. Now that’s been two years ago.

  14. Just to clarify, again (sorry), a blackjack, balisong, knife >4inches, and firearm, are still legal to carry under CCW? Is there any State info that clarifies that? Thx

  15. is it okay if I have a Balisong in my pocket, (the blade no longer than 4 inches)?

  16. So it’s legal to open carry any blade other than a switch blade? Can I conceal carry a small fixed blade? (Like a neck knife)

  17. My friend wants to know if he can have this in MO? 27″ NINJA SAMURAI Twin Blade CONCEALED SWORDS Katana Japanese Combat COSPLAY

  18. I’m still confused. Is it illegal to carry a hunting/survival knife in the trunk of your car in Missouri? Son just bought one.

    1. Legal in the trunk of your car, not on your person in a public space.

    2. Unless you have a valid CCW/CHL permit or endorsement from any state or political subsection.

    1. I have a concealed carry permit. Can I legally carry a switchblade knife in my pocket? Does the length of the knife’s blade matter?

  19. Oh, BTW, here is some good news for folks who have not gone through the MO CCW training. Our laws rock!

    571.030.1(1). A person commits the crime
    of unlawful use of weapons if he or she knowingly carries concealed
    upon or about his or her person a knife, a firearm, a blackjack or any
    other weapon readily capable of lethal use;

    571.030.4. Subdivisions (1), (8), and (10)
    of subsection 1 of this section shall not apply to any person who has a
    valid concealed carry permit issued pursuant to sections 571.101 to
    571.121, a valid concealed carry endorsement issued before August 28,
    2013, or a valid permit or endorsement to carry concealed firearms
    issued by another state or political subdivision of another state.

    So, with a CCW/CHL/permit/endorsement from ANY state that is valid, you literally can carry any length blade on your person in any way you like in Missouri.

    I’ve been a Certified CCW Instructor in MO for over two years and in the MO database since August 28, 2014.

    1. So would that subdivision 1 include a fixed blade? It says knife but I think the definition of dirk or dagger would fit more appropriately.

    2. i got my ccw in 5/11. my new permit says issued in 5/16/exp 5/21….so my question is, according to what you stated above, my first issue was before 2013 so i should be good?

  20. would a horizontal knife sheath on a belt be considered concealed ? What if you have a coat or long shirt that covers it ?

  21. Yes spring assist knifes are legal in missouri as long as it has a safety to keep the blade from opening on ita own. You can carry any legal weapon in your car as long as you are not committing a felony. You vehicle is your home. If you can have it at home you can have it in the car. Switchblades are legal, to carry as long it meets the other requirements i.e. blade no longer than 4 inches. If a blade is longer than 4 inches you cannot conceal it on your person.

  22. I have been told by a County Sheriff that a “Spring Assisted Knife” is not considered a switchblade, is this correct?

    1. A spring assisted knife requires the operator to manually begin the process of opening the blade before the process is continued by the spring, in contrast, a “switchblade” or automatic knife is opened by a button or switch alone which activates the spring. So in short, they aren’t classified as the same, assisted openers are much more widely legal than true switchblades even though they are no less quick or deadly in many cases.

  23. I have a set of swords. They are about 24 inches long. Would like to know if I can openly carry them as long as they are not concealed?

  24. So am I legal to carry my 1972 8″ switchblade on my motorcycle rather than my Colt 380 auto. I brought this knife back from my military service in 1972 from Viet Nam.

  25. So am I legal to carry my 1972 8″ switchblade on my motorcycle rather than my Colt 380 auto. I brought this knife back from my military service in 1972 from Viet Nam.

  26. So Missouri no longer has a limit on what blade length you can carry?

  27. I recently got my car towed/impounded because my insurance had lapsed. I had a knife double edged from a good friend of mine that passed. He used it for fishing and hunting in California and gave it to me to protect myself or use for fishing, he passed away and this is a dear gift to me. The police confiscated it and said it was illegal in the state of Missouri. However if this July 2012 exception is true. Do I have a leg to stand on if I ask for it back? Or are double edge (folds closed on each side) illegal no matter where you carry it in your vehicle?

  28. I have a crky neck knife thats like 4inches in total length its all one soild piece its the dogfish knife. And iam wondering if its legal to carry in my pocket?

  29. You are right Taylor, switchblades are legal to own and legal to carry in Missouri as of July 2012. This site and the information is wrong concerning Missouri knife laws.

  30. I heard from other sources that they made auto knives legal in Missouri in 2012. Did they change their minds or something?

  31. In light of Missouri’s recent law that a person’s vehicle is an extension of his/her home, may a person legally carry an actual knife (not a small pocket knife) such as a double-edged push dagger, throwing knives, or throwing-stars in his/her vehicle concealed or otherwise?

    If it is not concealed and is readily visible, such as hanging from a shoulder harness that is wrapped around the car seat, is it then legal? If it is not legal to be concealed in one’s vehicle, or readily visible in one’s vehicle, may it be locked up in a lock-box in the trunk?

    I study martial-arts and use real knives in my Kung Fu forms during practice at my cousin’s house, so it is necessary to transport the knives to and from my residence to my cousin’s house where I practice. This is why I ask such a question.

    I appreciate any insight into this matter as I have searched the laws extensively and have found no clear answer.

Leave a Comment