New Mexico Knife Laws

nmNew Mexico knife laws leave a lot to be desired, as they can be quite vague and difficult to locate and tie together. This article will tell you what the statutes, as well as the case law, say about owning and carrying knives, and explain what is legal and what is not in easy to understand language.

What is Legal to Own

What is Illegal to Own

What the Law States


New Mexico Statutes 30-7-8. Unlawful possession of switchblades

Whoever commits unlawful possession of switchblades is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
Note:  The court of appeals in NM has interpreted this statute to include butterfly knives as well.

§ 30-7-2.  Unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon

A. Unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon consists of carrying a concealed loaded firearm or any other type of deadly weapon anywhere, except in the following cases:

(1) in the person’s residence or on real property belonging to him as owner, lessee, tenant or licensee;
(2) in a private automobile or other private means of conveyance, for lawful protection of the person’s or another’s person or property;
(3) by a peace officer in accordance with the policies of his law enforcement agency who is certified pursuant to the Law Enforcement Training Act;
(4) by a peace officer in accordance with the policies of his law enforcement agency who is employed on a temporary basis by that agency and who has successfully completed a course of firearms instruction prescribed by the New Mexico law enforcement academy or provided by a certified firearms instructor who is employed on a permanent basis by a law enforcement agency; or
(5) by a person in possession of a valid concealed handgun license issued to him by the department of public safety pursuant to the provisions of the Concealed Handgun Carry Act…

The code allows for the carrying of a concealed deadly weapon if it is being carried by a peace officer, on property owned by the person carrying it, or in a private vehicle.

Deadly Weapon Defined

The definition of “deadly weapon” can be found in § 30-1-12, which provides that a deadly weapon is any firearm or weapon that is capable of producing death or great bodily harm. The statute then lists several specific types of weapons, including daggers, switchblade knives, bowie knives, poniards, butcher knives, and dirk knives. It also includes “all such weapons with which dangerous cuts can be given or with which dangerous thrusts can be inflicted” as well as any other weapons that can inflict dangerous wounds.

Definitions of Various Knives

New Mexico statute defines a switchblade knife as any knife with a blade that opens automatically by pressing a button, spring, or other device on the handle of the knife, or any knife with a blade that opens or falls into position by the force of gravity or by any outward or centrifugal thrust or movement (spinning the knife). In State v. Riddall, the New Mexico Court of Appeals found that a butterfly knife carried by Mr. Riddall, was within the definition of a switchblade, because both gravity and a centrifugal thrust opened the blade of the knife. In its decision, the Court said that it was of no legal significance that it required a combination of forces in order to operate the knife. It cited the California case of People v. Quattrone, wherein the Court there found that a knife with a spring activated sheath, which retracted into the handle was an automatic knife because it was of no legal significance that the handle was pulled away from the blade, rather than the other way around. Neither the New Mexico code nor the case law offers a definition of a dirk, dagger, stiletto, or any other type of knife.

Restrictions on Carry

  • It is illegal to conceal carry a dirk knife, poniard, or any type of dagger
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a bowie knife
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a switchblade
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a Balisong or butterfly knife
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a butcher knife
  • It is illegal to conceal carry any weapon which can cause dangerous wounds
  • It is legal to open carry any type of knife that is legal to own in New Mexico

Definition of Carrying a Concealed Weapon

The New Mexico legislature defined “carrying a deadly weapon” as being armed with a deadly weapon by having it on the person, or in close proximity thereto, so that the weapon is readily accessible for use. The Court found, in Butler v. Rio Rancho Public School Board of Education, that a knife in a vehicle parked in a school parking lot, driven to school by defendant student, constituted carrying a concealed weapon because the weapon was in close proximity to the driver’s seat and defendant had ready access to the car during the day. The statutes however, do not provide a definition of ‘concealed’ and neither does the case law.

Conclusion on New Mexico Knife Law

It is illegal to own any type of automatic knife, such as a switchblade or butterfly knife, in New Mexico.

It is illegal to conceal carry dirk knives, poniards, any type of dagger, bowie knives, switchblades, butterfly knives, butcher knives, or any other knife, which can cause dangerous wounds.

In New Mexico, you may carry any legal knife openly or in your vehicle.


  • N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-7-1 (2012)
  • N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-7-2 (2012)
  • N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-7-8 (2012)
  • N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-1-12 (2012)
  • State v. Riddall, 811 P.2d 576 (Ct. App. 1991)
  • People v. Quattrone, 260 Cal. Rptr. 44 (1989)
  • Butler v. Rio Rancho Pub. Sch. Bd. of Educ., 245 F. Supp. 2d 1203 (D.N.M. 2002)


  1. The 2009 case State v. Nick R. determined that pocket knives not explicitly named in the law (switchblades) are only deadly weapons if used as weapons. Meaning you can carry one of any size concealed, but if you threaten or injure someone with it, it counts as assault with a deadly weapon. This page is very misleading on pocket knives, and there’s a lot of misinformation in the comments, as well.

    1. Hey Bill;
      I appreciate the input. You got me thinking since I’m not the original writer of this article, so I did some research in the New Mexico State Statutes website. I poured over 30-7-2 and 30-7-8 and I still see it’s actually illegal to own a switchblade. What’s not illegal is to carry a pocket knife as long as you’re NOT involved in illegal activity [State vs. Nick R., 218 P.3d 868 (N.M. 2009)]. Otherwise, you’ll be in deep sh&*$t if you’re caught with a switchblade. Just to be sure I wasn’t way out to lunch on this, I checked out a couple of competitors’ sites like the American Knife and Tool Institute, and they also see the law for what it says (as I do), so for now, I’ll keep the article as is. That’s not to say that things won’t change and make my law overviews incorrect over time. I’ll try to keep on top of things as best I can.

    1. I am told by my police officer friend that in practice in New Mexico, 4″ is the maximum legal limit for a concealed blade. Also, in cases where a woman has defended herself with a concealed weapon that was not legal, such as a small handgun in her purse, law enforcement tends to turn a blind eye to the infraction. If your little blade was stuck in an assailant’s leg, they probably wouldn’t ask a lot of questions about whether you had taken it out of your purse or were carrying it openly.

    2. I would classify that as a custom sheath for a fixed blade weapon. It’s just a carry option you have.

  2. When did it become illegal to own a butterfly knife in NM? I used to carry one for several yrs. until one day it was stolen from my car , along with another knife, by a burger. A co worker and I did so and were proud of our profiencency with them.

    1. It looks like butterfly knives are included (as best we can tell) within the definition of restricted switchblades in NMS § 30-7-8. At least that’s what an appeals court has ruled so it’ll probably serve as precedent. To get more detailed info, please contact a law professional in the state of New Mexico since we are not an “official” authority.
      Thanks for the comment and question,

  3. My dad gifted me a 12 set of throwing knives, blade about palm length, single-edged, etc. Typical throwing knives. It had no clip, at most it has a hole on tue back for hanging on a panel nail or, ostensibly, a keychain/lanyard. Is there a way in which i could carry one with me as a walk around the more dangerous parts of town without violating the law? Is there any qualifications on length of blade which would allow a similar knife to be considered a utility/tool rather than a weapon?

  4. It is so ridiculously stupid that you can’t even own, let alone carry, balisongs and autos in NM. There is no realistic difference. I can pull out any of my flippers and deploy them as fast or faster than a balisong or auto. And frankly, if I’m going to stab someone or cut them up, neither of those knives is my first option. A nice long fixed blade (perfectly legal to own and carry here, by the way) would be my first choice to commit a knife crime were I so inclined. And yet I would like to carry a bali or auto for fun, but can’t LITERALLY because the bad guys on TV have those types of knives. Therefore the knives are evil and especially dangerous and should be outlawed. The illogical stupidity behind the legislation outlawing is mind boggling, and I mean that in the sincerest way possible. It’s enough to make me want to actually find a brick wall against which I bang my head repeatedly when I think about it long enough. It would be like trying to rid the US of Communists in the ’50s by outlawing AK-47s. We need to get these nonsensical restrictions repealed!

    1. 3 inch balisong is more dangerous than a 10 inch kitchen knife XD

    2. In my state the gun laws are more strict than the knife laws even though more people get stabbed here than shot. I don’t think these laws serve any purpose other than to make some cry babies feel better.

    1. I am not a lawyer, but a balisong trainer is not a knife. I could see an issue if it had a sharp point similar to a dirk in which it could be used to thrust into a person, but if it was rounded, no edge, then it is not a weapon.

    1. Yeah if you want to look like a dangerous dork you can

    1. Mostly I ask about tactical knife, which is considered pocket knife I guess.

    1. If you have a concealed carry license you can!

    2. Wrong! There is no concealed carry permit for knives in New Mexico. The cc permit concerns handguns only (revolver, semi-auto or derringer). If you have a legal knife, you have to carry it openly. The only exceptions are on your own property or vehicle.

  5. But does that mean that I can’t conceal carry a pocket knife? And by that I mean, putting a Buck folding knife or an Opinel into my pocket?

    1. It has been ruled by both Bernalillo and Sandoval county sheriff’s dept. that if the knife has a clip and is clipped to your pocket, with the clip being visable, you are not concealing the knife.

    2. But if it’s a traditional slipjoint or locking folder with no clip, what then? It’s not visible and can inflict dangerous wounds…

  6. “(2) in a private automobile or other private means of conveyance, for lawful protection of the person’s or another’s person or property;”‘

    “The Court found, in Butler v. Rio Rancho Public School Board of Education, that a knife in a vehicle parked in a school parking lot, driven to school by defendant student, constituted carrying a concealed weapon because the weapon was in close proximity to the driver’s seat and defendant had ready access to the car during the day.”

    I’m confused? Was it “unlawful” because he/she was a minor?

    1. It was unlawful because the court found that nothing stopped the student from entering his car during the school day and retrieving said knife.
      I believe this should be appealed because using this as the rule, this could mean that if you keep a firearm in your car concealed, which is legal in new mexico with or without a permit, and go to the post office where it is illegal to conceal carry, license or not, they could arrest and now charge you with carrying concealed in a post office because nothing could stop you from entering your car to retrieve said gun during your post office visit!

    2. The law I believe states that you can have the firearm in your vehicle on the post office, just you cannot have it on you once you leave the vehicle.

    3. I believe federal law states that you can have a firearm on post office property as long as it’s in your vehicle and that was the intention of the law so people who go hunting and then stop for mail didn’t become felons.

    4. I was trying to say that the ruling on Rio Rancho VS. Butler set precedent that because he had a knife in his parked car, that he had access to said knife which then made him guilty of concealed carry of a dangerous weapon. That being the case, one can also interpet the law to mean that if you park in a post office parking lot, leave you gun inside the car as required by law, you can NOW be charged the same as Butler because they can argue that you had ready access to your gun, thus you’d be guilty as Butler was of carrying a deadly weapon.

    5. As with all things, strange things happen once precedent is set. When they can turn to a previous ruling, it is just another tool for them to use against you, especially with an over zealous DA. If lawyers weren’t so tricky, then hiring good respertation wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Just ask Sam Bregman what his retainer is!

  7. In the “what the law states” section, the last part:
    “(5) by a person in possession of a valid concealed handgun license issued to him by the department of public safety pursuant to the provisions of the Concealed Handgun Carry Act…”
    is ignored.

    Can I carry a concealed deadly weapon of I have a concealed carry license?

  8. does this mean that I can open carry my bowie knife or is it still considered illegal?

  9. I would like to know to open carry a large knife into a bar

    1. No restriction to carry into a bar in knife law, however, since a firearm and a large knife are both considered “deadly weapons”, New Mexico concealed carry laws says that it is illegal to carry a gun into a bar that sells for consumption on site and is in fact a bar and,not a restaurant, which makes less then 50% of its profits from the comsumption of beer wine, compared to the food they serve.

  10. I would like to know if it is legal to open a bowie or any large knife into a bar

  11. I asked my neighbor, the Sheriff of this county, about NM knife laws. He confirmed the contents of this article. Regarding open carry, I asked if this wording means that I could put my machete on my hip and legally walk around town. He said yes. I love this state!

    1. But you can’t carry a pocket knife? Buddy come to Texas.

    2. Or Arkansas! Though Texas is the best. 😛

    3. For Real. What you going to do with a pocket knife. Dare you to strap on a 6″ Buck or any other knife over 5.5″ and go in public in Texas. Will get you a UCW Class A misdimenor. Oh yea and that includes having a fillet knife in your tackle box in your car. I could go on and on. Better to carry a gun in Texas than a knife. Remember “Don’t mess with Texas.”

    4. Only an insecure nutcase walking around with a sword and machete would walk around in public carrying open. Who are you trying to intimidate?You are making yourself an open target for assumptive misjudgment by all concealed carry licensed firearms owners.

    5. As of 2017 Texas has greatly relaxed their knife laws. Anything legal to own can be carried open or concealed as long as you’re 18 or older. As I recall, any type of knife or blade is legal, the only thing that might make one illegal is when it’s a “location restricted knife.” Anything under 5.5 inches can be carried pretty much anywhere by anyone. Over 5.5 inches can be carried by anyone over 18 pretty much anywhere except “restricted locations,” i. e. govt. buildings, schools, churches, etc. There is no restriction on carrying either openly or concealed. Anything legal to own (except the two mentioned above) can be legally carried by anyone over 18. Only Arizona has better knife laws than Texas in the Southwest.

  12. Very accurate. I am aware of the handgun laws and have reviewed knife laws. t

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