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Pennsylvania Knife Laws

Pennsylvania Knife Laws
Seal of The State of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania knife statutes are short and lacking in clear definitions. In order to determine what the pa knife laws are, one must look at Court decisions, or case law. This article takes the statutes and the case law and puts it in a clear and organized manner that anyone can understand.

What is Legal to Own

  • It is legal to own Bowie knife
  • It is legal to own a Balisong, or butterfly knife
  • It is legal to own a penknife
  • It is legal to own a concealed knife, such as in a lipstick or belt buckle
  • It is legal to own any kind of hunting knife

What is Illegal to Own

There is something called the “CURIO EXCEPTION” in Pennsylvania which refers to the concept that you can technically own any knife you want, but you have to make a good argument for your purpose in owning the knife.  In other words, if you own a 25-inch sword or switchblade, you must make a compelling case that you own it for “lawful” purposes like theatrical purposes, or as a display in a showcase in your home, etc.  If you cannot offer a compelling case, you may be in violation of the law.   In fact, there is a case of one dude carrying a sword and when he showed up in court, he told everyone that he had just bought it and was bringing it home.  The court didn’t buy it and he was officially charged.   You see, if your weapon is readily available to use quickly and easily, then you can’t use the curio exception argument.  If you buy a knife for “curio” reasons, it must be packaged in a way that does not allow you to use it on anyone quickly and easily.  My thoughts???!  Just stay the frig away from freaky things like switchblades, gravity knives and knuckle-busters.  I’m into knives, but I’m not an anarchist looking to “stick it to the man”.  I appreciate most cops and have a respect for the law even if I don’t always agree 100% with it.

Limits on Carry

  • It is legal to open or conceal carry any hunting knife
  • It is legal to open or conceal carry any knife that does not open automatically and has a lawful purpose
  • It is ILLEGAL to open or conceal carry any knife fitting the definition of “Prohibited offensive weapons”
  • It is ILLEGAL to carry any knife onto the grounds of any K – 12 school in PA, as well as courthouse buildings.

What is a Restricted Knife?

Any knife ‘the blade of which is exposed in an automatic way by a switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or otherwise,’ is restricted. 

If you’d like to stay away from legal problems as much as possible, my opinion is that you stay away from “restricted knives”.  Don’t freak on me, that’s just MY OPINION!

What the Law States

There are several statutes that pertain to knife ownership and conduct.

  1. Possession of weapons on school properties – 18 Pa. CSA § 912
  2. Possessing instruments of crime – 18 Pa. CSA § 907
  3. Prohibited weapons – 18 Pa. CSA § 908
  4. Possessing a dangerous weapon or firearm in a court building – 18 Pa. CSA § 913

§ 908.  Prohibited offensive weapons.

Any dagger, knife, razor or cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or otherwise, . . . or other implement for the infliction of serious bodily injury which serves no common lawful purpose.

“no common lawful purpose”

This phrase basically refers to the idea that if you are carrying a knife that fits a purpose for which you could conceiveably need or use that knife realistically, and that purpose is lawful (ie. carrying a small, folding pocket knife while fishing, camping, carving wood in your back yard, etc.) then you’re good.  If you are carrying 4 switchblades and a sword in a sketchy neighborhood late at night with a very purposeful, intense walk and stare, then the odds are that your purpose in carrying those knives is not “lawful”, so you’d likely be arrested.

(a)  Offense defined. –A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if, except as authorized by law, he makes repairs, sells, or otherwise deals in, uses, or possesses any offensive weapon….

“Offensive weapons.” –Any bomb, grenade, machine gun, sawed- off shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches, firearm specially made or specially adapted for concealment or silent discharge, any blackjack, sandbag, metal knuckles, dagger, knife, razor or cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or otherwise…… or other implement for the infliction of serious bodily injury which serves no common lawful purpose…..

Implements to Inflict Bodily Injury and Common Lawful Purpose Defined

In 1975, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, set forth a “circumstances-of-the-possession” test, in Commonwealth v. Gatto, in order to determine if a weapon had a common lawful purpose. Mr. Gatto was arrested for having a thirty-inch knife during the early morning hours in the downtown area of Scranton. The Court held that the knife was an implement for the infliction of bodily injury, which served no common lawful purpose. In its ruling, the Court stated: “Had appellant been on a journey  through the tropical rain forests of South America, attempting to travel by foot from Bogota, Colombia to Caracas, Venezuela it could then be reasonably concluded that a thirty-inch knife had a common lawful purpose; but appellant was in a high crime urban area of Scranton.”

Four years later, in Commonwealth v. Ashford, the Court state that Gatto should not be construed as setting forth a circumstances-of-the-possession test for determining whether a weapon served a common lawful purpose, saying the test had no place in determining whether there had been a violation of weapons possession code. Shortly after Ashford, in Commonwealth v. Fisher, the Supreme Court held that on a charge possessing or carrying a prohibited offensive weapon, the circumstances-of-the-possession test was inappropriate in determining whether the weapon served a common lawful purpose.

In 1980, in Commonwealth v. Artis, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed Mr. Artis’ conviction for possession of a prohibited weapon was reversed because the trial court improperly applied the circumstances of the possession test when determining whether the knife served a common lawful purpose. The knife was a folding knife, which Mr. Artis testified he purchased at a sporting goods store, to use for hunting and fishing. Therefore, it did not matter under what circumstances he possessed it, as it had a common lawful purpose.

More recently, in 1996, in the case of Commonwealth v. Karlson, the Court concluded that Mr. Karlson did not violate the prohibited offensive weapon statute when he sold four “Cobra” knives to an undercover police officer. The Court held that in order to convict Mr. Karlson, the state was required to offer evidence that the knives served no common lawful purpose. It said that unless they were specifically outlawed, knives were not objects of a criminal nature that were prohibited under the prohibited weapons statute.

Conversely, in 2007, in Commonwealth v. Alvarez, Mr. Alvarez’s possession of a two and a half foot long medieval-type battle-ax with a blade that was almost 10-inches long was held to be within the definition of a weapon that did not have a common lawful purpose.

Conclusion on Pennsylvania Knife Laws

It is legal to open or conceal carry any type of knife in Pennsylvania other than those which fall into the category of “prohibited offensive weapon”.  It is legal to own nearly any knife as long as you can convince either a police officer or a judge that you own it for “lawful purposes” under the “curio” exception.


  • 18 P.S. § 4416 (2013)
  • Commonwealth v. Gatto, 344 A.2d 566 (1975)
  • Commonwealth v. Ashford, 397 A.2d 420 (1979)
  • Commonwealth v. Fisher, 400 A.2d 1284 (1979)
  • Commonwealth v. Karlson, 674 A.2d 249 (1996)
  • Commonwealth v. Artis, 418 A.2d 644, (1980)
  • Commonwealth v. Alvarez, 935 A.2d 3, (2007)

*updated August 2019


  1. Most recently in Commonwealth-v-Aultman 6049-2011, the District Attorney of Delaware County withdrew the charge of P.O.W. under Pennsylvania Law and RETURNED the 13″ knife to Mr. Aultman. It seems that the 13″ hunting knife Mr. Aultman was carrying in the sheath was completely LEGAL.

    • God doesn’t make the rules. Man does. I’m forever suspicious of anyone who tells me anything is a product of their god.

      • So your saying that there is no right to protect your life if I a man says so. When I see you in the streets you better be on your knees face down in the dirt when I a man walks by. How do you like the laws of man know, Suspicious Servent?? History never teaches the ignorant anything.

    • As annoying as the whole “god given right” thing is… the US Constitution as well as the the PA constitution do use the phrasing “god given right”

      Whether “god given” or not, it is the responsibility of every living creature to defend it self and it’s kin with force if necessary regardless of any government sanction.

    • While it’s not a god given right, it is a constitutional right of American citizens. God bless America. but you protect yourself!!! STREET RULES

  2. It’s important to remember that Philly has its own ordinance on knives which pretty much outlaws carrying one unless you need it for work.
    Philadelphia Code §10-820. Cutting Weapons in Public Places.

    (1) Definition.

    Cutting Weapon. Any knife or other cutting instrument which can be used as a weapon that has a cutting edge similar to that of a knife. No tool or instrument commonly or ordinarily used in a trade, profession or calling shall be considered a cutting weapon while actually being used in the active exercise of that trade, profession or calling.

    (2) Prohibited Conduct. No person shall use or possess any cutting weapon upon the public streets or upon any public property at any time.

    (3) Penalty. The penalty for violation of this section shall be a fine of not less than three hundred (300) dollars and imprisonment of not less than ninety days.

  3. Automatic knives illegal to carry, yes…but own, I don’t think so under (b) as a curio collector

    Pennsylvania – Pa. C.S.A. 18.908. Prohibited offensive
    weapons. (a) Offense defined.–A person commits a
    misdemeanor of the first degree if, except as authorized
    by law, he makes, repairs, sells, or otherwise deals in,
    uses, or possesses any offensive weapon. (b) Exception.–
    It is a defense under this section for the defendant to
    prove by a preponderance of evidence that he possessed of
    dealt with the weapon solely as a curio or in a dramatic
    performance, or that he possessed it briefly in
    consequence of having found it or taken it from an
    aggressor, or under circumstances similarly negativing any
    intent or likelihood that the would be used unlawfully.
    (c) Definition.–As used in this section “offensive
    weapon” means… any… dagger, knife, razor or cutting
    instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an automatic
    way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or

  4. You are allowed to own any knife at all. If you carry a switch blade and it is the only one that you own, you are in big trouble. If you have 20 of them in various types and would rather chew the throat out of an attacker than desecrate the knife with blood or a sharpening, you are safe. Knife collecting is a great hobby. You may carry a knife that is considered ‘assisted’, not an automatic. Considering how strong a folder has to be, I wouldn’t want to carry a switch blade. My Twitch is great for me.
    Be careful of blade size. That can get you in trouble.

    • Heartcall disagrees with Emmett (Heartcall posted above)

      ” And finally, the “dagger” part refers only to automatic knives. “dagger, knife, razor or cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or otherwise.” An ordinary fixed blade dagger is not an offensive weapon, except to the degree (if any) it constitutes an “implement for the infliction of serious bodily injury which serves no common lawful purpose.” “

    • from what i get from all the research that i have done as long as its single edged its fine i guess. i have not found any length restrictions. but would you get in trouble for carrying it i would say most likely. tho im intrigued as to how the hell your carrying a full length katana (that im assuming you conceal)

      • well yes, I do carry a full length katana….most of the time it’s concealed, but other times it’s hanging from my waste or on my back. So far what I heard, is that it’s legal as long as your not using it for anything illegal #logic

      • what in pennsylvania is considered a hunting knife. i have a blade that i carry that i did use for huting. it has a deer antler handle. it has not been used for huting purposes in a long time. would this be considered a hunting knife?

        • The only knives which are prohibited by law are switchblades, knives with brass knuckles attached (because brass knuckles themselves are illegal), and any “other implement for the infliction of serious bodily injury which serves no common lawful purpose.” As long as it’s not one of those 3 things, it should be perfectly legal. Classifications like “pocket knife” or “hunting knife” only serve to illustrate that a particular knife serves a common lawful purpose. As long as you can realistically use it for hunting, it will most likely be considered to serve a common lawful purpose as a “hunting knife.”

          • Thank you for this comment, I’ve been carrying around a brass knuckle knife for a good year now. Glad no one has tried me, because I don’t need that kind of trouble with the law for using that.

  5. Incorrect information all over the place here. It’s legal to own non-NFA “offensive weapons” for collection purposes, but illegal to carry them. The defense subsection specifically states that collection is legal, as long as it’s not an NFA item. Transporting NFA weapons is also legal as long as circumstances show that you did not intend to use the weapon in a crime, with specific examples including finding one lying around, or disarming an attacker. Note that all convictions are against people who were carrying very large knives in public, none against private collectors. And the “dagger” part refers only to automatic knives. “dagger, knife, razor or cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or otherwise”

    • Can you show me where it says the bit about having a concealed carry allowing you to carry other offensive weapons. I am interested.

      • It doesn’t state it explicitly, only implies it. http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/LI/consCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&ttl=18&div=0&chpt=9&sctn=8&subsctn=0

        (b)(3) This section shall not apply to any person who makes, repairs, sells or otherwise deals in, uses or possesses any firearm for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.

        “[O]therwise deals in, uses or possesses any firearm” is an incredibly wide-open clause, but like I said in the first post, I’m unaware of anyone testing it in court. As the law is currently written, simply possessing a legal firearm renders you exempt from the restrictions on offensive weapons (except for grenades, bombs, and incendiary devices, as the ban on those is pretty well set in stone). It LOOKS like the intention is to allow concealed firearm permit holders to carry other weapons (especially blackjacks, tasers, and other less lethal implements), but that’s just speculation. As it’s written, simply possessing a firearm should get you off the hook. You just need a really good lawyer to set that precedent.

    • I am an attorney, and I saw the same thing…. I have never in 22 years ever seen someone arrested for an auto… and have never seen someone with a permit charged…. but the law does have the exception…..

    • Funny trivia: I have a friend in Denmark, and they have very strict laws about weapons, including pocketknives. However, battle axes are completely unrestricted because there’s no way to legally define the difference between a battle axe and a wood-cutting axe.

  6. As much as I read about gun laws (especially prior to travel), I never really considered restrictive knife legislation. My wife and I are both “Preppers”. We keep a Get Home Bag in our vehicles at all times. Part of these survival kits are saw-back machetes. I don’t see them addressed here. So, if I get pulled over in Scranton, PA, will the cops say that I have no need for a machete because I’m not in the jungle? Scary!

    • Stiletto is an automatic knife. You press a button and it opens (via the spring). So yes stilettos are illegal in PA to own, carry!, or use. The word automatic was actually specifically added to cover stilettos.

    • Dear Ted,
      “automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or otherwise…” is clearly spelled out above as illegal in pa. Regardless of types and styles of blades if it is a spring mechanism it is illegal as well.

    • Pennsylvania classifies a dagger style blade as a blade with 2 cutting edges so if the stelletto has 2 cutting edges it would be classified as a prohibited deadly weapon under statute 18 section 2 part 3 of the criminal code but in some juristicions the law officials have a test to determine if the knife in question has a lawful purpose which could pose issues

    • “the blade of which is exposed in an automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or otherwise…”
      Noted in the article as the text of the LAW.

    • One thing this website gets wrong is that its not illegal to own anything (other than I believe a ballistic knife [ie the blade shoots away from the handle]). You’re legally allowed to own brass knuckles, stillettos, switchblades, blackjacks, daggers etc. as long as they are for “curio”. As long as you leave it in your house and don’t carry it as a weapon, you’re safe.

  7. If I owned a business, an sold autos would it be a crime? I know you can get autos disassembled (knife separate) . but once put together in PA ,then its illegal correct?

    • Autos are perfectly legal to sell and own in PA(Collectors), but you cannot carry them, unless you are a LEO or a first responder. Military personnel are also exempt when on duty. Same goes for daggers/dirks.

    • The police officer that I talked to said he thinks a karambit would be fine, as long as it doesn’t have two retention holes for your fingers or isn’t double-bladed. Remember that brass knuckles are illegal, but one retention ring isn’t considered to be a brass knuckle. Basically any double-edged knife could possibly be misconstrued as a dirk, or dagger.

      I think the bottom line is if you’re not causing trouble, and you’re respectful to the police officers talking to you, then they probably won’t harass you if you have one of the smaller self-defense karambits. I think the mistake people make is they start giving cops attitude; then they’ll look for any excuse to give you grief.

  8. Some errors here.

    It is illegal to own a dagger
    It is illegal to own any automatic knife
    It is illegal to own a sword cane
    It is illegal to own any implement for the infliction of bodily injury, which serves no “common lawful purpose”

    All of the above are completely legal to own as a collector, they just cannot be carried. Collecting these edged odjects are a “common lawful purpose”. As a LEO, first responder or military personnel (on duty for military), you can carry an auto knife. Daggers are sold all over PA, and I did confirm with the CLEO here in Berks county, that they are perfectly legal to own. Just don’t get caught carrying any of them, regardless of whether you have a LTCF or not.

    Philly is the ONLY place in PA where it is illegal to carry any knife.

  9. It’s important to remember in PA that there are State laws and municipal laws. I live close to the line of Franklin County and Cumberland County and knives that are perfectly legal in Franklin are NOT legal for carry in Cumberland. I can carry a Kershaw assisted opening knife in some areas but in other areas get arrested by local cops for it. I read about folks being arrested all the time over small Kershaws and similar knives. To be safe in PA in general, keep the blade 3″ or smaller and don’t carry assisted opening knives.

  10. As far as PA goes, yes, assuming that it is not a dagger (double edge). However, I believe that Philadelphia does have local laws that prohibit the carry of knives in public unless they are required for your trade. So it sounds like you might be out of luck for knives.

  11. what kind of offense is this if you’re caught carrying an automatic knife with only like a 2.5 inch blade. I was considering purchasing the Smith & Wesson extreme ops automatic somethin. I just feel that an automatic would be the best way to go for me incase I’m ever put in a situation where I need to defend myself.

    • I was wondering the same thing. I carry a 3 inch extreme ops automatic opening knife with serrated teeth for self defence, as I currently cannot afford a gun. Since the law says that it is illegal only if it serves “no common lawful purpose,” is self defense then considered an unlawful purpose?

  12. Was wondering if a lighting double action knife was illegal to carry. Not sure what it’s classified as. Thanks

  13. Assisted open knives open as fast as automatics. Hunting knives are already open and ready. Guns can be carried in Philly with a permit. Why on earth hasn’t PA dropped those silly, archaic switchblade restrictions?

  14. Anyone know the specifics on double edged knives I’m thinking of getting a fixed blade but I’m not sure on the regulations on them

  15. It really is shame full that something as simple as an automatic knife that may save your life or a family member’s life or Joe the plumber, in this day and age is illegal. The pro is you don’t have to fumble to open it when time counts. An AR can be sold to someone on a fed watch list! This law was introduced so LEO can make an arrest for “bad people” when something else wont stick. So I have been told by LEO vets. And god bless all of our public responders including the boys in blue.
    So an auto knife really does have a common law full purpose… an argument if used to help sustain life!

    Contact your local state rep

  16. What about the fox 599 karambit is that illegal to own or carry? It has a notch on the blade which can snag on on the pocket for one hand depoylent?

    • Your son should be allowed to carry a knife in PA as long as it follows the laws listed above. I am a scout and when I was 13 I carried a simple pocket knife, now I’m 17 and I carry a Kbar Bowie knife. It’s state legal and having the knowledge of how to handle a knife correctly was a good skill for me to learn at a young age.

  17. Can a minor carry a knife legally? If so, what about ccw or a length restriction? Would i need permission from my local police department, or a judge? Regardless of legality, i will still carry a knife, but if it is legal, i will be less wary of police.

  18. The dumbest thing I ever heard was I can carry a loaded pistol open or concealed, but can’t carry an automatic knife. These are stupid laws that highlight the ignorance of the governing body. Some day I’ll move from this state and move where there are less taxes and less bureaucracy.

  19. Butterfly knives in pa are legal to carry after the court case of the commonwealth v Myles before this case butterfly knifes were classified under gravity knives in pa after this court case the reclassified that knife under the non prohibited deadly weapons law which made it legal to own and carry

  20. I bought an automatic stilettto from an army navy store in State College. How was he able to sell those in his store if they’re illegal to even own in PA?

  21. I practice Japanese swordsmanship with a real sword.

    I am also of Scots ancestry, so when I wear my scottish attire, it includes a traditional dirk and boot knife.

    All of these are normally open, visible. I carry them either to practice and instruct Japanese martial arts, or to attend ethnic events, some of which require full proper attire.

    Are thes activities “lawful?”

  22. What about at a Dr office,I recently had a nurse physically take my pocket knife and then made me sign a paper stating if I brought another knife in that I would be immediately kicked out. Oh yea I was 5′ from the exit omw out.

  23. Why do these laws exist today. Theres no news that surrounds any type of knife violence but non-stop gun violence. Plus I have never heard someone getting arrested for having a certain type of blade. My personal opinion all knives should be legal. The only time it should be illegal is when used to attack( dont mistake that for self defense).

  24. So it legal to own a bowie knife. Now is it legal to open carry the knife. The knife is custom made. I’m a blacksmith so it’s a big single edge blade like 15 inches overall. Any ideas?

  25. I carry a apache tac 1 folder the blade 3.5 in manual open does the size of the blade make any difference for instance 5.5 in blade folder flipper

  26. At the begining of this article it lists knives that are illegal to own, but later alludes that they can be owned, but not carried outside of home. Very confusing to have two conflicting statements. I own certain bladed weapons that would be illegal to carry, I somewhat of a collector. I collect those weapons I can afford.

  27. What about a straight, single edged saber used for a cosplay? Unsharpened, and in sheathe, secured to the hip with a sword frog?

  28. So it says it is Illegal to own a “sword cane” but it says nothing about swords so is it legal to own a sword?

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  30. Where does PA laws say you cant carry a dagger? The law states daggers along with other knives and razors as not legal when they are automatic types. Does not say you cant have them or carry them.

  31. Also id like to add that a “common lawful purpose” is self defense. And the way the law reads it describes blackjacks, sandbags, metal knuckles along with daggers, knives, razors as illegal if automatic. Why are so many of you picking out daggers as illegal in the law? Why not the “knives” part then? Or razors?

  32. I am a collector of fantasy swords, medieval axes etc. and never leave the house with them. So even though I buy them in PA., They are illegal to own???

  33. I have an dog spirit. Is it legal to be carried if I’ve sharpened the other side of the blade or would it be considered a dagger at this point?

  34. I am ordering a stealth katana, and two throwing knives from amazon. Since the katana is not a sword came, and the throwing knives are not assisted would it be legal. They have a sheath that loops onto a waist belt. If I could get some help, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

  35. Philadelphia has a zero knife law. In the city of Philadelphia it is illegal to carry any kind of knife in public, open or concealed, unless it is for the purpose of a trade. Like in a tool box or belt.

  36. Technically a karambit is considered a combat knife, so most law enforcement will not see it as having a common lawful purpose.

  37. These laws are all unjust laws, we have the right to keep and bear arms, which shall not be infringed, the 2nd does not say the right to keep and bear guns shall not be infringed but arms.

  38. I would say that a karambit knife would follow the guidelines of a legal knife. It is not automatic or spring assisted, nor is it 20 inches long. In the guidelines it says that it is legal to eat and conceal carry a knife that is frame locked. Hope you have a good day

  39. why not a broad sword in a sheath like a viking unless its out trying to harm someone whats the problem like a gun always have a gun on me never had to use it but once but always have it i think swords would be safer and it would boost the economy cause people would want to learn how to sword fight so sword fighting schools would open

  40. What if you have a concealed carry weapons permit? You can carry two 45s and extra magazines, but not an automatic knife?

  41. I have a MTech USA Xtreme MX-8054 Fixed Blade Tactical Knife, Black Tanto Blade, Black G10 Handle, 11-Inch would I be able to carry that with me or what I need a license for that to carry it.

  42. Is it illegal to carry a fixed blade the blade is 5 & a half inches long. From the handle to the tip of the blade it measures 11 inches

  43. Now i know it’s illegal to conceal or open carry a knife with brass knuckles on it, but is is illegal to own one just for a collection? My buddy has 2 brass knuckle knives in his collection and he told me it was fine to own for a collection. Is this true?

  44. I believe daggers are legal as long as they are not automatic. dagger, knife, razor or cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or otherwise. If daggers are illegal then so are knives and razors as I believe it is part of the clause where it is affected by the automatic opening statue. Whoever, wrote these laws are idiots, at least make them clear.

  45. I notice that the Queen Cutlery Co. of Titusville, PA, near Erie, is now manufacturing a new version of the Schatt & Morgan John Henry Express automatic knife. Then I see above that the PA regulations address carrying a knife (or not), but not manufacturing them. The two usually go together, in that automatic knives are mostly produced in states where carry is legal. What’s the story on the John Henry Express auto?

  46. So I was at a gun show and a guy was sell automatic knifes. I said I thought they were illegal in PA. He said not if your a military, law enforcement or a first responder. I want know for sure as a firefighter can I own and carry one? If yes what are the limitations on own it in my case.

  47. Are Karambits illegal in PA? It’s stated that “It is illegal to own any implement for the infliction of bodily injury, which serves no “common lawful purpose””, but is not self defense a “common lawful purpose” even though such knives are for “the infliction of bodily injury”? That “common lawful purpose” line adds real confusion.

  48. These ‘laws’ for PA seem somewhat vague and up to a police officers discretion as to what constitutes “illegal” . Other than a Collector, what good is owning one unless you can carry it as a defensive weapon?

    At what length does a knife become illegal to carry , or have in your possession (vehicle).


  49. His push dagger with 2.5 inch blade illegal in P.A., but open state on firearms & with permit to carry firearm concealed.

  50. Is an automatic, “blunt tip knife” illegal to be possessed by an emergency responder (firefighter, EMT/Paramedic, other Rescue such as ropes or water) in Pennsylvania such as the Benchmade Auto Triage Family of knives.

  51. Spring assist knives are legal as for they are considered as manual open spring assistance or gravity opening knives. Spring assisted knives use inertia to open 1/4 of the way. 1/4 on opening, 1/2 spring motion, 1/4 inertia from the blades natural weight. It is not a stilletto unless it is deployed automatically by use of a switch or mechanical operations. Even knives such as “magic assisted opening knives” fall under the category of spring assist not switch blade or automatic opening knives.. this was and still is a common misconception that many law Enforcement officials still get wrong and there fore if property would be confiscated is it considered as an illegal seizure of property.

  52. Does PA law define “automatic knife?” I carry a Benchmade knife that has a thumb stud with assisted opening. I do so because of the arthritus in my hands that makes it very difficult to open the bladed fully without the assist. This is an EDC instrument and my backup defensive weapon in places that do not allow me to carry a firearm.

  53. I walk around Philly with my blade on my hip all the time. It’s a Chokuto style which s really similar to a katana, only ever been questioned by police once.

  54. I’m a over the road truck driver and I recently bought the newest Gerber Strongarm tactical grey with the bdz1 steel as a utility knife (I pull flatbed) and for self defense. Am I playing Russian roulette by wearing that on my belt just in case? I do look at this each time I go into a different state to see what the laws are.

  55. Okay, how about a Smith & Wesson single bladed “dagger” looking knife?
    I know a dagger is a knife with a blade on both sides but this only has a sharpened blade on one side of the knife.
    Is it legal to carry this concealed? Or will it still be considered a dagger?

  56. I’m a truck driver I carry knives folding only. Nut they are spring assist where in va cam I not carry and is there a length.

  57. It is traditional to wear a dirk and a squian dubh as part of the uniform of a performer in a Scottish bagpipe band. Are those now illegal?

  58. I just read the PA Regulation in section 908. It seems to me that the regulation exempts anyone who legally owns a firearm for legal purposes. So, I legally own a skeet shotgun and use it legally for shooting skeet, therefore I am exempt from this regulation and can own a switch blade knife.

    Read the regulation carefully and let me know if I have misunderstood the regulation as written:



    908. Prohibited offensive weapons.

    (b) Exceptions.–

    (3) This section shall not apply to any person who makes, repairs, sells or otherwise deals in, uses or possesses any firearm for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.

  59. Sooooo….are palm knives or karambits legal to conceal or no??? Or is this a “depends on where you live” deal.

  60. In the factory I used to work in, here in PA, you wore your fishing license if you wanted to use a longer knife, to cut the cloth. It was a textile mill. It was quite a while ago.

  61. http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/04/what_kind_of_knives_can_you_le.html

    Conversation with at State Cop. There is nothing stating double edge of anything. Daggers are completely legal, so long as you are not using them for Illegal purposes.

    Good summary:

    Generally though, if it is federal legal, it’s PA legal. This sums it up to Automatic Knives (switchblade), Gravity Knives, and Ballistic Knives.

    • About removing the blade. You may be able to drill out the pivot point and remove blade. But how about just dulling the blade and pointy bits? Use a grinder files and sand paper to round over the edges and point.

  62. I know it states that it is legal to “own” a Bowie Knife, but what about as far as conceal/open carry goes? I do a lot of hiking so for example, if I go on a hiking trail in the woods, am I allowed to Conceal/Open carry a Bowie Knife? Can I Conceal/Open carry one in the city? Being even more specific, am I allowed to have it in my car or glove compartment on the way to the hiking destination? I just want to be sure on what locations, if any, are legal to carry one.

    • The law states that it is illegal to carry a cane sword. What does the law say about other types of swords. I am a practitioner of martial arts. What does the law say if I’m stopped for a traffic violation and have a katana laying on the backseat of my car? I do have a Firearms carry permit if that makes any difference.

  63. I carry a 13 inch hunting knife I live outside of pittsburgh.what I I had to perform self defense how should I go about it so that I don’t get arrested in a situation where I need to protect my life and my family??

    • Hey Jess;
      As always, I’m not a lawyer so you should only take legal counsel from a Pennsylvania attorney. However, I couldn’t find anything that says machetes are illegal to own or carry. Only automatic opening knives, daggers and any sharp instrument which is made specifically to cause harm to someone (especially in a stealthfully sneaky way). That said, if you walk around with a machete on your belt in an area you would not ever normally need one (like a doctor’s office or grocery store), don’t be surprised if you are confronted by the authorities.

    • I’d but I was checking on a possible rabid raccoon with my machete in hand to protect me in case it dexcited to come at me. Then a cop pulls up and now I’m getting a bit nervous holding it as I’m in the street with it. I can’t remember if we called him or he just happened to come by as I was holding it but they didn’t really warn me or anything so I guess I was in the clear lol. Talk about nerve-wracking moment… As I’m writing this is believe we called because it climbed up a telephone pole and we called them because it got zapped and was making strange noises but it was still daytime soo… I guess things could have been much worse if we didn’t call. This was in PA just to clarify. Hope you all enjoy this little story.

  64. It is absolutely legal tonowb a sword cane and dagger. It is also 100% legal to carry them openly or concealed. There has NEVER been any law or ruling otherwise. Also it is NOT illegal to OWN a prohibited offensive weapon. It is ONLY illegal to CARRY them. You guys really need to doible check your posts with an attorney before spreading misinformation.

  65. I just got a Timber Rattler Scarab Giant Pocket Knife. It has an 8 inch blade. The knife is 9 inches when closed, and 17 inches total when opened. Even though it is technically a “pocket” knife which, despite it’s rare size, can still fit in certain pockets, are there any blade length laws in Pennsylvania that would prohibit you from carrying this particular unique pocket knife?

    • Hey Jay;
      Thanks for the question. Just to be clear, I’m not a lawyer and I’m not allowed to give you “offiial” info which can only come from a legal professional in Pennsylvania, or a Police officer. To give you my take on your issue, I know that Police look at the issue of intent. If the implement in question appears to have no legal use other than to hurt people (throwing stars and brass knuckles) then it is not legal to carry them. Other knives fit the definition of deadly weapon (ballistic knives, daggers, etc.) would not be legal to carry. Exactly where the Timber Rattler fits is a question to be answered by local police authorities. To be safe, I wouldn’t carry it around, and if I need to use it on special occasions (wilderness camping, etc.) I would bring it on those occasions where you could make an argument to the authorities that you’ll need it in the backcountry. Those are just my thoughts.

  66. My 15 yr. Old son wants to have a knife. I am not keen on this due to age. Is there a
    Law that states how old you can be to purchase a knife in PA? My 15 yr. Told me he can buy 1 @ Walmart. How long is it allowed to be in he were able to purchase & carry a knife? He say a 4″ blade. If he is allowed 2 have it is there a restriction on the type of knife if allowed.

  67. I want to start carrying a hatchet on a belt because i am moving to a rural area and need it on hand for cutting firewood and the like would i get in trouble for going into town with a hatchet attached to me? I was thinking full axe but as someone listed above apparently someone got in trouble for that.

  68. Is a hunting axe leagal?
    Any comments and or legal advice be helpful. Currently, its attached to my person by way of belt and leather holster.

    • Butterfly knives, switchblade knives, knuckle dusters, gravity knives…these ARE ALL legal in PA as curios. You can own them, but cannot carry them. I own several of all these devices, and sell them at the gun shop I work at. Please take more care in your research. Bad information is worse then no information.

  69. I am so relieved I can carry my machete…or my ax…when I leave the house. And that I can keep my son and myself safe. I will save this to my homepage for quick reference.
    Y’all are awesome. ?

  70. You can carry a pistol with the sole intent of self defense but to carry a knife you must intend it to be used for other purposes or else it is illegal. If that is the case, I’ll leave my knife at home and take my pistol. It’s ok to shoot an aggressor in pa, just dont cut them.

    • You hit it on the head! Just carry a gun because heaven forbid you carry a picket knife lol our laws are twisted! We need change in our goverments and its state laws common people use your heads! U think they do this with knives because anyone can buy them wuthout a back ground check. So they have AGAIN CONTROL OF YOU!

    • If you had read this full post you’d see that PA’s Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the intent of the person carrying the knife doesn’t matter.

      See: (“…in Commonwealth v. Fisher, the Supreme Court held that on a charge possessing or carrying a prohibited offensive weapon, the circumstances-of-the-possession test was inappropriate in determining whether the weapon served a common lawful purpose.”)

      So you can, for instance, carry a concealed fixed bladed hunting knife at 3 in the morning in a bad neighborhood for whatever reason you want, since it has a commonly accepted lawful purpose (hunting). If you were carrying a balisong in the same circumstances you could probably be charged.

  71. I would caution that philadelphia has it’s own statutes on this, and it is literally illegal to carry ANY bladed cutting instrument of any kind, up to and including scissors, unless you are ACTIVELY engaged in a lawful activity that requires them.

    • This is absolutely unreal. So it’s legal to carry a knife only when the need to use a knife arises. So until you need to cut something it’s illegal, but the second you have a rope that needs to be cut it’s legal but a law abiding citizen wouldn’t have a knife….

  72. So I’m still a little confused. Based on the wording, a fixed blade dagger is legal to carry, while a folding auto opening “dagger” is illegal. It also doesn’t specify as to whether this is considering single edge or double edge either. As far as I’m concerned, any knife has a primary use of cutting in a utilitarian manner, bodily harm is the secondary use of any blade, not including swords which are created with combat in mind. So to sum it up, I own a double edged fixed blade dagger with a short five inch blade. Is this an illegal weapon or a legal carry option? I know it’s legal to own as a knife collector, I’m curious as to it’s legality of open belt carry since it is a fixed blade and one cannot disprove without doubt that it is used for utilitarian purpose and not purposeful bodily harm.

    • Hi SurvivalMinded:
      As with any of our recommendations, we have to say that we can’t officially give you actionable legal advice (you can only get that from a legal professional in the state of PA), but as far as “unofficial” advice, I’d say you can carry the knife. However, as is the case with many knives (especially double-edged knives which are typically meant to cause maximum internal damage while minimizing the outward signs of that damage), you’ll get various jurisdictions (and especially different Police officers) who will interpret you, your situation and your circumstances in different ways. If you give the officer any reason to doubt your benign intentions for carrying the knife, you can be in some trouble. Because of this, even though something is technically legal, I tend to back off and make sure I’m doing nothing that even approaches the line between legal and illegal (even if I’m on the legal side of the that line – get too close to it and trouble can follow).
      That’s just my “unofficial” advice!
      Take care my friend,

    • Yes.
      Open and concealed is permitted.
      Only knives that are automatic or push button are illegal.
      Can use belt buckle knives, lipstick tubes.
      Swords must be proven why you need them and approved.

    • there is only three criteria that bans the carry of a knife.

      1. Automatic knives are illegal, assisted is not automatic.
      2. Daggers are illegal, daggers are sharpened on both sides.
      3. “no common lawful purpose”, the prosecution has to prove this. If you actually use the knife to perform working tasks, that is a lawful purpose regardless of size.

      It would be wise not to carry a large knife in an urban area unless you actually use it. If you are going to carry a large knife do not carry any type of a secondary cutting tool (pocket knife, razors, scissors, etc.).

      As long as your boot knife is not a dagger it is legal.

  73. So is it legal to carry a 18” machete at the age of 16 under the idea of I’m going to get wood for a campfire as long as it’s in it’s sheath within my backpack and tied up with a cloth?

    • So, I understand switchblades and spring open knives. But what about assisted open knives with the lever on the back that aren’t spring open? Are they legal to carry??

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