South Carolina Knife Laws

Peter Stec
April 20, 2021
SC

South Carolina has one of the least restrictive weapons laws when it comes to owning and carrying knives. The laws specifically mentioning knives is practically non-existent, and difficult to find. This article shows you the law and explains what it means in plain English.

What is Legal to Own

  • It is legal to own a switchblade
  • It is legal to own a Balisong, or butterfly, knife
  • It is legal to own a Bowie knife
  • It is legal to own a dirk, dagger, or other stabbing knife
  • It is legal to own a stiletto
  • It is legal to own a disguised knife, such as in a lipstick or belt buckle

What is Illegal to Own

  • It is legal to own any type of knife in South Carolina.

Restrictions on Carry

  • It is legal to conceal carry dirk
  • It is legal to conceal carry a switchblade knife
  • It is legal to conceal carry a Balisong, or butterfly knife
  • It is legal to conceal carry a Bowie knife
  • It is legal to conceal carry a stiletto

South Carolina law explicitly excludes “dirks” and “knives” from the conceal carry statute, unless they are used with the intent to commit a crime or in the furtherance of a crime. The conceal carry statute however, does cover, “any other type of weapon, device, or object which may be used to inflict bodily injury or death”. Thus, while it may begin legal to carry a dirk or knife concealed, if the carrier were found carrying concealed under certain circumstances, it might become illegal.

What the Law States

§ 16-23-460. Carrying concealed weapons; forfeiture of weapons.

(A) A person carrying a deadly weapon usually used for the infliction of personal injury concealed about his person is guilty of a misdemeanor, must forfeit to the county, or, if convicted in a municipal court, to the municipality, the concealed weapon, and must be fined not less than two hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not less than thirty days nor more than ninety days…..

…..(C) The provisions of this section also do not apply to rifles, shotguns, dirks, slingshots, metal knuckles, knives, or razors unless they are used with the intent to commit a crime or in furtherance of a crime.

Definition of Weapon

In 2008, the South Carolina legislature amended its definition of “weapon”, deleting “a knife with a blade over two inches long” from it. The definition now reads:

“weapon” means firearm (rifle, shotgun, pistol, or similar device that propels a projectile through the energy of an explosive), a blackjack, a metal pipe or pole, or any other type of device, or object which may be used to inflict bodily injury or death.

By deleting the phrase “knife with a blade over two inches long”, the legislature did not quite make it legal to carry a knife concealed, as the conceal carry statute specifically excludes knives as a weapon covered by it, unless the carrier uses the knife to commit a crime or in the furtherance of a crime.

Conclusion on South Carolina Knife Laws

It is legal to own or open carry any kind of knife in South Carolina. It is legal to conceal carry any type of knife, so long as you do not use the knife to commit or aid in the commission of a crime.

Sources

  • S.C. Code Ann. § 16-23-460 (2012)
  • S.C. Code Ann. § 16-23-405 (2012)
About The Author
Hey Knife Up gang! I'm Pete, and I'm just another man like you 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?

109 comments on “South Carolina Knife Laws”

  1. IS IT then legal to carry a sword of any type?, both in and out of case? on person as say over your shoulder and on your back?

  2. There is a specific size restriction in place for Richland County (Columbia) or there was around 2008. Not certain if the state law change takes priority or not.

  3. I have been trying to find out what the laws of Greenville City, Greenville County, Anderson County are. According to this what I’ve read there is no restrictions, but I’ve had others tell me in Law Enforcement there are restrictions. I’m confused, what is the length of the blade and how is it measured from what point of the blade.
    Any information will be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely;

    Joseph Loveland

  4. Hello, get you a Ka-Bar TDI carry knife. They are a wonderful protection knife and can be carried easy on the side. I ordered mine from Wal-Mart on their internet store.

    One of these and a back up knife that clips in the inside of pants is all the protection knives one would need. Still get your conceal weapons permit to carry a firearm.

    A knife should be a last resort, best have a firearm and try to back away from any threat and call the local law to handle the problem.

    If attacked and no way out. You will have to go for broke and stand your ground. Cheers

  5. In Greenville County you can conceal carry any knife you want to as long as it is 4 inches and under.

  6. One thing to note, is I wish every state was like S.C. in regards to the “no knife limit \ carry” laws. It’s the right way to be.
    Any type of knife is legal in S.C. as long as you are not carrying to commit a crime. There are some “local” knife length limit laws in certain counties that “could” be interpreted incorrectly as the main states laws “should” superseded the local ones. The other thing that should be posted here, I know somewhere in the S.C. laws it states that a knife can only be 2 inches (maybe less) if a person in on school grounds. Just be aware of that as well.

  7. Since exclusions include knives, shotguns, and metal knuckles. Is it then label to carry brass knuckles?

    1. Thats what im wondering im 14 and i wanted to start carrying a neck knife that has about a 3/4 inch blade but idk if i can

        1. Other than at locations which prohibit weapons in general such as public schools, some universities, hospitals, court rooms, etc. ANY law abidding legal resident (see link) of any age can possess and /or carry ANY length or design knife in SC concealed or not concealed as long as you are not threatening others with it or acting in malice. Read it all here: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t16c023.php

      1. You should be fine carrying any neck knife at your age as long as you are not threatening anyone with it or causing malice. The other thing is you want to make sure you aren’t carrying at any place where weapons are strictly prohibited, such as public schools, some universities, hospitals, court rooms, etc.

    2. You’re better off with a swiss army, or small locking pocket knife. Both of which are directly considered tools and should be explained as such. Do not say self defense to a law enforcer.

        1. No you don’t need a permit. It’s legal to carry or conceal carry any knife in SC as long as you are #1. A resident of this state. #2. You are not out to threaten or intentionally harm someone by malice.

    1. For sure, me and my 17 year old brother, I’m 15 bought 2 fixed blades at a Hunting place. Thanks, have a good day. Then again i guess it depends on the place.

  8. Hello All. Quick Question. This is my Gerber Gator knife. It’s a knife with a blade just over 3 inches, and a handle just under 5 inches long. It folds into a nylon sheath that has Velcro to keep the sheath closed. It than has a loop to attach to my belt. I just turned 17 on August of this year. So my questing to y’all is, Can I legally carry my knife for utility purposes in my State of South Carolina? Thanks to all who took the time to read this.

    1. I have a gerber fixed blade, I carry it everywhere.(Besides state owned property, Health facilities, Or schools Or anywhere where I shouldn’t.) As far as I know it’s legal. South Carolina is amazing.

    2. Real nice knife you got there Caleb. Yes you can carry that in SC without a problem. I live upstate SC and all my life have carried much bigger knives than that. Never had a problem.

  9. Sweet! I’m gonna start carrying my bowie knife (over 12 inches long) and maybe even a katana.. Ooh, or maybe my broadsword!

    1. How well has this gone? I have Katana myself But I was actually thinking more like a Shirasaya stick carry so I don’t look crazy.

    2. Hey the only problem is you have to open carry a Bowie knife and katana or broadsword. But that is also legal since they require you to open carry those. It would be illegal for you to conceal carry those knives

    3. I know this is an old post* but any item 12 inchs and under in sc “But to tip” is considered a knife and 12 inches and up is considered a sword in sc. Sword with a tool use* duct knife, machete, sod knife for example can not be open carried in public period. Can be used in public on a jobsite. Anything over 20 inchs has to have a special permit to carry in public. Such as for events, fairs, or ceremonial use. So no what your saying is not legal

    1. Have you had cub scout training or any adult teach you proper safe use??
      If not it’s still legal, I just don’t recommend it. But to each their own. Be safe.

    2. Perfectly fine just keep it in your pocket (clip out) don’t take it out to show your friends (don’t take it to school whatsoever) and tell police immediately when stopped and you’re good

    3. You probably got an answer already senescing how it’s 4 years later and your probably 18 now but if you still were 14 yes it would still be legal

  10. Just spoke to the Myrtle Beach PD and asked about carrying a folding knife, if there was a law that would prohibit one from carrying. The lady put me on hold to get some clarification and came back and told me as long as it’s under 3 inches you can carry one. So who is wrong here? This would not be the first time the MBPD have got it wrong. I know there are a lot of laws they have to remember and understand but…
    Any got a real answer??

    1. Contact SLED, My local sheriff department couldnt even tell me the legal age of transporting a firearm in the glove box. SLED cleared it all up.

    2. Your best option is to set down and be professional with a criminal defense attorney for question about your 2nd amendment right and your choice of personal protection.

    3. state law allows carry but the city of myrtle beach may not. Id check with whoever would know in the area before you carry.

    4. I am sorry I cant answer that. The law is not clear. I carry a S.O.G. 4″ lock blade because anything smaller is not lethal.
      Otherwise you have a prison shiv.

    5. What i know you can as long as it is under two inches, unless you are military or Law Enforcement. I worked as a State Constable from 1996 to 2005. That’s what I understand. When in doubt call SLED and ask them.

    1. Technically yes. But what does it matter? It’s legal to carry a knife concealed in South Carolina anyway.

  11. How old do you have to be to cary a switchblade? I’m 14 and my dad said that I shouldn’t get one because I might get in trouble if I get one now, but not In a few years

  12. In the South Carolina Constitution it says that cities and municipalities cannot make law that is in violation of said Constitution.If arrested for having a blade over 2 inches just for the sake of blade size, you can sue the offending municipality . Once they lose money, they will amend their ways.

  13. For the last few days I have been harassed by neighbors. Their pit bull, ,”they found “and brought home attacked my dog last month. A court date on the 20th of July. $1100.00 in damage this far.The dog may actually die,as we cannot afford to get her anymore treatment. The lot owner paid $500 off his credit card..A very kind and generous gesture. We are barely getting by,like millions of people in our country. Anyway, I’ve called the police, i think at least 6 or 7 times. twice a report was made. All the other calls are recorded with a description for the call in the computer. They have been throwing rocks at my house, yelling cursive language, threw an old phone at my window ,it didn’t break. a piece of pipe landed on my roof,it rolled and stopped, from my child’s flip flop. I took pictures of the rocks, the phone and the pipe. I have one video of him in an angry tirade, the police have that video as well. I have other video of confrontation ,from simply going out my door. Like to rinse my garbage can out,.even my mother in law is being cursed at when she comes to do something for me. when she returns it’s the same. These people have made it their personal business to continually harass and intimidate me and my family. They ,for the last few days have set up in another nieghbors yard and deliberately stare in this direction. Not the normal hangout. This neighbor has a boyfriend who also is showing the same aggression and harassment, he in fact threw things, has cursed and intimidated daily. The girlfriend of the guy,who doesn’t even live out here, allows this at her residence. So,all of them are completely against me for no legitimate reason. My wife was best friends with her at one point, but since they are no longer friends, the harassment has been continual. She made me aware of my wife’s misdeeds and sins,having been friends for years before the harassment began. My wife was living with her,because we were separated. Her reason for evicting her was ,she was tired of all her lies and covering for her. She wanted to clear her conscious and get right with God. Her boyfriend is now a harasse, along with the neighbor of the bulldog. He is the brother of the bulldog neighbors wife. She of course is all in it..with obscenities and threats. The condoning neighbor is not saying anything, or doing anything, only allowing them to behave that way in her front yard ,near the road. They, someone, of the four, called DHEC on me, and have threatened to call DSS on me, in a attempt to get my children taken away. Which by the way, is already in my life because of my wife. That being, one of the reasons we are separated. I have all four of my children and I am the only one between them and foster care. I’m doing everything on my on. It is a very big responsibility to take care of my children. I graciously accept and embrace my responsibilities. My bills are paid. We are blessed with food ,water and shelter. Which I own. Our mobile home is on a rented lot.When I got my tax money, I paid as far in advance as I could. Now,fortunately I have a roofing job ,this coming week.I’m hoping all goes well and I continue to maintain. So, anyway, as you can see I am frustrated and stressed with all these matters. I’ve been praying and hoping for eventual peace. I find strength in God,and the love of my four children.

  14. I’ve been cheated on,lied to, humiliated ,embarrassed, robbed of money I gave in good faith by my wife. She has caused our family to be torn apart. I’ve been dealing with this every since THE NIEGHBOR WITH THE BULLDOG MOVED IN. The girl introduced my wife to herion.Progressively the destruction began. I am convinced that I am in the battle of my lifetime. Now in all this a year ago on July First, my dad died.Then on July Fifth my 19 year old daughter died in a car accident. She left behind a less than a year old daughter. The parents of the father are her parents now. Today July Ninth. ..So some of you may be thinking, well what’s his deal,he is no saint. No ,I’m not a saint. I was a cannabis user before DSS got involved. It’s the only medication I’ve ever really known to be effective.Self medicating in a world falling completely apart. Alcohol has gotten me into trouble a few times ,so I am reluctant, to resort to that.I have dranked a few times in the last month, because God knows I feel the need to escape. It’s temporary and doesn’t provide escape like cannabis. So, anyway I have no desire to drink ,and it’s something I can live without and have no problems doing it. So yeah I relapsed on three occasions. Once again, I proved to myself drinking is no good for me. In a drunken state, while my wife was out cheating and getting high I said some things,and done some things I’m not proud of.Nothing that would be braking the law,other than disturbing the peace, which ironically peace doesn’t exist in the situation…All of this took place at night and my children were asleep, and completely unaware of what I was doing. I do my best to shelter them from all these things. We have a daily routine we follow. I’ve found that to be especially helpful. The neighbors are making it difficult for me to live my life in peace. I have done nothing to justify this kind of harassment. I’m not a pedophile, and that’s not even being said, yet I’m being treated as what a pedophile might experience. That’s the comparison of how I’m being treated with such hate and anger. I’m thinking it’s because when my wife was evicted, I took sides with her and refused to participate in the ridicule and hang out with them. I’ve never really liked them in the first place. I considered them to be pathetic humans on a downward spiral. I sit back and watched them in their path of destruction. Daily getting high, pills, herion, pot,drinking liqueur, whatever it was at the moment and it’s availability. They have had many fights. I’ve seen him hit her,and punch the drivers window really hard with his fist.She has tried to run over him with their, loud muffler jeep Cherokee,she has been hit on previous occasions ,having sought refuge here when my wife and her were friends. Neither of them have a license to drive, no insurance, unregistered vehicle, and a Florida tag that doesn’t belong on the car.Yet they drive daily. Now, they both have children from previous relationships , they live with the other parents I suppose. I looked them up online and found out he has a rearrest ordered involving a misdemeanor and two felonies. ..however, it’s clear,they don’t wish to expedite. Apparently it’s over a domestic dispute between the two in which they fled in early 2015. This is what I’m dealing with.

  15. I live in GA where we can’t carry a knife over 5 inches. I’m just curious if I travel to South Carolina (as I do often), can I attach my bowie knife (blade about 12″) to my belt as soon as I cross state lines? A knife is one of the most handy tools in the world and I like to keep a strong one on me at all times. Imma country boy who spends every other weekend out in the bush.

  16. I don’t think it’s leagal for anyone under the age of 18 to carry one. And btw I’m 14 as well, do I know you?

  17. Mind you, there are different laws for different jurisdictions. Meaning the STATE laws may totally allow unrestricted knife carry, BUT the laws for a MUNICIPALITY (city, town, ect) may actually restrict a knife completely.

  18. Where would one find out about municipal laws for other towns/counties regarding concealed knife or over 3 inches knife carry in SC?

  19. Is it okay to have a knife in the armrest of your car? What if you get stopped by a officer ,would he arrrst me for concealing my knife in my armrest?

  20. I am 14…. I just wanted to know if I can carry my new multi tool that does have a knife in it in the case that goes on my belt loop?

  21. Wouldn’t South Carolina State Law Trump any city or municipal, county Law ?
    Seems they would have to be on the same page….

  22. Today MBPD told my husband it was illegal to carry is 4 inch Coleman knife on his belt buckle! We’ve lived here for almost 4 yrs & he has carried it on the Side of his belt the whole time. Just this pass week during bike week we passed all types police walking the Blvd & no one said a word about the knife! Does anyone know how long the knife has to be before it’s illegal?

  23. I carry a concealed hunting knife everywhere i go I’m from Mississippi, but I am moving to SC in a month will I still be able to carry there and not get in trouble!

  24. If we are all reading the same article refernancing carrying a knive in South Carolina, YES IT IS LEGAL TO CARRY ANY SIZE KNIVE CONCEALED OR NOT CONCEALED. inches centimeters feet is not of concern UNLESS TO USE IT AND BRING BODILY HARM TO ANOTHER. DUH THAT’S A CRIME.

  25. If the state says it is okay to carry a knife and a town has a restriction against it and charged some one which court has jurisdiction,

  26. If you want to know the answer to a legal question don’t ask a police officer. Most are more concerned with “looking right” rather than BEING right. And you’re the one that will pay the price for their hubris. It’s not an indictment on all police, but the phrase “I don’t know” ,apparently, isn’t taught at the academy. An FSU/USC study gave 5 police officers a legal quandary. They collectively agreed to one unanimous response. But when separated,and each given another question of legality, there were 4 different responses to the same item, out of 5 officers. Lawyers aren’t even tasked with knowing all the laws of whatever discipline they practice. Attorneys are taught how to argue and learn how to make deals. Paralegals probably know the actual wording of the laws better than their bosses bc they’re often times the ones doing the research and are up to date about any law changes that occur. The reason knives were omitted from the list of weapons is bc they’re categorized as tools. When I use a hammer to put a nail into a wall, it’s a tool. If I use a hammer to split someone’s head open, it’s a weapon. Same applicable rationale applies. How and where I was carrying said hammer, is a moot point. Good Luck.

  27. If you want to know the answer to a legal question don’t ask a police officer. Most are more concerned with “looking right” rather than BEING right. And you’re the one that will pay the price for their hubris. It’s not an indictment on all police, but the phrase “I don’t know” ,apparently, isn’t taught at the academy. An FSU/USC study gave 5 police officers a legal quandary. They collectively agreed to one unanimous response. But when separated,and each given another question of legality, there were 4 different responses to the same item, out of 5 officers. Lawyers aren’t even tasked with knowing all the laws of whatever discipline they practice. Attorneys are taught how to argue and learn how to make deals. Paralegals probably know the actual wording of the laws better than their bosses bc they’re often times the ones doing the research and are up to date about any law changes that occur. The reason knives were omitted from the list of weapons is bc they’re categorized as tools. When I use a hammer to put a nail into a wall, it’s a tool. If I use a hammer to split someone’s head open, it’s a weapon. Same applicable rationale applies. How and where I was carrying said hammer, is a moot point. Good Luck.

  28. So you can carry any type knife in South Carolina as long as you fully understand and know for sure every (county, city, town, cross road) restrictions. So your home are personal property may (Just may) be safe. Think I will just stay with my hands o’yes and gun.

  29. Carry a 3 inch or less blade and you’re fine both legally and for self-defense: you don’t need a 12 inch Bowie to defend yourself…. overkill. And Learn self defense skills!

  30. The police in sc will always state u shouldnt but u wont get into trouble just dont argue get your warning or ticket n move on. Cops say it because it poses risk for them. Cops in general think civilains should never have an instrument of defense. I carry 2 machhettes in my car. Usually though if u have a cwp they dont mess with u concerning knives since gun beats knife. County laws is scary. Even police that do know the law say be careful in certain areas.

  31. I still didn’t get an answer about buying a knife at 16 years old? Can I sell a knife to a 16 year old?

    1. Hey Cathy;
      We often rely on our loyal site visitors to give direction to fellow visitors. Keep in mind that no answer you receive from knifeup.com (or any other authority or niche website) is considered legal advice, but we can offer some direction. I spent about 45 min. just now researching your question about selling a knife to a minor. I got bogged down in hundreds of pages of legislation and didn’t find the answer clearly. I can tell you that you may contact your legislator in S. Carolina at: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?chamber=B
      Also, any lawyer or para-legal in S. Carolina can give you official advice on your issue. I’m sorry I can’t give you “official” information on our site (that is according to U.S. internet laws) but I hope to offer you some direction towards finding an answer.
      cheers,
      J.
      P.S. Some state statutes are easy to find while others (like my search for sale of knives to someone 16 years of age in S. Carolina) are not so much!

    2. There are no legal restrictions on buying and/or selling knives. A 50-year-old can sell a knife to a 12-year-old and it would be legal. You do not legally need parental consent either. Basically, you can buy/sell as many knives as you want from/to whoever you want. South Carolina state law is very lax on knives, although if you live in a large city like Charleston or Greenville I would personally recommend reading up on your city’s law on what knives are permitted.

    3. No you can’t sell a knife to a minor in sc. Even with a parent present you still cant. 18 years of age for any knife, sissors, hobby blades. Is it enforced? Not really so much though. Can a person under 18 have a knife? Yes, same rules as everyone else. You commit a crime with it you and your parents even may be subjected to charges!

  32. is it legal to draw a knife if you feel threatened of the attacker causes you to feel as if you might occur bodily harm or injury

    1. As far as I know, yes. However, if you actually attack someone with the knife because you feel threatened, you should be fine but you will likely have to go through a legal battle.

      I personally recommend that you only pull the knife once you are positive that you are threatened as pulling the knife before then might make the attacker feel threatened themselves and attack you prematurely.

  33. I live in Simpsonville and am above eighteen years of age, would I, in theory, be able to open carry a katana and wakizashi?

    1. Hey winston,
      I believe those two weapons are more considered swords than knives, so im not sure how the laws apply to them. Whilst i cannot find nything online saying yes or know, a local knife shop has previously told me that it would be illegal without a special license from specially approved events, such as fairs and such. Can’t give a concrete answer though.

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