South Carolina Knife Laws

scSouth 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.


  • S.C. Code Ann. § 16-23-460 (2012)
  • S.C. Code Ann. § 16-23-405 (2012)

Peter Stec

Hey Knife Up gang!  I'm Pete and I'm just a small man in a small rural town who loves the outdoors as much as the other million internet users that cruise sites like 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?
Peter Stec


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 (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:
      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.
      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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. Is it legal to Cary a fixed blade karambit in South Carolina as long as it’s under 3 inches

  7. 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.

  8. Would having the knife in your pocket clipped with the actual knife in the pocket be considered concealed?

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

  9. 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. Statewide there is no law on blade length but some of the bigger cities like Myrtle Beach are trying to impose for carrying knives just under 4″ blade length. North Carolina does this too with cities like Raleigh and Charlotte. I couldn’t find anything on knives for Horry County:

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

    1. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

    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.

    1. Probably so, depending on your work place. (I can’t say for sure though)

    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. So….I have a cwp…can I carry my “Rambo” knife??(its just like the one Sylvester Stallone had)

    2. Yup. Hope you have a good sturdy belt for it.

  13. so is it legal for a minor to carry a knife if its intended for self defence?

    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

    2. you are able to as long if it is under 2 inches

    3. 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:

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

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

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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

  18. 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.


    Joseph Loveland

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

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