knife laws USA

State Knife Carry Laws: Know Your Rights

The US is based upon federalism and, for that reason, laws are created at the federal, state, and municipal level. With regards to knife law, this makes things particularly tricky since a certain knife can be legal in one state and illegal in the next as well as legal in one county and illegal in the neighboring county. Knife laws are fairly fluid and it seems they change more often than most of us would believe.  Here at knifeUp we do our best to stay current with our concise legal summary of what is permitted and what is not allowed in our state by state guide to statutes concerning the ownership and transportation (carrying) of knives.

For more details on your state’s knife laws, check out KnifeUp’s knife law guide for all 50 states. KnifeUp also has great review articles on such things as the best survival knives, best pocket knives, and the best machete.

Peter Stec
Latest posts by Peter Stec (see all)


  1. Kansas just changed their knife laws. Which is awesome. They removed length restrictions, and the only knives illegal are ballistic knives and throwing stars. And all legal blades are allowed to be concealed or open carried!! :)asked my dads best friend (a cop) if that meant we could carry swords! Yep. Technically you can. You could carry a damn broad sword or katana if you want.

    1. Would it be illegal in ky to carry a necklace knife little over 6 inches?

  2. Bottom line is use whatever you can to protect yourself when being attacked.

  3. I see from the remarks here that this is over 2 years old… Maybe that’s why it is so incomplete and obviously WRONG. Don’t use this info to guide your actions.. do the research. Each state posts it’s knife laws.. Get it from the legit source

  4. It is illegal to conceal carry a pocket knife of any length in CT unless it is part of a multi-tool or unless you have a “hazardous weapons permit.” CT has never issued such a permit despite it being mentioned several times in CT’s general statutes.

    For open-carry in CT, all knives must be under four inches unless you are engaged in an outdoor activity that necessitates a knife (e.g. hunting, fishing, camping, etc.)

    Punlishing crap lihe this without actually doing your homework is wildly irresponsible.

    1. Relying on someone else’s incomplete and inaccurate research is equally irresponsible.

    2. Which is why I posted the official gov’t web site for CT

    3. Veronica Rose is an entry-level state employee and frankly put, she is inept. Following her summaries on CT firearms laws will make you a felon. My brother is a DPS employee and occasionally assists in the pistol permit appeals processing. Her shit reports are frequently cited as why people thought their actions were legal.

      Read the actual statute because THAT is the law. These summaries are intended to be high level guidance. My guess is that a lot of people are calling you out for being wrong on CT. Are you posting the link to this shit summary for them too?

  5. Switch blades have been legal in Alaska since September 2014. I’m glad to hear that ballistic knives are as well, I just but a Russian Ismash armory ballistic knife.

  6. In Connecticut carrying on you person or in a vehicle it is illegal to possess any Dirk knife or switchblade ,gravity knife. The blade lenth one and one half inches or over THE EDGED PORTION OF THE BLADE,a stiletto,or any knife the Length of the blade FOUR inches or longer the EDGED PORTION of the blade….Exemption of blade length is if one holds a valid Hunting Or fresh water fishing license ,or a salt water fisherman while engaging in fishing. (The reason is at The time the law was revised ,there was no salt water licence ) (There is much debait on whats difference between a dirk knife &a stiletto ,but most local cops I have talked to say a Dirk knife is any double edged knife & a stiletto is single edged.

  7. NY Penal Law Dangerous Weapons265.20 Exceptions (6). Possession of a switchblade or gravity knife for use while hunting,
    trapping or fishing by a person carrying a valid license issued to him
    pursuant to section 11-0713 of the environmental conservation law.

  8. I see this infographic making its rounds on the Internet. Someone should have done better research before publishing. Knives over 3″ are not illegal in MI. Item #4 from the Michigan State Police website clearly says they are not illegal:,4643,7-123-1878_1591_3503_4654-10953–,00.html
    And here is the law itself from the MI legislature website:

    Knives over 3″ are only illegal if a person has the intent to use it unlawfully. I’m sure they wrote the law this way to be able to add one more charge to a person who assaults someone with a large knife. It’s much the same as the MI law that says it is a crime to wear a ski mask while committing a felony. Ski masks are not illegal, however, so don’t go creating an infographic saying they are.

    I don’t know where the myth came from, but the laws in MI have been this way for as long as I can remember. From the other comments, it looks as if there are many inaccuracies. I hope you adjust these before anyone else shares it so people actually know their rights.

    1. Concealed is the key to the 3″ knife size. The pictograph states 3″ and above to carry ‘concealed.’

      A person 18 and over is allowed to carry a 3″ and below for concealed carry. (Basically a pocket knife)

      Understanding this article stating 3″ and above is a bit off. A person in Michigan may open carry most knives at any length such as a machete, as long as the person does not have malicious intent. (In other words, a Michigan resident gets mad, grabs their machete with intent to harm an individual and open carries to their destination)

      And, hunting knives (while hunting) can be carried concealed no matter their size.

    2. I posted the actual law. You can’t just state your opinion as fact. That’s how misinformation like what you stated and the pictograph regarding MI knife laws are spread. Just because you heard it somewhere from someone doesn’t make it true.

      Here is MI law specifically dealing with concealed carry for knives:

      “A person shall not carry a dagger, dirk, stiletto, a double-edged nonfolding stabbing instrument of
      any length, or any other dangerous weapon, except a hunting knife adapted and carried as such, concealed on or about his or her person, or whether concealed or otherwise in any vehicle operated or occupied by the person, except in his or her dwelling house, place of business or on other land possessed by the person.”

      It doesn’t mention a specific size like you state. Do you research before posting. I’ll even help you out. Here is a search for all MI laws containing the word “knife”:
      You won’t find that nonsense you posted anywhere in any law.

    3. Ok, while I agree your correct to some extent but, it’s obvious that you, yourself, have some ‘GIGO, vague’ information posted also.

      I have many ‘close’ family members both in law enforcement, military, as well as a retired police LT. from multiple sectors. Understanding that without sources cited, I’m nothing more than a speck of dirt on the bottom of a shoe since you nor anybody else knows me on this article.

      And, back to your post being offensive. I, not for one moment, meant any offense as all I was doing was making attempt to clear up your vague post even with the source. Most people whom have been involved with law, case law, etc, know how vague a law can be written. But, the experienced people also know clearly how to use, and search correctly, Michigan Legislature penal codes.

      Your post was correct for the most part, but you left out some key details as I explained and I still didn’t explain all of them as each and every state, although I, as well as all my family, have been a Michigan resident all our lives, know that cities do have ‘their own’ ordinances in place.

      As far as my credibility, I guess 4 years at UofM and 2 years at Baker, as well as a Michigan law class, has taught me well. The link below will assert my explanation giving more fine details about Michigan state law;

      There are also times when case law ends up taking precedence over a written law sorting out the ‘fine’ details.

      I do want to thank you for citing your sources, but they were a bit incomplete and also could cause a rumor to be spread as the fine details are not within that specific penal code. I do want to thank you for your services if your name reflects your service to our nation. We need more people like you giving these facts being cited correctly as there aren’t enough people that cite ‘credible’ sources. There is to much ignorance that gets online and believes everything they read and don’t know how to distinguish credible sources like you and myself. But please, don’t be deragotive and flame others thinking your the only correct person as there is always another that will shine through. 🙂

    4. Unfortunately I reposted the MCL armystrong posted but interpretation was apparently necessary as the 3″ is mentioned within the MCL link and not mentioned by the poster. The second MCL armystrong posted also explains ‘hunting knife’ exemption as I explained although flamed stating I was incorrect, although, was correct without the source being cited. Hope these posts between armystrong and myself help clear up some issues.

      Always remember, NEVER take an article, a person without credible sources cited, or information found without confirming the BOTTOM LINE SOURCE such as calling your local police department to confirm your inquiry.

    5. You have degrees in something? That’s what you’re claiming as credibility? No one cares about your U of M license plate. And you have friends and family in law enforcement and the military? I also have family in policing, the military and law, but that doesn’t matter. I didn’t need to make any opinion more credible because I cited sources. Not that it matters, but I have a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from SVSU, which included two semesters of internships with law enforcement agencies and a semester at a police academy. I also have 7 years in the military, including 2 years active duty with a weapons of mass destruction unit. I worked in the knife dept of a sporting goods store for 3 years, which is where I first schooled a police officer who was going by word of mouth on the supposed 3″ rule, until I showed him the actual law.

      Again, I wasn’t stating my opinion, so my background is irrelevant. I was quoting from MI law and the Michigan State Police website, which states that knives over 3″ are ONLY illegal if you have an unlawful intent. That was in my very first post. I’m glad you agree with me now, by rewording what my original post said and including links I’ve already used and explained. It only took three ranting comments.

      I meant my reply to your first comment to be insulting and derogatory. You insulted my intelligence by saying I was wrong with no research or evidence whatsoever. And then you insult everyone else’s intelligence by claiming your degrees in god knows what and your personal relationships to professionals makes you an expert in law. You have added no value to this website and I would be embarrassed by these posts if I were you.

    6. Wow, always a troll somewhere. Insulting? The ONLY insult I see, and read, is yours.

      As far as embarassment? It’s obvious your uneducated and inexperienced with with communication. If u want to be derogatory, that’s your right, But truly shows your demeanor and narcissistic personality ‘needing’ to be correct. Don’t step up trolling, and belittling others unless you know what’s right and what’s wrong.

      Sorry for the misunderstanding of my communication and your interpretation taking it the wrong way. It’s obvious you don’t know how to take a compliment or sincerity within communication. As explained within both our posts, you left out some details and was NOT insulting in anyway. And again, thank you for your service, or background knowledge doesn’t mean your right with everything

    7. I couldn’t have asked for a better post insulting my education and intelligence regarding communication than one with grammar errors and Internet slang.

  9. Thanks for the awesome graphic! I just have one small bone to pick. All types of automatic knives over 2 inches are illegal to sell or carry in California. This includes switchblades which can technically be possessed but not carried (I’m not lawyer. NOT legal advice.) I would suggest that if some of the maps pertain to carry and others to possession you should specifically state it on the map so the casual observer doesn’t get confused.

  10. great maps but the little red blood splash at the bottom left takes away from its professional courtesy.

  11. What is considered a Ballistic Knife ? Be nice..Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question…lol

  12. The title should read “State Knife Carry Laws: Know Which of Your Rights Will Be Violated”.

  13. It’s legal to carry switch blades in WV? Does that include so called “automatic knives”? You can’t buy one unless you’re L.E. or military

  14. Nothing in the Nevada revised Statutes says anything about blade length. It does however specifically prohibit the public carry of machetes.

  15. Your chart lists Michigan as one of the states where it is illegal to carry a pocket knife three inches or longer. The law clearly states the following:

    MCL 750.226: Michigan law specifies that a person, with intent to use the knife unlawfully against another, shall not go armed with a knife having a blade over 3 inches in length.

    So the law only bans them if you plan on using it unlawfully.

  16. I see the map showing it Illegal to carry concealed pocket knives more than 3 inches in NV. I have reviewed the laws and comments on your Nevada page, and can’t find any reference to 3 inches anywhere. What am I missing?

  17. There’s a heck of a lot of variation within states. Knife laws aren’t uniform and typically don’t have the state-level preemption issues associated with municipal gun control laws.

    One addendum to Chris’s comment – I can’t speak for other states, but I lived in MN. Switchblades aren’t COMPLETELY illegal. You can’t carry them, but you can collect them or keep them as “curios.”

  18. Concealed knives in Nebraska are limited to 3.5″. Unless you are involved in a crime, then there’s a State Supreme Court case which says any concealed knife of any length can be considered a concealed weapon.

    Your web site has it right, the chart has it wrong.

  19. Your information on Pennsylvania is wrong. The only restriction on knives, at a state level, is the prohibition of switchblades (18 Pa.C.S.A. § 908: Prohibited Offensive Weapons)

    “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. […] As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection: […] “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”

  20. I would be very careful about publishing your infographic- In Massachusetts the laws wording is a bit vague- you either cannot have ballistic knives and switchblades over 1.5 inches or they are completely illegal depending on how you read it. In Boston and a bunch of other communities there is a 2.5 inch limit on all knives- including simple pocket knives. IANAL, so take everything I say with that in mind.

  21. FYI, automatic knives are “sorta” legal in NY state, so long as you have a valid hunting/fishing license.

  22. Having ‘permit required’ for 3 and over for Kentucky is flatly wrong. There is zero legal consideration for length in the Kentucky statutes. Unless you know something I don’t… I’d prefer something concrete like that vs the exceedingly arbitrary and subjective ‘ordinary pocket or hunting knife’ BS that is currently on the books.

  23. Illinois law can be confusing; the short version is that switchblades and ballistic knives are indeed banned, but the carry of other knives is just about unregulated. The relevant statute is here:

    (720 ILCS 5/24-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 24-1)
    Sec. 24-1. Unlawful Use of Weapons.
    (a) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowingly:
    (1) Sells, manufactures, purchases, possesses or

    carries any bludgeon, black-jack, slung-shot, sand-club, sand-bag, metal knuckles or other knuckle weapon regardless of its composition, throwing star, or any knife, commonly referred to as a switchblade knife, which has a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife, or a ballistic knife, which is a device that propels a knifelike blade as a projectile by means of a coil spring, elastic material or compressed gas; or
    (2) Carries or possesses with intent to use the same unlawfully against another, a dagger, dirk, billy, dangerous knife, razor, stiletto, broken bottle or other piece of glass, stun gun or taser or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument of like character; or . . . .

    Hope the bolding HTML worked . . . if it did, notice the bold sections. Yes, switchblades are prohibited, even possession. However, they are also clearly defined, and it’s worth noticing that the definition clearly excludes “assisted-opening” knives that use torsion bars or springs to assist with opening the knife when the user pushes a thumb stud,hole, disk, or “flipper” on the blade rather than the handle.

    The second part is a little bit murkier. There’s no 3″ limit anywhere in Illinois law; many police officers cite one when asked, but I’ve never met one who could remember the source. It seems to get passed down as lore. There *is* a prohibition on carry of any “dangerous knife,” but *only* “with intent unlawfully to harm another.” In practice, this is a tack-on charge that gets added to people who get caught actually doing or threatening harm to someone while carrying just about anything with a sharpish edge or a pointy end.
    That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t be questioned or arrested by a police officer simply for carrying your knife, but it’s nowhere in the law and you should be acquitted (but all standard disclaimers apply and I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.)

    I currently carry an assisted-opening folder with about a four-inch blade. I have carried a Camillus CUDA Maxx with a 5.5-inch blade as well as various smaller sheath knives and neck knives. It’s probably best to keep privilege in mind, as I’m an obviously-adult, clean-cut white male in a rural and small-urban area. But the law is on your side if you’ve got a knife in your pocket in Illinois and you aren’t threatening or hurting anyone.

    Chicago has its own rules, of course, because Chicago. They have a prohibition on knives with blades over 2.5″ for carry (for adults–anyone under 19 is limited to 2″ because Chicago.)
    No person shall carry concealed on or about his person a pistol, revolver, derringer or other firearm or dagger, dirk, stiletto, bowie knife, commando knife, any blade of which is released by a spring mechanism, including knives known as “switch-blades” or any other type or kind of knife, any blade of which is more than two and one-half inches in length, ordinary razor or other dangerous weapon except that no person 18 years of age or under shall carry concealed on or about his person, any knife, the blade of which is two inches in length or longer.

    Municipal Code of the City of Chicago 8-24-020 Carrying dangerous weapons.

  24. This post is a mess. Spot checking the infographic shows that it has some glaring errors (examples: there is no restriction on pocket knife size in Ky, much less a required license for over 3″, and it’s legal to carry a knife larger than 3″ in Mi as long as it’s not used in the commission of a crime), which can be fact checked by using the excellent reviews of state laws on your own site. On top of that, the post even contradicts the infographic claiming that it’s illegal to conceal carry a >3″ blade in TN! The infographic gets this one right by stating that the limit is 4″ (well, “with the intent to go armed,” but close enough).

    Your site usually has great, accurate information, but this one is just complete rubbish.

  25. I love your site, and I love the idea of this graphic! But there seem to be a lot of errors 🙁

    Switchblades are illegal in Idaho? Not even your Idaho page claims that.

    And the 3″ concealed carry limit in Washington? Nope, not under state law (of course, I consider a “pocket knife” to be a folder…you may not. A small neck knife under your shirt might conceivably be considered a concealed “dirk” or “dagger” since neither of those terms are defined in the law.)

    A survey I did recently shows switchblades to be completely illegal in AK, CO, HI, IL, LA, ME, MI, MN, NJ, NM, NY, OK, PA, TN, VI, WA, WI.

    Still cleaning up the spreadsheet, but drop me an email and I’ll show you what I have.

  26. Would like to see a knife recommendation, direct and to the point, that is legal in all or most states when openly carried. – @19thWheel

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