state knife laws feature

Utah Knife Laws

utUtah knife laws are vague and may be difficult for those who have not had formal legal training to understand. This article translates both the statues and the case law into easy to understand plain English so anyone can figure out what is legal and what is not, when it comes to owning and carrying knives in the state of Utah.

What is Legal to Own

  • It is legal to own a Balisong, or butterfly 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 bowie knife
  • It is legal to own an automatic or gravity knife
  • It is legal to own a disguised knife, such as a lipstick or belt buckle

What is Illegal to Own

Utah law creates two categories of people who may not own certain weapons, defined as “dangerous weapons”.

A category I restricted person is someone who:

  • has been convicted of a violent felony under Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-203.5
  • is on probation or parole for any felony
  • is on parole from a facility is under contract with the Division of Juvenile Justice Services, that provides 24-hour supervision and confinement for youth offenders who have been committed to the division for custody and rehabilitation
  • has been adjudicated delinquent, within the last 10 years, for an offense that if committed by an adult would have been a violent felony under Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-203.5
  • is illegally or unlawfully in the United States

A category II restricted person is someone who:

  • has been convicted of any felony
  • has been adjudicated delinquent, within the last seven years, for an offense which if committed by an adult would have been a felony
  • is an unlawful user of a controlled substance as defined by Utah Code Ann. § 58-37-4.2.
  • is in possession of a dangerous weapon and is knowingly and intentionally in unlawful possession of a Schedule I or II controlled substance as defined in Section 58-37-2;
  • has been found not guilty by reason of insanity for a felony offense
  • has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial for a felony offense
  • has been adjudicated as mentally or has been committed to a mental institution
  • has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces
  • has renounced his citizenship after having been a citizen of the United States

A category I person commits a third-degree felony if he or she possesses, arranges to purchase, or uses a dangerous weapon other than a firearm.

A category II person commits a class A misdemeanor if he or she posses, arranges to purchase, or uses a dangerous weapon other than a firearm.

Those who do not fit into either category may own any type of knife in Utah.

Definition of Dangerous Weapons

Utah statute defines a dangerous weapon as an item that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.

The statute provides a list of factors to be used when determining if any object is a dangerous weapon. The list includes:

  • the character of the instrument, object, or thing
  • the character of the wound produced, if any
  • the manner in which the instrument, object, or thing was used
  • the other lawful purposes for which the instrument, object, or thing may be used

In Salt Lake City v. Miles, Mr. Miles was arrested for possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, after attempting to board a light rail train with a shopping cart, and threatening the field supervisor who prevented him from boarding. After Mr. Miles referred to a gun or a knife, the police were called. The arresting officer found a folding knife in the pocket of a jacket in Mr. Miles’ shopping cart. Mr. Miles was found guilty, and subsequently appealed the conviction. The Utah Court of Appeals, in upholding the conviction, found that not all four of the factors provided in the statute had to be present, particularly, that a knife did not have to be used in order to be a dangerous weapon.

In 1991 in the case of State v. Archambeau, the Appellate Court, in upholding Mr. Archambeau’s conviction for possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, found that Mr. Archambeau’s two 10-inch knives with 5- and 6-inch blades were dangerous weapons. The Court said that even though there was no evidence that Mr. Archambeau intended to use the knives in a dangerous way, the statute was clear that a knife did not have to be used in order to be considered dangerous.

In 1995, in State v. Pugmire, the Appellate Court upheld the earlier Archambeau decision, quoting the Archambeau Court, when it stated that Mr. Archambeau’s knives …”are objectively the type of instruments reasonable people would assume were dangerous weapons, as they were objectively the type of weapons which are capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.” It then upheld Mr. Pugmire’s conviction for possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, saying that his buck knife, just like Mr. Archambeau’s knives, was commonly known as a dangerous weapon and objectively “the kind of instrument reasonable people would assume to be a dangerous weapon”.

In 2003, in an unpublished decision in State v. Jennings, the Court found that a knife with a 3 ½-inch blade, with two serrated edges, which tapered to a sharp point was a dangerous weapon, citing Mr. Jennings statement that he carried the knife for self-defense, admitting that he carried it for potentially dangerous reasons.

Restrictions on Carry

Those who fall under one of the two categories of restricted persons may not own or carry any knife that falls within the definition of a dangerous weapon. Those who do not meet the criteria of a category I or II restricted person, may open or conceal carry any type of knife, regardless of whether it is a ‘dangerous weapon’ or not.

Definitions of Various Knives

Neither the Utah statutes nor the case law offers a definition of any type of knife. This is likely due to the fact that the statutes applicable to the ownership and carrying of knives in Utah does not mention any particular type of knife, instead it simply makes it illegal for certain persons to own or carry a ‘dangerous weapon’.

Conclusion on Utah Knife Law

It is legal for anyone who has never been convicted of a crime, adjudged delinquent or mentally ill, or who does not use illegal drugs to own and open or conceal carry any type of knife in Utah.

Certain felons, drug users, and mentally ill people are not allowed to own any knife considered to be a dangerous weapon.


  • Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-501 (2013)
  • Utah Code Ann. § 62A-7-101 (2013)
  • Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-203.5 (2013)
  • Salt Lake City v. Miles, 299 P.3d 1163 (2013 Utah App.)
  • State v. Jennings, 2003 UT App 361 (2003 Utah App.)
  • State v. Archambeau, 820 P.2d 920 (1991 Utah Ct. App.)
  • State v. Pugmire, 898 P.2d 271 (1995 Utah Ct. App.)

Peter Stec
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  1. Not much a comment, but a question. I like to forge my own blades and recently some of my friends have been asking to buy them from me or making requests for me to make them a blade. Is it legal for me to sell these blades to them? Do I need a permit to do so? How do I know that they’re not one of the two restricted persons? Am I liable in event of a criminal act using a blade purchased from me?

  2. ok so i just bought my first knife and its a tactical spring assisted open rescue folding pocket knife to use to cut open boxes that are taped shut at my work. Is the knife legal or would i have to get another knife?

    1. I have a double trouble assisted double karambit. Im 16 and dont have any permit or anything to conceal carry. Obviously not a felon and dont fall under restricted person. Not a drug user. Am i able to clip this to the inside of my pocket. With my shirt it is not visible making it conceal carry. Am i able to have it this way in public? Would i be arrested for simply having it on my person like that?

  3. Here’s the situation. I have a little sister (age 12) who is extremely responsible and I am training her in Tae Kwon Do, a defensive hands-off martial artstyle (in which I am a Red-Black belt, one step away from Black First Degree). I really want her to be able to carry a knife both for self-defense and utility – yes I know knives are not the first choice for defense, but in combination with training it seems the best option in my opinion. I don’t mean just a Swiss Army or Buck pocket knife, I mean a 3-4″ Spyderco or something.

    So, my question is, can a minor legally carry (either open or concealed) a knife in the state of Utah? Nowhere in state law, from what I can find on the internet, does it restrict those under a specific age from carrying a knife. I read from a lawyer forum that some states do have a minimum age, but for those that don’t there’s no overarching/federal law, however there could still be trouble from the police. Same lawyer said that potential charges could be dealt with if the minor had a signed and notarized note from a legal guardian of age consenting to it and accepting all responsibility. Is this true? Can I give my sister a knife to EDC?

  4. So I’m trying find out if it’s legal to carry a sword in public or a blade that’s like a Dagger. I’ve been talking about how years ago anyone could carry a sword but I’m just curious if it’s still legal or not. And yeah I’m talking about medieval swords and stuff.

    1. Typically the issue is about “intent”. Does it look like you’re about to hurt someone? Also, in some states, the police make sure that even medieval re-enactments at fairs are guarded closely and swords are packed properly in the trunk of a vehicle and then transported directly home. It’s a bit of a gray area I think based on what I read as I research all the state laws.

  5. So i have a question about this as well…

    i clearly fall under category II restricted person, as i have been convicted of a felony (7 years ago) — for (petty) THEFT.
    I have never had any type of violent offences, or weapons charges – and from what i read, the being convicted of a felony is the only thing that places me under a category II restricted person;

    Since its been several years(or more), i think it was 2011, but it may of been 2009? i’m pretty sure it was 2011, in any case, i was curious if i would be able to carry an OTF style knife, with the following blade lengths:

    (microtech)Halo VI (nightmare drop-point) with a 4.6″ blade on it, and an overall length of 10.75″; ********************

    It’s a larger knife, yes, but its more or less a tool to me. Not planning to use this for self-defense, or to stab anybody or for any type of violent offence in anyway. Simply for daily cutting tasks!
    I would like to know if i can legally carry this knife concealed, if the only reason i fall under category II restricted person is for a felony (petty theft) that was committed 7+ years ago, thanks.

    The second knife i want to know about, and only asking this because the blade is shorter than the stated above knife, is a:

    (microtech)Combat Troodon – it’s got a 3.75″ blade on it, and an overall length of 9.5″; *****************************

    This also is an OTF style knife, or out the front, aka Automatic. It’s a novelty piece IMHO..but still a knife, i use these blades as tools, not for anything else, so i do have concerns about having one of these on me while being questioned by a police officer, and if he decides to search me for whatever reason, considering that i have a previous felony conviction (again, this was 7 + years ago); Maybe somebody will take the time to read this and can shed some light on the situation for me??

  6. Is c carrying a meat cleaver openly at my side under the legal length limit with no felonies and not on probation or parole and I also would like to know if I have this at if I have this at my side unconcealed does that fact alone give an officer probable cause to stop me

  7. So a bowie knife in a sheath…..considered “concealed”? Or would it be perfectly acceptable if used for hunting, fishing, survival purposes etc.?

  8. Couple of people from Walmart told me that it’s a state & or federal law you can’t buy a knife past 10 o’clock or 9 o’clock is it true

  9. So for whatever reason I may be arrested
    and searched for weapons. though unlikely. I cannot say my concealed knife is for self defence in the court of law or it’s considered a dangerous weapon? What about the situation that it is actually used in a self-defense incident?

  10. So I have a Gerber machete and I walk with it in the holster on my backpack to the Utah lake can I get introuble? And I’m a minor

    1. Trouble, maybe. Can they do anything about it? No. there was a guy who walked around down town with an Ak-47 and got arrested several times, each time they had to let him go because he was allowed to do this. Chances are no one is going to care if you have a machete on you.

  11. I’m going to buy a butterfly knife from a friend is it illegal to do the same in public or not?

  12. So in most cases a sword would be treated as a sheath knife. Are the same rules applied in Utah?

  13. So Im 17, I have a Schrade Uncle Henry lock back knife. Can I carry it in public? Open carry or conceled?


  14. …actually according to your own explanation the limitations on the mentally ill only applies to those mentally ill who have been judge unfit tonstand trial, found not guilty because of menatal illness, and those committed to a mental institution. This leaves a lot of grey areas and questions. I am bipolar depressive and I have voluntarily spent time in two psych. wards, but I haven’t been committed, which denotes a situation where that choice was taken out of my hands. So… how does this law affect me? More importantly how do these laws affect the mentally ill and their right to carry in general, especially those who haven’t spent any time in a psych. ward or other mental healthcare facility? My final grievance has nothing to do with you (this is very helpful, but there are a lot of questions still), but just with the law. It is vague in addressing the laws as they apply to the mentally ill, and becauseof this it puts forward the idea that the mentally ill are a danger to themselves and others. Now, I do believe there should be some effort to avoid selling knives or guns to mentally ill individuals who are actively in a crisis, but to restrict it solely based on the presence of a mental illness does nothing except proliferate the myth that mental illnesses colorate with crime, which perpetuates a negative stigma of mental illness. In reality the law should be clear about under which circumstances the mentally ill are not allowed to own or carry knives, clarifying that the sale or purchase of knives should be illegal during times of obvious mental crisis. Just my opinion, as a young adult with a mental illness. The idea that I’m somehow a danger with a knife is laughable.

  15. As I understand it there is no Utah law against auto knives, however federal law prohibits ownership to military and first responders. This generally means local, county and highway patrol aren’t authorized but federal are. Can’t help but think ATF and FBI have more important things on thier plates.

  16. Thank you SO much for this artical! I too have been searching for a long time for this information. I do have some questions though. What about automatic knives, (such as the Spyderco Embassy , and Protech Runt) and OTF knives (such as the Benchmade Infadel or lightning OTF)?

  17. Thank you so much for this. I have been looking at Utah’s code on knives for so long trying to understand it all. I do have one question though. Does this mean I can legally carry an automatic knife here in Utah?

    1. yes as long as your not a felon, you can carry a auto knife here in Ut.

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