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West Virginia Knife Laws

West Virginia State SealWest Virginia knife laws are full of legal ease that makes them difficult to understand. This article takes the law and puts it into plain English so that anyone can understand what is legal and what is not when it comes to owning and carrying knives in the state of West Virginia.

What is Legal to Own

  • 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 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 ballistic knife

What is Illegal to Own

West Virginia law does not prohibit the ownership of any type of knife.

Restrictions on Carry

On June 3, 2016, the Virginia code governing deadly weapons and the carry of deadly weapons was amended to allow concealed carry of “deadly weapons” under certain conditions (which most law-abiding citizens would fulfill).  Unless you are prohibited from carrying a firearm, are under 21 years of age or are a non-US citizen, you can carry nearly anything.

What the Law States

West Virginia Code §61-7-7.

(c) Any person may carry a concealed deadly weapon without a license therefor who is:

(1) At least twenty-one years of age;

(2) A United States citizen or legal resident thereof;

(3) Not prohibited from possessing a firearm under the provisions of this section; and

(4) Not prohibited from possessing a firearm under the provisions of 18 U. S. C. §922(g) or (n).


Definitions of Various Types of Knives

West Virginia statute defines gravity knife as any knife with a blade that can be released from the handle by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force (spinning the knife), and, when released is locked in place with a button or other locking or catching devise.

Switchblade knife is defined as any knife that has a spring-operated blade, which opens automatically by pushing a button, catch, or other mechanisms on the handle.

Knife is defined as any devise, intended to be used or readily adaptable to be used as a weapon, and that has a sharp-edge or sharp-pointed blade, attached to a handle which is capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing or tearing wounds. The statue further says that the term “knife” includes any dagger, dirk, poniard, or stiletto, with a blade over 3 ½ inches long, any switchblade or gravity knife, and any other instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing or tearing wounds.

West Virginia Code §61-7-2. states that a deadly weapon includes stilettos, daggers, dirks, or poniards with a blade over 3.5 inches, and also includes gravity knives and more loosely “any other instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing or tearing wounds”.

Definition of Deadly Weapon

West Virginia statutes define deadly weapon as an instrument that is designed to be used to produce serious bodily injury or death or that is readily adaptable to use in such a manner.
The statue refers to some specific knifes that are considered deadly weapons. Those knives include, but are not limited to:

  • Gravity knives
  • Switchblades
  • Any dirk dagger, poniard, or stiletto with a blade over 3 ½ inches long
  • Any knife that falls within the statutory definition of knife
  • Any knife of like kind or character to those specifically mentioned

In the case of State v. Choat, the Supreme Court of West Virginia held that whether a weapon not listed is a deadly weapon, is a question for the jury, unless the trial Court can determine that the jury could not find the weapon to be a deadly weapon, as a matter of law.

Definition of Concealed

West Virginia statute defines concealed as hidden from ordinary observation so as to prevent disclosure or recognition. The statute further states that a deadly weapon is concealed when it is carried on or about the person in such a manner that another person, in the ordinary course of events, would not realize that the deadly weapon was being carried.

Definition of “About the Person”

The conceal carry law says that one may not carry “about the person” any dangerous weapon. However, it does not define “about the person”. The Supreme Court of West Virginia, in State v. Totten, defined about the person, holding that in order for a dangerous weapon to be “about the person” it had to be either on the person, or in such close proximity that it could be reached without much change in the person’s position. The Court also said that the weapon had to be readily accessible when the person reached for it.

Exceptions to Conceal Carry Laws

West Virginia law provides some exceptions to the law prohibiting the conceal carry of deadly weapons. Exceptions include those who are carrying on their own premises or from a place of purchase, at their place of business, or to or from their place of business, and certain government employees, such as law enforcement officers, Judges, and correctional officers.

License to Carry a Concealed Deadly Weapon

West Virginia offers licenses for those who wish to carry a concealed deadly weapon, and meet the requirements for obtaining such a license. In order to qualify for a license, one must meet the following requirements:

  • be a citizen of the United States
  • have been a resident of West Virginia for at least one year next prior to the date of application
  • be an adult of good moral character and temperate habits
  • not have been convicted of any felony or handgun offense
  • have been employed for five years
  • be qualified to handle handguns
  • have “good reason and cause” to carry such weapon
  • post a $ 5000 surety bond.

Conclusion on West Virginia Knife Law

It is legal to own any type of knife in West Virginia.

It is legal to conceal carry a dirk dagger, poniard, or stiletto with a blade over 3 ½ inches long, a switchblade, gravity knife, butterfly knife, or any instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing, or tearing wounds, as long as you are not prohibited from carrying a firearm, are a U.S. citizen, are over 21 years old.

It is legal to open carry any type of knife.


  • W. Va. Code § 61-7-2 (2013)
  • W. Va. Code § 61-7-3 (2013)
  • W. Va. Code § 61-7-7 (2016)
  • State v. Totten, 289 S.E.2d 491 (1982)
  • State v. Choat, 363 S.E.2d 493 (1987)


  1. Very confusing law. Is it legal to carry a slipjoint with a blade that measures 3 13/16″? I have my CC permit for my pistols, but I don’t think it applies to knives.

  2. I am under 21 and I would like to know if I could carry a poket knife with a thumb stud that has a blade under 3 & 1/2 inches.

  3. I just bought a divers knife. It has a case to wear either on arm or leg. The blade is 4 inches long. Can I legally carry it as long as it can be seen? Tks. Also is it legal to carry in your vehicle in a bag that or between the seat as examples.? Tks so much.

    1. Hi Kay;
      Thanks for checking out our articles. As far as I can tell, as of June 2016, statues in W. Virginia changed to allow the carry of any knife or “deadly weapon” as long as you’re over 21, a U.S. citizen, not a felon, and are not prohibited from carrying a gun. As usual, I have to say that I’m not a lawyer and cannot officially give you information. For that, you’re supposed to consult with a legal professional in the state of West Virgina.

  4. Now that we have constitutional carry for firearms, does that carry over to carrying knives?

    1. Hey Charlie;
      Thanks for your question. As far as I can tell, most states have pretty relaxed carry laws for knives already. Over the past 5 years, many bans on certain (more dangerously perceived) knives like switchblades, gravity knives, etc. have been repealed. One state after another followed the trend so that now we have very open laws, with only a few states, in a few jurisdictions (usually urban or high crime areas) still having any sort of ban at all. I get most of my info on laws at each state’s website outlining statutes and by-laws. That’s where I’d suggest you head if you’re looking for more detailed info on laws, and of course, a lawyer would be best of all!

  5. But the statement, “It is legal to open carry any knife” means you can carry it on your side clipped on or on your belt. Open carry is where everyone can see it so to be “less” seen as a danger, tuck your shirt in your waist band or put your shirt behind the knife

  6. As of May 24,2016 CONCEAL or Open carry of a “deadly weapon” gun & knife will be legal via HB4145. Our HB4541 knife preemption law in WV got stalled at the session end. It will be reintroduced 2017. Please contact one Patrick Morissey’s office of Attorney General to get all the new knife details. KnifeUp’s info on WV is currently out dated. Curtis Johnson. 304.558.2021.

  7. WV code 61-7-4
    Concealed weapons permits may only be issued for pistols or revolvers.

  8. As a native WVian my experience has been that no one, including cops, mind that most men carry knives or what kind of knife it is. But- if you are caught doing crime you’d better not have an auto on you. If you’re a “regular buy” of any sort, sober, employed and diligent you are fine to carry an auto.

    If you are a drug user, addict or drinker it is not advisable to carry more than a typical “pocket knife”. Otherwise it WILL be an additional charge. Also, don’t carry an auto-knife if you look unkempt, like a “typical hippie” or otherwise in any way generally associated are associated with people who have a criminal record.

    However, *most* people are fine to carry and-if the situation arises- will have nothing to worry about even if you have to protect yourself.

    Just use good judgement and do NOT challenge the cops, be respectful, honest and you’ll be fine. IMHO, of course..

  9. No…any instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing, or tearing wounds with a blade greater than 3.5 inches is how I interpret it. They are talking about ice picks, shanks- sharpened piece of steel, glass, etc.

  10. Why has this article not stated the obvious? This statement, “or any instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing, or tearing wounds” effectively outlaws ANY KNIFE….. As well as forks,spoons pencils,pens,screwdrivers, etc,etc,etc.

    It seems that there are about a MILLION things that are prohibited to carry. Paper….. I have literally had a paper cut before. Paper is “capable of inflicting cutting” and therefore apparently illegal to carry.

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