What is Open Carry for Knives?

Peter Stec
October 11, 2019

The term “open carry” is commonly heard when talking about the civilian use of weaponry.  We all know that this obviously means to carry a weapon openly.   So what are the gritty details and from where does this term originate.   I hope to answer the common questions surrounding open carry and make it just a little easier to understand.

The Basicssog aegis clip

Open carry is publicly carrying a weapon in plain sight of another person(s).  That being said, the first question that comes to mind is “what is plain sight”… is it on a belt, on the back, what about a shirt pocket??? This is where things can get a little messy.   “Plain Sight” is broadly defined as not being hidden from common view of those around you.  The problem is, different states interpret the meaning of plain sight differently than others.  In some states, plain sight means that the weapon is partially visible to those around you.  In other states, it means that the weapon can be fully seen.

Types of Open Carry Laws (Primarily Firearms)

Permissive Open Carry Laws

Permissive open carry defines law around firearms. This does not prohibit open carry for everyone who has not been prohibited for any reason and does not require a license or permit to carry.  This is lawful while in a car or during walking.  While it is legal to carry this way, if you are carrying a firearm you may be detained by law enforcement if there is public alarm.

Licensed Open Carry

This is where all citizens who have not been prohibited to carry, can carry after they have received a permit or license.  This is also allowed in a vehicle and on foot.

Anomalous Open Carry

This is where the legality of openly carrying a weapon is different by state, because of local laws.  These local laws can lead to different restrictions and sometimes no carry at all.

Non-Permissive Open Carry

This means that no open carry is allowed, or it is allowed but there are very strict restrictions so it is pretty much not allowed.  A few examples of this may be lawful self-defense, carrying on your own property and hunting.

Rural Open Carry

This is effective in states where open carry is not allowed but in some areas, the population is so low that there are exceptions made for open carry in these areas.


Those prohibited to carry firearms are usually prohibited because of felonies committed, misdemeanors or domestic violence, those addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and citizens admitted into mental institutions.

Open Carry and the Second Amendment

Open carry is one of the ways our second amendment rights are upheld.  The second amendment states “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  The ability we have to open carry firearms in some form or another is in part what gives us our second amendment rights.  

What are the Rules in My State?

The different types of “open carry rules” vary by state. They are as follows:

Permissive: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Licensed: Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Utah

Anomalous: Arkansas, California, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

Non-Permissive: Florida, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas.


There are a few commonalities throughout the states based on federal laws concerning open carry.  For example, no open carry is allowed on school grounds, courthouses and at some public events.


Whether you are toting around a knife, gun or some other tool, it is best to abide by the law.  Look more specifically into the details of the carry laws in your state.  I hope this helped.  STAY INFORMED!

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?

3 comments on “What is Open Carry for Knives?”

  1. Hello I’m in Alabama we have open carry You can open carry a Bowie knife on your hip on my question is if I have it in my hip and I step into a vehicle is that considered concealed carry even though it’s on my hips I would really appreciate it if you answer me back I can’t seem to find any other answer for this question anywhere else

  2. Not very informative.

    Open carry cannot mean an entire weapon is in plain view, as that would require a handgun to be carried outside a holster, probably being held in one’s hand. But, a handgun in hand is reasonable cause for public alarm. Extrapolating this to a fixed blade knife, the plain sight requirement should be met by carrying it in a sheath as long as the sheath is not concealed. As to a pocket knife, carrying in a belt sheath should suffice as long as the sheath is not concealed, and a pocket knife “sheathed” in a pocket should be regarded as in plain view as long as the pocket is not concealed and the knife’s pocket clip is visible.

    Bottom line seems to be that one can lawfully carry a knife opening, in a belt sheath or clipped in one’s pocket, as long as one’s shirt stays tucked in and no jacket or coat that obscures the belt and pocket are worn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search This Site:

KnifeUp was founded in 2010. Today, KnifeUp is the home to knife experts who provide clear, unbiased, practical advice on buying and maintaining knives to make your life easier.

Whether you’re looking to buy a knife, sharpen it or understand the knife laws, KnifeUp’s 11-year strong library of over 300 pieces of professionally researched content will answer your questions with straightforward answers.

"I've been looking for knife law guides for a while and your articles are amazing. I haven't found such clear law advice anywhere else. I'm really happy I found KnifeUp."
Chuck N
"KnifeUp's series of knife reviews was really helpful. I found a great knife that did exactly what I wanted to do thanks to them. They also helped me save $30! I love KnifeUp."
Kyle S
"I'm relieved that there is someone out there protecting me and my rights. When something threatens my rights, KnifeUp is the first to inform me."
Justin M
KnifeUp.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fee by advertising and linking to Amazon

© 2021 KnifeUp. All Rights Reserved. Sitemap