OTF Knife State Laws and Legality

OTF Knife State Laws 2017 (UPDATED 11/21/2017):

RavenCrest Tactical - OTF Knife State Laws Map

MYTH: Switchblades / OTF Knives and Balisongs (butterfly knives) are illegal everywhere without exception

Not true. Most laws about non-firearm weapons are by state, with very few existing at the Federal level. Currently, the only country-wide law about switchblades is US Code Title 15, Chapter 29, and this law only controls the importation of these knives into the US, and the sale over state lines. It has no effects on buying, owning or carrying switchblades. Such is left to the states. The majority of states allow legal ownership of switchblades, but a few do not. Many have prohibitions on the sale of them, and most have laws against carrying them concealed. But some states such as Vermont and Utah have no restrictions on them.

 US Switchblade Laws

The following is a comprehensive compilation of the laws on switchblades (also called automatics or OTF Knives) in the United States. This chart covers both overall federal law and each state law. These laws are for non-law enforcement citizens, as nearly all laws contain some sort of exemption for police. In states where unlawful intent must be proven (and is not simply presumed) for the knife to be illegal, this chart counts this as “legal.”

Legend:

Possession = Refers to the legality of merely owning or having direct control over a switchblade, even if kept at home. Sale = The legality of merchants and private citizens offering switchblades for sale or selling them. Usually includes any transfer of ownership, even gifts. Note that such laws almost always only affect the seller; no state law affects the buyer of such a transaction. Open Carry = legality of carrying a switchblade unconcealed and in plain view of others. Concealed Carry = legality of carrying a switchblade in a concealed manner on one’s person(or most of the time, in a car). Balisong considered same thing? = Refers to if the wording of the law considers switchblades and balisongs to be the same thing. If “Yes,” balisongs are subject to all the same restrictions as switchblades listed for that state. If “no” they are covered by a separate law and may or may not be legal. Blanks indicate the state has no laws about either.

Practical Matters

If possession itself is illegal, then all others become illegal by default. If possession is legal, but sale is not, it effectively becomes impossible to legally obtain a switchblade from within that state (since federal law prohibits inter-state sale). One must physically travel to another state to legally purchase.

Is your OTF legal in….?

State

Possession

Sale

Open Carry

Concealed Carry

Balisong considered same thing?

US Federal Law

Legal

Illegal when sold over state lines or imported from outside the US

Legal

Legal

Yes

Alabama

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

Alaska

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

Arizona

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal if over 21 years old

Arkansas

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

California

Legal if blade is <2″

Legal if blade is <2″

Legal if blade is <2″

Legal if blade is <2″

Yes

Colorado

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

No

Connecticut

Legal

Legal

Legal if blade is ≤1.5″

Legal if blade is ≤1.5″

No

Delaware

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

No

District of Columbia

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

No

Florida

Legal

Legal

Legal

Illegal (Legal with gun permit)

N/A

Georgia

Legal

Legal (if over 18)

Legal if blade is ≤5″ (any length with gun permit)

Legal if blade is ≤5″ (any length with gun permit)

Hawaii

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

No

Idaho

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal if blade is ≤4″

No

Illinois

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

No

Indiana

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

No

Iowa

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal if blade is ≤5″

No

Kansas

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

Kentucky

Legal

Legal

Legal

Illegal

Louisiana

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

No

Maine

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

Yes

Maryland

Legal

Illegal

Legal

Illegal

No

Massachusetts

Legal

Legal

Illegal

Illegal

No

Michigan

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

No

Minnesota

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

No

Mississippi

Legal

Legal

Legal

Illegal

No

Missouri

Legal

Legal

Legal

Illegal

Yes

Montana

Illegal (ex. Curio or blade is ≤1.5″)

Illegal (ex. Curio or blade is ≤1.5″)

Illegal

Illegal

No

Nebraska

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal if blade is ≤3.5″

Nevada

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

No

New Hampshire

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

No

New Jersey

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

No

New Mexico

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

Yes

New York

Legal w/ Valid Hunting and Fishing License

Legal w/ Valid Hunting and Fishing License

Legal w/ Valid Hunting and Fishing License

Legal w/ Valid Hunting and Fishing License

No

North Carolina

Legal

Legal

Legal

Illegal

No

North Dakota

Legal

Legal

Legal

Illegal

Ohio

Legal

Illegal

Legal

Illegal

No

Oklahoma

Legal

Legal

Legal

Illegal

No

Oregon

Legal

Legal

Legal

Illegal

Yes

Pennsylvania

Illegal (ex. Curio)

Illegal (ex. Curio)

Illegal

Illegal

No

Rhode Island

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal if blade is ≤3″

No

South Carolina

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

South Dakota

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

Tennessee

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

No

Texas

Legal

Legal

Legal if blade is <5.5″

Legal if blade is <5.5″

Yes

Utah

Legal

Legal

Legal

Situational

Yes

Vermont

Legal

Legal if blade is <3″

Legal

Legal

No

Virginia

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

No

Washington

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

Illegal

No

West Virginia

Legal (if over 18)

Legal

Legal (if over 18)

Illegal

No

Wisconsin

Legal

Legal

Legal

Legal

Yes

Wyoming

Legal

Legal

Legal

Situational

*New York’s state law provides an exception for “Possession of a switchblade or gravity knife for use while hunting, trapping or fishing by a person carrying a valid license.” Whether this affects sale or type of carry is unclear.

**Information cited from: “http://weaponlaws.wikidot.com/us-switchblade-laws”