U.S. state laws regarding possession, concealed and non-concealed carryState Possession Carry
Alabama Legal - State Code: Title 13A Criminal Code Legal Allowed if not concealed - State Code: Section 13A-11-50
Alaska Illegal - State Code: Article 2, Section 11.61.200 Illegal- State Code: Article 2, Section 11.61.200
Arizona Legal - State Code: Arizona Criminal Code 13-3102 Legal - State Code: 13-3102 A-1
Arkansas Legal - State Code: 5-73-121 Legal Allowed if not concealed & blade is under 3.5 inches - State Code: 5-73-121
California Legal - State Code: California Penal Code 653k Legal Allowed if blade is under 2 inches. State Code: 653k
Colorado Illegal - State Code: Criminal Code Section 18-12-101 Illegal- State Code: Criminal Code Section 18-12-101
Connecticut Legal - State Code: Sec. 53-206'' Illegal if blade is over 1.5 inches - State Code: Sec. 53-206
Delaware Illegal - State Code: Crimes & Criminal Procedure - Chapter 11 Section 222 Illegal - State Code: Chapter 11 Section 222
Florida Legal - State Code: 790.001 Legal - State Code: 790.001
Georgia Legal - State Code: 16-11-126 Legal - State Code: 16-11-126
Hawaii Illegal - State Code: §134-51 Illegal - State Code: §134-51
Idaho Legal - State Code: 18-3302 Legal Allowed - Illegal if intoxicated or exhibit any deadly or dangerous weapon in a rude, angry or threatening manner - State Code: 18-3302
Illinois Legal - State Code: Criminal Code 720 ILCS 5/24-1 Illegal - State Code:720 ILCS 5/24-1
Indiana Illegal - State Code: IC 35-47-5-2 Sec.2.(2) Illegal - State Code: IC 35-47-5-2 Sec.2.(2)
Iowa Legal - State Code: Crime Control and Criminal Acts - Definitions. 702.7 Legal if not concealed - State Code: 724.4
Kansas Illegal - State Code: Article 42. Crimes Against the Public Safety Weapons Control. Section 21-4201 Illegal - State Code: Section 21-4201
Kentucky Legal - State Code: 500.080 Definitions for Kentucky Penal Code Legal concealed carry allowed with "concealed deadly weapons permit" State Code: 527.020
Louisiana Illegal - State Code: Louisiana - R.S. 14:95 Illegal - State Code: Louisiana - R.S. 14:95
Maine Illegal - State Code: Maine - Chapter. 43 17-A Section 1055 Illegal - State Code: Maine - Chapter. 43 17-A Section 1055
Maryland Illegal - State Code:§ 4-105 Illegal State Code: § 4-101 (a).(5).(ii).2
Massachusetts Illegal - State Code: GENERAL LAWS PART IV. TITLE I. Chapter 269: Section 10 Illegal - State Code: GENERAL LAWS PART IV. TITLE I. Chapter 269: Section 10
Michigan Illegal - State Code: 750.226a. Illegal - State Code: 750.226a.
Minnesota Illegal, but exception made for collectors and/or possession as curios or antiques. - State Code: Section 609.66 Subdivision 1 Illegal - State Code: Section 609.66 Subdivision 1
Mississippi Legal - State Code: Crimes Section § 97-37-1 Allowed if not concealed or intoxicated - State Code: Crimes Section § 97-37-1
Missouri Illegal, but exception made for collectors and/or possession as curios or antiques. - State Code: Chapter 571, Weapons Offenses 571.020.1.(7) Illegal - State Code: Chapter 571, Weapons Offenses 571.020.1.(7)
Montana Illegal, but exception made for collectors and/or possession as curios or antiques. - State Code: 45-8-331 Illegal - State Code: 45-8-331
Nebraska Legal - State Code: Crimes and Punishments. 28-1201 Legal Allowed if not concealed - State Code: Crimes and Punishments. 28-1201
Nevada Allowed with permit - State Code: NRS 202.355 Illegal - State Code: NRS 202.355
New Hampshire Legal - State Code: HB 1665 (May 2010) Legal - State Code: HB 1665 (May 2010)
New Jersey Illegal - State Code: Code of Criminal Justice - 2C:39-3 Illegal - State Code: Code of Criminal Justice- 2C:39-3e]
New Mexico Illegal - State Code: Criminal Offenses - 30-1-12 Illegal - State Code: Criminal Offenses - 30-1-12
New York Illegal - State Code: Penal Law Section 265.01 Illegal - State Code: Penal Law Section 265.01
North Carolina Legal - State Code: 14-269" Legal Allowed if not concealed - State Code: 14-269"
North Dakota Legal - State Code: Criminal Code - Weapons - 62.1-04-02 Legal Allowed if not concealed - State Code: Criminal Code - Weapons - 62.1-04-02
Ohio Legal (purchases only allowed through online retailers)- State Code: § 2923.12 Illegal - State Code: § 2923.12
Oklahoma Legal - State Code: §21-1272. Illegal - State Code: §21-1272.
Oregon Legal - State Code: 166.240 Legal Allowed if not concealed - State Code: 166.240
Pennsylvania Illegal, but exception made for collectors and/or possession as curios. - State Code: Pa. C.S.A. 18.908 Illegal - State Code: Pa. C.S.A. 18.908
Rhode Island Legal - State Code: 11-47-42 Legal - State Code: 11-47-42
South Carolina Legal - State Code: 16-23-460 Illegal - State Code: 16-23-460
South Dakota Legal - State Code: 22-14-19 Legal - State Code: 22-14-19
Tennessee Illegal, exception made for collectors and/or possession as curios or antiques - State Code: 39-17-1302 (c) (1) Illegal - State Code: 39-17-1302
Texas Illegal, but exception made for collectors and/or possession as curios or antiques - State Code: Health, Safety & Morals - 46.02 Illegal - State Code: Health, Safety & Morals - 46.02
Utah Legal - State Code: Offenses Against Public Health and Safety - 76-10-504 Legal Allowed if not concealed; concealed carry allowed with permit or license - State Code: Offenses Against Public Health and Safety - 76-10-504
Vermont Illegal - State Code: Ch. 85 Weapons - T.13-4003 Illegal - State Code: Ch. 85 Weapons - T.13-4003
Virginia Legal(purchases only allowed through online retailers) - State Code: 18.2-308 Illegal- State Code: 18.2-308
Washington Illegal - State Code: RCW 9.41.250 Illegal - State Code: RCW 9.41.250
West Virginia Legal - State Code: §61-7-2 Legal Allowed if not concealed; concealed carry allowed with permit or license - State Code: §61-7-2
Wisconsin Illegal - State Code: 941.24 Illegal - State Code: 941.24
Wyoming Legal -State Code: Statutes 6-8-104 Legal Allowed if not concealed -State Code: Statutes 6-8-104
Federal lawThe Switchblade Act, (public law 85-623, enacted on August 12, 1958, and codified in 15 USC 1241-1245), prohibits possession on Federal lands, Indian reservations, military bases, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other protectorates. It prohibits manufacture and sale of switchblades in interstate commerce. It provides exceptions for manufacture pursuant to government contract, and use by Law enforcement, government agencies, members of the Armed Forces, and for one-armed persons. The act was amended in 1986 to also restrict ballistic knives. 18 USC 1716 further restricts sending switchblade knives through the United States Postal Service, with a few exceptions. Federal law does not mandate prohibition within an individual state.
State lawsEach individual state (and sometimes individual counties, cities, and towns) may, and often do, have laws restricting weapons including knives, often specifically mentioning switchblades. Laws often refer to blade lengths and styles to define tools with useful purposes. The definition of a legal knife is often taken in context with the situation. Some states allow police officers to declare any object, screwdriver or broken bottle as an offensive weapon. These state laws differ greatly. Switchblade knives are legal in some U.S. States in one way or another for citizens. Switchblade knives are legal in all U.S. states for Military personnel and other qualified individuals.
653k. Every person who possesses in the passenger's or driver's area of any motor vehicle in any public place or place open to the public, carries upon his or her person, and every person who sells, offers for sale, exposes for sale, loans, transfers, or gives to any other person a switchblade knife having a blade two or more inches in length is guilty of a misdemeanor. For the purposes of this section, "switchblade knife" means a knife having the appearance of a pocketknife, and includes a spring-blade knife, snap-blade knife, gravity knife or any other similar type knife, the blade or blades of which are two or more inches in length and which can be released automatically by a flick of a button, pressure on the handle, flip of the wrist or other mechanical device, or is released by the weight of the blade or by any type of mechanism whatsoever. "Switchblade knife" does not include a knife that opens with one hand utilizing thumb pressure applied solely to the blade of the knife or a thumb stud attached to the blade, provided that the knife has a detent or other mechanism that provides resistance that must be overcome in opening the blade, or that biases the blade back toward its closed position. For purposes of this section, "passenger's or driver's area" means that part of a motor vehicle which is designed to carry the driver and passengers, including any interior compartment or space therein.
Connecticut law states that:
§ 53-206. Carrying of dangerous weapons prohibited.
(a) Any person who carries upon one's person any BB. gun, blackjack, metal or brass knuckles, or any dirk knife, or any switch knife, or any knife having an automatic spring release device by which a blade is released from the handle, having a blade of over one and one-half inches in length, or stiletto, or any knife the edged portion of the blade of which is four inches or over in length, any police baton or nightstick, or any martial arts weapon or electronic defense weapon, as defined in section 53a-3, or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than three years or both. Whenever any person is found guilty of a violation of this section, any weapon or other instrument within the provisions of this section, found upon the body of such person, shall be forfeited to the municipality wherein such person was apprehended, notwithstanding any failure of the judgment of conviction to expressly impose such forfeiture
In 2003, Florida Governor Jeb Bush overturned a questionable law stating "No one shall carry a self propelled knife". The law was cleared up to allow Florida residents to use so called switchblade knives. (Portion of 790.225, F.S)
The American Knife and Tool Institute ( AKTI ), is addressing the inequities of regional law, by refining a glossary of knife terms including switchblades, stilettos, Bowies and gravity knives. The definitions are cultured from court rulings and first hand knowledge by collectors. The AKTI hopes the use of this glossary will achieve standardized common terms for knife types or measuring points among legal officers and and collectors, leading to sensible knife legislation and law enforcement, with considerations to the knife makers and collectors in America today.
Overview of Switchblade designs:There are two basic types of switchblades, side-opening / folding switchblades and OTF switchblades (Out-The-Front or telescoping). A side-opening knife's blade pivots out of the side of the handle (in the same manner as an ordinary folding knife, except with the press of a button). An out-the-front knife's blade slides directly forward, out of the tip of the handle. There are two types of OTF (out the front) knives: double action and single action.
Double action OTFs allow the user to extend or retract the blade with the press of a sliding button. Spring tension in these knives is actually provided by the movement of the button, which makes them much safer to carry since they will not open accidentally. However, the extra force the spring requires can also make intentional opening more difficult.
Single Action OTFs require the user to retract the blade manually and compress the spring. Because they often use a lever to compress the spring, stronger springs can be used. This makes them open more vigorously than the double-action type, and allows them to achieve tighter lock-up.
The varieties of button or lever mechanisms, blade locks, safeties, single or multi-blade and spring configurations are so numerous that a complete listing is virtually impossible. Several books, periodicals and newsletters have been written to aid in cataloging for collectors.
The word stiletto is sometimes used in English to refer to a switchblade however a stiletto is a short knife or dagger, with a long slender blade of various designs and does not necessarily insinuate that it is an automatic switchblade. Switchblade Stilettos should not be confused with or the non-automatic stiletto linerlock or lockback version folding knives.
The side-opening switchblade should not be confused with the butterfly knife also called the Balisong or Batangas
The side-opening switchblade should not be confused with the Assisted-Opening Knife also referred to as the A/O Knife, Torsion Assist Knife, Assisted Knife, Spring Assist Knife, Spring Assisted Knife, Quick Release, Quick Draw, Alternative Automatic and the Semi-Auto. An assisted-opening knife is a knife that when you push on the thumb stud to open it a spring takes over and propels the blade open. Assisted knives make a great alternative to automatic knives. An assisted-opening knife is a type of knife which uses an assisted mechanism behind the blade. They open by the ambidextrous thumb stud on the blade with a slight bit of pressure. They are commonly confused with switchblades, but have one main difference. While a switchblade can be opened usually with the push of a button within the handle, the user of a spring-assisted knife must apply slight pressure to the thumb stud and the spring/torsion assisted mechanism does the rest. Once the knife has been opened about one-quarter of the way (45°), the mechanism will open the knife the rest of the way. In basic essence the main difference between a full-auto and an assisted-opening knife is the external trigger, and the internal power source. A full-auto uses a spring to power the blade and a button to release the blade from the handle. By contrast, a assisted-opening knife uses a pre-tensioned crescent shaped steel bar to provide the power, and the user is required to depress the blade in some way - either by the use of a thumb stud or some protrusion on the blade itself. Because the user’s hands are clear of the sharpened portion of the blade during deployment they are far safer than a traditional knife where the users hand must come into forcible contact with the blade. Small differences admittedly, but differences nonetheless; and the law is all about detail. Thus a assisted-opening knife is not prohibited in the US, UK, or Canada in the same way that a full-auto is and logically this makes sense - ANY knife (or ANY other tool for that matter) can be dangerous in the wrong hands IRRESPECTIVE of configuration, size, ease of use, or geometry. This amounts to criminal abuse of what is just a tool let's not forget. When Kershaw revealed the Chive at the Shotshow in America during 2003, people were amazed at the simplicity of it’s' design. After all, how could someone pack so much technological advancement into such a small package? Acclaimed American custom knife maker Ken Onion is the man behind this wonderful new design. But perhaps the origin's of Mr. Onion's marvel need a little more exploring. Kershaw's little Chive has proved to be quite a controversial showpiece. So what's the secret behind it's incredibly easy-to-use blade deployment mechanism...Some have questioned the legality of carrying something that opens so readily, yet the law is quite clear. Switchblade Automatic knives are defined as an auto as 'operated by a button or any other device attached to the handle'. Of course, the Chive has neither a spring nor any device attached to the handle, relying instead on a pre-tensioned steel bar to provide the power (an invention pioneered by Blackie Collins on the Meyerco Power Assisted range). It also features an extended tang that protrudes from the handle, another idea developed from Kit Carson's Flipper system found on his Columbia River M16 models. Combine the two ideas and ... wow! It's fast alright, but still within the limits of acceptability. Some argue that this just exploits a loophole within the law, but I would point out that this is just extremely clever conceptual design and it should be appreciated as such. Kershaw promote the safety aspect of the design, and irrespective of whether it is fast or not, you can't escape the fact that the whole idea is to provide a tool which is easily and readily available for use with maximum safety in mind.
Switchblades from the 1930s to the 50s had a high amount of hand craftsmanship and are very collectible. Recent mass production methods tend to yield cheaper knives with thinner materials and less detail work. However, there are a fair number of knife companies and custom makers who build high-quality automatic knives for military, emergency personnel, and for knife collectors. Some famous automatic knife manufacturers include Microtech Knives, Gerber Legendary Blades, ProTech, Benchmade, Dalton, Boker/Magnum, Severtech, Spyderco, and Piranha. Then there are the Italian manufacturers famous for the classic stiletto style switchblade. Included among these are Frank Beltrame, whose family has been making automatics for over 50 years, and AGA Campolin, another family concern that has been in the business for some 60 years.
A new variation of the switchblade is a Dual-Action design that allows the user to manually open the knife as though it were a manual (and legal) folding knife. Often, the trigger for such knives is hidden in a grip panel, these are commonly referred to as Hidden Release or Hidden Scale, The user is required to move the scale away from the body of the handle or squeeze or twist the handle in a certain fashion, or is hidden in some other manner such as the Colt M-16-K, Boker Plus Tactical Action 2 Linerlock, or the Smith & Wesson SWAT series.
LegalityRegardless of specific legislation, in common law countries switchblades (like other knives) are likely to be considered as offensive weapons and carrying them in public "without lawful authority or reasonable excuse" to be illegal.
Switchblades however, are often covered by specific law. Such laws generally restrict one or more of the following: manufacture, export, importation, sale, possession, or carrying in a public place.
Guide created: 11/05/08 (updated 06/03/14)