Are OTF Knives Legal? - State Laws on OTF Knives

Are OTF Knives Legal? - State Laws on OTF Knives

Are OTF Knives Legal? - State Laws on OTF Knives

Knife laws and regulations across the United States vary significantly. There are three levels of legislation to consider: Federal law, state laws, and municipal or local knife laws. Additionally, specific knife types, such as Out-the-Front (OTF) knives, are sometimes defined differently from state to state.

Navigating knife laws can be confusing and challenging, especially if you frequently travel across state lines. Use this comprehensive guide to get a better idea of the legality of OTF knives, state by state.

An out the front knife with blade deployed

What Does Federal Law Say About OTF Knives?

Although most knife laws are state-level, one piece of legislation regulates knives at the federal level: the Switchblade Knife Act, also known as the Federal Switchblade Act (FSA). The FSA was passed in 1958 and codified into law in 15 USC Chapter 29 (paragraphs 1241 through 1245).

According to paragraph 1241, the legal definition of a switchblade includes any automatic knife with a blade that can retract inside the handle and which is released using either a button, lever, switch, or equivalent device. This definition includes OTF knives and many other types of automatic knives.

The primary purpose of the FSA is to regulate the manufacture and interstate commerce of knives legally defined as switchblades. It is illegal to make, transport, distribute, or introduce switchblades as part of a business transaction across state or national borders. The law does not regulate possession or carrying knives. Exceptions apply if the knives are shipped through the U.S. Postal Service or commercial couriers.

Another federal law, 18 U.S. Code 1716, considers switchblades "injurious articles" and are therefore nonmailable except under specific circumstances, such as shipping to procurement personnel in the U.S. military or another government entity.

U.S. citizens wishing to ship a switchblade across state lines, like ordering an OTF knife online from Uppercut Tactical, should use a commercial courier such as UPS or FedEx to avoid penalties.

A collection of knives with different blades

OTF Knife Laws State By State

OTF knives are generally legal to own, sell, and carry at the federal level as long as the restrictions regarding shipping and interstate commerce are respected. Most knife laws in the United States are state-level regulations.

State laws can regulate OTF knives in 5 critical aspects:

  1. Definition: The legal definition that applies to the OTF knife. Most of the time, an OTF knife falls under the definition of a "switchblade" or "automatic knife."

  2. Possession: Whether it is legal to own an OTF knife. In most circumstances, if the law prohibits individuals from possessing an OTF knife, it is generally also illegal to sell or carry it.

  3. Sale: Some states may regulate the sale of OTF knives within their borders. In some instances, ownership may be legal, but sales may not.

  4. Carry laws: Many states regulate knife carry laws, whether open carry or concealed carry, similar to firearm legislation.

  5. State preemption: Whether the state has enacted a preemption statute preventing cities, towns, and local municipalities from passing stricter knife laws than state-level regulations.

Find out more about knife laws in your state and discover whether OTF knives are legal where you live.

Alabama

Most types of knives are 100% legal for civilians to own, buy, sell, and carry in Alabama, including OTF knives.

Only Bowie knives are regulated to any extent in the Yellowhammer State: they are legal to open carry but illegal to conceal-carry. They also cannot be sold to minors (under 18). Precedent in Alabama law (Smelley v. State, 472 So. 2d 715) defines a Bowie knife as "any long knife" with a single edge that can be easily carried in a pocket but excludes any knife that "opens and shuts," such as a folding pocket knife.

  • Possession: Legal for people aged 18 and older

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: No

Alaska

Alaska's knife laws are relatively permissive, with only a few age-based restrictions in specific circumstances. For instance, concealed carrying of any weapon, including an OTF knife, is generally not permitted for individuals under 21.

As per Alaska Statutes 11.61.210, it is illegal to sell or transfer gravity knives and switchblades (defined in AS 11.81.900, which includes OTF knives) to individuals under 18 without the written consent of a parent or guardian.

  • Possession: Legal for people aged 21 and older

  • Sale: Legal for people aged 18 and older (minors need written permission)

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed for people aged 21 and older

  • State preemption: Yes

Arizona

Arizona has very few regulations surrounding knives in general, making it one of the most permissive states in the country. The only restriction in place is a prohibition to possess any deadly weapon on school grounds or polling places during election days, with no exception for pocket knives (Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3102).

Carrying a knife, openly or concealed, is legal in Arizona for anyone 21 or older. People under 21 may only carry a knife openly or concealed if kept inside their vehicle.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed for people aged 21 or older

  • State preemption: Yes

Arkansas

Arkansas does not restrict the possession, sale, or carry of knives, as long as they are employed for lawful purposes (Arkansas Code Amended 5-73-120). The only exceptions are restrictions against carrying on State Capitol grounds, the Arkansas Justice Building, schools, and other public buildings. (ACA 5-73-122). The sale or transfer (defined as “furnishing") of any deadly weapon (including knives) to minors is illegal. (ACA 5-73-109).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal, except to minors

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: No

California

California's knife laws are among the most restrictive in the nation. While the CA Penal Code (paragraph 21310) states it is illegal to carry a "dirk or dagger" concealed, the state law definitions of "dirk" and "dagger" (paragraph 16470) are so broad, they include most fixed-blade and folding knives.

OTF knives are considered equivalent to switchblade knives. They are illegal to carry in public (openly or concealed), sell, or transfer, unless the blade length is under 2 inches. (paragraph 21510).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal if blade length under 2"

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed with a blade length under 2"

  • State preemption: No

Colorado

Colorado knife laws do not restrict civilians from possessing any specific knife types, except ballistic knives (Colorado Revised Statutes 18-12-102), making OTF knives legal to own.

Colorado knife laws permit individuals to carry a non-ballistic knife openly or concealed as long as the blade length is 3.5 inches or less, including on school grounds. The blade length laws come from the legal precedent established in 1977 (People v. Pickett, 517 P.2d 1078).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed if the blade length is under 3.5"

  • State preemption: Limited. In practice, the state's preemption law only applies when transporting a "weapon" in a privately owned vehicle "for hunting or lawful protection." (CRS 18-12-105.6).

Connecticut

Connecticut knife laws prohibit individuals from owning any non-automatic knife with a blade length of over 4 inches. Automatic knives, including OTF knives, are regulated more strictly; the maximum blade length is 1.5 inches instead (Connecticut General Statutes 53-206).

There are no restrictions regarding sales or transfers, and carrying is legal, both openly and concealed. The only other regulation that applies is a prohibition against possessing any deadly weapon on school grounds and at any school-sponsored activities. (CGS 53a-217b).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: No

Delaware

The Delaware Code (Title 11, paragraph 1446) stipulates that switchblade knives, including OTF knives are illegal to possess, sell, or transfer in the Diamond State.

  • Possession: Illegal

  • Sale: Illegal

  • Carry laws: Illegal

  • State preemption: No

District of Columbia (D.C.)

According to the Code of the District of Columbia (22-4514(a)), switchblades (including OTF knives) are among the several legally defined "dangerous weapons" that are unlawful for most individuals to possess in D.C. Consequently, the transfer, sales, and carrying are also illegal.

  • Possession: Illegal

  • Sale: Illegal

  • Carry laws: Illegal

  • State preemption: N/A

Florida

Florida's knife laws do not restrict individuals from owning any knife type, except ballistic knives.

Concealed carrying of any knife other than a "common pocket knife" and non-weapon knives, such as butter knives, is illegal (Florida Statutes 790.01), unless you own a Florida concealed carry gun permit (FS 790.06). Sales and transfers of knives other than "common pocket knives" to minors is illegal. (FS 790.18).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal, except to minors

  • Carry laws: Illegal, except to concealed carry permit holders

  • State preemption: No

Georgia

In Georgia, it is legal to carry any knife openly or concealed if it has a blade length of 12 inches or less (Georgia Code 16-11-125.1), well within the typical dimensions of an OTF knife.

Knives with blades exceeding this length can only be carried by individuals with a concealed carry license issued by the state of Georgia or a state with Georgia reciprocity (GC 16-11-129).

The only significant restriction applies in school safety zones (GC 16-11-127.1), which restricts possession of knives to models with a blade length of 2 inches or less.

  • Possession: Legal if blade length is under 12 inches (2 inches on school grounds)

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: Yes

Hawaii

Hawaii law (HI Revised Statutes 134-52) prohibits the possession, sale, and transfer of switchblades and butterfly knives, including OTF and balisong knives. Consequently, open and concealed carry of these items is also illegal.

  • Possession: Illegal

  • Sale: Illegal

  • Carry laws: Illegal

  • State preemption: No

Idaho

Although all types of knives are legal to possess in Idaho, the Idaho Statutes (18-3302) legally define any knife with a blade length over 6 inches as a "deadly weapon," which may include some of the largest OTF knife models. Concealed carrying is illegal without a valid concealed weapons permit, subjecting knives to the same carry restrictions as firearms.

Sales and transfers of most knife types to minors is illegal (18-3302A), and possession of any pocket knife on school grounds is illegal unless the blade length is under 2.5 inches (18-3302D).

  • Possession: Legal (blade length must be under 2.5 inches on school property)

  • Sale: Legal, except to minors

  • Carry laws: Illegal, except to concealed carry permit holders

  • State preemption: Yes

Illinois

Illinois knife laws are among the most complex to navigate in the nation due to the relatively ambiguous wording in specific pieces of key legislation.

According to the Unlawful Use of Weapons (UUW) statute (720 ILCS 5/24-1), all switchblades and automatic knives are illegal to possess, unless the owner also possesses a valid Illinois Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card.

The Unauthorized Possession or Storage of Weapons (UPSW) statute (20 ILCS 5/21-6) states that it is unlawful to possess or store a weapon in any building "supported in whole or in part with public funds." However, it is unclear what type of buildings meet the definition. Seek legal counsel in Illinois for more information.

  • Possession: Illegal, except to Illinois FOID card owners

  • Sale: Illegal, except to sellers with an Illinois FOID card

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed at the state level. However, numerous cities and localities have knife ordinances.

  • State preemption: No

Indiana

Most knives are legal to own and carry in the Hoosier State, with few exceptions like ballistic knives and "Chinese throwing stars" as defined under Indiana Code 35-47-5-12 that do not generally apply to OTF knives. Possession is restricted to individuals on school property if they intend to use it as a weapon (IC 35-47-5-2.5).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: Yes

Iowa

OTF knives with a blade length of over 5 inches fall under Iowa's definition of a "dangerous weapon" (Iowa Code 702.7), under the umbrella of switchblade knives.

It is unlawful to carry any "dangerous weapon" concealed in Iowa without a valid weapons permit (IA Code 724.6). Additionally, carrying such weapons in any area legally defined as a "weapons-free zone" is prohibited (IA Code 724.4A).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Illegal without a permit if the knife meets the definition of a "dangerous weapon;" legal otherwise

  • State preemption: Although Iowa has a preemption statute (724.28), it only applies to firearms. Cities and counties may enact knife ordinances.

Kansas

Since the passage of HB 2033 in 2013, many sections of the Kansas Statutes were repealed, allowing knife laws in the Sunflower State to be among the most permissive in the United States. Kansas has no notable restrictions regarding the possession, sale, transfer, or carrying of knives.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: Yes

Kentucky

In 2019, Kentucky passed one of the most notable gun laws in the state's history: SB 150, which turned the Bluegrass State into a permit-less carry state. While the firearm component of the law has achieved national notoriety, a lesser-known aspect of the bill is its application to "deadly weapons" (as defined in the Kentucky Revised Statutes 500.080) which includes knives.

In short, it is legal to carry a knife openly or concealed without a license in Kentucky, provided the person carrying the knife is aged 21 or older (KRS 237.019). The only carry restrictions apply on K-12 school grounds, including school buses, recreational areas, and athletic fields (KRS 527.070).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed for people aged 21 or older

  • State preemption: Kentucky's preemption statute (KRS 65.870) applies to firearms only. Cities and localities may enact knife ordinances

A wielded OTF knife

Louisiana

Although Louisiana doesn't have a state preemption statute, state-level knife legislation has progressed over the year and become relatively permissive. Following the repeal of a previous ban on the ownership and sale of switchblades in 2018, the portion of the law restricting concealed carrying was also repealed with the passage of HB463 in July 2022.

Since August 1, 2022, Louisiana no longer prohibits the ownership, sale, carry, and "intentional concealment" of automatic knives and switchblades, which include OTF models. The only remaining state-level regulation of note is a ban on carrying knives of any type on school property and school buses (Louisiana Statutes, LSA R.S. 14:95.2).

However, most major Louisiana cities, such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge, have knife ordinances in place where switchblade ownership and carry remain illegal or strictly regulated. For example, the Baton Rouge Ordinance 13:95(4) bans all switchblades, including OTF knives.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: No

Maine

Although the Maine Revised Statutes have few knife-related laws, Section 2001-A restricts individuals from carrying concealed knives if it is a "Bowie knife, dirk, stiletto, or other "dangerous or deadly weapon," unless that knife is used to hunt, fish, or trap. For example, it is legal to conceal-carry an OTF knife if its purpose is to serve as a hunting knife.

According to State v. Jones (46 A. 3d 1125 (2012)), state law tests whether a knife is a restricted "other dangerous or deadly weapon" according to two "fact-specific inquiries:" whether the knife is primarily "designed for use against humans" and whether its primary function is to "attack or defend" a person. The inquiries also check whether a knife has been modified or altered to fit either criterion. An OTF knife may fall under this definition.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Open carry is legal if not carried "in a threatening manner," concealed carry is illegal except when hunting, fishing, or trapping

  • State preemption: No

Maryland

Maryland state law (MD Code 4-101) defines any knife other than "pen knives without a switchblade" as a weapon.

State law stipulates that the concealed carrying of any weapon is unlawful. Open carry is legal on the explicit condition that the person carrying it has no "intent or purpose of injuring an individual in an unlawful manner," which does not include self-defense.

Although the mere possession of a switchblade is legal, it is unlawful to sell, trade, or barter them (MD Code 4-105) in Maryland.

This section of Maryland law also defines a switchblade as "any knife or pen knife that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or other device." The wording used in this definition has been commonly interpreted to mean that while a side-folding knife is not legally considered a weapon in Maryland, an OTF knife may be, due to their opening mechanism.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Illegal

  • Carry laws: Open carry is legal without "intent or purpose of injuring an individual" unlawfully (carrying for self-defense is unlawful). Concealed carry is illegal.

  • State preemption: No

Massachusetts

Chapter 269, Section 10 of the Massachusetts General Laws are well-known to knife enthusiasts for the length of subsection (b): a 385-word single sentence explaining the state's knife regulations. The section relevant to OTF knife owners states that an individual in Massachusetts may not possess or carry any "switch knife" with a "blade of over 1.5 inches" on their person, which includes vehicle carry.

Subsection (j) prohibits the possession of virtually every "dangerous weapon" on school grounds without the written permission of the local board or officer in charge. Section 12 restricts the sale, manufacturing, and transfer of switch knives as defined in 269-10(b).

  • Possession: Legal if blade length is 1.5 inches or less

  • Sale: Illegal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed (including vehicle carry) if blade length is 1.5 inches or less

  • State preemption: No

Michigan

Although the Michigan Penal Code doesn't explicitly define the term "knives," section 750.227 prohibits individuals from carrying any "dagger, dirk, stiletto," or "double-edged, non-folding stabbing instrument" as defined in 750.222a, which is commonly interpreted to mean any fixed-blade knife with two edges and a point.

In other words, most OTF knives are legal to possess and carry openly or concealed except on K-12 school grounds and other weapons-free zones (750-237a), including double-edged models with a point, as they are not fixed-blade and do not otherwise fall into Michigan's definition of "dangerous weapon."

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly and concealed

  • State preemption: No

Minnesota

While Minnesota weapons laws primarily cover firearms, "switchblade knives opening automatically" are explicitly listed as illegal to possess, transfer, or manufacture (Minnesota Statutes 609.66(4)). The law doesn't appear to make a distinction between assisted-opening knives and true automatic knives. In other words, an OTF knife is highly likely to be considered illegal in a Minnesota court.

Consequently, while the Gopher State does not restrict open or concealed knife carry, one cannot legally carry an OTF knife as they are illegal to possess.

  • Possession: Illegal

  • Sale: Illegal

  • Carry laws: Illegal

  • State preemption: No

Mississippi

According to the wording in the Mississippi Code (MS Code 97-37-1), only specific types of knives are illegal to conceal-carry, including any switchblade knife. Exceptions apply to individuals carrying while "engaged in legitimate weapon-related sports activity," or traveling to or from that activity, such as hunting and fishing. Subsection 97-37-1(2) also specifies it is legal to conceal-carry inside one's own property, place of business, or vehicles.

  • Possession: Legal except to minors, intoxicated individuals (MS Code 97-37-13), and felons (MS Code 97-37-5)

  • Sale: Legal except to minors and intoxicated individuals

  • Carry laws: Illegal, except inside one's own property, place of business, vehicle, or while engaged in a "legitimate weapon-related activity"

  • State preemption: Yes

Missouri

Missouri law recognizes two legal definitions for knives: an "ordinary pocket knife," defined under Missouri Statute 571.010(12) as any knife with a 4-inch blade or shorter. Any other knives or bladed hand instruments fall under the legal definition of a "knife," making it subject to specific restrictions.

Section 571.030 states that it is unlawful for any individual to conceal-carry "a knife," excluding "ordinary pocket knives." As most OTF knives feature blades under 4 inches, they can be carried concealed. If your model features a longer blade, Subsection 4 states that owners of a valid Missouri concealed weapons permit (or a permit from a state with Missouri reciprocity) can conceal-carry "knives" and other weapons.

Section 571.107 establishes a list of locations where concealed carry is unlawful, with or without a permit. The list includes police stations, polling places on election days, prisons, correctional facilities, courthouses, and more.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly, legal to carry concealed if blade length is 4 inches or less (no blade length restriction for valid concealed carry permit holders) except where restricted by MO Statute 571.107

  • State preemption: No

Montana

Virtually every type of knife can be lawfully owned, sold, and carried openly or concealed in Montana. Restrictions only apply in specific circumstances: Statute 45-8-361 of the Montana Code states that it is unlawful to possess or store a knife with a blade length of 4 inches or more in a school building.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: Yes

Nebraska

It is unlawful to carry a concealed knife with a blade longer than 3.5 inches (Nebraska Revised Statutes 28-1202) anywhere in Nebraska. This restriction applies to all knives (NRS 28-1201), regardless of type or opening mechanism. Although this regulation applies statewide, many cities and counties enforce additional ordinances. For example, Section 9.36.035 of the Lincoln Municipal Code prohibits the possession and sale of any switchblade)

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly, legal to carry concealed if the blade length is 3.5 inches or less

  • State preemption: No

Nevada

There are only two significant knife-related restrictions in Nevada law: A prohibition to conceal-carry a machete (Nevada Revised Statutes 202.350(d)(2)), and a prohibition to possess or carry a switchblade knife with a blade length of 2 inches or more on school or child-care property (NRS 202.265). Knives are legal to own, transfer, sell, and carry openly or concealed in all other circumstances, barring local ordinances.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: No

New Hampshire

The "Live Free or Die" state has no specific restrictions on the possession, sale, transfer, or carrying of knives of any type, including OTF knives, as long as the person carrying is a law-abiding individual not previously convicted of a felony. Only one location-based exemption exists; a prohibition to carry any type of "deadly weapon" inside courthouses (New Hampshire Statutes 159:3 and 159:19).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: Yes

New Jersey

Although New Jersey law lists switchblade knives under the state's "prohibited weapons and devices" (New Jersey Code 2C:39-3), it is critical to understand that these knives are not totally banned from possession. Subsection (e) uses the following wording: "Any person who knowingly has in his possession any (...) switchblade knife (...) without any explainable lawful purpose, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree."

Possession is theoretically legal as long as the intended purpose ("explainable lawful purpose") is also legal. However, New Jersey does not recognize self-defense outside of one's own home as a lawful purpose (New Jersey v. Montalvo, 162 A.3d 270 (2017)).

  • Possession: See above

  • Sale: Illegal (NJ Code 2C:39-9(d))

  • Carry laws: Theoretically legal to carry openly or concealed; however, this is contingent on the knife's intended purpose being considered lawful.

  • State preemption: No

New Mexico

Switchblade knives are specifically listed in New Mexico Statute 30-7-8 as a type of knife that is unlawful to possess, sell, transfer, or manufacture. Consequently, OTF knives are illegal in New Mexico.

  • Possession: Illegal

  • Sale: Illegal

  • Carry laws: Illegal

  • State preemption: Yes

New York

New York is among the states with the broadest knife restrictions in the country, almost entirely based on the wording used to define "dangerous knife" in Section 265.01 of the NY Penal Law. Additionally, possession of a switchblade is explicitly listed in the same section as a crime of the fourth degree, except for the categories of individuals listed in 265.20, which includes police officers, U.S. military personnel, licensed hunters, anglers, and fur trappers, and multiple categories of local and state government personnel.

  • Possession: Illegal except for select members of law enforcement, military, and government, and to licensed hunters, anglers, and trappers.

  • Sale: Illegal, except for one of the above-listed exemptions

  • Carry laws: Generally illegal

  • State preemption: No

North Carolina

According to Section 14-269 of the North Carolina General Statutes, it is unlawful to carry a concealed "Bowie knife, dirk, dagger (...) or other weapon of like kind," except on one's own premises.

Subsection (d) states this law does not apply to "ordinary pocket knives," defined as a small knife primarily designed for pocket or purse carry, featuring an edge and point that can be enclosed entirely by the handle, and which isn't opened with a "throwing, explosive, or spring action." Exercise caution, as this exemption is primarily aimed at manual folding knives and may not cover all types of OTF knives.

Possession, sale, and transfer are legal, except to minors (NCS 14-315). Open carry is lawful for all types of knives. Carrying, openly or concealed, is unlawful on school grounds (NCS 14-269.2), in courthouses (NCS 14-269.4), and at specific events, such as parades (NCS 14-277.2).

In a nutshell:

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal except to minors

  • Carry laws: Unclear, generally interpreted as illegal

  • State preemption: No

North Dakota

North Dakota generally does not prohibit the possession, sale, or transfer of any type of knife. However, switchblades and gravity knives are listed under the state's statutory definition of a "dangerous weapon" (North Dakota Century Code 62.1-01-01), which are illegal to carry concealed (NDCC 62.1-04-01) unless the owner possesses a valid North Dakota weapon permit or an equivalent license from a recognized state with reciprocity (NDCC 62.1-04-03).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly, illegal to carry concealed except to concealed carry permit holders

  • State preemption: No

Ohio

Many previously long-standing restrictions regarding the concealed carrying of knives were struck down in April 2021. Additionally, a statewide preemption statute took effect on September 2022, rendering any previously active city and county ordinances null and void.

The only remaining knife-related restrictions are a ban on the possession of ballistic knives and a prohibition from carrying any type of "deadly weapon" (as defined by the Ohio Revised Code 2923.11) inside a school safety zone or courthouse (ORC sections 2923.122 and 2923.123).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: Yes

Oklahoma

Oklahoma knife legislation is generally permissive, with no restrictions regarding the possession, sale, or transfer of any knife type. Carrying, openly or concealed, is generally legal, except on school property. However, several exemptions apply, including law enforcement personnel, security guards, inside vehicles driving to and from a school if the knife remains inside that vehicle, or during a hunting, fishing, or weapons safety and training activity, and several other cases. (Oklahoma Statutes 21-1280).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: Yes

Oregon

Section 166.240 of the Oregon Revised Statutes prohibits individuals from conceal-carrying knives featuring "a blade that projects or swings into position by force of a spring or by centrifugal force." This statute is commonly interpreted to prohibit balisong knives, assisted-opening knives, and gravity knives, which may include OTF models.

Carrying any type of knife, openly or concealed, is generally illegal inside public buildings and court facilities (ORS 166.370) unless the knife meets the definition of an ordinary pocket knife (blade less than 4 inches long, as per ORS 166.360(b)). Possession, transfer, and sale are otherwise legal.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly, illegal to carry concealed

  • State preemption: Although Oregon technically hasn't passed a preemption statute specifically for knives, legal precedent states that local ordinances cannot be "incompatible with (Oregon's) legislative policy" (City of La Grande v. Public Employees Retirement Board).

Pennsylvania

Currently, Pennsylvania legislation regulates specific knives under the "prohibited offensive weapons" statute, as defined by the Consolidated Statutes (PACS 908). According to subsection (c), a knife is considered a prohibited offensive weapon if the blade is exposed automatically using a "switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or otherwise."

Possessing a prohibited offensive weapon of any kind is unlawful. However, legal precedent (Commonwealth v. Ashford, 1978) has determined that assisted-opening and gravity knives do not meet the legal definition of a prohibited knife, asserting that if a knife doesn't open by itself with a switch, button, or similar mechanism, it isn't "exposed automatically." Note that not all OTF knives may fall under that definition.

However, as of November 2022, PA Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1929 into law. This law, known as the Switchblade Ban Repeal, will remove automatic knives from the list of prohibited weapons, making them 100% legal to possess at the state level. The law will go into effect starting on January 2, 2023.

  • Possession: Illegal (will be legal in January 2023)

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed unless the person carrying it has "intent to employ it criminally" (PACS 907)

  • State preemption: No

Rhode Island

Although the Rhode Island General Laws do not have prohibitions against specific types of knives, Section 11-47-42 stipulates it is unlawful to conceal-carry any knife with a blade length over 3 inches. Open carry is otherwise unrestricted, except with the "intent to use it unlawfully against another." Sales to people under 18 are also prohibited without written authorization from a parent or guardian.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal for people aged 18 and older (minors need written permission)

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly, concealed carry is legal if the blade length is 3 inches or less.

  • State preemption: No

South Carolina

The Palmetto State is a generally permissive state for knife ownership. According to Statute 16-23-460 of the SC Code of Laws, while concealed carry is technically unlawful, subsection (C) details a long list of weapons that are exempted from the prohibition statute, including all knives, unless used while committing (or with the intent to commit) a crime.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed, except while committing a crime, or with the intention to do so

  • State preemption: Yes. However, several cities, including Charleston, Greenville, and Columbia, have knife ordinances in place implemented before the adoption of a statewide preemption law. Local law enforcement may continue enforcing these ordinances, despite being inconsistent with state legislation.

South Dakota

In South Dakota law, all knives fall under the definition of a "dangerous weapon" (SD Codified Laws 22-1-2(10)). However, there are very few restrictions regarding the possession, sale, transfer, or carrying of OTF knives or any other item classified as a "dangerous weapon."

SDCL 22-14-8 stipulates it is unlawful to conceal-carry any dangerous weapon with the intent to commit a felony. SDCL 13-32-7 and 22-14-23 defines courthouses, the State Capitol, and public elementary and secondary school premises as zones where carrying a dangerous weapon is a misdemeanor.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: No

Tennessee

Generally, Tennessee does not restrict individuals from possessing or carrying knives of any type. Even though "knife" and "switchblade" are defined in Statute 39-17-1301 of the Tennessee Code, neither is listed as a prohibited weapon in 39-17-1302.

Only a few location-based restrictions apply: it is unlawful to possess or carry knives on any type of school grounds, from kindergartens to universities, public or private (39-17-1309).

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed, except on school grounds

  • State preemption: Yes

Texas

Are OTF knives legal in Texas? Section 46.01 of the Texas Penal Code defines two types of knives: "location-restricted knives," which include all knives with blades longer than 5.5 inches, and "knives," which refer to any "bladed hand instrument capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death."

Knives with a blade length of exactly 5.5 inches are treated as knives and are not "location-restricted." The vast majority of OTF knives feature shorter blades, meaning they are not considered location-restricted.

Most knife restrictions in Texas apply to "location-restricted knives." Section 46.03 stipulates one may not intentionally or recklessly bring such knives to school grounds, government courts and offices, race tracks, secure areas in airports, polling places during election days and early voting periods, or within 1,000 feet of a place of execution on the day a death sentence is set.

Additionally, Section 46.02(a4) stipulates it is unlawful for any person under the age of 18 to possess a location-restricted knife, except while at home, inside a vehicle under their control, while under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian, or while engaged in a lawful outdoor pursuit as defined in Section 46.15, such as hunting or fishing.

  • Possession: Legal. Location-restricted knives are legal only for people over the age of 18.

  • Sale: Legal. Location-restricted knives can only be sold to people over the age of 18.

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed, except at select places if carrying is a "location-restricted knife"

  • State preemption: Yes

Utah

The Utah Criminal Code does not define knives as a specific type of weapon recognized by the law. They are instead covered by the more general definition of a "dangerous weapon" as per 76-10-501(6)(a)(ii).

Consequently, Utah does not prohibit individuals from possessing any specific type of knife, and both open and concealed carry are legal, except on school grounds from kindergarten to higher education institutions (UCC 76-10-505.5). The only restrictions regarding sales and transfers of knives are listed in UCC 76-10-503, which states it is unlawful to knowingly sell or transfer any type of dangerous weapon to a convicted felon.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal, except to convicted felons

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed, except on school grounds

  • State preemption: Yes

Vermont

Although Vermont is well-known by firearm enthusiasts for being the first "Constitutional Carry" state, the state's many knife regulations are less well-known.

Vermont law prohibits individuals from possessing, selling, or transferring switchblades with a blade length of 3 inches or more (13 VSA 4013), which includes many OTF knives. It is also unlawful to knowingly sell or transfer any type of dangerous weapon (as defined in 13 VSA 1021) to a minor under the age of 16 (13 VSA 4007).

  • Possession: Legal if blade length under 3 inches

  • Sale: Legal if blade length under 3 inches to people aged 16 or more.

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: Yes

Virginia

According to the Virginia Code, Section 18.2-308, it is unlawful to conceal-carry various types of knives, including switchblade knives. Exemptions apply to individuals within their own homes, at their place of business, and to law enforcement officers.

An exemption also applies to individuals at or traveling to and from a long list of premises and activities listed in subsection C, which includes shooting ranges, repair shops, the premises of a weapon collecting organization, or while lawfully hunting.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal except to minors (VA Code 18.2-309)

  • Carry laws: Illegal, except at home, one's own place of business, or another exemption listed under 18.2-308(C)

  • State preemption: No

Washington

The Washington Revised Code uses the wording "furtively carry" to refer to concealed carrying. According to RCW 9.41.250, it is unlawful to possess, manufacture, sell, or transfer "spring-blade knives," defined as any knife with a blade automatically released using a spring mechanism or an equivalent mechanical device, including OTF knives.

The same section prohibits individuals from "furtively carrying" any dagger, dirk, pistol, or "other dangerous weapons," which may include knives of any type.

  • Possession: Illegal

  • Sale: Illegal

  • Carry laws: Illegal

  • State preemption: No

West Virginia

While West Virginia does not prohibit the possession of any type of knives, most knife-related restrictions in West Virginia are related to carrying and hinge on the person's age.

According to the West Virginia Code, Section 61-7-3, it is unlawful for a person aged under 21 to carry any type of "concealed deadly weapon," unless they possess a state-issued Provisional Concealed Handgun License.

Section 61-7-10 stipulates it is unlawful to knowingly sell or transfer any type of deadly weapon to prohibited persons and to passersby on a street, road, or alley.

  • Possession: Legal

  • Sale: Legal except to minors and prohibited persons

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly. Concealed carry legal only to individuals aged 21 or older. Persons under 21 but over 18 may legally conceal-carry with a West Virginia Provisional Concealed Handgun License.

  • State preemption: Yes

Wisconsin

WI Statute 939.22 defines the term "dangerous weapon" very broadly: it is either "any firearm" or "any device designed as a weapon," and includes any type of knife.

Although Wisconsin law states it is unlawful to conceal-carry a dangerous weapon (WI Stat. 941.23), subsection (1)(ap) specifically excludes knives. The only restrictions regarding concealed knives are outlined in WI Stat. 941.231, which states that any person prohibited from possessing a firearm may not "go armed with a concealed knife" meeting the definition of a dangerous weapon.

  • Possession: Legal except to minors (WI Stat. 948.60)

  • Sale: Legal except to minors

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed, except to individuals prohibited from possessing firearms

  • State preemption: Yes

Wyoming

Wyoming laws do not specifically define knives, instead using a general definition of "deadly weapon" (WY Statutes 6-1-104) that includes "devices and instruments" that can be used to "produce death or serious bodily injury."

According to Statute 6-8-104, it is unlawful to conceal-carry any type of "deadly weapon" unless one is a law enforcement officer, possesses a valid Wyoming concealed carry permit (or an equivalent permit from another state with Wyoming reciprocity), or is otherwise eligible to possess one. Generally, this applies to any Wyoming resident aged 21 or older with no prior convictions for violent crimes or drug offenses.

  • Possession: Legal to people aged 21 or older or to holders of a valid gun permit

  • Sale: Legal

  • Carry laws: Legal to carry openly or concealed

  • State preemption: Yes

Conclusion

So if you've been wondering "are OTF knives legal?" - now you know. We Hope this overview was helpful!

Find Reliable Tactical Knives and Survival Gear at Uppercut Tactical

Uppercut Tactical offers a huge range of OTF knives, tactical knives, and other survival equipment. Our selection of knives includes models legal in states with blade length restrictions, ensuring you can carry your favorite knife legally, safely, and confidently.

Legal Disclaimer

This information is presented as a brief synopsis of the law and not as legal advice. Uppercut Tactical is not a legal service provider. Use of the site does not create a lawyer/client relationship. Laws are interpreted differently by enforcement officers, prosecuting attorneys, and judges. We suggests that you consult legal counsel for guidance.

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