California : what is a legal knife there?


April 6, 2007, 03:03 PM
Am taking a trip next month to California to visit the national parks there. I typically wear a 5" sheath knife while hiking and carry a 6' walking stick.
Know California is stringent on gun control, so was curious about what is legal in the way of knives while in California?

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April 6, 2007, 03:54 PM
but breaking them, while somewhat hard to do, is a serious crime.
IANAL, but here's what I understand from what I've read.

Any size fixed-blade knife may be carried openly. No fixed blade knife may be carried concealed.

Any size folding knife may be carried openly or concealed.

Gravity knives, switchblades, and the like, are illegal. No knife may be possessed that uses a mechanical action to open. Spring-assisted manual folders are not mechanically-operated knives under CA law. This is a greyish area, but that's my understanding.

Local police are notoriously unknowledgeable about knife laws. Nonsense like "any blade longer than the width of your fingers is illegal" has been around for so long that even some cops have been known to believe it. If you're really worried about it, print out and keep handy the relevant sections of the law. They're available online, googling "california knife laws" would be a good start.

FWIW, I routinely carry a 5 1/2" blade, 10" overall fixed blade Anza 705 in a leather belt sheath. It's never been a problem. But then, I don't look or act like someone cops would want to hassle. Even if they did, I'm within the law.

I wouldn't sweat it.


April 6, 2007, 04:56 PM
What Shannon said. If you're in a Nat'l Park, you can carry the gear you mentioned. But, check for yourself -- if the law changed since I last lived there, you could be in trouble.

April 6, 2007, 05:14 PM
Don't forget that while open carry of fixed blade knives is legal on the state level, there will likely be local town and city laws prohibiting it, which there's not really any way for somebody to know since there are hundreds of towns/cities/municipalities in CA.


Carry a concealed folder ;) Heck I'm at work now in a corporate office and I have my Benchmade concealed on me. Concealed means concealed.

April 6, 2007, 05:31 PM
You have to keep in mind that certain counties in CA have their own ordinances that deal with knife carry. You should be ok in the national park, but if you were to openly carry in Los Angeles for example, you would be in trouble. Here is an example:

Los Angeles Municipal Code

(Added by Ord. No. 162,995, Eff. 1/7/88.)

(a) As used in this section, the term knife or dagger shall include any knife, dirk or dagger having a blade 3 inches or more in length, any ice pick or similar sharp tool, any straight edge razor or any razor blade fitted to a handle.

(b) No person shall wear or carry in plain view any knife or dagger upon any public street or other public place or in any place open to the public.

(c) The prohibitions of this section shall not apply where a person is wearing or carrying a knife or dagger for use in a lawful occupation, for lawful recreational purposes, or as a recognized religious practice, or while the person is traveling to or returning from participation in such activity.

Gordon Fink
April 6, 2007, 05:34 PM
I carry a knife religiously, so I guess Iím covered in L.A. ;)

~G. Fink

April 6, 2007, 06:05 PM
Jim March has a great site on knives and CA regs. However, if I recall correctly, his site states that you can have a folding knife of up to 4 inches concealed on your person. I talked to a local police officer here in the bay area and he said Fremont has a 3 inch limit.

It's CA so you don't need a knife anyway since there is no crime and everyone loves everyone. :rolleyes:

April 6, 2007, 08:15 PM

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