Bowie Knives, Texas Law, and Exceptions


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Anthony
January 19, 2003, 12:15 PM
Hello Everyone,

Sometimes back I was speaking with Bill Bagwell who lives here in Texas like I do. Although the law says a person in Texas can carry a single edged knife with a blade of up to 5 1/2 inches, I swear Bill told me about an exception to the law that would allow you to carry a large knife like the Bowies he makes. It had something to do with carrying a specific amount of money. About $500 if memory serves.

After looking around in our state penal code I can't find such an exception beyond the usual "traveling" and being "involved in an activity (e.g., hunting, hiking) in which such a knife would be used." Also, I know our concealed carry handgun permits do not allow us to carry large blades. As Bagwell is well versed in the history and laws of the Bowie knife I feel he must be right or my memory is not working so well.

I could be mistaken, but I really don't think so.

Is there anyone who can shed some light on this for me?

Thanks for the help.

- Anthony

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para.2
January 19, 2003, 03:58 PM
Bagwell may well have sources other than these but according to Texas Penal Code, carrying an "Illegal weapon" on or about the person is a misdemeanor., and, by their definition:

(6) "Illegal knife" means a:
(A) knife with a blade over five and one-half inches;
(B) hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown;
(C) dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stilletto, and poniard;
(D) bowie knife;

If there's an exception, I can't find it.
:confused:

Don Gwinn
January 19, 2003, 05:42 PM
Given the choice between carrying my usual three dollars plus a Spyderco or $500 cash and a Bagwell Bowie, I do believe I'd feel safer with the Spydie. Mr. Bagwell makes wonderful knifes, but come on!

Jim March
January 20, 2003, 07:00 AM
The Bagwell-licenced factory reproductions by Ontario are really excellent :).

Bill Bagwell is one of a very small number of people who know how to make a light-feeling, "tip agile" big bowie. Until you handle one and swing it around a bit, you really won't understand. Mad Dog knows what he's doing in that department too, the Panther just sends shivers up your arm if you understand what you're holding. Ernie Mayer at Black Cloud is another good'un, and probably the best value in a handmade (ground versus forged in Ernie's case) big fighting Bowie.

There's *maybe* three others that really know how a big Bowie should work. The rest try and make "brute force" critters.

brownie0486
January 20, 2003, 02:49 PM
I have two Bagwell Hells Belles presently and one on order due in after two years wait anytime now.

One at 11 1/8 " blade
One at 10 1/2 " blade length.

The one coming soon is a damascus Belle in 11 1/8" blade with a 14,000 yrs old wooly mammouth/mastadon ivory handle cut from a block of ivory I sent him that weighed 6 pounds.

The ontario knockoffs Bill has authorized are good knives but on the expensive side for what they are in my opinion. They give the feel of his blades to a degree but my real 11 1/8" Bagwell literally moves into different directions while in use almost effortlessly.

It may be hard to believe but that one can be held by someone at a 45 degree angle and if they have their eyes closed can't feel the blade on the handle, it's that balanced and thats what makes it so fast.

The 11 1/8" bladed Belle is the same knife he carries regularly. These knives will reach out and touch you quickly.

I have trained on the long knives with Bill as well over the years, the man knows his history of the long knives [Bowie types] and knows how to use them like they did back then when the knife culture of the south was alive and vibrant.


Brownie

Don Gwinn
January 20, 2003, 03:43 PM
I believe it. I ran into a gentleman with a Bagwell Hell's Belle at the BLADE show in Atlanta a few years ago, and it was a revelation. Out of my price range, though.

snow
August 12, 2009, 08:34 PM
I am concerned about this because I am moving to Texas next week and I own a SOG seal pup elite. It is under the 5.5 blade maximum but I wonder does the blade shape constitute a bowie. I carry this knife a lot as my primary and wonder how it would be judged in Texas. I also have a Camillus BK7 that has the clip point shape. Are these two knives going to be a no no in Texas or can I still carry two of my favorites?

Vonderek
August 12, 2009, 09:01 PM
according to Texas Penal Code, carrying an "Illegal weapon" on or about the person is a misdemeanor., and, by their definition:

(6) "Illegal knife" means a:
(A) knife with a blade over five and one-half inches;
(B) hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown;
(C) dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stilletto, and poniard;
(D) bowie knife;
Good grief! It's illegal to carry a Bowie knife in Texas??? I would think that would be the first place it would be legal given that 'ol Jim gave his life for Texas freedom! It should be mandatory to carry one there just out of respect!

Deltaboy
August 13, 2009, 12:08 AM
Yep we got some dumb as Bricks Laws down here in TX.

No Bowies and No OC.

hso
August 13, 2009, 05:58 AM
They banned bowies because of dueling. Kinda like banning a tool because of a behavior.

Deltaboy
August 13, 2009, 10:52 PM
I knew the reason why but I see they didn't ban guns because of dueling they just outlawed dueling. Sorry HSO I taught Texas History for several years.

middy
August 14, 2009, 02:50 PM
I am concerned about this because I am moving to Texas next week and I own a SOG seal pup elite. It is under the 5.5 blade maximum but I wonder does the blade shape constitute a bowie. I carry this knife a lot as my primary and wonder how it would be judged in Texas. I also have a Camillus BK7 that has the clip point shape. Are these two knives going to be a no no in Texas or can I still carry two of my favorites?

As long as there is no second edge (a sharpened swedge) it's not considered a bowie knife.

hso
August 14, 2009, 08:08 PM
Ahh, but guns were considered too broadly useful, at the time, while bowies were a nice narrow area of cutlery to ban because of their mystique. Not enough support for the bowie compared to the gun so the tool gets banned instead of the behavior (as you so correctly pointed out was the reverse for handguns).

Perhaps the first of the perception over reality bans.

Daggers may have preceded the ban back east, but I'd have to dive back into the knife histories to be certain.

Deltaboy
August 14, 2009, 09:31 PM
Yep I have a double edge boot knife that I never had issues with in Arkansas but my reading of the Texas legal Code on them means it stays at home. I had used my Parkers Brothers Smokey Mountian Toothpick to cut electrical tape with for years. Now it is all cleaned up and is clipped in the side pocket of my easy chair to cut cheese and summer sausage with.

middy
August 14, 2009, 09:36 PM
Yep we got some dumb as Bricks Laws down here in TX.

No Bowies and No OC.

OC is legal in Texas.

Deltaboy
August 14, 2009, 09:53 PM
Where did you read OC is legal off your property in Texas?

glistam
August 14, 2009, 10:07 PM
(14) "Chemical dispensing device" means a device, other than a small chemical dispenser sold commercially for personal protection, that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of dispensing a substance capable of causing an adverse psychological or physiological effect on a human being.

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.46.htm

hso
August 14, 2009, 10:10 PM
Pepper spray vs Open Carry?

Can I OC a can of OC?

8830
August 14, 2009, 10:10 PM
http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.46.htm#46.05

(14) "Chemical dispensing device" means a device, other than a small chemical dispenser sold commercially for personal protection, that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of dispensing a substance capable of causing an adverse psychological or physiological effect on a human being.

middy
August 15, 2009, 02:44 AM
Where did you read OC is legal off your property in Texas?

Oh you meant open carry! I thought you were talking about pepper spray... :D

JohnKSa
August 15, 2009, 03:46 AM
As long as there is no second edge (a sharpened swedge) it's not considered a bowie knife.That is not spelled out in the law anywhere.I swear Bill told me about an exception to the law that would allow you to carry a large knife like the Bowies he makes. It had something to do with carrying a specific amount of money. About $500 if memory serves.Neither is this, nor do I recall having commonly heard either one repeated as fact even from less legitimate sources.

One of the biggest problem with TX knife laws is that, for the most part, there are no careful definitions in the law. The law says a "bowie knife" is illegal but doesn't state what a "bowie knife" is. Same with "daggers"--although they do give you some examples of "daggers" to help a little.

As far as I know only exceptions that allow one to carry illegal knives are:


Being in the actual discharge of official duties as a member of the armed forces or state military forces as defined by Section 431.001, Government Code, or as a guard employed by a penal institution;
Being on your own premises or premises under your control unless you are an employee or agent of the owner of the premises and your primary responsibility is to act in the capacity of a security guard to protect persons or property, in which event you must comply with another section of law
Traveling (which is not defined in the law).
You are engaging in lawful hunting, fishing, or other sporting activity on the immediate premises where the activity is conducted, or are en route between the premises and your residence, if the knife is a type commonly used in the activity;

hso
August 15, 2009, 06:48 AM
Don't bet on any LEO or court accepting the detail of sharpened swedge being the deciding factor in your freedom. If it looks like a bowie you will be treated like it's a bowie by 99% of the people you talk to.

Deltaboy
August 15, 2009, 03:38 PM
That is OK Middy I was refering to Open carry.

middy
August 15, 2009, 04:18 PM
Don't bet on any LEO or court accepting the detail of sharpened swedge being the deciding factor in your freedom. If it looks like a bowie you will be treated like it's a bowie by 99% of the people you talk to.

I don't think a decent lawyer would have much of a problem fighting the charge, though. A clip-point, single-edged, fixed-blade knife of 5.5" or less is legal. All it would take is a comparison to an actual Bowie knife in person for a judge to dismiss the case. Probably.

JohnKSa
August 16, 2009, 12:33 AM
A clip-point, single-edged, fixed-blade knife of 5.5" or less is legal.Here's the problem with that reasoning.

It's a given that a knife OVER 5.5" is illegal. So logically speaking the additional knife prohibitions MUST be prohibiting knives that are under 5.5" but that have characteristics that make them undesirable compared to other legal knives under 5.5". It wouldn't make sense to have a double prohibition in the law.

In other words a dagger is an illegal knife even if it's under 5.5" so there must be a separate prohibition for daggers--the 5.5" length restriction isn't sufficient to outlaw daggers. Same with throwing knives, and presumably the same with bowie knives.All it would take is a comparison to an actual Bowie knife in person...Unfortunately that's another can of worms. There is considerable debate among experts regarding what constitutes an "actual Bowie knife". About the only things that seem to be commonly held are that it was a fairly large fixed blade knife with a prominent metal guard. I can not recall any expert claiming that a sharpened swedge is a distinguishing factor although some knives that are generally accepted to be Bowie knives do have this feature.

I do agree that a sharpened swedge could possibly make a knife illegal in TX, but not because that makes it a bowie knife--rather because a double-edged knife could plausibly fit a loose definition of a dagger.

nalioth
August 16, 2009, 03:14 AM
I am concerned about this because I am moving to Texas next week and I own a SOG seal pup elite. It is under the 5.5 blade maximum but I wonder does the blade shape constitute a bowie. I carry this knife a lot as my primary and wonder how it would be judged in Texas. I also have a Camillus BK7 that has the clip point shape. Are these two knives going to be a no no in Texas or can I still carry two of my favorites? Next time, you should look at the posting dates.

You exhumed a SIX YEAR OLD thread.

The legislation has met several times since then and a lot of laws have changed (as has been mentioned).

DAVIDSDIVAD
August 16, 2009, 03:05 PM
What laws have been changed in the past six years, Mr. Rude-for-no-reason?

nalioth
August 16, 2009, 05:25 PM
Mr. Rude-for-no-reason? Rude?

Bumping 6 year old threads to the top is rude.

Starting a new thread with the OPs question and referencing this one would have been the courteous thing to do.

There is a reason a few forums lock down inactive threads.

DAVIDSDIVAD
August 16, 2009, 05:37 PM
So two rudes make a right, eh?

For every person saying "bahh, thread necromancy!" there's another saying "omg use teh search this question is posted all the time"

Big whoop.

middy
August 16, 2009, 05:56 PM
Anyway, I don't think anyone would mistake the Seal Pup Elite for a Bowie knife...

JohnKSa
August 16, 2009, 09:35 PM
Anyway, I don't think anyone would mistake the Seal Pup Elite for a Bowie knife...I agree with that.For every person saying "bahh, thread necromancy!" there's another saying "omg use teh search this question is posted all the time"Yup, there's no way to win, is there.

Artumion
April 4, 2012, 07:07 PM
I purchased a knife from budk.com...(The Bushmaster Survival Knife) and he posed the question that it fell into the category of a bowie knife... I have done research on the categories of knives and survivals are in their own category... as the question SNOW posed about his SEALpup Elite... it is specifically listed as a survival knife on wikipedia and federal and state laws exclude survival knives from all regulations... it is possible and legal to carry on ones person... a survival knife... though i would suggest putting something in your wallet or other place on your person that proves the fact that it is indeed a survival... Survival knives usually have the signature thick blade with a sawback on it.

Survival knives are knives intended for survival purposes in a wilderness environment, often in an emergency situation when the user has lost most of his/her main equipment. Military units issue some type of survival knife to pilots in the event their plane may be shot down. Survival knives can be used for trapping, skinning, wood cutting and other uses. Hunters, hikers, and outdoor sport enthusiasts use survival knives. Some survival knives are heavy-bladed and thick; others are lightweight or fold in order to save weight and bulk as part of a larger survival kit. Their functions often include serving as a hunting knife

Survival Knife (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survival_knife)

As far as Texas laws go knives that are of more than 5.5" are permitted during hunting and travel or by active or retired military and law enforcement... in the case of travel it must be in your trunk where it is not readily accessible.

Bartholomew Roberts
April 4, 2012, 08:57 PM
it is specifically listed as a survival knife on wikipedia and federal and state laws exclude survival knives from all regulations... it is possible and legal to carry on ones person... a survival knife...

That's news to me. Can you point me towards where I can find this exception for survival knives in Texas or federal law?

Under Section 46.01 of the Texas Penal Code, an "illegal knife" is defined as:

(6)**"Illegal knife" means a:
(A)**knife with a blade over five and one-half inches;
(B)**hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown;
(C)**dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stiletto, and poniard;
(D)**bowie knife;
(E)**sword; or
(F)**spear.

Section 46.02 defines the unlawful carrying of weapons:

Sec.*46.02.**UNLAWFUL CARRYING WEAPONS. (a)**A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun, illegal knife, or club if the person is not:
(1)**on the person's own premises or premises under the person's control; or
(2)**inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person's control.
(a-1)**A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun in a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person's control at any time in which:
(1)**the handgun is in plain view; or
(2)**the person is:
(A)**engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic or boating;
(B)**prohibited by law from possessing a firearm; or
(C)**a member of a criminal street gang, as defined by Section 71.01.
(a-2)**For purposes of this section, "premises" includes real property and a recreational vehicle that is being used as living quarters, regardless of whether that use is temporary or permanent. In this subsection, "recreational vehicle" means a motor vehicle primarily designed as temporary living quarters or a vehicle that contains temporary living quarters and is designed to be towed by a motor vehicle. The term includes a travel trailer, camping trailer, truck camper, motor home, and horse trailer with living quarters.
(a-3)**For purposes of this section, "watercraft" means any boat, motorboat, vessel, or personal watercraft, other than a seaplane on water, used or capable of being used for transportation on water.
(b)**Except as provided by Subsection (c), an offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
(c)**An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree if the offense is committed on any premises licensed or issued a permit by this state for the sale of alcoholic beverages.

An "illegal knife" can be possessed on your premises or in your motor vehicle. There is no requirement in statute that the knife be kept in your trunk.

Artumion
April 4, 2012, 09:23 PM
An "illegal knife" can be possessed on your premises or in your motor vehicle. There is no requirement in statute that the knife be kept in your trunk.

Texas Weapon Laws (http://ss.utpb.edu/media/files/university-police/TEXAS-WEAPON-LAWS.pdf)

Under Chapter 46.02 subsection A it states

Under the statutes and the case law interpreting the statutes it is illegal to carry a pistol, club or illegal knife on your person or generally inside the passenger compartment of your vehicle including the glove compartment. This applies even though the weapon is
taken apart or unloaded. If you need to transport a handgun you may do so in the trunk of a vehicle.

ugaarguy
April 4, 2012, 10:40 PM
see edit comments

hso
April 5, 2012, 12:03 AM
Artumion is completely incorrect and his interpretation of the TX law must not be treated as authoritative. There is no classification of "survival knife" under state or federal law. While possession may be legal for knives defined as illegal knives under TX penal code there is no exemption for carry for civilians and you may have them on your premises or in your vehicle. Carry excludes-
Sec. 46.02. UNLAWFUL CARRYING WEAPONS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun, illegal knife, or club if the person is not:
(1) on the person's own premises or premises under the person's control; or
(2) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person's control.

The actual law is here http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.46.htm

shiftyer1
April 5, 2012, 12:28 AM
I've never been under the impression I need to transport any firearms in my trunk. Especially in the last few years? There are other ways to met the concealed requirement other than that, including a glove box.

I'm in central Texas and its not uncommon to see a fixed blade knife on someones belt and nobody gives a second look.....unless they're a knife nut too:) I believe 5 1/2 inches in the max. I've carried my Kbar and never got a second look.

Although you'd look funny cutting your sausage and brisket with a bowie knife. I don't think I'd find much use for one day to day. I do wish I had the option if I wanted to! :)

Anthony
April 5, 2012, 12:48 AM
Wow! It has been a long time since I opened this thread!

Since posting this I have researched the question very closely with the help of a local lawyer and some LEO contacts.

Bottom line...there is no trace of an exception I could find.

I wrote it off and bought an 11-inch Bowie fighter from someone else. It is a beautiful piece, but I carry one of two old John Greco knives with 5 1/2 inch single edged blades in an IWB rig along with my concealed handgun.

If the law ever changes I will worry about it then.

Thanks for resurrecting an old favorite.

- Anthony

tarosean
April 5, 2012, 12:53 AM
Although you'd look funny cutting your sausage and brisket with a bowie knife. I don't think i'd find much use for one day to day. I do wish I had the option if I wanted to!


and thats the point.... Im certainly not wanting to carry a 50 Deagle as a CCW but I have that option.

Bartholomew Roberts
April 5, 2012, 09:04 AM
Under Chapter 46.02 subsection A it states

No, it does not state that. I quoted the entirety of Section 46.02 of the Texas Penal Code in the post you are responding to. Nowhere in that post does it require you to carry a pistol, club, or illegal knife in your trunk. Hso highlighted the relevant portion of the statute.

If you have some statutory authority for the claims you are making, I'd like to see it; but Section 46.02 of the Texas Penal Code is not it.

Wolfebyte
April 5, 2012, 01:21 PM
Wow.. Holy resurrection day!


Ok, the following is somewhat dated, but apparently still used. Existing Case Law for Texas on Weapon/Knife laws.

http://ss.utpb.edu/media/files/university-police/TEXAS-WEAPON-LAWS.pdf


The handgun (46.02) is out of date, take into consideration since the MPA of 2009, having a loaded handgun, concealed in the vehicle is no longer an offense as long as you are not in the commission of a crime, nor being stopped for an offense greater than a class C.

Bartholomew Roberts
April 5, 2012, 03:21 PM
Ok, the following is somewhat dated, but apparently still used. Existing Case Law for Texas on Weapon/Knife laws.

That is a handy document. Thanks for sharing it! As you noted, it is a bit dated and much of the 46.02 section was made obsolete when they rewrote that in 2009; but still a very handy reference for linking Texas case law to statute!

mdauben
April 6, 2012, 11:24 AM
Don't bet on any LEO or court accepting the detail of sharpened swedge being the deciding factor in your freedom. If it looks like a bowie you will be treated like it's a bowie by 99% of the people you talk to.
Except I would also expect that 99% of people (including LEOs) have no idea what constitutes a "bowie knife", other than perhaps a big, scary knife. At its most basic, a bowie knife is a clip point blade. This is a basic blade shape that has been used for years in hunting and outdoor knives. Are they all illegal?

Its a different state, but AL has the same ban on "bowie knifes" and a case law that I have seen determined that a large chef's knife counted as a "bowie knife". :rolleyes:

hso
April 6, 2012, 07:21 PM
And that's the problem with people trying to make up excluding definitions to suite their personal tastes in the face of real legal hazards doing so. Case law in many states abounds with knives that get classified as "bowie" knives simply because of the presence of a clip point on a larger blade.

ApacheCoTodd
April 6, 2012, 09:09 PM
I gotta say:

"Bowie"= bad knife regardless of length.
Seal Pup looks like many folk's definition of a Bowie.
Get something else or don't look for sympathy when you get sideways with an LEO over applying the law or lookin' to make a point.

Reading the Texas DPS PDF makes me think they threw Bowie in there deliberately without a definition or guidelines identifying a Bowie in order to have a catch-all Rambo/Survival knife potential charge.

Or looked at another way - given how much attorney one can afford - if they don't define what Bowie is, how is one to defend one's self that the knife is not a Bowie should it come to convincing a Judge or Jury?

With these kinds of things one really must ignore the hypothetical/theoretical and jump straight to the point of - is it worth the hassle at the other end if the configuration the knife alone could lead to an extreme legal outcome?

"So, Mister Smith, it says here there's a concealed weapon charge?"

Mr Smith's response in a whiny tone...

"But the guys on the internet and at the gun shows said it wasn't a Bowie..."

As for the thread resurrection - spending time in Texas in different professional and social/hunting scenarios - I'm glad to have read this.

1SOW
April 6, 2012, 09:43 PM
Artumion : It's now legal in TX to carry a loaded handgun in your vehicle with exceptions for those with felony arrests, etc. etc.. without a CHP.

Deltaboy
April 8, 2012, 11:31 PM
We carry Bowies during Civil war events and so far have had only one issue which a shift SGT fixed with a simple shut up and sit down kid and then told me to have a good day.

ApacheCoTodd
April 9, 2012, 09:57 AM
We carry Bowies during Civil war events and so far have had only one issue which a shift SGT fixed with a simple shut up and sit down kid and then told me to have a good day.
When you read the DPS guidelines, re-enactors - in role - are specifically exempted.

Deltaboy
April 9, 2012, 11:32 AM
Yes we try to keep up to date on DPS regs because we want to keep in good graces with the LEO community. I had one Deputy after seeing my Bowie when out and got a 8 inch one to carry on his duty belt.
Re-enacting is tons of fun and often gets us head turning looks.

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