November 8, 2009, 01:56 PM
Possession and carry of switchblades is legal, but regulated, in various states.

18 states permit carry of switchblade. Most of them don't permit concealed carry so know what your state regulations are.

26 states permit possession of switchblades. IOW, you can collect and show them, just not carry them unless you also live in a state that permits carry. Know what your state regulations are.

There are several switchblade law sites, but this is my favorite - http://pweb.netcom.com/~brlevine/sta-law.htm

Interstate sale of switchblades is regulated and restricted to "bona fide" dealers who sell to authorized agents of the government. It doesn't matter that you see them at gun shows and in the mall, the interstate commerce law (18 USC 1716) limits interstate commerce to LE and Military. The law applies to the seller and not the purchaser.

18 U.S.C. § 1716(g)(2) provides this summary:

Federal law prohibits shipment of automatic knives across state lines, with the following exceptions: Switchblade knives can be shipped: (1) to civilian or Armed Forces supply or procurement officers and employees of the Federal Government ordering, procuring, or purchasing such knives in connection with the activities of the Federal Government; (2) to supply or procurement officers of the National Guard, the Air National guard, or militia of a state, territory or the District of Columbia ordering, procuring, or purchasing such knives in the connection with the activities of such organization; (3) to supply or procurement officers or employees of the municipal government of the District of Columbia or the government of any State or Territory, or any county, city or other political subdivision of a State or Territory; procuring or purchasing such knives in connection with the activities of such government. (4) to manufacturers of such knives or bona fide dealers therein in connection with any shipment made pursuant of an order from any person designated in paragraphs (1), (2), and (3).

Assisted openers and one hand openers are not switchblades.

We hope this helps reduce some of the oft repeated myths and misinformation about switchblades.

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November 28, 2009, 04:44 PM

DEFINE WHAT A DEADLY WEAPON , USUALLY OVER 3 INCHES. IF YOUR SWITCHER IS LESS THAN THAT ( no fun ) it may be legal in your state if you have no gravity blade
or button release clause in your knife laws, trust only your states own webite on its
laws.. any other source can get you in hot water.

December 13, 2009, 01:04 AM
What are the legal definitions of a switchblade, a assisted opener and a one-handed opener?

January 14, 2010, 05:04 PM
I think it falls on the trigger mechanism. If it only requires a button and the knife does the rest, then it's a switchblade. But if it requires your finger to swing the blade open, but the action is assisted by the spring, its different. I think the standard of proof is when the knife does all of the work during opening.

January 27, 2010, 02:39 PM
I know this is a bit old, but hope you see it:
What are the legal definitions of a switchblade, a assisted opener and a one-handed opener?

Depends on the state. For example, here in CA, it's illegal to have a gravity knife or switchblade. The way it's defined, you can't have something that has a lock to hold it closed, and when you release that lock, it either swings open (like a butterfly knife) or is pushed open by a spring.

Assisted opening is ok, provided you have to start it by pushing on the blade, as opposed to simply moving the locking mechanism.

March 2, 2010, 11:01 PM
which states are legal to carry a switchblade..thanks

April 7, 2010, 12:41 PM
FYI you can legally import one if you meet DHS criteria, i.e. a one armed person or military personell in connection with their duties.

April 7, 2010, 01:36 PM
AOs and one hand openers are now protected under the fed switchblade act.

or switchblade

No, it isn't illegal to have a switchblade in CA. It's illegal to have one over 2 inches in blade length though.

you can legally import one

I'm not sure you can import into the country because Customs restricts importation even though they base their regs on the 15 USC "Interstate Commerce" switchblade law.

The Customs Regulations promulgated pursuant to the Switchblade Knife Act are set forth in 19 CFR §§ 12.95-12.103. In this regard we note that a switchblade knife is defined in pertinent part as follows:

§ 12.95 Definitions.

(a) Switchblade knife. any imported knife, which has one or more of the following characteristics or identities:

A blade which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button or device in the handle of the knife, or any knife with a blade which opens automatically by operation of inertia, gravity, or both;

(2) Knives which, by insignificant preliminary preparation, as described in paragraph (b) of this section, can be altered or converted so as to open automatically by hand pressure applied to a button or device in the handle of the knife or by operation of inertia, gravity, or both; (Emphasis added)

Unassembled knife kits or knife handles without blades which, when fully assembled with added blades, springs, or other parts, are knives which open automatically by hand
pressure applied to a button or device in the handle of the knife or by operation of inertia, gravity, or both; or

Knives with a detachable blade that is propelled by a spring-operated mechanism, and components thereof.

As for what constitutes “insignificant preliminary preparation”, the regulations further provide as follows:

§ 12.95(b) Insignificant preliminary preparation. “Insignificant preliminary preparation” means preparation with the use of ordinary available tools, instruments, devices, and materials by one having no special manual training or skill for the purpose of modifying blade heels, relieving binding parts, altering spring restraints, or making similar minor alterations which can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time.

April 7, 2010, 02:52 PM
Well, In all honestey that question was on my Customs Brokers's test way back in 1981. The question was who could legally import a switchblade knife. The correct answer was 1. the armed forces. 2. military personell in connection with their duties & 3. a one armed person carried on his person with a blade not exceeding 3 inches.

That was a long time ago and maybe the regs. have changed. I got out of the business after 9/11 and from what I have been told the industry as a whole has taken a nosedive for sure.

April 7, 2010, 03:01 PM
I just googled it. As of 2009 the excemptions of importing switch blade knives has changed a little, but the excemptions as outlined above still stand.

April 7, 2010, 06:16 PM
Yep, the USGov can import anything they want, but a bonafide dealer (term used for a dealer selling to the USG or LE) has to present some proof that they're purchasing for sale only to those approved end users or risk seizure of the shipment. Of course the USG is usually restricted to us manufacture autos so importing isn't typically an issue.

A friend of mine is on the third year of five of probation for not having an order in hand from the USG or LE when his shipment was seized by Customs for such a mistake. The fact that he couldn't provide that prior proof for who would be getting the knives meant the loss of tens of thousands in "stock" and a plea to no time and 5 years probation. This in spite of the fact that he made sales to LE supply shops who then sold to LE. I suspect that if he'd payed for a legal fight he could have proven he was legit, but there's the theoretical and then the practical limits of what's possible.

April 7, 2010, 06:40 PM
Taking on the fed's in court ain't cheap. They have a way of dragging things out. I could tell you stories that you would not believe.

April 7, 2010, 09:47 PM
Ohhhh, I'd believe them. CRKT had to use political help along with the courts to get a pinhead customs agent's decision that a shipment of one hand openers were switchblades reversed.

April 8, 2010, 06:19 PM
To correct some "ballistic knife" misunderstandings.

For a knife to be a "ballistic" knife the blade must be thrown as a projectile. It really isn't a knife at all, just a knife shaped projectile weapon. The blade detaches from the "knife".


Federal Code - Title 15, Section 1245. On Ballistic knives: (as of: Jan. '03):

(a) FEDERAL Prohibition and penalties for possession, manufacture, sale, or importation.
Whoever in or affecting interstate commerce, within any Territory or possession of the United States, within Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of title 18), or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in section 7 of title 18), knowingly possesses, manufactures, sells, or imports a ballistic knife shall be fined as provided in title 18, or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
(b) Prohibition and penalties for possession or use during commission of Federal crime of violence Whoever possesses or uses a ballistic knife in the commission of a Federal crime of violence shall be fined as provided in title 18, or imprisoned not less than five years and not more than ten years, or both.
(c) Exceptions. The exceptions provided in paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of section 1244 of this title with respect to switchblade knives shall apply to ballistic knives under subsection (a) of this section.
(d) ''Ballistic knife'' defined: As used in this section, the term ''ballistic knife'' means a knife with a detachable blade that is propelled by a spring-operated mechanism.
Editors note: (A ballistic knife is a knife encased in a tubular metal sheath which when removed, uncovers a detachable blade that can be propelled by a spring mechanism operated at the push of a button.)

April 9, 2010, 08:14 AM
Eeeek. Who in the world designed that ... and WHY????
ITīs a spring gun, which was accidentally knife shaped.

April 9, 2010, 08:26 AM
The russians, and its gas I believe.

My grandfather has an italian switchblade, with like a .. probably 4 inch blade.

Had no idea it was illegal, I wonder what the procedure is for dealing with that.

I wonder if it had better be left in his ring box.

April 9, 2010, 01:22 PM
I wouldn't say it's not a knife, because it can be used as a knife, and also used as a short ranged projectile weapon.

April 9, 2010, 01:56 PM
The originals and most of the copies are spring driven. There have been some pressurized gas versions, but that's dabbling after the fact.

As to whether your grandfather's switchblade is legal to possess or carry or not you need to look up the law for your state instead of just assuming it's against the law to have it as a curio, relic or keepsake. Most people in this country either incorrectly assume that it's illegal to have a switchblade or it's perfectly legal to have them (and everything in between). Don't assume anything about switchblade laws on the state or local level, look them up.

Harley Rider 55
June 1, 2010, 12:02 PM
Automatic knives are legal to carry in Florida. In Texas, first responders and military folks during the course of duty mat carry.

It's dumb, I know. I can legally carry (openly or concealed) a machine gun down the street, but not a knife.

June 1, 2010, 12:24 PM
TX law (http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/docs/PE/htm/PE.46.htm) doesn't appear to have any exceptions for carrying a switchblade. Keep in mind that the fact that we see LE and first responder personnel carrying them doesn't mean there's a state exemption to the law permitting to. It only means that an informal "professional courtesy" may be extended to them.

August 31, 2010, 07:12 PM
Hopefully someone can clear this up. On all the web sites that sell automatic knives there is this disclaimer.

"Legal status of products. It is the responsibility of the buyer, not the seller, to ascertain, and obey, all applicable local, state, federal and international laws in regard to the possession, and use, of any item purchased from .com. All equipment is sold subject to public law 90-351, title III, U.S.D., Section 2511, and any local, state or federal ordinances. Consult your local and state laws before ordering if you are in doubt. Absolutely no sales to minors."

Does this mean that if an unqualified buyer purchases an automatic knife from out of state that it's the buyer that is violating the Federal Interstate commerce law?
Some internet retailers ship automatic knives via priority mail. Who is the violator here? Buyer or seller?

September 1, 2010, 12:23 AM
Only the seller can be in violation of the Federal Interstate Commerce law (unless the buyer is engaged in a conspiracy to purchase large quantities for resale) for an individual purchase.

September 1, 2010, 05:43 PM
Thanks for replying. Who is in violation of the postal law if the items are sent thru the postal service by choice of the seller? Once again, thanks for the info.

September 1, 2010, 05:51 PM
No one reasonable will use the US postal service since there are other restrictions there. That doesn't mean there aren't companies that do this, just that it's foolish.

September 20, 2010, 03:07 PM
I thought all the illegal talk was just that. I am posting a picture of my Italian blade. It was assembled in a little shop in Venice while I watched. The first picture is of the 'open-lock' button in the "ready-to-open" position. When flipped forward, it locks the blade in the body. In it's current position, it is ready to be depressed so the blade will spring open. The odd thing is that this was in early 2000, and I carried it onto a plane -Rome to Atlanta- in a leather bag I purchased in Florence. What's even funnier, I carried a Spyderco Endura in my pants pocket. Funnier still, our departure was delayed 30 minutes without reason, and then I saw the reason. A fat man was late and needed help sitting in 1st Class. As I leaned out to get a glimpse I could clearly see that it was Big Teddy from Boston Mass. I never carry or use it, and would only get it out to show someone, or if I were to play the part of David Wilkerson on stage.


November 16, 2010, 10:47 AM

State knife laws link is above. How up to date it is is the question.
Also there are some really old laws out there.
Norfolk Va has a law against lock blade knives. I was stopped in 1973 and told to put my Buck in my pocket not out for view in the pouch, and not bring it out in public again.
"You can carry a sword but not a lock blade." Norfolk Police. I never had a problem with my M28 S&W and the Virginis police.
Go figure ?

January 16, 2011, 05:12 PM
All knife regulations have been rescinded including the ban on automatic knives in the state of NEW HAMPSHIRE as of the passing New Hampshire's "Knife Rights law" on May 18, 2010.
My question is, can an auto knife be shipped from another state or do I have to buy one within NH? I'm not too clear about interpretation of the above stated law.

Gary G23
January 16, 2011, 05:54 PM
"My question is, can an auto knife be shipped from another state or do I have to buy one within NH?"

You should re-read the first post.

"Federal law prohibits shipment of automatic knives across state lines, with the following exceptions:"

Unless you are one of the exceptions it cannot be legally shipped from another state.

January 17, 2011, 11:10 AM
Thx Gary...exactly what I what was looking for.

January 18, 2011, 10:50 PM
The laws concerning shipping of switchblades applies to the shipper and not the recipient. The buyer can only violate the state or local laws. The seller/shipper can violate the Federal laws.

Jim NE
March 8, 2011, 01:39 AM
Knife laws are incredibly vague and confusing. I believe my state has a law that says something like "knives X, Y and Z are illegal...unless you're attacked and your life is in danger, then suddenly it's legal to have them."

The old switchblade laws of the late '50's were really more symbolic than anything else. Switchblades aren't any more lethal than steak knives or many garden utensils, but the national authorities needed a law to crack down on the growing number of leather jacketed juvenile delinquints in 1958. The common denominator for many of these hoods was that they carried switchblades, so that was what they made the law about. I think it's really local and state laws that matter.

There are companies currently operating that will send switchblades to basically any state in the union. This may give the customer the impression that it's legal to own them anywhere. This may not be the case, though they probably are legal in more places than most people realize.

My favorite knife is purely legal - it's a modern Buck with a 3" locking blade that has a thumb tab for one-handed opening. The only difference between it and a switchblade is about a half a second (or less) openning time. And it's much sturdier than a stilletto and so light that you forget it's in your pocket. Truly a masterpiece of ergonomics.

May 20, 2011, 12:15 PM
My state (Arkansas) says that knives as weapons can only be carried on a journey. And that knives with a blade longer than 3 1/2 inches will automatically be considered as a weapon. So if I'm carrying my Benchmade automatic and I'm out of town, then I can claim to be on a journey. I think I will find a cop and ask!

May 20, 2011, 09:29 PM
The police are NOT legal experts on relatively obscure points of law and asking them is not the sound advice it seems on the face of it.

If you want a legal opinion that is meaningful get one for a city attorney or state AG.

May 28, 2011, 06:28 PM
List of state knife carry/possession laws:


March 23, 2014, 02:33 PM
Thanks to the efforts of Knife Rights and the efforts made by the citizens of TN, come Monday when HB1883 passes on the House floor, TN will change from a "collector" state to a no restriction state for switchblade knives. Blade length restrictions will be removed also.

KR has done the same for several states in the past couple of years.

June 11, 2014, 02:07 PM
Switch blades are no longer out lawed In Texas. The code still tell you what a switch blade is but the unlawful carrying part mention Illeagle knives but a switch blade is not included in that definition. I belive this was done at the last legislature.

Be safe

June 11, 2014, 02:09 PM
Yep, KR did that last year, but they weren't able to get TX to pass preemption so each jurisdication can still have their own rule against. Know your local laws or get premption through your legislature so you're not an honest citizen where you work and a criminal where you shop or live.

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