Bowie and Survival Knife Laws (US)


April 4, 2012, 07:09 PM
I purchased a knife from 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 (

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.

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April 4, 2012, 11:56 PM
It is dangerous to trust Wikipedia for any legal interpretation. You must go directly to the law itself and interpret it. For TX you can find the actual law here -

There is no legal category of "survival knife" in state or federal law. Therefore there is no legal exemption.

Please provide a link to a reputable federal or state law citation specifically addressing "survival knives". As there is none, we'll forgo waiting for it and quote TX law for everyone's benefit.

TX law specifically defines an "illegal knife" 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.

It goes on to prohibit carry of illegal knives with the following exceptions-

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-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.

In other words, you can own a "Bowie" or knife larger than 5.5-in as long as you keep them on your property and don't carry them around. When the law provides definitions it is dangerous to make up definitions that aren't supported by the law just to justify you purchases.

April 5, 2012, 12:07 AM
it is specifically listed as a survival knife on wikipedia

I would not advise using wikipedia for defense in a court of law...

April 5, 2012, 12:16 AM
funny thing is texas is more restrictive than NY as far as knives go. NY theres no size limit and even butterfly knives are legit.

April 5, 2012, 12:44 AM
I would also assume that aside from dagger, dirk, bowie and a couple others, they will never list each and every model, brand or style that is legal or not. Thus they used the broadest terms they could that would include what wasn't wanted.

Also alot has to do with the officers interpertation, about 20 years ago I was arrested and had to go to court for possesion of a switchblade. It was a butterfly knife and legal so it was thrown out. Yes everything worked out ok but it was a pain in the butt at the time.

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