Switchblade knives

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Dec 30, 2004
I've been told forever that switchblades were illegal in this country. Are
they, or are they not?
I ask because my SIL just came back from the Middle East (he's in
the military) and showed me a Benchmade switchblade knife his CO
gave him over there.
I went on the Benchmade website, and sure enough, there it was.
They do list it as only available to active duty military, but if they
sell it via the web,?????
BTW, it is a HECKOFA knife. I couldn't talk him out of it.

They are out there and lots of people make good ones, Benchmade, Boker, Randall King, and Lone Wolf to name a few. However, lots of odd state laws can still get you into trouble.

With the assisted openers out there I just don't see the advantage now. Even if you're legal with it you might have a rough time getting things straightened out.
When I got my first auto knife I was told they were only for collectors,military,and le.But when I was working swap meets right before I enlisted lots of ppl had them for saleand there was no problem with them selling them to everybody that wanted one.So I guess I have no idea if they are legal or not.

one shot one kill
I can carry my automatic knife out the door and in front of the police station as long as it's not concealed. If I drive ten minutes North I'll be committing a felony just by owning it. State laws are a patchwork.
Switchblades are completely legal in Fla since Jul '01, when our legislature decided that the character of a knife can not be determined by how it is opened.
Switchblades are considered common knives under the law and subject only to the same restrictions as two handers
Fed law is an interstate commerce restriction that prohibits sale and shipement across state lines to anyone that isn't a purchasing authority for LE or Mil. It does not address owning, having or carrying by civilians and never did.

State and local laws are a different matter. Each state has it's own laws on posession and carry of switchblades. Some states allow posession, but not carry ("collector states"). Some allow posession and carry. Some don't allow either.

TX prohibits posession of switchblades so it's illegal for you or your son to have one.

And as a minor correction, FL was always good for switchblades, but an over eager DA applied the ballistic knife ban to switchblades and it took a lot of effort to get that bit of stupid legal twisting of the law unknotted.
Not that you asked, but IMO the whole concept of the switchblade is a thing of the past (as Ohen Cepel mentioned in his post).
With a switchblade you pull the knife out of your pocket, press the button and the blade opens. With something like an Emerson with the "WAVE", the knife opens as it comes out of your pocket. It is completely legal and at the same time faster than a switchblade.
I own a half dozen or so reasonably high end automatic knives and never carry them. I work as a firefighter and at one time it was very common for guys to carry automatic knives. It seemed like everybody had one. Now, I never see one.
Automatic knives are legal in Arizona as well. I currently carry and use a Microtec OTF model that offers spring loaded retraction as well as deployment.

While I have never used a "wave" knife, I don't think I'd like it--if it's not a fixed blade, I don't want it open until I open it. I also have a hard time believing the "wave" method is functionally faster than a quality OTF knife.

I don't mess with side openers.

BTW--I looked into it a few years ago prior to an extended road trip and found only FL at AZ that permitted posession and carry of automatic knives. Most state laws I read also consider "assisted" openers in the same catagory as automatics, but that's a little more nebulous.
I also have a hard time believing the "wave" method is functionally faster than a quality OTF knife.

Check it out - I have 2 Emerson's (who let Spyderco use it) with it and the knife is open as you finish drawing it vs. pulling an auto and THEN opening it. A guy with a waved knife would cut you apart before you got the auto open.
I don't know if I would call the WAVE a method, but........

The WAVE is nothing more than the top of the blade ground with like a hook. It is on the top and back near the back of the knife. When you pull the knife out of your pocket, you pull a little to the rear (with my Emerson). This "hook" grabs the edge of your pocket and opens the blade. So, the blade is opening while the knife is being drawn from your pocket. It looks like those video clips posted earlier have the everything backward of my knife and he is pressing his knife to the front of the pocket since he is carrying his in his back pocket: whatever floats your boat.
You don't have to have the blade open when you pull it from your pocket. You can just reach down and take it out of your pocket if want to.
It is not spring assisted or automatic. It is just part of the knife that uses your pocket to open the blade. It is far faster than an OTF knife although I think that Microtec OTF knife is a very cool knife that I would like to have.

I did a real quick search and this is the first thing I came up with. This is some kind of Spyderco with a "WAVE" so you can see a picture: http://www.themartialist.com/pecom/wavedendura.htm
Here is another example: http://www.10-8performance.com/id6.html

Thank you for all the links, videos and info. Please note that I didn't say I was unfamiliar with the "wave", just that I had never actually used one. Further, it does appear extremely fast and only marginally dangerous--Carpetbagger's videos look like his fingers are awfully close to the blade on draw. Good thing he practices so much.

However, with my Microtech Makora(?), the clip orients the knife in my pocket in such a way that the draw puts the switch directly under my thumb, which can then deploy the blade during the draw....just like a wave. Sorry, I don't have a video to demonstrate.

I agree with you all that the wave is fast, I just don't believe it's functionally faster than my OTF. IOW, the .3 second time difference is negligable.

A guy with a waved knife would cut you apart before you got the auto open.

Aw, look honey, isn't that cute? He brought a knife to a gunfight! BLAM BLAM BLAM (peek) BLAM!

My knife isn't for fighting. I'm a coward. I don't want to get cut. If I let them get that close....my bad. (Maybe this is why I don't put much value on ultra-fast deployment. Fast enough to cut my seatbelt before the car blows up is fast enough for me.)
I like the wave feature, except that it tears up the corner of my pockets, after a while.
TX prohibits posession of switchblades so it's illegal for you or your son to have one.
(d) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the actor ’s conduct:
(1) was incidental to dealing with a switchblade knife, springblade knife, or short-barrel firearm solely as an antique or curio; or
It's not uncommon to see switchblades for sale at gunshows here. If you keep it at home and don't stab anybody with it you shouldn't have a problem.
My knife isn't for fighting.

Mine isn't either, but we were talking about the waved knives being the fastest opening. If that's important, fine. I have waved knives but carry Striders. And a Kimber - I'm not knife-fighting anybody.
A guy with a waved knife would cut you apart before you got the auto open.

Let's not let the hyperbole get too silly. The difference in speed opening a wave, auto, assist or even a stud/hole won't make anyone with a blade magical.

There are ways to open an endura or sebenza or an axis lock or .... that are just as fast as getting the knife into play as a wave.

The "antique or curio" defense is often referred to as the "collector's defense". It usually only works if you have a collection and you don't take them out of house. I could see saying that a modern auto brought back from service over seas constituted a curio. I expect that many of them will come back into the country in just such a manner. To reinforce this I'd consider having the blade engraved with the unit, nation of service and dates of tour.
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I have used an auto knife in Florida since the 60's - not for how fast it opens, but for how handy it is. Most of the time when I want to cut something, I have it in my left hand; I simply reach in my right pocket, pull out my knife, press the button, & start cutting..... I don't have to set-down whatever it is from my left hand in order to open the knife.
Most people missed the point of discussing how fast a knife with the WAVE opens. It has absolutely nothing to do with knife fighting.
The point is that for some reason the government of some states have enacted laws banning switchblade knives. The assumption is made that this is either because they open quickly or because they can be opened with one hand.
So, pointing out that a knife with the WAVE actually opens faster and opens with one hand, while at the same time not being illegal makes these laws even more silly than they were to begin with.
The point is that for some reason the government of some states have enacted laws banning switchblade knives. The assumption is made that this is either because they open quickly or because they can be opened with one hand.

That assumption would be incorrect. The history of the switchblade bans in the U.S. are a parallel to the AWB. Spotlight hungry politicians fed on entertainment provided fear (in this case movies like Blackboard Jungle, Reble Without a Cause and Westside Story while in the AWB endless TV and movie carnographies) to whip the public into a panic that their very lives were threatened by these "tools of the devil". Mindless herd mentality took over and the cattle stampeded the various switchblade bans into place.
Well, that's how most weapon laws work, isn't it?

Most states ban the "Pilum Balistic Knife". I don't think any crimes were ever committed with them, but Legislatures all over the country made a mad dash to outlaw them in the 80's.

Shows the legislators are tough on crime though.
Another one of these "I know exactly what the legislators were thinking when they made this law" posts hso. Nice theory, but a theory is all it is.

Regardless, I am the one that made the post about how quickly one can open a WAVE type knife and I know exactly what I was thinking when I posted it. It has absolutely nothing to do with knife fighting. The point is that the government makes laws with no basis in reasonable thought. So, we citizens invent something else that circumvents the law while providing the same or better function. In this case, it is better. None of this is a surprise to anyone I hope, but when I see an example of it, I enjoy thinking about it and pointing it out. One of the reasons I enjoy things like this is that it demonstates how ridiculous the whole concept of gun control or knife control really is. We can come up with arguments, but in this case, the facts are staring you in the face. These clowns can come up with all the ridiculous laws they want to and in the end, people will either ignore it or come up with a highly effective alternative. This gives me renewed faith in mankind.
One has to wonder if something like the WAVE would have ever been invented in the first place if their wasn't such a stigma attached to automatic knives ?
That assumption would be incorrect.
Actually there is some basis for the assumption that the ban on switchblades had to do with their being able to be opened with one hand.

One armed men were generally exempt from the prohibitions on switchblade carry
No theory involved 444, just years of collecting and reading and being involved in the knife world.

The history on the switchblade bans is well documented and the speaches from the politicians are on record so there's no need to pull out the Ouiji board.

Sure you could open them with one hand, but switchblades had been around for decades prior to any furor over them. They were marketed with an eye towards avoiding broken finger nails and as being handy.

The vast majority of them were smaller pen knives.

Why suddenly ban something that had been around since grandpappy's days?

You're welcome to read on the history of the switchblade laws. Here's a good source that you can cover quickly.

Here's an exerpt from a Knifeworld article.


Oddly, most of the backers of the anti-switchblade bills
agreed with Secretary Weeks that prohibiting switchblades
would accomplish little in the way of curtailing crime. They
readily admitted that their measure was largely symbolic.
Being politicians, however, they knew that empty but highly
visible symbolic acts garner far more votes than low-profile
but effective reforms. They also knew that it was politically
safer to criminalize the actions of a couple of small
manufacturers, rather than to punish the juvenile delinquency
of the children of some of their constituents.
The most persistent advocate of a switchblade ban was
Representative James J. Delaney of New York City, author of
the first federal anti-switchblade bill back in 1954. That
first effort never made it out of committee.
In his testimony before the House commerce committee on
April 17, 1958, Delaney stated, "Every day our newspapers
report numerous muggings and attacks, most of them involving
knives. Can we sit by complacently and ignore the bloodshed
in our streets? Doing away with switchblades will not be a
cure-all for the crime wave sweeping the Nation, but it will
remove one of the favorite weapons of our juvenile and
criminal element.
"... it was not until about 1949 or 1950 that these things
came into common usage. In the gathering of juvenile gangs
and clans, nearly every one of them has a switchblade. It is
a ritual with some of them to carry switchblades. It is not
only the boys, but I was surprised to find that a great
number of the girls carry them also."

Congressman Delaney's mind was made up, so it probably
would have been pointless to confuse him with the facts.
Switchblades came into common use in the United States, not
around 1950 as he stated, but around 1850. After the turn of
the century, thanks to the inventive genius of George Schrade
(and the "protection" of the Tariff Acts of 1891 and 1897),
American made switchblades of all sizes became popular and

From Blade magazine -
Nearly every state has knife laws. So does the federal government.
So also do countless cities and towns -- except where the state
legislature has pre-empted this sort of ordinance, retaining a monopoly
for itself.
These knife laws are artifacts of fear -- of prejudice and
uncertainty. If you know a little American history, you can look at a
knife law's wording, and tell when it was first enacted.

* If it speaks of bowie knives and Arkansas toothpicks, it dates back to
the second quarter of the 19th century, to the rapid and sometimes
lawless expansion of settlement in the Mississippi River basin.

* If it speaks of concealed dirks and daggers, it dates to the wave of
anarchist and pro-German terror bombings around 1915-1918, which
frightened an entire generation of Americans into surrendering their

* If it speaks of switchblades and gravity knives, it dates to the "West
Side Story" era of the late 1950s, when the mass media drummed up fear
of teen-age gangs, and of violence by immigrant refugees with too many
vowels in their names.
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