what knife are illegal in california

Did you know that owning certain types of knives in California is illegal? That’s right, the Golden State has strict laws and regulations about carrying and possessing knives. So before you head out with your trusty blade, it’s important to know whether it’s legal or not.

According to California law, switchblades or any knives with blades that can be released by a button or pressure on the handle is illegal. This includes spring-assisted knives and any blade that can be opened with one hand. The only exception is if the knife has a blade that is less than 2 inches long and is used for a lawful activity such as hunting or fishing.

Another type of knife that is illegal in California is the ballistic knife. This type of blade has a detachable blade that can be ejected from the handle using a spring or other mechanisms. It is considered a dangerous weapon and is banned in almost all states including California. It’s essential to be aware of the types of knives that are prohibited to avoid penalties and legal consequences.

Types of knives banned in California

If you’re a resident of California or plan to visit the state, it’s essential to know what types of knives are banned. California has some of the strictest knife laws in the United States, and owning or carrying a prohibited knife could lead to serious legal consequences. Here’s a list of the types of knives banned in California:

  • Switchblade knives – A switchblade knife, also known as an automatic or flick knife, is a dangerous weapon that has a blade that opens automatically when a button is pressed.
  • Balisong knives – Also known as butterfly knives, Balisong knives have two handles that rotate around the blade and can be concealed when closed.
  • Gravity knives – Gravity knives are knives that open with a flick of the wrist or gravity, where the user can release a locking mechanism to quickly open the blade.

California’s knife laws are extensive and can be confusing, but when in doubt, it’s best to check with local authorities to ensure you are in compliance. Violating California’s knife laws could result in fines, potential imprisonment, and even a criminal record.

Knife Laws in California

As a state with some of the most stringent knife laws in the country, California has a complex system of regulations that can be difficult to understand. Below we will discuss some of the laws that govern knives in California and provide insight into what types of knives are legal and illegal in the state.

Types of Knives That Are Illegal in California

  • Switchblades: In California, it is illegal to possess or sell any type of automatic knife, including switchblades.
  • Balisongs: Also known as butterfly knives, balisongs are illegal to possess or sell in California.
  • Gravity knives: Any type of knife that can be opened with the force of gravity or by centrifugal force is illegal in California.

Penalties for Violating Knife Laws in California

Penalties for violating knife laws in California can be severe. Possessing an illegal knife is considered a misdemeanor, which can result in up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If the knife is over 3 inches in blade length, the penalties increase to 16 months to 3 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Selling illegal knives is considered a felony, which can result in up to 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Exceptions to Knife Laws in California

Although the above knives are generally illegal to possess or sell in California, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, certain types of knives may be possessed and used by law enforcement or military personnel in the course of their duties. Additionally, some people may be exempt from the law if they are using the knife as a tool for their occupation, such as a chef or carpenter.

Knife Type Legal or Illegal
Fixed-blade Knife Legal
Folding Knife Legal
Switchblade Illegal
Balisong Illegal
Gravity Knife Illegal

It is important to note that knife laws in California can be complex and are subject to change. It is always recommended to consult with a legal professional if you have any questions or concerns about the legality of a particular knife.

Concealed Carry Laws in California

California has some of the strictest knife laws in the United States. It is important to know the laws and regulations regarding knives, especially when it comes to concealed carry. Below are three subtopics regarding concealed carry laws in California:

  • What is Concealed Carry?
  • Kinds of Knives That are Illegal in California
  • Possible Penalties for Violating the Knife Laws in California

Kinds of Knives That are Illegal in California

In California, there are a variety of knives that are illegal to own and carry. The following is a list of knives that are forbidden:

Knife Type Notes
Balisong/Butterfly Knife Blade is released from handle by a gravity or inertia flip of the wrist and the blade is held by a locking mechanism
Switchblades, Automatic, or Spring-Loaded Knives Folding blade is opened automatically by pressing a button or switch
Dirks, Daggers, or Stilettos Long and narrow blade with sharp point and sharp edge
Sword Cane Bladed weapon concealed inside a cane
Air Gauge Knife A knife that can be used as a weapon and also contains a gauge to measure air pressure

It is important to note that possession of any of these knives is illegal, even if it is not being used as a weapon.

The consequences of carrying illegal knives

Carrying illegal knives in California can lead to serious consequences. The state of California has strict laws concerning the possession of certain types of knives. Violating these laws can result in fines, imprisonment, and a criminal record that can follow you for years.

If you are caught carrying an illegal knife, you could face a misdemeanor charge, which carries up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If the knife is used in a crime or to commit a felony, the penalties are even harsher, including a potential felony conviction and years of imprisonment.

The types of illegal knives in California

  • Switchblades and automatic knives
  • Balisongs or butterfly knives
  • Air gauge knives or belt buckle knives

It is also illegal to carry a dirk or dagger if it is concealed on your person. A dirk or dagger is defined as a knife or other instrument with a blade that can be used as a stabbing weapon and is capable of causing great bodily harm or death.

Known exceptions to the laws

There are a few exceptions to the laws that prohibit the possession or carry of certain types of knives in California. For example, individuals who work in the military, law enforcement, or emergency medical services may carry switchblades or other automatic knives while on duty. Additionally, individuals who use certain types of knives for hunting, fishing, or other recreational activities may also be exempt from these laws.

It is important to note that these exceptions may vary depending on the specific circumstances and location in which the knife is being used.


Carrying an illegal knife in California can have serious consequences. It is important to know the laws and regulations concerning knife possession and carry in your area to avoid any legal trouble. Remember to always handle and use knives responsibly and with caution.

Type of Knife Legal/Illegal
Switchblades and automatic knives Illegal
Balisongs or butterfly knives Illegal
Air gauge knives or belt buckle knives Illegal
Dirks or daggers (concealed) Illegal

Exceptions to these laws may apply in certain circumstances, but it is important to consult local laws and regulations to determine any exemptions that may apply.

How to Legally Transport Knives in California

As a responsible knife owner, you want to ensure that you are adhering to California’s laws regarding the possession and transportation of knives. Here’s what you need to know about legally transporting knives in California:

  • When transporting any kind of knife in California, it must be secured in a container that is not easily accessible to anyone in the vehicle. This means that you cannot have a knife sitting on the passenger seat or on the dashboard. Instead, the knife must be stored in a locked glove compartment or trunk.
  • If you are transporting a folding knife, make sure that the blade is less than 2 inches long. Any blade longer than 2 inches is considered a dirk or dagger and is illegal to carry in California.
  • If you need to transport a larger knife, such as a hunting knife or machete, make sure that it is not loaded or readily accessible. This means that the blade should be sheathed or in a secure case, and the knife should not be within reach of the driver or passengers.

If you are transporting a knife in California for legitimate purposes, such as hunting, fishing, or camping, you are allowed to do so as long as you follow the rules outlined above. However, if you are caught transporting a knife that is considered illegal in California, you could face serious consequences including fines and even jail time.

Below is a table outlining some of the knives that are considered illegal to carry in California:

Illegal Knife Type Description
Balisong/Butterfly Knife A folding knife that has two handles that rotate around the blade, making it easy to conceal.
Dirk or Dagger A knife with a blade longer than 2 inches and a sharp point, designed for stabbing.
Switchblade Knife A knife that has a blade that opens automatically with the press of a button or lever.

Remember, knowledge of California’s laws surrounding the possession and transportation of knives is essential to avoid any legal issues. Always take the necessary precautions when transporting your knives to ensure that they are secured and inaccessible to anyone in the vehicle. Happy and legal transporting!

Alternatives to carrying knives for self-defense

While carrying a knife for self-defense may seem like a good idea, it’s important to remember that many knives are illegal to carry in California. Luckily, there are plenty of alternative options for protecting yourself in dangerous situations.

  • Pepper spray: This is a common non-lethal self-defense tool. Pepper spray is legal to carry in California, but there are still restrictions on its use and possession. Pepper spray can be a good alternative to carrying a knife since it is specifically designed to temporarily incapacitate an attacker.
  • Tactical flashlight: A bright, high-powered flashlight can be used to disorient an attacker, giving you a chance to get away. It can also be used as a striking tool in self-defense situations.
  • Personal alarm: A personal alarm emits a loud, piercing noise designed to draw attention and scare off attackers. Some personal alarms also come with flashing lights, making them more effective in dark or low-light situations.

Remember, the most effective self-defense tool is often your own awareness and avoidance tactics. Try to always be aware of your surroundings and avoid potentially dangerous situations. If you must venture out alone at night or in unfamiliar areas, consider using a rideshare service or a trusted friend as a companion.

If you do choose to carry a legal knife for utility purposes, make sure you are aware of the laws surrounding it and use it safely and responsibly. Knowing your legal options and being prepared for potential threats can help you stay safe in any situation.

Restrictions on carrying knives in California

Type of Knife Legal to Carry?
Balisong (butterfly) knife No
Concealed folding knife with blade longer than 2.5 inches No
Dirk or dagger No
Switchblade knife No
Air gauge knife No
Belt buckle knife No

It’s important to note that other types of knives, such as pocket knives and multitools, are legal to carry in California as long as the blade is 2.5 inches or shorter and they are not concealed. However, it’s always a good idea to check local laws and regulations, as they can vary by city or county.

Differences between federal and state knife laws

While federal and state knife laws often overlap, there are some key differences that can impact whether a knife is legal or illegal. Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • States have the authority to restrict or ban knives on their own terms, but they cannot make laws that are less restrictive than federal law.
  • Federal law prohibits the possession and sale of switchblades, meaning they are illegal throughout the country. However, certain states have enacted additional restrictions, such as banning ballistic knives or other specific types of knives.
  • Some states have their own laws regulating the possession and carrying of certain types of knives, such as dirks, daggers, and stilettos. For example, in California, it is illegal to carry a dirk or dagger concealed on your person. In Texas, meanwhile, there are no state-level restrictions on knife possession or carrying, provided the knife is not used in the commission of a crime or carried into restricted areas such as schools or airports.

It’s important to be aware of the specific laws in your state when it comes to knives, as the penalties for violating these laws can vary widely. In some cases, a violation can result in a fine or a misdemeanor charge, while in others, carrying an illegal knife can lead to a felony conviction and serious prison time.

If you’re unsure about the legality of a particular knife in your state, be sure to consult with an attorney who specializes in this area of law. They can help you navigate the complex landscape of state and federal knife laws to ensure that you’re in compliance with all applicable regulations.

Here is a table outlining some specific differences between federal and state knife laws:

Knife type Federal law California law Texas law
Switchblade Illegal Illegal Illegal
Dagger Legal Illegal if carried concealed Legal
Ballistic knife Illegal Illegal Illegal
Balisong butterfly knife Legal Legal to possess, illegal to carry concealed Legal, but may be restricted in certain areas

While this table is not comprehensive, it provides an illustration of how knife laws can vary from state to state, and how federal law intersects with state-level regulations. By doing your research and staying abreast of any changes to knife laws in your state, you can help ensure that you’re carrying knives that are legal and appropriate for your needs.

FAQs: What Knives are Illegal in California?

Q: What types of knives are illegal in California?

A: California law prohibits the possession, sale, and manufacture of several types of knives, including daggers, switchblades, and ballistic knives.

Q: Are folding knives legal in California?

A: Yes, folding knives are legal in California as long as the blade is less than 2 inches.

Q: Can I carry a dirk or dagger if it’s for self-defense?

A: No, it is illegal to carry a dirk or dagger in California, even for self-defense.

Q: Is it illegal to carry a butterfly knife in California?

A: Yes, butterfly knives are illegal to carry or own in California.

Q: Are there any exceptions to California’s knife laws?

A: There are some limited exceptions for law enforcement, military, and hunting purposes, but these individuals must still follow strict guidelines.

Q: Can I carry a concealed knife with a permit?

A: No, California does not issue permits for concealed carry of knives.

Q: What are the penalties for violating California’s knife laws?

A: Penalties for violating California’s knife laws include fines and possible jail time, depending on the severity of the offense.

Closing: Thanks for Reading!

We hope this article has helped clarify what types of knives are illegal in California. Remember to always check local laws and regulations before purchasing or carrying any type of weapon. Thanks for reading and be sure to visit us again for more informative articles!