California knife Laws

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If you plan to very own or carry certain styles of knives, higher information of the California laws lets you avoid the aggravation and cost of a gun charge. Please preserve in thoughts that carrying a knife or weapon of any kind will increase your chance of unsightly encounters with law enforcement. 

It isn’t uncommon for regulation enforcement officers to incorrectly make weapons-related arrests whilst regulation hasn’t been broken; and even if you are able to keep away from a conviction, you are still difficult to the problem of missing work and paying any related fees. 

If you’ve got been charged with a knife-associated crime, a competent lawyer who is aware of the fine details of California’s knife laws can investigate your case and locate the first-class defense method for you.

Which knives are you allowed to own in California?

Here are the knives you’re allowed to own in California:

Fixed Blade Knives (Dirks And Daggers)

Fixed blade knives can legally be used in the state of California.

Fixed blade knives are knives with no folding or retracting mechanism. Some of these knives are most kitchen knives, hunting knives, daggers, throwing knives, ice picks, and such.

In California, dirks and daggers are any knives that can be used as a stabbing weapon.

These knives are legal to own and carry, as long as you carry them openly. Concealing any of these knives makes them illegal to carry. 

Folding Knives

Folding knives can be carried concealed in the state of California

Folding knives are knives with a blade that can fold into the handle, and will ideally have a mechanism preventing the blade to open accidentally. 

The most common folding knives are utility ones, like camper knives, Swiss army knives, pocket knives, box cutters, and such. Some combat and self-defense knives also fall in this category.

In California, all folding knives are legal to carry and concealed in their folding position. California notably does not have any restrictions on the blade length of a folded knife.


small switchblades can be carried openly in the state of California

Whereas a folding knife needs outward pressure to reveal the blade from the handle, switchblades have spring mechanisms that reveal the blade automatically, usually by pressing a button or switch.

In California, switchblades are legal to carry as long as they’re:

  • Not concealed
  • Less than 2 inches long

Any switchblade longer than two inches will be illegal to carry.

Which knives are illegal to own in California?

Butterfly knives are prohibited in California

Besides long switchblades and concealed fixed blade knives, these knives are also illegal to own and carry in California: Butterfly knivesButterfly knives are illegal to carry in California. While there are no specific laws against butterfly knives, the California Courts have determined butterfly knives to be the same as switchblades, making them illegal to carry. Disguised bladesAny blade that’s disguised to not look like a weapon is illegal in California. This includes items like cane swords, penknives, and even novelty items like key knives, lipstick knives, and belt buckles with knives in them. Undetectable knivesAny knife with a blade not detectable by metal detectors is illegal in California. This includes ceramic and obsidian knives. Ballistic knivesBallistic knives are knives with a detachable blade that can be ejected at any speed by pressing a trigger on the blade. Any kind of ballistic knife is illegal to own and carry in California.

What are the laws on concealment?

In California, you may conceal folding knives, like any pocket knife and Swiss army knife. Any other knife that’s legal to own must be carried openly.

Are there restrictions on the sale of knives?

Yes. Any knife that’s illegal to own or carry is illegal to be sold in California. These include butterfly knives, concealed knives, undetectable knives, ballistic knives, and switchblades longer than two inches.

What are the penalties if you break knife laws in California?

Carrying or owning a switchblade, as well as carrying them in airports and public transport, may be punished with up to six months in jail and/or a fine of $1000.

Carrying or possessing any knife that breaks knife laws in California, as well as possessing any unlawful knife on a school, or state or public grounds, and not qualified by the right exceptions, may be punished with jail for up to a year.

What Knives Can I Carry In California? 

You can carry, sell, and conceal any folding knife, including:

  • Pocket knives
  • Swiss army knives
  • Box Cutters
  • Utility knives
  • Multi-tools

You can carry, sell, own, but not conceal switchblades with a blade shorter than two inches, and fixed blade knives, including:

  • Throwing knives
  • Hunting knives
  • Daggers
  • Swords

You cannot carry, own, or sell any knife that’s designed to not look like a knife or not activate metal detectors. You may also not carry, own, or sell knives like:

  • Butterfly knives
  • Ballistic knives
  • Switchblades with a blade longer than two inches


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