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The information contained on this page (and the rest of this website) is not a substitute for the advice or opinion of a qualified and licensed attorney. The information is as accurate as I can make it while still being concise and easy to read, but all laws contain some amount of nuance. This site and it's editor assume no responsibility for the actions of anyone reading it or what legal consequences they may face as a result of those actions. Consider yourself warned.Please also note that this is a living document that is constantly being updated as laws change. I may not have heard about a recent law passing and appreciate being informed via the contact page if you notice an item is out of date.

Switchblade Laws of the United States

The following is a comprehensive compilation of the laws on switchblades (also called automatics) in the United States. This chart covers both overall federal law and each state law. These laws are for non-law enforcement citizens, as nearly all laws contain some sort of exemption for police. In states where unlawful intent must be proven (and is not simply presumed) for the knife to be illegal, this chart counts this as "legal."


  • Private Ownership = Refers to the legality of merely owning a switchblade kept exclusively in the home.
  • Sale = The legality of merchants and private citizens offering switchblades for sale or selling them. Usually includes any transfer of ownership, even gifts. Note that such laws almost always only affect the seller; no state law affects the buyer of such a transaction.
  • Open Carry = legality of carrying a switchblade unconcealed and in plain view of others.
  • Concealed Carry = legality of carrying a switchblade in a concealed manner on one's person (or most of the time, in a car).
  • Balisong considered same thing? = Refers to if the wording of the law considers switchblades and balisongs to be the same thing. If "Yes," balisongs are subject to all the same restrictions as switchblades listed for that state. If "no" they are covered by a separate law and may or may not be legal. Blanks indicate the state has no laws about either.

Practical Matters

  • If private ownership itself is illegal, then all others become illegal by default.
  • If private ownership is legal, but sale is not, it effectively becomes impossible to legally obtain a switchblade from within that state (since federal law prohibits inter-state sale). One must physically travel to another state to legally purchase.

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