Out-the-front (OTF), switchblade, or automatic knives have been around since the early 1900s. They remain popular for several reasons. Not only are they safe to carry for the user when deactivated, but they can also protect and defend the user via a simple push of a button. On the other hand, this ease of concealment and possibility to inflict injury or possible fatality raised plenty of concerns and controversies—particularly with the rise of violent gangs within the inner cities during the 1950s.
Federal Switchblade Act
Congress passed the "Federal Switchblade Act" in 1958, whereby it regulated the import of switchblades into the US and regulated sale of switchblades across State borders. It left possession and carry laws of OTF knives up to each state individually –but the laws are not uniform. Even though most states allow the possession and carrying of switchblades, some states have completely banned them, while others have some strict requirements.
Before you purchase an OTF knife, it is important that you understand the laws in the state where you reside. Some states, for example, do not allow the sale of OTF knives but allow possession. Even though the Federal law still forbids the use of the mail (or Internet) to purchase OTF knives from another state, you can still physically travel to another state where it’s legal to sell to make your purchase.
The laws are always changing, but the general rule is if you are using your switchblade for legal purposes (defense, hunting, and survival), you don’t have anything to worry about. These laws were put in place to protect against violent crimes carried out using switchblades. OTFs are very easy to conceal and can be as deadly as a pistol at close range, so the laws passed by some states are understandable.
OTF Knife Laws State-By-State
|STATE||POSSESSION||SALE||OPEN CARRY||Concealed Carry|
|Federal Government||Yes||Not allowed to sell over State lines nor allowed to import from outside the US||Yes||Yes|
|Arizona||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, if ever over 21 years old|
|California||Yes, if blade is less than 2"||Yes, if blade is less than 2"||Yes, if blade is less than 2"||Yes, if blade is less than 2"|
|Connecticut||Yes||Yes||Yes, if blade is less than 1.5"||Yes, if blade is less than 1.5"|
|District of Columbia||No||No||No||No|
|Florida||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, with Gun Permit|
|Georgia||Yes||Yes, if over 18 years old||Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 5" or any blade length if Gun Permit exists||Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 5" or any blade length if Gun Permit exists|
|Idaho||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 4"|
|Iowa||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 5"|
|Montana||No, unless used as a collection piece||No, unless used as a collection piece||No||No|
|Nebraska||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 3.5"|
|New York||Yes, with Hunting and Fishing License||Yes, with Hunting and Fishing License||Yes, with Hunting and Fishing License||Yes, with Hunting and Fishing License|
|Pennsylvania||No, unless used as a collection piece||No, unless used as a collection piece||No, unless used as a collection piece. No, unless used as a collection piece|
|Rhode Island||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 3"|
|Texas||Yes||Yes||Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 5.5"||Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 5.5"|
|Utah||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, but denied to "restricted persons"|
|Vermont||Yes||Yes, if blade is less than ro equal to 3"||Yes||Yes|
|West Virginia||Yes, if over 18 years old||Yes||Yes, if over 18 years old||Yes|
|Wyoming||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, but must meet qualifications|
As we can see, the laws are not uniform, but most states do allow the possession, sales, and carrying of automatic knives. Montana, a state that is very “libertarian” with gun laws, has banned switchblades entirely from the state. Also, while most states allow the open-carry of OTF knives, most do not allow the concealed-carry of such blades. So, it is important that our customers understand the legalities of owning a switchblade before making a purchase, so go over the above table first before heading over to our catalog of automatic knives.