An OTF Knife Laws Guide By Tekto Gear

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 violet 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
Alabama Yes Yes Yes Yes
Alaska Yes Yes Yes Yes
Arizona Yes Yes Yes Yes, if ever over 21 years old
Arkansas Yes Yes Yes Yes
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"
Colorado No No No No
Connecticut Yes Yes Yes, if blade is less than 1.5" Yes, if blade is less than 1.5"
Delaware No No No No
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 lenght if Gun Permit exists Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 5" or any blade lenght if Gun Permit exists
Hawaii No No No No
Idaho Yes Yes Yes Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 4"
Illinois No No No No
Indiana Yes Yes Yes Yes
Iowa Yes Yes Yes Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 5"
Kansas Yes Yes Yes Yes
Kentucky Yes Yes Yes No
Louisiana No No No No
Maine Yes Yes Yes Yes
Maryland Yes Yes Yes No
Massachusetts Yes Yes No No
Michigan No No No No
Minnesota No No No No
Mississippi Yes Yes Yes No
Missouri Yes Yes Yes No
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"
Nevada Yes Yes Yes Yes
New Hampshire Yes Yes Yes Yes
New Jersey No No No No
New Mexico No No No No
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
North Carolina Yes Yes Yes No
North Dakota Yes Yes Yes No
Ohio Yes No Yes No
Oklahoma  Yes Yes Yes No
Oregon  Yes Yes Yes No
Pennsylvania No, unless used as a collection piece No, unless used as a collection piece No, unless used as a collection pieceNo, unless used as a collection piece
Rhode Island Yes Yes Yes Yes, if blade is less than or equal to 3"
South Carolina Yes Yes Yes Yes
South Dakota Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tennessee Yes Yes Yes Yes
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 tha nro equal to 3" Yes Yes
Virginia No No No No
Washington No No No No
West Virginia Yes, if over 18 years old Yes Yes, if over 18 years old Yes
Wisconsin Yes Yes Yes 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.