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Illinois Knife Laws (Updated 2020): Are knives legal in the ‘Prarie State?’

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With the summer here, there is no better place to be than the great outdoors that Illinois state has to offer. From Lake Michigan to Lake Shelbyville, getting immersed in nature is the best feeling ever. Nothing gives you a high like nature. And Illinois offers plenty to get loaded on. Alongside 15 amazing lakes and 804 great hiking trails, the ‘Land of Lincoln’ is sure to be one to leave you with everlasting memories and moments to pass on to your grandchildren.

Being in nature, however, does require oneself to be prepped and equipped with the right gear as sometimes we might be well away from the nearest cellphone tower or gas station if we need help. Thus having a knife (of any legal kind) is handy as it provides us with a rapid response to our most basic needs.

Whether your knife needs are for peeling fruits or making tinder, the following types will serve your needs best!

  • Fixed Blade: Knives that have no moving parts and are carried in a sheath.
  • Folding Blade: Opened by the flick of the thumb, the blade locks in place when fully extended.
  • Automatic BladeBlade ejects by sliding switch or pressing button release.

As we are fully aware, knife laws vary across state borders, so let’s find out what is legal and illegal with regards to owning and carrying knives in Illinois.
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FIXED BLADE KNIVES

Fixed blade knives are often also called sheath knives due to the casing (sheath) they are carried in. These knives are more resilient and rugged than your standard pocket knife due to the absence of moving parts. Fixed blades tend to offer longer blades, which provide a greater variety of usage with blades up to and beyond 13” in length. They are the perfect tool for serious outdoorsmen and hunters that need more bang for their buck in the backcountry.

Fixed blade knives are generally legal to own and carry in public with the following restrictions:

LEGAL TO OWN and CARRY these knives:

  • Open Carry is perfectly legal, given that the blade is not longer than 3 inches in length.
  • Conceal carry is perfectly legal, given that the blade is not longer than 3 inches in length.

ILLEGAL:

  • Blades longer than 3 inches in length cannot be carried on public properties as that would be considered a dangerous weapon in that instance.

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FOLDING BLADE KNIVES

Folding blade knives contain simplified moving parts that make these knives very practical and versatile in any task as they can be handled, opened, and closed with one hand. They tend to be multi-purpose tools such as the Foxtrot (pictured below) and hence make an excellent choice for both outdoors and every day carry. 

Folding blade knives are generally legal to own and carry in public with the following restrictions:

LEGAL TO OWN and CARRY these knives: 

  • Open Carry is perfectly legal, given that the blade is not longer than 3 inches in length.
  • Conceal carry is perfectly legal, given that the blade is not longer than 3 inches in length.

ILLEGAL:

  • Blades longer than 3 inches in length cannot be carried on public properties as that would be considered a dangerous weapon in that instance.

Any folding blade knife under than 3 inches can be carried anywhere without concern.
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AUTOMATIC KNIVES (SWITCHBLADES)

Automatic knives are rapid-deployment knives that always deliver when called upon. Usually functioning by two main mechanisms, slide-switch or button release, these blades eject and can be put into action in seconds. The blades are concealed within the casing and once released either eject from the front of the handle (also known as OTF, out-the-front knives), or from the bottom of the handle similar to folding knives.  

AUTOMATIC KNIVES are ILLEGAL IN ILLINOIS UNLESS YOU CARRY A VALID FOID (FIREARMS OWNERS IDENTIFICATION) CARD!

Illinois law states that you can carry any knife so long as it is legal and do not intend to harm or break the law!
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Here are a few QUICK FACTS to keep you in safe hands from the LAW

  • All ballistic knives are illegal to possess
  • Schools are ‘weapon-free zones’
  • Blades longer than 3 inches are illegal on public properties.
  • Throwing stars are illegal to own

Illinois’s knife laws are pretty straight forward, and it is relatively easy to abide by them, just be sure not to visit any public setting that may set off an alarm getting you into unnecessary trouble.

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