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How Old You Have To Be To Own a Knife (State-by-State Chart)

You have to be 21 to own a knife in Kentucky and Wyoming. In Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, you have to be 18 to have a knife. New York requires you to be 16 to own a knife. All other states have no age limits.

Keep in mind that every state has limitations and regulations for owning and carrying a knife, even if there’s no age limit. Let’s discuss all of these parameters below.

Hand holding an open knife near a car.

At What Age Can You Own a Knife?

You can own a knife between any age in some states, while in others, you have to be at least 16 to 21. These same laws apply to purchasing, selling, and gifting knives. Most southern states have fewer restrictions on owning, carrying, and buying knives.

Knife laws are also affected by local counties and politics.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the limitations of owning a knife on a state-by-state basis:

STAgeLengthRestrictions
ALN/ANone statewide (3-4 in or 76.2-101.6 mm in some counties)N/A
AKN/ANone statewide (3-4 in or 76.2-101.6 mm in some counties)None over 21
AZN/ANoneN/A
ARN/ANoneN/A
CAN/ANone (2 in or 50.8 mm for switchblades)Air gauge, belt buckle, lipstick, pen, undetectable, Shobi-zue, cane, and ballistic knives.
CON/A3.5 inches (88.9 mm)Ballistic knives
CTN/A4 inches (101.6 mm)N/A
DEN/A3 inches (76.2 mm)Knuckle knives, switchblades, gravity knives, throwing stars, and any undetectable knives.
DCN/A3 inches (76.2 mm)Switchblades
FL184 inches (101.6 mm)Ballistic knives
GAN/A5 to 12 in or 127-304.8 mm (depending on the knife type)Restrictions for knives over 12 inches or 304.8 mm (by county)
HIN/A6.5 inches (165.1 mm)Switchblades and butterfly knives are banned
ID186 inches (152.4 mm)Restrictions for knives over 6 inches or 152.4 mm (by county)
ILN/A3 inches (76.2 mm)Switchblades and ballistic knives
INN/ANone (8 in in some counties)Ballistic knives and throwing stars
IAN/A5 inches (127 mm)Razors, ballistic knives, stilettos, daggers, and switchblades
KSN/ANoneN/A
KY21NoneN/A
LAN/ANone (5 in or 127 mm for rescue knives)N/A
MEN/ANone
MD18None (county-based laws vary)N/A
MAN/ANoneDaggers, stilettos, double-sided knives, ballistic knives, and switchblades
MIN/A3 inches (76.2 mm)N/A
MNN/ANone (4 in or 101.6 mm in some counties)N/A
MS18None (3.5 to 4 in or 88.9-101.6 mm in some counties)N/A
MON/A4 inches (101.6 mm)N/A
MTN/ANone (4 in or 101.6 mm for concealed carry)N/A
NEN/A3.5 inches (88.9 mm)N/A
NVN/A4 inches (101.6 mm)N/A
NHN/ANoneN/A
NJN/AFive-inch blades and 10 in or 254 mm overall (tip to base of handle)County-based regulations on gravity knives, switchblades, dirks, daggers, stilettos, and ballistic knives
NMN/ANoneGravity knives and butterfly knives
NY164 in (101.6 mm)Switchblades, ballistic knives, knuckle knives, and cane swords
NC18 (bowie knives and dirks)NoneBallistic knives
NDN/ANone (5 in or 127 mm for concealed)Switchblades, daggers, and gravity knives
OHN/A4 inches (101.6 mm)Ballistic knives
OKN/ANoneN/A
ORN/A4.75 in or 120.65 mm (none for pocket knives)N/A
PAN/ANoneSwitchblades
RIN/A3 in (76.2 mm)N/A
SCN/ANoneN/A
SDN/A3 in (76.2 mm)N/A
TNN/ANoneN/A
TXN/A5.5 in (139.7 mm)N/A
UTN/A3 in (76.2 mm)N/A
VTN/A if gifted under 163 in (76.2 mm)Switchblades (based on county-to-county rules)
VA183 in (76.2 mm)Ballistic knives
WAN/ANoneDaggers, spring blades, and dirks
WV18 unless emancipated3.5 in (88.9 mm)N/A
WI18NoneN/A
WY21NoneN/A
(Source: World Population Review)

All states have unique laws and regulations when carrying knives near schools, government buildings, and airports. Most of these rules prevent open carry and concealed carry knives in these locations, though they’re based on county-to-county regulations.

Do You Have To Be 18 To Buy a Pocket Knife?

You have to be 18 to buy a pocket knife in Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. You can buy a pocket knife once you’re 16 in New York. Kentucky and Wyoming require you to be 21 to buy a pocket knife, but no other states have age limitations.

A pocket knife laying on top of a close green bag.

EDC Ninja claims that most states permit multitools with knives, Swiss army knives, and other pocket knives with 2.5-inch or 63.5 mm blades (or shorter). These blades are often classified as tools, which removes most of the laws and regulations. That being said, it’s always better to check your state’s laws followed by your county’s laws.

What Happens if You Own a Knife Out of the Age Range?

If you own a knife out of the state’s age range and regulations, you could risk a wide variety of fines and jail sentences. The charges are often based on the carrier’s intent. Someone carrying a knife with malicious intent will face much more severe charges than someone carrying it just to have it.

Repercussions of owning or carrying a knife under the required age range are based on your state or county. Some counties have much stricter rules than their respective states. Furthermore, many states have no regulations, but their counties have strong regulations that must be abided by.

So, what can happen if you break the age-range knife laws?

  • Going against the age, length, or blade-type regulations on school or federal property can get you arrested. Anyone carrying a knife at these locations is typically charged with carrying a weapon on federal property. This is an extreme offense, so it’s never worth it. Leave the knife at home.
  • Owning or attempting to buy a knife under the local age limits usually results in the knife being taken without criminal marks or fines. You’ll almost always lose the knife, but it depends on where you’re charged and who finds you with the knife. Wisconsin and Wyoming have stronger charges for underage knife carrying.
  • Criminal charges are typically stronger when the knife is prohibited to all age ranges. For example, you’ll face much worse charges when carrying a ballistic knife in Idaho than you would if you had a regular pocket knife under 18. Avoid carrying, buying, selling, or gifting banned knives at all costs.

For more information about what can happen if you own a knife below the local age limitations, contact your local authorities or public offices.

Can You Gift a Knife to Someone Under 18?

You can gift a knife to someone under 18 if they’re within the state’s required knife ownership range. However, Vermont allows parents and guardians to gift knives to anyone under 16. Gifting a knife to anyone outside of the state or county’s local regulations will usually result in fines.

The American Knife and Tool Institute reports that you could face fines of $500 or more if you sell or gift a knife to someone under the legal age limit. Keep in mind that most states ban specific knives, such as ballistic knives or gravity knives. Selling prohibited knives to anyone is illegal and punishable by law, regardless of the person’s age.

Here’s what you should know about gifting knives to minors:

  • West Virginia lets you gift knives to people over 18 unless they’re emancipated, in which case they can have one by 16. This law also lets married people 16 and over purchase or receive knives. Otherwise, gifting a knife to a minor can result in various fines and legal penalties.
  • Parents or guardians are allowed to gift knives to people 16 and up in Vermont, but nobody else can gift or sell a knife to the individual. However, nobody can purchase a knife for themselves until they turn 18 in the state. These laws are also supposed to apply to online retailers, but some places neglect these rules.
  • There aren’t any laws against someone for gifting a knife to an individual if they’re within the necessary age ranges, knife lengths, and other rules. The vast majority of states and counties stick to their knife age restrictions to help you determine whether or not you can purchase a knife for someone.

Does Your Age Affect the Legal Knife Length?

Your age doesn’t affect the legal knife length that you’re allowed to own. However, some counties throughout the United States limit ages and knife blade lengths

Contact your county officials after verifying that you’re of the legal age to carry a knife with the previously mentioned knife regulations table.

Anyone owning a knife that’s longer than their state and county’s regulations is at risk of various consequences. Some places simply take the knife away from the owner, while others impose jail time and fines. The worst part is having a mark on your criminal record for the foreseeable future, so it’s not worth having an illegal knife.

Once a person reaches the required age of knife ownership, they only have to stick to the same laws as everyone else who owns a knife. This includes rules about pocket knives, fixed knives, and all other blades.

Can a Minor Conceal Carry a Fixed Knife?

A minor can conceal carry a fixed knife in all states that allow people under 18 to carry knives. However, North Dakota and Montana have length limitations on anyone carrying concealed knives.

Montana requires the knife blade length to be 4 inches (101.6 mm) or less, whereas North Dakota prohibits concealed carry knives over 5 inches (127 mm).

Keep in mind that many states require the handle or sheath of a blade to be visible. Any state or county that doesn’t have these laws has no regulations against concealed knives. However, this doesn’t mean they allow all knives to be concealed. Make sure you refer to the list above to know which blades your hometown permits.

Keep these suggestions in mind if you’re under 18 and want to conceal carry a knife legally:

  • Make sure the knife is within the legal concealed carry limits of your county and state.
  • Never concealed carry a knife on federal property.
  • Don’t remove the fixed knife from its sheath in a public place.
  • Never conceal carry a knife of any kind to a school.
  • Ask your local authorities for the best knowledge about carrying a concealed fixed knife.

Related Is Concealed Carry Insurance Worth It? (Pros and Cons).

Are There Federal Laws Regarding Ages for Knife Purchases?

There aren’t any federal laws regarding ages for knife purchases. However, there are federal laws against owning certain switchblades (over 2.5-inch or 63.5 mm blade length). All other knife laws are sent to the state to decide.

Two Pocket Knives Next to Each Other

These limits include age ranges, blade lengths (some include handle lengths, too), types of knives, and more.

Federal laws are designed to protect and regulate people traveling between states. For example, if you’re on a road trip, you have to follow federal laws as well as state and county laws. Always check every state’s laws you intend to travel to and through on your trip.

Federal knife laws also apply to those on military bases, courts, and other federal property. Many of these places prohibit carrying knives and other weapons anywhere near the property. Failure to comply with these laws can result in much more severe punishments than breaking the previously mentioned knife laws elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

Buying, owning, and carrying a knife outside your state’s regulations can lead to jail sentences, hefty fines, and more. It can also mark your record, which can stay with you for many years to come. Always abide by state rules when owning a knife, and don’t forget to review the federal knife laws when moving between states.

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