California Knife Laws – Are OTF Knives Legal in California

california knife laws

California is one of the most popular states in the USA as it is home to more than 5 million armed people from all over North America. No doubt, it is legal to carry different types of weapons such as guns and knives for your defensive actions here in California.

Nevertheless, the state has defined some specific rules for carrying such weapons for any action. For instance, in the case of knives, California authorities allow you to carry only 3 major types which include Switchblades, Pocket Knives, and Fixed Blade Knives (Daggers).

In this article, I’ll guide you properly about these California Knife Laws 2023. So, Be sure to take your time & read this time-worthy article thoroughly till the end.

Let’s Check Out The Major California Knife Laws Of 2023-24:

California Major Knife Laws

In California, only 3 major knife types as mentioned above and below are considered legal. However, there are still many rules that you have to follow to conceal them from one to another specific location. Just like Texas Knife Laws, such regulations are not so prominent and may not lead you to serious issues.

Now, let’s check out these Rules!

1. Folding Knife Laws in California

Are pocket knives legal in California? Folding knives which people also refer to as Butterfly knives, Box Cutters, Pocket or Utility Knives are the most carried knives here in California. The reason for their popularity is that there is no restriction on their blade size, quality, and features.

However, you can only conceal them in different places in the folded and prominent position so people especially the authorities can see them. 

According to the Penal Code Section 17235 in California, It is illegal to conceal such knives in public. Moreover, in federal places, their blades are hidden or covered with sheaths. Thus, you must show everyone that you have a weapon just for self-defense and nothing more.

2. California Fixed Blade Knife Laws

Are push daggers legal in California? Just like Pocket Knives, fixed-blade knives also work on the same rule. Although It does have any folding mechanism it is still pretty popular. 

Indeed, There is no restriction on the blade length of such knives. However, you are still not able to conceal them in public places secretly.

If we talk about open-carry knife California rules, the government authorities have made it clear that if anyone violates the rules, he or she must be punished hard. Therefore, these Dirks, Daggers, also known as open-carry knives must be placed in a prominent place just for safety actions. So, no one gets bad intentions from you.

3. Switchblade Rules In California

Are spring-assisted knives legal in California? Well, all types of switchblades or push-button blade knives are legal in California. Nevertheless, you can not carry such knives that have a blade length of more than “2 Inches”.

It has been stated in the California knife laws rule book prominently that if any person uses such push-button knives in a in certain way, he must be punished hard. 

People generally try to show off their skills using these large blades which can easily result in some type of assault. Therefore, you must figure out that How does a Switchblade works & why is it important to use such knives with a proper case & positive intentions.

Types of Illegal Knives In California:

In case you are wondering, why are these knives illegal? You can check out the law’s rule numbers mentioned against the names of such knives. It would help you greatly in understanding the regulations of this state. 

Type of Illegal KnifeLegal Status in CaliforniaRelevant Law
Cane KnivesIllegal to possess or carryPenal Code 17235; Penal Code 20510
Air Gauge KnivesIllegal to possess or carryPenal Code 17235
Lipstick KnivesIllegal to possess or carryPenal Code 17235; Penal Code 20610
Belt Buckle KnivesIllegal to possess or carryPenal Code 17235; Penal Code 20710
Writing Pen KnivesIllegal to possess or carryPenal Code 17235
Switchblades > 2″ BladeIllegal to possess or carryPenal Code 17235; Penal Code 21510
Ballistic KnivesIllegal to possess or carryPenal Code 17235; Penal Code 21110

Is it Legal to Carry a Knife on your Belt?


Yes, as long as the knife is exposed to the people around you, it is legal to conceal such weapons. However, you still have to follow all the major rules given above such as you can’t conceal such knives in public spots secretly. These rules follow the same for all types of Push Daggers as well.

Is it Legal to Carry a Machete in California?

A machete acts in the same way as another dagger or dirk knife. Therefore, as long as you are trying to hide it from the people around you, the government rules say that you are a criminal with some unfortunate intentions. However, if you buy and use it for the right actions by following the State rules about the California Knife laws then it’s all right.

In case you are a Machete fan, there are some major rules that you must follow to keep yourself and others around you safe and sound. So, make sure to know how to Sharpen and use a machete according to the legal terms and conditions.

Can I carry a Bowie knife in California?

Well, if you are a Bowie Knife fan. You are allowed to carry any type of Bowie knife. However, the blade length is confined only to 2 inches. Therefore, make sure to follow the given rules and perform the right and suitable actions to avoid penalties and other fines.

California Knife Restriction Laws With Fines & Other Penalties:

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In case you are trying to perform some illegal activities and violate the rules of this state. Be sure to take a sharp look at the given below table and all the major things that you must suffer through after you have done such critical actions.

LocationKnife Types RestrictedRelevant Law CodePenalties
Public BuildingsSwitchblades, >4″ fixed blade, restricted knivesPenal Code 171b PCCriminal offense (misdemeanor), Fines Up to $1,000
SchoolsDirks and daggers, >2 ½” blades, folding knives with locking blades, ice picks, razors, razor blades, box cuttersPenal Code 626.10(a)(1) and (2)Misdemeanor or Felony; 1-3 years in jail
Federal PropertySwitchblades (with exceptions)15 USC 1241-44Varies; Exceptions for certain individuals
Concealed Dirk/DaggerConcealed dirks and daggersPenal Code 21310Misdemeanor or Felony, Fine Up to $1,000
Restricted KnivesPossession of switchbladePenal Code 21510Misdemeanor; Up to 6 months in jail, Fine Up to $1,000
Undetectable KnivesPossession, sale, manufacture, or import of undetectable knifePenal Code 17235Misdemeanor; Up to 1 year in jail with a Fine Up to $1,000
Other Prohibited KnivesPossession, sale, manufacture, or import of other prohibited knives (wobbler charge)Penal Code 17235Misdemeanor or Felony with Fine Up to $1,000
Brandishing a WeaponBrandishing a knife in a threatening, angry, or aggressive mannerPenal Code 417Additional penalties depending on the context with Fine Up to $1,000
Assault with a Deadly WeaponCommitting assault with a deadly weaponPenal Code 245(a)(1)Up to 4 years in state prison (Felony) with Fine Up to $10,000
Sentencing EnhancementSentencing enhancement for use of a deadly weaponPenal Code 12022 PCAdditional 1 year in state prison
Legal DefensesVarious defenses that may apply to knife-related chargesN/AVaries based on individual circumstances

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What is the California legal knife carry size in 2023?

According to the state’s rule list of 2023, it is only legal to carry a knife with a blade length limited only to 2 inches. In the case of other concealable knives, it is important to show them off to the authorities before entering any public place.

Is Switchblade Illegal In California?

In the list of the California Knife Laws 2023, Switchblades or pushbutton knives are considered legal but with a specific restriction. They should have a blade with a size of less than or equal to 2 inches.

What can I carry for self-defense in California Besides Knives?

You are completely free to use different types of pepper sprays, teaser guns, electric shock weapons, and even size-confined knives. Nevertheless, you must know about the major rules before you try to conceal any of these things in public or federal places.

Can you carry a knife in Los Angeles?

Knives and daggers cannot be carried openly in LA if they are over 2″ long clipped in your pocket doesn’t count as being in open view. If your blade is less than 2″, you’re fine. As long as pocket knives are not carried in the open, there is no actual length limit.

Closing Things Up:

California Knife Laws 2023 are based on the legal actions that the authorities have made to protect civilians to maintain the peace. From Switchblades having a blade size limited to 2 inches to folding knives with prominent visible locations, and legal-sized fixed-blade knives, you have to follow the government policies for accurate actions.

In case you are trying to violate these rules by concealing these knives in Public places like Restaurants or Schools. And even in federal places like offices, you can face some serious allegations. For instance, a jail time for about 1 year with a bounty of up to $1000.

So, be sensible and read out the major laws defined by the California state agency to prevent yourself and others from all kinds of harms. In the end, Thanks for your time, and make sure to share this information with your friends and family.


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Abdullah is a highly experienced knife expert, and he loves to explore different types of knives. With years of hands-on experience and a deep understanding of knives, now he transforms his knowledge to other people who loves to read about knives.

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