British Knife Laws: Hoplophobia Defined

British Knife Laws

Sometimes it’s good to just take a look around and realize how good you’ve got it. A quick look at U.K. knife laws illustrates this point, because most of us barbarian Yanks simply won’t believe the emasculated nanny-state restrictions that our British brethren have to live with. The following (incomplete) list of rules and regulations, taken straight from the website, will make your head spin. Find a chair, take a deep breath, and make the jump for absolute insanity . . .


As a lawyer and civil libertarian, I am particularly chilled by Big Brother’s helpful comment “A court will decide if you’ve got a good reason to carry a knife if you’re charged with carrying it illegally.” That surely provides a lot of guidance.

And WTF does Big Brother have against the Japanese, other than Oceania’s long-running squabble with Eurasia? The craziness starts in 3…2…1…go:

Knives: the laws on buying and carrying

The laws about buying and carrying a knife depend on the type of knife, your age and your circumstances

Basic laws on knives

It is illegal to:

  • sell a knife of any kind (including cutlery and kitchen knives) to anyone under 18
  • carry a knife in public without good reason – unless it’s a knife with a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less, eg a Swiss Army knife
  • carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife (the list of banned knives is below)
  • use any knife in a threatening way (even a legal knife, such as a Swiss Army knife)

Lock knives (knives with blades that can be locked when unfolded) are not folding knives, and are illegal to carry in public.

The maximum penalty for an adult carrying a knife is 4 years in prison and a fine of £5,000.

Good reasons for carrying a knife

Examples of good reasons to carry a knife in public can include:

  • taking knives you use at work to and from work
  • you’re taking knives to a gallery or museum to be exhibited
  • the knife is going to be used for theatre, film, televison, historical reenactment or religious purposes (eg the kirpan some Sikhs carry)

A court will decide if you’ve got a good reason to carry a knife if you’re charged with carrying it illegally.

Knives that are illegal

There is a complete ban on the sale of some knives:

  • flick knives (also called ‘switchblades’ or ‘automatic knives’) – where the blade is hidden inside the handle and shoots out when a button is pressed
  • butterfly knives – where the blade is hidden inside a handle that splits in two around it, like wings; the handles swing around the blade to open or close it
  • disguised knives – eg where the blade is hidden inside a belt buckle or fake mobile phone
  • gravity knives
  • sword-sticks
  • samurai swords (with some exceptions, including antiques and swords made to traditional methods before 1954)
  • hand or foot-claws
  • push daggers
  • hollow kubotan (cylinder-shaped keychain) holding spikes
  • shuriken (also known as ‘death stars’ or ‘throwing stars’)
  • kusari-gama (sickle attached to a rope, cord or wire)
  • kyoketsu-shoge (hook-knife attached to a rope, cord or wire)
  • kusari (weight attached to a rope, cord or wire)

This is not a complete list of banned knives. Contact your local police to check if a knife is illegal or not.

Editor’s note: Thanks, mate!


  1. SubZ says:

    Seems the only tools allowed in GB are in parliament.

    1. Pat says:

      And they are quite dull.

        1. SouthernPatriot says:

          Remember, a dull blade is more likely to cut you, than a sharp blade!

  2. BigTex says:

    I want a knife from whence the blade “shoots out!” Sounds like a cool feature.

    1. Somthingsomething Privacy says:

      So-called “ballistic” knives were quite the thing in the ’80s. Supposedly a Russian design, they used a heavy spring to propel the blade maybe 15 feet as hard as a manual stab. Supposedly. Naturally, we got laws about ’em here as well. For a while, they were sold without springs, with, I’ve heard, specific instructions regarding exactly what size and weight of spring would be very bad for you to install, as well as possible places someone else but never you might be able to obtain such springs. Totally impractical and pretty much gone now. Now we have knives that inject your victim with high pressure CO2. Try justifying THAT to a jury….

  3. Ing says:

    Good Lord. That is crazy sauce right there. Before too long, they’ll be banning sticks and rocks too.

    I wonder when they banned lockblades. I went to the UK in 2002 with a 2.75″ Kershaw lockblade in my checked luggage, put it in my pocket as soon as I got to my hotel, and carried it everywhere I went. I might have spent my entire visit as a criminal without even knowing it…

    I loved it there, and I’d like to visit again sometime. It was a great place to be a criminal. 🙂

    1. Colin says:

      The locking knife restrictions boggle my mind as it’s really a safety feature. If someone wanted to stab somebody badly enough to actually do it, I’ll bet you they would find a way whether they have a locking knife or not. Cut fingers are an afterthought.

    2. opieharper says:

      I went to London just before the riots, and I had my 3.75” CRKT M16 Tanto in my pocket the whole time. I had known that it was considered a no-no, but I had no idea the penalty was so steep!

    3. Tom from England says:

      They banned carrying lock knives in 1988. Like you, I didn’t know that and only discovered it was an offence a couple of years ago. Yep – I was a criminal for over 20 years without even knowing it. The joke, of course, is that knife crime has gone up considerably since then.

      It’s quite pathetic really, and I am embarrassed to admit I live in a country that is so scared of its own citizens.

      1. SouthernPatriot says:

        So far, here in the states, we only have one party which is scared of its law-abiding citizens, so we can vote those out of office fairly regularly, if those who are takers stay home from the polls.

        1. Matt says:

          hmmm southern patriot eh? actually if you think the republican party isn’t scared of its law abiding citizens then why is that party making voting so hard for law abding citizens? also jerry mandering? also they’re scared of what gay people do in their bedrooms. how about law abiding muslims? if you’re scope is gun laws, then, yes the democratic party is clearly less enthused about them, especially when it comes to automatic and semi-automatic weapons, but they have never said they want to ban all guns or knives. That is literally propoganda from the right trying to get people to side with them, which has been very effective over the years do to groups like the NRA who has a hissy-fit every time a democrat mentions the phrase “gun reform”

          the situation in england is very different and much more conservative about weapons, and have been conservative on social issues as well. I think those things actually go together rather well, whereas I am completely confused by how republicans love guns and shooting wrong do-ers, like bears in schools (which you know is such a concern considering all the bear massacres that have occured) but hate civil liberties… they are kind of similar in a lot of ways. but no, guns good, Muslims and gays bad. where does that come from is it that you want to have guns to shoot gays and Muslims (which many people in the last year have actually died by terrible Americans who have done exactly that) if you think for one second that your party doesn’t have supporters that have done terrible things with guns, then your are willfully ignorant.

          to be very clear its not that you or every conservative is a bad person. terrible actions can come from all different backgrounds and people, and it is regrettable, but that does not define an entire class of people. that goes for everyone. I know its been two years, but now that the fight is centered around immigration and nationalist economic policies that could hurt millions of law abiding americans of all races and sexualities, including yourself. I hope you can recognize that the same type of argument used against guns by democrats are being used against muslims and immigrants currently. if you care about freedom, then you should oppose the republican party in this endeavor, because that is not freedom, it’s discrimination.

          it’s understandable that gun advocating republicans feared what others thought of them. you felt like others were trying to take away your rights. i get that. people have been doing that to me since I was born, on a personal level. putting me down trying to make me feel less than human for being gay. Trying to keep me from expressing myself consensually with others. I’m not a fucking snowflake, but I am who I am and I can’t change that I exist and continue to exist despite how many people wanted me dead. So you tell me there’s only one party that fears its law abiding citizens, you’re very wrong, there are two.

        2. Willie Barber says:

          The simple truth is that citizens in London are ordered to “run and hide” in order to survive a terroism attack. That is because they have no way to defend themselves Also, how do we know good muslims from bad muslims when they all read the same Koran that orders ” putting the sword to the necks” of infidels in 109 verses of the Koran? I sure hope those good muslims you speak of never read their Koran and then decide to obey the Koran as the so called “extremists” do. The truth is that the “good” muslims disobey their own bible. Don’t believe me? Google ” 109 verses in Koran that commands Islam to kill” and read the verses yourself.

        3. SouthernPatriot says:

          Jerrymandering is an art form of the Democrat party in its history. The mentally addled Mdme. Waters who does not know what to say, except her handlers tell her, even in live press conferences, along with many other Democrats has a gerrymandered district that travels along a major road, skipping numerous white neighborhoods and coming down in the midst of black neighborhoods again and again.

      2. Bob Ellis says:

        It’s news to me about lock knives. I took one off my key fob last week because it was too bulky. Dangling from my belt for all the world to see!

  4. Aharon says:

    I’ve read reports that in the UK or it might just be England, 25% of the youths arrested are found with a concealed kitchen knife. There are calls by various politically powerful factions to either ban kitchen knives or require them locked up with only the parent or adult guardian having access to them.

    Winston Churchill warned sixty-years ago about society eventually going nuts with such loonie nanny-state thinking…

  5. Leon says:

    I’ll start by stating I am a licenced gun owner and have collected blades off and on for most of my adult life.

    I have worked in security in the UK for 3 years. My experience stems from the court system and I have seen the worst examples of what people can become.

    Over here we have a certain element of society that does not seem to have a couterpart in the US (I lived over there for about 5 years also). They go by the names of “Chavs”, “Neds” etc. They come about from demented generations of parental unemployment and drug abuse (heroin) They most often come from “housing Estates/Schemes” (Projects) and are usually dressed in hoodies and track suits and their attitudes towards everyone is that of a predator.

    You can go out minding your own business and get stabbed for no apparent reason than they just thought it was fun. They do not think like normal human beings and have no respect for anyone appart from their own social hierarchy. They are not like American gangs, in that they operate not for drug proffits but for the buzz of the act. This has led to a knife crime problem as that is their preffered tool. (Locking blades being the most popular)

    Now most of the laws here relate to carrying a knife “with undue reason” in a public place. Not all knives are banned from sale just look on any UK web site where knives are for sale to see what you can get.

    Now what is really sh***y over here is we are NOT allowed to adequately deffend ourselves from attackers as we are expected to use equal force against the attacker. I mean when the **** has that ever worked?

    I have lived and worked in both countries and the UK is way more “pysically violent”. In the US people assume that you are either armed or have a real good lawyer so for the most part you can just keep your self to your self and be ok.

    1. Colin says:

      A “mexican standoff” is better than a one sided annihilation. The problem with laws like this is the people who follows them are likely to be the law abiding citizens that you’re trying to protect, not the demented attackers.

  6. Leon says:

    Just thought I’d add that the Japanese sword thing is popular with gangs in London, Manchester and Birmingham.
    Sword canes are not illegal to own you can still buy them just not carry them in a public place.

    The knife basically is that you can have a non locking blade of 3″ or under in a public place and not have to give reason as it is legal anything else and that reason has to be as part of tools for your job or a hobby such as fishing or hunting. Obviously carying a KA BAR through the town center and you will have a very difficult time explaining to a court why you have it in your possesion outside of your own domain. On private land its up to you what you carry.

    If you are a tourist with a lock knife the police will most likely let you off with a caution provided you dont give them attitude.

  7. Pat says:

    At least the thugs and hooligans can have them.
    Socialist Democracy…..sheesh.

    1. Leon says:

      Well Labor is the socialist and the Conservatives are capitalist and both are run by the freemasons so tell me who is really running the show over here or over there for that matter.

      Just like Obama, isnt he a Jonsons Hall Mason or something like that? and most of your presidents have been masons.

      All of these political figres are brotherhood boys thats why things never change even if the party in charge does. “Meet the new boss same as the old boss”

      They all answer to JehovaBalOsirisHorus the hidden hand with many names.

      1. Ing says:

        Give it time; Big Brother still has some growing up to do.

  8. J.Doe says:

    Well, there’s always flathead screwdrivers, toothbrushes, ice picks, etc. The sky is the limit really.

    1. Ing says:

      I hadn’t thought of that. My garage is chock-full of ready-made shivs.

  9. Bob says:

    I won’t go anywhere I can’t carry a concealed kyoketsu-shoge!
    “Throwing stars or “death stars” wtf?

    No wonder these people riot so much, these laws are complete BS.

    1. opieharper says:

      Plus the Death Stars are no match for the force. Lol.

  10. Bill from over the Hill says:

    I spent 3 years in England in the 80’s. I came to admire much about their lifestyle and courage however now I just pity them for the slaves they have become.

  11. Bladeless says:

    Just returned from 1 week vacation in London. Beautiful city to take my family to see the sights. Our last night we decided to experience the London Eye (extremely large Ferris wheel over looking London). As we came to the base of the ride they asked for back packs to go through the airport style scanner then proceeded to wand me while asking if I had any flammables or sharps. I pulled out my 3.5″ SOG lock back and showed the security guy. At this point I was informed that this type of knife is illegal in England and it is being confiscated. I was led to a desk and had to fill out my name, address and sign that I understood if caught with an illegal knife in England again I could face criminal procecution.

    After the initial shock and completing the ride I started feeling more sorry for the English citizens than for me losing an $80 knife – replacement arrives in 2 days!

    1. J.S. says:


    2. lecap says:

      Same thing happened at the Eiffel Tower in 2016. Only it was AN OPINEL #6 the bozos stole. WTF? You can’t carry a FRENCH knife in France!! :-/ All of Europe is scared shitless and the sheeple have handed over their rights to the nanny state. We see how well that’s working for them: BOOM BOOM BOOM, not to mention plenty of stabbings, beatings, etc.

  12. Canuck says:

    Just spent three days in London, had a fine Italian made lock blade with a 1 1/2 inch blade,I carried it through security unto the Queen Mary 2 in New York, no problem. Leaving London for Paris on the Eurostar, knife was confiscated by security because it was a lock blade, even though it was small. I tried to reason with them to no avail. What a ridiculous law. Someone will probably take it home with them.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      You’ll have a warm welcome if you ever cross the pond!

      1. PR24 says:

        God bless Spyderco! They still have their UK Legal knife line, albeit smaller than a year ago. But at least they have them.

  13. SmokeHillFarm says:

    Part of Britain’s problem is simply bad breeding. After two horrendous world wars that killed literally the best and the brightest of two generations, what was left to repopulate? Cowards, raft dodgers, perverts who couldn’t serve, and those with medical and/or mental problems. Not exactly a choice gene pool.

    Add this sad situation to a series of worthless socialist governments that encouraged its people to live in welfare state, dependent on the government instead of themselves, and you end up with something headed quickly toward a 3rd world country. Add in a completely uncontrolled immigrant population — from the most useless populations available — and a once-great Empire quickly circles the drain.

    It’s very sad, but it’s way too late to fix it.

  14. PR24 says:

    The lunatic knife laws across the pond are idiotic & misguided. Do it like we do in the colonies with regards to convicted felon status: felony record=no firearms. Get caught with one, means hoosegow! At least the honest folks can have their guns vs. the outright bans on all things dangerous like the UK has for all subjects of the realm. Why can’t London do something similar for convicted knife turds??

    Here in sunny AZ we literally have no knife laws, that’s right- none! Guess what? Very little knife crime (people are packing guns usually) but regardless, it’s not an issue. Citizens have open & concealed carry of firearms & law enforcement have exemptions for carrying their firearms off duty; see ARS 38-1102. The end result is this, most part 1 crimes are committed by some SFB against another SFB. Innocent victims are not the norm thank god! It’s a dealer “collecting taxes” from a doper, or one tweeker ripping another tweeker, gangsta vs. gangsta….you get the point, no innocent victims there.

    I feel bad for my ancestral home. It will take the entire kingdom to rise up & make A LOT of noise to change things there.

    1. lecap says:

      That’s all fine and dandy, until you realize that before long EVERYONE is going to be a “felon”. Simply signing a government document with a single typo is actually a federal felony. Look it up, if you don’t believe me! Sanity has gone out the window worldwide. 🙁

  15. AJ187 says:

    Wouldn’t visit that crappy country or it’s annexed bits if it were free.

  16. Pete says:

    I do love the irony in a bunch of yanks pointing fingers and laughing at the English legal standpoint on weapons. Considering you have some 20,000 death a year from firearms alone not to mention knifes and other weapons it’s actually laughable that you should take the moral high ground on this issue

    1. There are roughly 11,000 non-suicide firearms deaths/year. the overwhelming majority are felon on felon (who cannot legally own guns). The number of homicides by previously law abiding citizens and involving non-felon victims is probably about 4000 or so. I am basing this on comparing the # of murders in urban vs rural states (i.e. gang-related violence. Domestic violence, and crimes of passion are likely distributed evenly across states)

      Out of 325 million people or so.

      1. Bea Hall says:

        Don’t forget that of the 11,000 or so non-suicide firearm deaths/year, over 3,000 of them are committed by illegal aliens.

    2. Tom from England says:

      It’s about knives, not firearms. It’s about the patronising laws on knives that actually reinforce the notion that a knife is not a tool but always a weapon and that focus entirely on the instrument, not the person using it.

      But, hey – enjoy your laughter

      1. Jim says:

        The british people have traded what little freedom they may have had for membership in the new world order of slaves.
        During WW ll facing the threat of German invasion had no guns in private hands for the people to defend themselves so they made a plea the the American people to send any spare guns or ammo to so they could fight.
        Americand sent thousand of their personal firearms to the british government to give to the people to defend their families and homeland from the nazis if attacked. Americans came to the british people’s aid and saved them from German slavery with our blood. When Germany was defeated and their sorry asses saved instead of returning our firearms the we lent to them they dumped them in the ocean. That,s how they thanked us. The british can all go to hell or stay in England which has become the same thing for anyone who values freedom.
        You can do an internet search “send a gun to england” and read the whole sad story from that period of time.

    3. JTD says:

      US firearm deaths are more like 25,000 per year. 5000 of those deaths are self defense. 12,000 of those deaths are police shoots. 1000 deaths are accidental. You are more likely to get shot by a cop than shooting yourself. The remaining 9,000 are murders. 9,000 murders divided by the total US population of 330,000,000 = .000027 of one percent. Statistically it doesn’t happen. I live in New Mexico, not to be confused as a providence of Old Mexico, we NM’s enjoy our second amendment rights (The Right To Keep And Bear Arms) with little restrictions. As a matter of fact, we own 75mm cannons, flame throwers, tanks, machine-guns, .50 Cal rifles, etc no mayhem here. Are we Yanks paranoid? You bet! Until human nature changes we are keeping our ability to defend ourselves. Now if you want to hang in South Chicago, New York’s Bronx or Miami’s Little Cuban then you may get what you deserve. I’ll be in London this Sunday. Good day.

      1. SouthernPatriot says:

        Sheffield knives restricted? Some of the best chef knives in the world. I could not be without my chef’s knives. And I keep them VERY sharp (and keep my fingers away!).

        I live in a state with open carry laws, easy concealed carry, and few, if any limitations. Everyone I know is a member of NRA, and my brother and others are lifetime members,

        The incidents of guns used in homoside are stasticaslly insignificant. If sanity prevailed with Democrats running the inner cities of America (Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, New Orleans) and black on black murder was lessened or eliminated, the statistics would be even more insignificant.

    4. Michael McDonnell says:

      You idiots are getting slaughtered in the streets of London.

  17. SouthernPatriot says:

    Self-defense is one of the paramount principles underlying numerous laws, but is basic to our Second Amendment. State laws passed by Republican majorities (governors and legislature) also incorporate the Castle laws which is derived from British Common Law. Anyone forceably
    entering a another’s home can be forcefully resisted even with terminal force. That spreads the definition of self-defense to one’s home and family, a little beyond normal self-defense.

    So far. knives are not so regulated in the states, but not allowed on flights and in court houses, etc. In my state, we easy concealed carry laws (requiring a small fee for a training course on gun safety) and open carry laws, so one can carry rifles, and other long guns on gun racks in your own pick up truck and most judges and prosecutors do this since they go hunting early in the morning before work (during appropriate seasons). An open displayed gun on the passenger seat is also legal with no special license in my state.

    Sugar cane knives (machetes) are readily available and fairly common in some areas to combat nutria and snakes. Most people I know carry pocket knives and those can be from normal size, a few smaller ones, and more larger ones that eventually punch holes in one’s pocket. A local tailor mentioned when I was having a suit altered and I asked for longer pockets, that he did more pocket repairs and alterations than anything else because of the heavy and large pocket knives carried by many men (and that implies more businessmen, than other groups).

  18. Tracy says:

    To me, it has the same problems as do gun laws. The only people who follow these laws are abiding citizens. Criminals don’t follow the law.

  19. SouthernPatriot says:

    Gun and knife laws are more than stupid, they are dangerous. Many law abiding people will obey the “No Guns Beyond this Point” or similar signage. Criminals and the mentally ill along with Muslim terrorists ignore the signs (or cannot read) or intentionally violate the law. So, the only armed people are the criminals, mentally ill and Muslim terrorists. So given that real scenario, what do you think will happen to the unarmed people? Won’t they be robbed, shot, maimed, and killed?

  20. Chuck says:

    I don’t want to live like that and if anyone here wants that crap just go live there. Keep that Britt nonsense in the U.K. They can’t understand why we ave the right to keep and bare arms that’s because they are sheep. When that soldier was getting his head hacked off in the town of Woolrich, the sheepeople just stood and watched. That would never happen here….no way no how.

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British Knife Laws: Hoplophobia Defined

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