Know Your Knife Laws #12: North Carolina

Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons

North Carolina ratified the United States Constitution and joined the union on Saturday, November 21st, 1789. After visiting the fetid legal sewer that is New York State’s knife laws, it’s a pleasure to take a little trip Down South to a land where common sense isn’t completely dead…

But neither is it exactly the picture of health. North Carolina allow citizens to carry most pocketknives most of the time.

The good news about North Carolina knife laws is that the concealed weapon statute, G.S. Chapter 14-269, doesn’t say anything about blade length or ‘presumptions of criminal intent.’ You’re also allowed to own automatics, gravity knives and balisongs as long as you don’t carry them concealed in public.

Sadly, that’s about it for the good news. North Carolina seems to have copied the usual raft of silly restrictions on the carry of “bowie knives, dirks, daggers, slung shot, loaded canes, metallic knuckles, razors, and shurikin.”

The law is also infuriatingly vague as to whether assisted-openers are considered ‘switchblades’ or not. The consensus of the blade forum types is that assisted openers are okay, but that’s certainly not legal advice. And neither is this article, for that matter: if you absolutely have to know whether they’re legal or not, you’ll have to pay an NC attorney for their time. I’m not licensed to practice there, so don’t ask.

To add insult to injury, North Carolina has no preemption of knife laws, so the state is literally a crazy quilt of varying blade length restrictions and lists of places you cannot carry. Check here for a partial (and partially superseded) list of local restrictions.

If there’s any consolation, it’s that you can carry a manual 3″ folder in just about any county or municipality without worry.

Grade: C

NC’s 1970s-style knife laws are way behind its ‘Shall Issue’ CCW gun laws. It’s a better state than NY or NJ, which is faint praise indeed, but it’s the worst Southern state I’ve surveyed thus far. Stick to a 3″ manual folder and you should be fine. Most of the time. In most places. Mostly.


  1. Nanashi says:

    “The good news about South Carolina knife laws” Wait, weren’t you talking about North Carolina in the article?

    They mostly come out at night… mostly.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      Thanks for the tip! Text fixed.

  2. .9mm says:

    This is in no way legal advice but a leo friend told me my Kershaw assisted openers are good to go here in NC. He told me that in practice, no one gets “arrested” for violating our vague knife laws alone, instead it becomes another charge to pile on if you are being arrested for something else. According to my friend, officer discretion plays a big part in being charged with illegally carrying an illegal knife.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      Police say this kind of thing all the time. They love ‘officer discretion’ because it lets them write the laws as they go along. If you’re not deferential enough, or dressed well enough, or the right ethnicity you’ll experience a completely different brand of justice.

  3. Enzo says:

    Yay, finally got to the part about my home state.

    I think the biggest thing about knife laws in NC is which part you’re in. If you happen to find yourself in downtown Charlotte or Raleigh, then stick to the strictest laws possible. However one you get out to the smaller towns and out towards the lesser populated area, it’s mostly a live and let live attitude about everything.

  4. Chris says:

    I live in SC just outside Charlotte and what annoys me is no concealed fixed blade in NC. My little Kabar TDI seems to be banned.

  5. Brick says:

    In NC.
    can I carry a 3″ folder, open and in a sheath. Concealed?

    1. Caleb Stroup says:

      yes, the only hard part is when you get into the assisted open/switchblade laws. I carry my benchmade 940 everywhere and i have had no problems. You dont have to have it open or concealed it doesnt matter.

  6. Dylan messer says:

    I am 12 and live in waynesville up in the nc mountains and I Cary a switch blade, strait blade and a spring assisted knife after I get home from school and I’ve not haven’t got any tickets

    1. Hector says:

      12? You shouldn’t carry a butter knife. You should carry a cellphone. May be. Do not ruin your young life because of the lack of knowledge. Talk to your parents, they should know better.

      1. Zack says:

        You must be from the city.

        1. Bud-Lite (son of Bud) says:

          Of for the “love-of-mud” everyone! SO WHAT IF HE IS 12 years of age and carrying “whatever”? When I was twelve I’d already been shooting my OWN RIFLE for FOUR FULL YEARS (born and raised in Maine).
          What you are arguing about it totally different depending on where and how you are raised. ANY twelve year old in Alaska most likely has more of an arsenal than the average “lower fifty states man-of-fourty-years.” (That was a Harvard study ….if memory serves …may well have the wrong Uni there).
          So …chill out on their danged age! Or are you the one that is mad the school-girl threw a ‘baby’ carrot (a LETHAL weapon!) at her teacher too?

      2. robert says:

        Why shouldn’t he carry a knife? Who are you to say he shouldn’t. His parents belive enough in him to let him carry them. Let me guess you live in a city don’t ya. Most people that I talk to who think like that come from the big city’s. And truely know nothing about living in the country. I know where the kid is coming from , I got and carried my first knife at age 8. I carried it everywhere with me including school. No one said a word, because they knew ever boy in the school room had a knife.

      3. bull says:

        i got my first knife when i was 10 if you are told how to use it when you nead to and not to play with the knife then i think it wood be ok just be respctbull with it and DO not
        hurt your self on purpose.

  7. Sebastian says:

    What if the knife doesn’t fold and isn’t concealed like a big sharp hunting knife in its sheath on your hip clearly viable in the town of Richland or the city of Jacksonville?

  8. bob says:

    so switchblades are legal in nc please answer somebody

    1. Teri says:

      Yes switchblades are legal in NC as long as you don’t ‘conceal carry’ it.

    2. Allan says:

      I’ve lived in greater Wilmington most of my life and have carried a fixed blade knife- generally with a blade greater than 6″ and concealed always. I walk and use public transit. I’ve been stopped by the man often enough on account of I’m a punk. They’ve never given me issues over it. They ascertain I’m not carrying dope and I’m not an a$$hole, and they give me my knife back.

  9. Wes says:

    Open carry then. I do it all the time, ^^ switchblades are illegal to carry not to own

    1. Bud-Lite (son of Bud) says:

      That’s right Wes, in any State (I can’t speak for within some city limits of perhaps a few mega-cities …where only criminals dare carry illegal knives to use against you …KNOWING their knife will ALWAYS be larger. Screw that! Look, just as with firearms (or just self defense that may require the use of deadly force …no matter what “instrument” you choose to use (ie: gun, blade, rock, stump, car, pocketbook (ever feel how heavy a woman’s purse can be?) ..etc. What I am leading up to is that YOU ARE ALLOWED TO DEFEND YOUR LIFE IF YOU ARE IN IMMINENT DANGER OF DYING (FROM ATTACK), BEING WOUNDED OR ABOUT TO BE RAPED OR SEXUALLY ASSAULTED. “They” the police and government, would LIKE for you to believe that ALL THESE KNIFE LAWS are “real” …guess what? Not a single one of those laws are real. Why not? The 2nd Amendment states we have the right to “keep and bear” arms. (Basically meaning we have the right to OWN ANY TYPE OF “ARMS” and we have the right to “Bear Arms” (we can freely wear ANY sized gun or knife we wish) …because the 2nd Amendment “is not to be infringed.” (The government “at all levels” has laws to the contrary …yet all of them can be beaten in any court of law using just the 2nd Amendment to defeat it …or use the 10th, 14th AND 2nd Amendments and out the door you’ll walk, with knife.
      I carry two handguns (.40 and .45 Glocks). The .45 is slung into a slightly modified “Miami Vice” shoulder holster with ‘twin mag holders’ on the right side …and right about that mag holder I use ‘nicely placed and LOTS of velcro (on the back side of the sheath), to hold triple SOG throwing knives. These three ‘throwers” inside their sheath measure 12 and 1/2 inches long, and the actual blades, “sharpened edge-measures 4 and 3/8ths, entire ‘blade’ length is about five inches (all the way up to the “lump” used to “throw off”). This I have carried all over the United States (except Alaska and Hawaii), for the past 20+ years. I was once arrested (falsely due to an a** attempting to get me imprisoned), but he found that it’s a bit hard to imprison someone who has 21-years “day for day” USNaval Service (SF), and is also a 100% Disabled Veteran (I’m lucky in that I can get around just fine …I’m just nutty as a fruitcake is all).
      Back to knives. As a ‘secondary’ (call it a ‘battleknife’) has a fully protected handle two fingers forward, a ‘support’ and the other two finger behind the support (incredible gripping power), Made by SECURE-EX and the knife I chose is named “CHAOS” …resembling a “battleknife in everyway EXCEPT both sides of the shank are blades (thus 50% LESS wasted movements and 200% more efficiency …((once you have learned the art of fighting with bladed objects)).
      Remember, your right to protect yourself, your right to both keep (store them anywhere that you wish) arms and to “bear” arms, (carry them upon your person …and NO PART of The 2nd Amendment may be infringed upon (ESPECIALLY BY GOVERNMENT)! But, over the 100 years or so it is obvious that “they” have literally “tricked the masses” into believing that their totally “unconstitutional” (and thus Null and Void) laws about weapons are actually, bullshit. (By the way, the battleknife resides in my left boot. There are many boot-makers out there that can accommodate whatever you wish to have ‘down there’ …just give them the requested dimensions and they’ll quietly fix you right up! Very kewl. (And as someone else has said, as long as you do NOT go around “brandishing” your Rambo knife absolutely nobody is going to bother you. (And if they do you can beat them in court using nothing more than than your God-given right to defend yourself). Lastly, since the knife laws (everywhere) DO INFRINGE UPON THE 2ND AMENDMENT …there are considered “as being no law at all.” (And We The People are in no way ‘bound’ to abide by them as they are NOT ‘Constitutional’ (not in any wise).
      So….FORGET the stupid state laws about knives. Secondly, you really don’t want a switchblade when someone like me pulls out a 10-inch, dagger-bladed combat knife with steel that will slice your switchblade into two pieces (or the “nut” on the end of the knife’s handle, designed to break glass of most any kind, would REALLY do a number on a man’s skull …up to and including instant death …just with a ‘thunk’ of a hard round metal object in just the right place and ‘down-they-go’ (silently).
      Closing thought: It is “a given” that anyday now the USA is going to come under attack or find itself at war with little to no warning. (It may even be that WE THE PEOPLE decide to give our alleged leaders time to vacate ALL of their offices …or be tried by WE THE PEOPLE (meaning that we return to The Constitutional Law and Common Law “as it once stood” (“they” have twisted it so that every law actually benefits the criminal and punished or “impedes” every law-abiding citizen …and now they want to enslave or outright kill us? Screw that! Wear whatever ya wanna… (you’ll need it sooner than you know).

      1. Bob E. says:

        We need more nutters like you.

      2. Doug Manz says:

        Fighting a charge on constitutional grounds takes deep pockets, time, and a high tolerance for aggravation. The state always has deeper pockets , attorneys and judges on staff, and all the time in the world. Think about it.

      3. Dawn says:

        Yes!! Damn man we sure need alot more folks like you who understand the truth. I was born and raised in Miami during the 80s then stupidly moved to New Jersey now I live in Arizona. So very different laws. Arizona is fantastic! No real gun laws or knife laws, carry concealed no permits required etc. I’m heading to Charlotte NC for a few months to visit family so wanted to see what BS laws they have and stumbled across your post. Again man you’re awesome! Stay strong and never back down! A friend from out west, Dawn.

      4. Ravin Elkin says:


  10. Jay says:

    I live in Yadkin county, nc. I have carried a fixed blade 7 inch Kabar for years sheathed on my hip. I have never had any trouble from authorities at all. I’ve also done work in Raleigh and Greensboro very frequently and still no one has bothered me about it. Just don’t go swinging it around and your likely not to be bothered. Maybe I’m just lucky.

    1. move to TN. We have near-perfect knife laws.
      (thanks to’s work on our behalf.)

      1. Crewmax42 says:

        Tennessee is perfect in a LOT of ways. Wish I could move back home.

  11. davis ilm says:

    This section does not apply to an ordinary pocket knife carried in a closed position. As used in this section, “ordinary pocket knife” means a small knife, designed for carrying in a pocket or purse, that has its cutting edge and point entirely enclosed by its handle, and that may not be opened by a throwing, explosive, or spring action.

    Loop hole for balisongs found

  12. Heidi says:

    How do they define a Bowie knife or dagger? I’ve got a Kershaw secret agent I’d really like to carry concealed in a shoulder mount. I used to live up in Indiana where, shockingly, the law was much more lenient and also much more clear. It was perfectly legal for me to conceal my Kershaw up there. I feel so naked down here and can’t currently afford a gun, though I am saving up for a Kahr PM9.

    1. bull says:

      get a 9mm it is better

  13. Todd says:

    I was arrested for a concealed 1-1/2″ fix blade knife in Charlotte in 2014. Almost anything is legal carried openly. A switchblade is legal unless concealed. A fixie is legal unless concealed.

    1. Mack says:

      That cop must have been in a really bad mood.

  14. Jay says:

    Can I carry around a machete without it being concealed, like for example, having the handle sticking out of my backpack or clasping the sheathe to my hip. I go in the woods frequently and I just bought a machete, and the woods are around the block but it’s quite busy down here, so I was a bit worried.

    1. As the article says, NC knife laws suck. Without preemption, I couldn’t even begin to offer good advice beyond talk to an attorney in whichever municipality you wish to carry it.

      And support
      And Call and write your legislature.

      1. Bud-Lite (son of Bud) says:

        I believe that a machete is NOT considered to be a weapon, but rather a “tool” used or employed in whatever you warrants having the need to carry one. In western NC, I’ve carried a machete (any time of the year), on a leg sheath …into restaurants or just walking around a store …and have never once been remotely ‘asked a thing’ about it …much less get into legal trouble. You can pretty much get away with carrying anything “open” (no matter the length). When you start concealing you’d best be ready to “play the game.” (If the need arises …never has for me, yet). 🙂 Cheers mates!

    2. bull says:

      you can get a belt sheath

  15. Rational Human says:


  16. Nick cox says:

    But here’s the thing I live in a little town called laruel hill we the people of laruel hill can carry any thing we want I being 13 I carry a butterfly knife and a switchblade concealed I own a .45 cal and a .38 smith and Weston revolver every day now for 4 years

  17. Jeremy says:

    Can my 12 year old son own a knife collection in north Carolina???

    1. bull says:

      yes just one at a time

  18. dan says:

    hey bud lite, you seem pretty knowledgeable,….what the skinny on t handled push knives….????? thanx

    1. Richard says:

      That would fall under Fixed blade laws, you can open carry but not conceal.

  19. James Platt says:

    I live in Fayetteville, NC. I have a nice buck knife I’d like to be able to carry in its belt sheath. It has a 3 1/2″ sharpened part of blade, 4″ total blade length, and total folded length of 5″. Would this really be illegal??

  20. Gabriel says:

    I recently bought a pocket knife with a 4.7 in blade. I am curious if its legal to carry in my pocket in public as long as its not a school, bank, or government building. Does anyone know?

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Know Your Knife Laws #12: North Carolina

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