Know Your Knife Laws #8: South Carolina


South Carolina ratified the Constitution almost 225 years ago, on May 23rd, 1788. In doing so it became the eighth state to join the Union. South Carolina’s knife laws were very restrictive until 2008, when the legislature overrode governor Mark Sanford’s veto of a broad package of weapons law reforms.

Before that, the Palmetto State banned the carry of any knife longer than two inches. Today, South Carolina is The Promised Land of knife laws. With exceptions…

Although I’m a lawyer and this is definitely a legal article, I’m not licensed in any state except Washington. None of this is meant to be relied on as legal advice: if you need to know what you can or can’t get away with under any state or local law, you’ll need to hit the law books yourself or call a lawyer in that state.

But I digress: At the statewide level, South Carolina’s knife laws begin and end with two simple commands: Don’t use a knife to commit a crime, and don’t carry a knife longer than 2″ on school property. And that’s it. Period. Dot. End of story. If you’re asking “Is my _____ legal for (concealed) carry in South Carolina?” the answer is yes.

At the statewide level, that is. South Carolina state law doesn’t preempt local laws (a 2012 preemption bill died in committee) so there’s an infuriating patchwork of local knife laws. Some of them even seem to retain the pre-2008 2″ blade limit.

The American Knife And Tool Institute is working to revive last year’s stalled preemption bill, which would make South Carolina the most knife-friendly state anywhere in the history of ever.

Here’s hoping.


  1. Loyd says:

    So no laws concerning needing a CHL? I can drive over the river from Georgia with a Ka-Bar on my hip and be like “Hey guys! What’s up!?”. I kno you’re not giving legal advice, that’s just what I’m taking away from this. I know SC doesn’t accept my GA CCW permit.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      I’m not advising you as a lawyer, but SC state law doesn’t care what kind of blade you carry or how. Local laws can be much more restrictive, so check before you carry.

      This is why preemption is so important!

      1. CTrees says:

        Is there any place that can give better guidance on the locals laws than trying to dig up the laws themselves?

        1. Chris Dumm says:

          Knife Rights has links to a scattering of local laws, but just like every such compilation it’s both incomplete and potentially outdated. This isn’t a criticism of Knife Rights or anyone else who undertakes such an effort, because it’s a huge and never-ending task.

          If state law doesn’t preempt local regulation, you can’t know what is legal where unless you consult every single code of county ordinances and every single code of municipal (city, township, etc) ordinances as well.

          This will run into many of hours of research even for a small state, and that’s assuming that all of the counties and cities have their updated laws posted online. Not all of them actually do.

          I only mention specific local laws when I happen to stumble upon them.

  2. Is there any more news on this subject?
    I’ve Checked the AKTI website and requested info from Mike Pitts. But have heard nothing new.

  3. BrianS says:

    Afraid your research is outdated…..

    Automatic (Switchblades) knives are illegal under Federal Law which makes them illegal in all 50 states and U.S. territories!

    1. BrianS says:

      My mistake, seems they are in fact legal!

    2. Jeffrey Hall says:

      that is straight bullshit…

  4. Tyler b says:

    So is an assisted open knife considered a switchblade?

  5. Rocky says:

    Tyler b says:
    June 3, 2015 at 6:29 am
    So is an assisted open knife considered a switchblade?

    No Sir. I got the one that I’m carrying at Lowes. As long as you must begin to manually open the knife with one or more of your fingers, toes, elbows, nose,. etc. before the cam goes to work, it is not considered as being a Federally Prohibited ‘switchblade’

  6. Mark says:

    It is NOT illegal to own or carry a switchblade in SC! There is NO blade length limit on knives in SC!
    Former LEO.

    1. joe says:

      he said in schools

    2. Mark Bosco says:

      What about balisongs or “butterfly knives”

  7. rochelle hughie says:


  8. D.P. says:

    What about swords(Katana, broadsword, longsword, etc.)?

    1. khadga says:

      “D.P. says:
      April 17, 2017 at 1:27 pm
      What about swords(Katana, broadsword, longsword, etc.)?”

      Completely legal unless you brandish or otherwise commit a crime with it.

      The only penalty is strange looks though a LEO may talk to you and may not know it’s legal.

  9. So is a sword carried openly legal or not in SC? Does the length matter?

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Know Your Knife Laws #8: South Carolina

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