Are Spring Loaded Knives Illegal (+ US States Where They’re Legal)

Spring-loaded knives are often classified as switchblades and are, as such, illegal in most places where switchblades are also unlawful.

The spring-assisted knives aren’t considered illegal under federal law, but by classification into switchblades, they enjoy an unlawful status in areas where knives are prohibited.

Thus, it’s essential to understand whether spring-loaded knives are illegal and whether they should be openly carried or concealed.

Likewise, I dive into the differences between spring-loaded knives and switchblades so you don’t unknowingly get charged due to misinterpretation.

So, let’s discuss.

How Is a Spring-Loaded Knife Different From a Switchblade?

A switchblade is often a fully automatic opening knife that can deploy with a single press of a button on the knife’s handle.

Butterfly Knife vs. Switchblade How Do They Compare and Differ

However, spring-loaded blades require manual input from the knife user in applying pressure to the thumb stud before the spring mechanism opens the rest of the knife.

In other words, you must manually open a spring-loaded knife some way before the spring kicks in, while you can open a switchblade with the push of a button.

The opening mechanism of the spring-loaded knife makes sense to prevent accidental openings, especially when the knife is worn around the body and the button (on a switchblade) hits something.


Quick Read: Learn how to open and close different types of pocket knives


Both kinds of knives require an assisted, depressible mechanism, which brings about confusion. Thus, if you’re getting any of these kinds of knives for any reason, I suggest you know the right one.

Are Spring-Loaded Knives Legal in the USA?

Spring-loaded knives are legal under federal US law, but they can sometimes be misclassified as illegal switchblades. This is where personal knowledge comes into play to explain to law enforcement officers if these spring-loaded knives are ever found in your possession.

Likewise, it’s good to know that spring-loaded knives are legal to own in all US states but aren’t legal to carry. Thus, you should be familiar with specific state knife laws around owning, carrying, distributing, or handling one of these knives.

To be sure, I’ve reviewed the legality of spring-loaded knives in some regions and put them in the table below.

StateSpring-loaded knife statusOpen/Concealed carry?Extras
CaliforniaMixedOpen and concealedLaws differ by cities
New YorkLegalConcealedNot to be carried in NYC Transit
IllinoisMixedOpen and concealedYou might need to get a FOID card
OhioLegalOpen and concealedDon’t carry them into designated ‘no-knife’ zones
TexasLegalOpen and concealedJust steer clear of crime
FloridaLegalOpen carryYou can carry it concealed if you get a permit
Spring-loaded knives’ legal status in different US states and cities

Are Spring Loaded Knives Legal in California?

You can own spring-loaded knives in California, but you can’t legally carry them in all cities.

This is because knife laws in California are rather extensive, somewhat contradictory, and open to interpretation. On top of that, these knife laws can also differ from city to city.

For example, you can openly carry a sheathed knife of any length under California law, but the Los Angeles city law has a specific cap of 3 inches blade length on such knives.

You can read the California Knife Laws from the American Knife and Tool Institute to get started on how these spring-loaded carry laws differ by region in the state.

When you go through those laws, you’ll find out that most of the confusion is from the Californian law grouping this knife as a switchblade, which it’s not.

Are Spring Loaded Knives Illegal in New York?

I checked with the NYPD online resource, and spring-loaded knives aren’t listed as illegal in the region. However, this is subject to the NYPD not interpreting your spring-loaded knife as a switchblade which would automatically make it illegal.

Likewise, the page mentions that some allowed knives may be considered illegal due to the intent behind using and possessing such knives. That makes sense since ordinary kitchen knives can also be used to do a lot of harm in the wrong hands.

So, as long as you have a valid reason for carrying the knife and it’s not labeled a switchblade, your spring-loaded blades aren’t illegal in New York.

However, note that you have to practice concealed carry in New York, even if the knife is very legal. That means it must not be worn outside of your clothing, and no part of the knife (not even the sheath) must be in public view.

Finally, you can’t carry your knife in the NYC transit system.

Can You Carry Spring Loaded Knives in Illinois?

Spring-loaded knives and switchblades are legal to own and carry in Illinois, but you need a Firearms Ownership Identification (FOID) card in most cases. You might not need a FOID card for spring-loaded knives, but it’s safer to get one and not need it than to need one and not have it.

According to the Illinois knife laws, all knives are legal to carry as long as they don’t cause harm. Likewise, you can legally carry knives concealed or openly, provided they’re not more than 3 inches long (in blade length only).

However, you still have to not carry knives into buildings such as schools, churches, and federal offices, where knives are prohibited.

Are Spring Loaded Knives Legal in Ohio?

The only knife bans in Ohio affect the ballistic knives and other knives that can be deployed in like manner, making spring-loaded blades legal to own and carry. The laws around concealed carry have also been removed from April 12, 2021, so you can choose to carry your spring-loaded knives openly or concealed in Ohio.

However, it would be best if you didn’t take these knives into designated areas like schools since they’re considered deadly weapons.

Still, the law provides that razors and knives shouldn’t be considered deadly weapons unless the cutting instrument was used as a weapon.

But to be safe, I prefer you don’t allow any room to get into trouble with the law on the back of wrong interpretations, so it’s best to keep your knives away from those environments.

Are Spring Loaded Knives Legal in Texas?

It’s entirely legal to own, transport, and sell spring-loaded knives in the region of Texas. Adults and juveniles in Texas may even carry an automatic blade that’s less than 5.5 inches long, giving room for larger spring-loaded knives in the region.

Still, be careful not to brandish the knife in front of anyone and establishment laws that may prohibit the use/possession of knives on its premises.

Are Spring Loaded Knives Legal in Florida?

Florida, like Ohio, only bans ballistic knives and any other knife that can act like one. Thus, you can own and carry a spring-loaded knife in the region as long as you openly carry it.

The knife must not be carried in any way that looks like you’re hiding it from the plain sight of a casual viewer.

However, you can still conceal carry a spring-loaded knife in Florida if you get a concealed carry permit. Otherwise, you have to wear your knife in the glare of the public.

Surprisingly, you can also openly carry bowie knives, balisongs/butterfly knives, and belt knives in Florida.

Always Check with the Law Office

The state guides on this list aren’t extensive, but it covers some of the leading states. However, you should have also seen that the knife laws sometimes differ by city, are subject to interpretation, and can change quickly.

Thus, I always recommend you check with a lawyer or law enforcement officer for more professional opinions. That way, you don’t take everything here as the gospel, but you have a base to go on when approaching the authorities on your knives.

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