Bushman knife in Pennsylvania

Knife Laws in PA: Understanding Pennsylvania's Carry Regulations

In Pennsylvania, people often carry knives for sport or crafting. Knives have fewer rules than guns, but laws do restrict them. Specifically, automatic knives are off-limits. These knives open with push-buttons or springs. They are considered offensive weapons. This makes them illegal to carry. The Federal Switchblade Act since 1958 also bans switchblades.

Since 2009, though, you can have assisted-opening knives. The law allows their use.

The legality of knives depends on how you plan to use them. They must have a "common lawful purpose." This has been clarified by court cases like Commonwealth v. Gatto. It's important to know, you can't have knives in schools or courts. This is part of the state law.

Overview of Knife Laws in Pennsylvania

Knowing Pennsylvania's knife laws is key for everyone living or visiting. The state sees some knives as offensive weapons in PA if they open automatically. It's important to grasp what an offensive weapon is. Also, understanding the law's history makes following it easier.

Legal Definitions and Terminology

Pennsylvania calls certain knives like switchblades and ballistic knives offensive weapons. They are banned because they can cause serious harm. The focus is on how these knives open, especially if it's automatic.

Historical Context of Regulations

The Federal Switchblade Act of 1958 is significant for Pennsylvania's knife rules. It led to a nationwide ban on switchblades. But, Pennsylvania goes its own way. It allows knives that need a small push to open, seeing them as useful tools. This approach helps keep the law clear, making it easier to follow compared to other states.

What Knives Are Legal to Own in PA?

Pennsylvania's laws permit owning knives that don't open by themselves. This knowledge is vital for those who enjoy collecting or using knives for hobbies or work. By knowing what knives are allowed, you can follow the law without trouble.

Allowed Types of Knives

Pennsylvania allows many kinds of knives that are manual, not automatic. You can have pocket knives, hunting knives, and even butterfly knives if they don't open by themselves. This change in law makes it easier for people to use these knives for activities like hunting and outdoor sports.

Curio and Lawful Purpose Exceptions

PA's knife law has a unique part called the "curio exception." It lets you have certain knives that are generally illegal, if they're for lawful reasons like collecting or using in plays. Even special knives, like a long Japanese katana, can be okay if used in ways the law allows.

Restricted and Prohibited Knives

In Pennsylvania, knives that open automatically are under tight control. This includes switchblades that open with a button. It's vital for knife fans and owners to know these rules.

Automatic Knives and Switchblades

Automatic knives and switchblades are not freely usable in Pennsylvania. They can quickly open by a button or spring. While some automatic knife rules in Pennsylvania have changed, their use is limited to lawful activities.

Other Banned Types

Gravity knives are also banned in Pennsylvania. These knives open by the force of gravity or spinning. This rule highlights the public safety concern due to their misuse potential.

Understanding "Offensive Weapons"

The law in offensive weapon definition PA covers knives meant for serious harm. To stay in the law, knives must have a clear, legal use. Some knives are allowed if they serve a common and legal purpose.

Carry Regulations in PA

It's crucial to know Pennsylvania's knife carry rules, for locals and tourists alike. Laws cover where knives can legally go, especially in public spots and schools. Checking and following these laws avoids big legal troubles.

Public Spaces and Schools

Knowing where not to bring knives in Pennsylvania is key. Schools and courts are no-go areas for knives. This rule aims to keep these places safe and reduces chances of getting into trouble.

Work and Recreational Use

For work or fun, bringing certain knives is fine if they're legal. Tools like hunting knives and pocket knives are usually okay. But, automatic knives and weapons are a no-go, even for work. Knowing these details is essential for legal knife carrying.

Penalties for Violation

Breaking Pennsylvania's knife carry laws can be serious, leading to arrest and knife seizure. The punishment's seriousness varies by knife type and where it's carried. Knowing the rules cuts down on risk and keeps you safe.


What types of knives are legal to carry in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, you can have many types of knives. This includes assisted-open, pocket, hunting, and butterfly knives. Just make sure you use them for legal reasons. But, knives that open automatically, like switchblades, are usually not allowed. This is because they are seen as weapons for offense.

Is it legal to carry a knife in PA?

Yes, you can carry certain knives in Pennsylvania. But, the knife must not be an offensive weapon, like an automatic one. It should be used for normal, legal activities.

What is the legal knife length in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania doesn't have a specific size limit for knives you can carry. What matters is the kind of knife and why you're carrying it. Just don't carry knives meant for hurting others.

Are automatic knives and switchblades legal in Pennsylvania?

Usually, automatic knives and switchblades are seen as dangerous weapons in Pennsylvania. But there's a recent exception. You can own them for specific uses, like hunting or work, under the "curio exception."

Can I carry a knife in schools or court facilities in Pennsylvania?

No, you can't bring knives into schools or courts in Pennsylvania. Breaking this law can have serious consequences. You might get arrested and lose your knife.

What does "common lawful purpose" mean in Pennsylvania knife laws?

"Common lawful purpose" means using your knife for activities that are legal. This could be hunting, fishing, or just daily tasks. How this term is understood can affect whether you can carry certain knives. One legal case, Commonwealth v. Gatto, has looked at this issue.

What are the penalties for violating knife laws in Pennsylvania?

If you break the knife laws in Pennsylvania, you could face different penalties. This might include being arrested or having to pay a fine. The punishment fits the offense. For example, carrying a dangerous weapon or breaking laws in certain places such as schools.

What knives are classified as offensive weapons in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, some knives are considered offensive weapons. These include ones that open automatically, like switchblades, as well as gravity knives and ballistic knives. Such knives are banned because they can cause serious harm and aren't needed for common tasks.

What is the "curio exception" in PA knife laws?

The "curio exception" lets you own usually banned knives for a good reason. This reason could be for collecting or use in plays. The law recognizes the knives' historical or non-dangerous value in these cases.

Source Links

Back to blog

Featured Tactical Blades and Accessories:

1 of 3