Responsibly owning, carrying, or concealing karambits means knowing not only federal and state knife laws, but also the laws in your city, county, or jurisdiction. Furthermore, you should know the karambit laws inside and out. If you carry a karambit for potential self defense use, then you also have a responsibility to know the use of force and self defense laws.
Comprehensive guides to knife laws are easy to find online. Unfortunately, though, general knife law guides rarely include information about karambit laws. Laws vary widely state to state concerning both knives and karambits. Many states do not specifically mention karambits in their laws. In those states, the state’s general knife law governs legal karambit use.
We have compiled a guide to both United States federal karambit laws and the karambit laws in all 50 states. Additionally, we’ve included the karambit laws for all inhabited U.S. territories plus Washington, D.C. This karambit legalities guide is as accurate and as comprehensive as we can make it. However, laws change regularly so make sure you double check current statutes in your area. Keep in mind that the laws in your city, town, or county may differ from your state’s knife and karambit laws.
Federal karambit laws come first, followed by the karambit laws for all 50 states. The state karambit laws appear in alphabetical order. Find your state and the applicable knife laws will be underneath. We’ve tried to include a brief summary of each state’s self defense laws, as well. The laws for Washington D.C. and the U.S. territories appear last.
Last Update: October 2019
- Knife – a utility tool made up of a sharpened blade designed for cutting and an attached handle
- Switchblade Knife -a knife with a retractable blade that springs out from the handle when a button is pressed
- Assisted Open – type of folding knife that relies on an internal mechanism to finish opening of the blade once the user has partially deployed it
- Gravity Knife – type of folding knife that uses gravity or momentum from a wrist flick to snap open the blade
- Bowie Knife -a long knife with a double-edged blade at the point
- Hawkbill Knife – knife that has a concave cutting edge and a hooked shape
- Karambit Knife – small, claw-like curved knife that usually has a safety ring in the handle
- Fixed Blade – a knife with a blade that cannot be moved or folded down, i.e. fixed iin place
- Folding Blade – a knife with a blade that folds or retracts into the handle
- Possession Laws – laws that dictate whether or not you may own or have something in your possession
- Carry Laws – laws that dictate whether or not you may carry something on your person or in your gear
Note: Technically, gravity knives aren’t switchblades, as there’s no spring-loaded assist to power the blade into position. However, they can be operated one-handed and are specifically mentioned in the federal switchblade laws.
A single law called the Switchblade Knife Act of 1959 governs knives on the federal level. The Switchblade Knife Act of 1959 was ammended in 2009 to include exceptions to the law. There are no other federal laws regarding knife ownership, carry, transport, concealment, or use. The entire act boils down to “switchblades are federally illegal to sell, possess, or transport in the United States, except for when carried by a member of the Armed Forces performing their duty or by someone who only has one arm as long as the switchblade is 3″ or less in length. Ditto for ballistic knives.”
There are no federal laws specific to karambits. That being said, a couple of defintions and exemptions contained in U.S. federal knife law might apply to karambits.
- Assisted opening – A folding knife which requires you to exert force on the blade in order for it to open, but which ‘assists’ that opening with a spring or mechanism once you have applied force to the blade. These were specifically exempted from the Switchblade Act in 2009.
- anything else
Many knife laws are open to interpretation by the person attempting to enforce the law. This is particularly true concerning knives not mentioned in the laws, like karambits. As a matter of fact, police officers seeking to enforce knife laws commonly do so based on their personal understanding of the law. Oftentimes, that understanding is quite limited. Many police officers make decisions based on how “dangerous” a knife looks.
You cannot carry a karambit in most federal buildings and similar institutions of state or local government. This includes courthouses and other places of official happenings. Unless you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, it’s illegal to carry a karambit on a U.S. military base or installation. You cannot carry a karambit on school property or onto a plane.
Some places of public accommodation, including restaurants, medical facilities, sporting arenas, and theaters, forbid possessing any weapons on the premises. This includes karambit knives.
All 50 states have their own laws regarding karambit ownership, carry, and use. Furthermore, self defense laws vary widely state by state. Many cities, towns, and counties further regulate knife laws. In some states, local law supercedes state law. In others, state law applies regardless of local karambit laws. We cannot delve into the karambit laws of various muncipalities, as there are over 19,000 jurisdictions in the U.S. capable of makinng and enforcing their own laws.
Karambit laws for all 50 states appear below in alphabetical order.
Alabama allows you to possess, carry, and conceal karambits. Make sure you don’t conceal big bowie knives or machetes but feel free to hide little blades if you desire. If your karambit looks like a gun, by the way, it’s illegal in Alabama, as are all knives that look like guns.
Alaskan knife law declares gravity and switchblades as verboten. You may carry any other knife, including a karambit, at any time, except on school grounds. If the karambit is a defensive weapon, you’re obligated to obtain permission before carrying it inside of another person’s residence. Alaskan law mandates that you inform a police officer if you have a knife other than a basic pocket knife in your possession if they stop you. Karambits are not basic pocket knives.
Arizona karambit laws are some of the simplest out of all of the 50 states: carry absolutely any knife you jolly well please in any way you please, including a karambit of any size, as long as you’re over the age of 21. If you’re under the age of 21, you may only carry a folding pocket knife. You may not carry a karambit around hydroelectric facilities, nuclear facilities, or on the grounds of organized public events and gatherings. Morever, it is expressly illegal in Arizona to use any knife in the comission of any crime or in an act of terrorism.
If you’re stopped by a police officer in Arizona and they ask if you have weapons, you must inform them you have a knife, whether it’s concealed or not. Arizona state knife laws override all local knife laws throughout the state.
Arkansas karambit laws allow you to carry any karambit or knife of any size, make, or model that suits your fancy. You can conceal or open carry your karambit as you please.
California karambit laws are complicated. In a nutshell, karambits are legal to carry in California as they are not specifically cited as illegal under California knife law. However, California knife law dictates that all fixed blade knives must be open carried. There is no size restriction on open carry fixed blade knives. Pocket knives must be carried in the closed position. Pocket knives wiith a blade under 2″ in total length are generally legal without restriction. Knives that utilize an assisted open, including mechanisms like the Emerson Wave, are defined under California state law to be switchblades and their carry is highly regulated.
Note: In Los Angeles, no knife with a blade length longer than 3″ may be open carried.
Carry any karambit you’d like in Colorado but if the blade is over 3.5″ you have to open carry it. Ballistic knives are universally illegal.
Connecticut karambit laws do not allow you to possess or carry any karambit with a blade larger than 4″. Furthermore, Connecticut law universally forbids automatic karambits and stiletto knives.
In Delaware you may carry any knife you wish but you may only conceal pocket knives with a blade length smaller than 3.5″.
Florida karambit law authorizes the carry of any karambit of any size, but if you intend to conceal it, bettered make it 4″ or less in blade length.
Georgia knife law permits the open carry of any and all blades, including karambits. However, if you want to conceal carry a karambit with a blade length longer than 5″, you need a weapons permit.
Hawaii knife laws graciously grant permission for you to possess and carry any knife you want, including a karambit, as long as it isn’t a switchblade or balisong. If a knife looks “dangerous” then you’re not supposed to conceal it. It’s a safe bet that karambits fall into that category. So, to be on the safe side, don’t conceal your karambit knife in Hawaii.
Own, carry, and conceal any karambit you’d like in Idaho. Everything goes here!
You can carry a karambit in Illinois. However, Illinois is one of the few states that includes intent in its definition of an illegal knife. Any person who intends to use a knife to harm anoother is carrying an illegal knife. By that definition, any knife can be illegal depending on who is carrying it and what their purpose is. Illinois knife laws do not have length restrictions, except when in government-owned places — karambits carried there must have a blade shorter than 3″. If a knife is legal to open carry in Illinois, it’s also legal to conceal carry it.
Indiana allows you to own or carry any karambit of any size, provided you do not give it to an obviously intoxicated person or a person who is in the habit of becoming intoxicated. That’s illegal. Also illegal: ballistic knives and Chinese throwing stars. No limitations exist for either open or concealed carry of a karambit in Indiana.
Note: Knives of any size or length, including karambits, are illegal on school property.
Iowa knife laws do not specifically mention karambits. They do, however, dictate that any “dangerous weapon” must be open carried. Included on that list are knives with a blade length exceeding 5″. The law also includes any knife “which is capable of inflicting death upon a human being when used in the manner for which it was designed.” Many karambits fall ino that category. You can obtain a permit to conceal carry weapons on Iowa’s “dangerous weapon” list. Schools in Iowa are a weapon-free zone.
Feel free to open carry karambits in Iowa, but conceal carry karambits at your own risk.
You can own, open carry, conceal carry, and make any karambit you’d like while in Kansas. Kanasas knife laws do forbid the intent to knowingly harm another person with a knife. Furthermore, students in Kansas may not carry any switchblade or gravity assisted knife while on school property. While the law only mentions students, anyone carrying a knife should probably heed the rules concerning weapons on a school campus.
Anyone over the age of 21 may open carry any karambit they wish. Those with a valid concealed weapons permit enjoy no restrictions on their karambit possession or carry, either. No knives may be carried on K-12 school property, including buses, sports fields, and playgrounds.
It is important to note that Kentucky considers any knife that isn’t a hunting knife or “ordinary” pocket knife to be a deadly weapon. As such, a karambit is classified as a deadly weapon in Kentucky. However, there still are no restrictions on the carry of such knives, assumiing someone is over the age of 21 and isn’t concealing it without a permit. Exceptions exist for police and military.
Own and carry any non-switchblade karambit you want in Louisiana. However, don’t do so on school property. In New Orleans, no weapons of any kind may be used in demonstrations.
Maine karambit laws forbid the carrying of knives “designed to harm others.” Many karambits showcase tactical styling or are purpose built for combat. If you carry a karambit in Maine, be prepared to justify your possession of it as a utility blade.
Maryland knife laws allow you to possess any karambit you’d like, but carry may be restricted . Folding karambits aren’t a problem as long as they aren’t switchblades. Fixed blade karambits fall into a murky “dangerous knife” zone. Open carrying them eliminates any problem. Maryland doesn’t have size restrictions on knives or karambits.
Own and possess karambits in Massachusetts. However, it’s important to note that Massachusetts gets really specific regarding “blades that can be drawn in a locked position,” which, technically, includes karambits with an Emerson wave feature. The laws allows you to have these, but stipulates that if you’re arrested with one on your person or in your vehicle, you could get into trouble.
Michigan law allows you to carry folding karambits without stipulation. Fixed blade knives may never be concealed if they could be used for stabbing, unless they’re a hunting knife and you’re actively hunting OR on your own property. Karambits are not very stabby, but definitely be aware of the laws. You may not conceal stiletto knives of any size.
Carry as many karambits as you’d like in Minnesota. Do not, under any circumstances, carry a switchblade, though.
Mississippi knife law does not forbid karambits, although it does say that minors and felons cannot own dangerous looking knives. You’re also not allowed to conceal any knife that’s “dangerous.” Examples of dangerous looking knives include those with tactical styling, serrations, or that appear harmful. So, per that guideline, don’t carry your karambit concealed inn Mississippi.
Carry any karambit that you like in Missouri, but you can only conceal it if it has a blade less than 4″ in length. Missouri forbids bringing “any weapon readily capable of lethal use” into any area where firearms are not allowed.
Carry karambits in Montana but don’t conceal karambits with a blade over 4″ in length.
You may own, carry, and use absolutely any knife that catches your fancy in Nebraska, unless you’re a felon. Felons in Nebraska are not allowed to own knives.
Nevada karambit laws allow you to carry karambits but do not allow you to have belt buckle knives. Concealing karambits in Nevada is a bit twitchy as the law strongly suggests not concealing anything that’s scary looking.
Own, carry, conceal, sell, possess, or gift any karambit you’d like in New Hampshire. New Hampshire has some of the most lenient knife laws in the U.S.
New Jersey’s knife laws are extremely conservative. While karambits are not expressly forbidden, the way New Jersey defines “gravity knife” and “weapon” can be construed to include almost any folding knife. Furthermore, New Jersey allows its peace officers to make on-the-fly judgement calls as to whether or not a knife could be considered “dangerous.”
Carry a karambit in New Mexico. Carry 17 karambits in New Mexico if you’d like. Do not, however, carry a switchblade.
Knife and karambit laws in New York are extremely convoluted. Contact an attorney in the specific area you’ll be staying. Karambits aren’t expressly forbidden in New York, but weapons of any kind aren’t allowed in the subway system, period. Furthermore, any knife found on a person that the person states is for “protection” is then considered a weapon and thus a “dangerous knife”, and it’s illegal to carry a dangerous knife of any kind. New York is not the place to get creative with knife or karambit carry.
It’s illegal to conceal carry a knife in North Carolina unless said knife is an “ordinary pocket knife.” It’s safe to assume that karambits are not considered “ordinary.” You can open carry anything you want, though, assuming it’s for utilitarian use and you’re not in a government area, public park, in a church, on school grounds, at a parade, or participating in a demonstration.
You can open carry any karambit in North Dakota, as North Dakota knife law does not have any restrictions on blade types. Knives which are “dangerous weapons” cannot be concealed without a permit. Dangerous weapons include gravity knives and any knife with a blade over 5″ in length. It’s important to note that North Dakota case law includes an instance where someone was convicted for carrying a knife that was “peculiarly suitable for use as a weapon.” Many karambits appear to be suitable only for use as a weapon, so be aware and make informed decisions.
Own and open carry any karambit you’d like in Ohio, no matter how big or scary looking. You may not, however, conceal any knife “capable of inflicting death.” It’s probably wise to not conceal carry a karambit in Ohio.
You can technically carry any knife you want, including karambits, in Oklahoma. However, be aware that it is illegal to carry ANY “offensive weapon” which is defined to include any knife designed for combat and capable of producing death. If you are carrying an “offensive weapon” for educational or recreational activity, though, then it’s allowed! So, it’s ok to train martial arts with your karambit, but every day carry might get a little iffy.
Open carry karambits all you want, but probably don’t conceal carry them. Oregon knife laws are a bit ambiguous.
Open or conceal carry karambits as you wish in Pennsylvania, unless you intend to use it for criminal activities. Then, it’s illegal to carry any knife at all. Also, keep your knives out of schools and the courthouse.
All knives are allowed in Rhode Island. Open carry any karambit, but don’t conceal carry one with a blade longer than 3″.
South Carolina knife laws allow you to own and carry any karambit any way you want.
Carry any karambit you’d like any way you’d like, but don’t intend to commit a felony with it. Committing a felony in South Dakota with a knife is expressly forbidden. Also, don’t carry a karambit on school property or at the courthouse.
You can own and carry any knife in Tennessee that isn’t for “the infliction of serious bodily injury or death” or “which has no common lawful purpose.” Karambits are allowed, assuming you’re carrying them for utility purposes.
Karambits with a blade length shorter than 5.5 inches may be carried by anyone and everyone. Minors can’t carry ones bigger than that, period. There are many places you can’t carry your karambit, including into polling places, the courthouse, schools, racetracks, airports, or sporting events.
Utah knife law does not forbid any knife or stipulate carry. Carry a karambit any way you’d like in Utah.
Own and carry as many karambits as you’d like in Vermont. Vermont only stipulates that any knife carried with criminal intent is illegal.
Open carry karambits at will in Virginia. Feel free to carry one in your pocket, but if you’re on school rounds, it bettered have a blade shorter than 3″.
Washington knife laws do not specifically outlaw karambits. However, it is illegal in Washington to “furtively carry with the intent to conceal a dangerous weapon.” The law does not define “dangerous weapon” so application is up to the officer handling the issue. It’s probably best to open carry karambits in Washington state.
If you’re over the age of 21, carry and conceal all the karambits you’d like while in West Virginia. Folding karambits with blades longer than 3.5″ fall into West Virginia’s classification of “dangerous knives.” If you’re going to conceal one of those, you need to get a license.
Open carry a karambit. Conceal carry a karambit. Wisconsin doesn’t care.
Wyoming allows you to carry or conceal any karambit you’d like. Just don’t kill people with it. That’s not allowed.