North Carolina Knife Laws [The Complete Guide]

In North Carolina, you can own and openly carry a knife without being on the wrong side of the law. However, there are some limitations with regard to the types of knives you can own. There are also limitations on concealed carry.

It can be hard to wrap your head around the law without formal legal education, especially regarding knife laws, seeing as they come with a lot of riddled jargon.

With that being said, this post attempts to shed light on North Carolina knife laws. We’ll point out what’s legal and illegal to own and carry in Tar Heel State and the limitations concerning concealed carry.

If you live in North Carolina or are planning to visit the state, it is essential to understand the laws surrounding knives. Carrying a knife in certain places, or in a certain way, can lead to criminal charges and serious consequences. In this post, we will provide an overview of North Carolina knife laws to help you stay informed and avoid any legal issues.

Overview of North Carolina Knife Laws

In the state of North Carolina, knife laws can be confusing, but understanding the basics is essential for anyone carrying a knife. North Carolina law, § 14-269, restricts the concealed carry of any bowie knife, dirk, dagger, razor, or “other deadly weapon of like kind.”

Open carry is allowed as long as you’re carrying a legal knife for legitimate purposes and not intending to terrify or alarm the public. It is illegal to possess any “ballistic knives” or knives with switchblades.

There are exceptions to these laws, such as those related to age and self-defense situations. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the laws in your state before carrying a knife.

Legal Age to Carry a Knife in North Carolina

In North Carolina, the legal age to carry a knife is 18 years old. As long as you’re of legal age and are not carrying a prohibited knife, you’re free to open carry a knife in the state. However, it is illegal to carry a concealed knife, with the exception of an ordinary pocket knife. It’s also worth noting that even if you’re of legal age, carrying a knife with intent to terrify or alarm the public is prohibited.

What Knives Are Legal to Own in North Carolina?

In Tar Heel State, you’re allowed to own a wide range of knives, including:

  • Bowie knives
  • Switchblades
  • Gravity Knives
  • Daggers and dirks
  • Stabbing knives
  • Disguised knives

What Knives Are Illegal to Own in North Carolina?

Even though North Carolina’s restrictions on owning knives are pretty liberal, there are a few types of knives that you aren’t allowed to own, which are:

  • Ballistic knives
  • Spring-loaded knives
  • Spring-loaded switchblades
  • Any weapon similar to spring-assisted knives and ballistic knives

Types of knives that are legal to carry in North Carolina

In North Carolina, it is generally legal to carry most types of knives, including pocket knives and hunting knives. However, there are some restrictions on blade length. It is illegal to carry a knife with a blade longer than 2 inches in length unless the knife is being used for a lawful purpose such as hunting or fishing.

Places where it is illegal to carry a knife in North Carolina

There are certain places where it is illegal to carry a knife, regardless of the type or size of the blade. These places include schools, courthouses, and other government buildings. It is also illegal to carry a knife onto the grounds of any public or private school, college, or university.

There are some exceptions to these rules. For example, if you are using a knife for a lawful purpose such as cooking or hunting, you may be able to carry it onto school grounds. It is always best to check with the specific school or institution to confirm their policies on knives.

Penalties for violating knife laws in North Carolina

The penalties for carrying prohibited knives in North Carolina are serious. Those convicted of carrying concealed a bowie knife, dirk, dagger, razor, or other deadly weapons of like kind, face a Class 2 misdemeanor which carries a punishment of up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Additionally, it is a Class H felony for anyone to possess, manufacture, or sell a switchblade knife or ballistic knife. The potential sentence for this is up to 8 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. With such steep penalties, it is important to understand the laws governing the possession and carrying of knives in the state of North Carolina.

If you are found to be carrying a knife illegally in North Carolina, you could face criminal charges. The penalties for violating knife laws depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the type of knife involved. In general, carrying a knife in a prohibited place or in a way that is intended to intimidate or threaten others can result in fines and imprisonment.

However, it is possible to defend against these charges if you can show that you were using the knife for a lawful purpose, or that you had a legitimate reason for carrying it. For example, if you were using a knife for self-defense, you may be able to argue that you had a reasonable belief that you were in danger and needed to protect yourself.

What Is Illegal to Carry in North Carolina?

So far, we’ve only talked about the right to own a knife. Now, we’ll address what’s legal and illegal with regard to carrying a knife. In the state of North Carolina, there are no limitations on open carry as long as you’re carrying a legal knife. There are, however, limitations on concealed carry.

For one, it’s considered unlawful for any individual to willfully and intentionally carry a concealed deadly weapon, be it a bowie knife, dagger, dirk, razor, metallic knuckles, loaded can, shuriken, or other.

The scenario in which you’re allowed to carry a concealed deadly weapon in North Carolina is if you’re carrying it within your premises, such as in your house, yard, place of business, and so forth.

Moreover, note that pocket knives are exempt from this restriction, meaning you’re allowed to carry a concealed pocket knife without worrying about breaking the law.

What the Law States

§ 14-269. Carrying concealed weapons

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person willfully and intentionally to carry concealed about his person any bowie knife, dirk, dagger, slung shot, loaded cane, metallic knuckles, razor, shuriken, stun gun, or other deadly weapon of like kind, except when the person is on the person’s own premises….

Are There Place-Specific Knife Restrictions in North Carolina?

Yes, North Carolina’s knife laws have some place-specific restrictions for possessing or carrying a knife, whether concealed or not. Below are some of the most notable places.

State Property

Possessing or carrying any deadly weapon, whether openly or concealed, within the premises of state property is unlawful. This includes the state capitol building, the western residence of the governor, and the executive mansion. It also applies to any building that houses the general court of justice.

Furthermore, if a building that contains non-public uses is housing a court, then the only area within the building required by law to be weapon-free is the area that’s used for court purposes while it’s being used.

Finally, the only scenario in which a deadly weapon is allowed in the premises of state property is if it’s used for instructional purposes or officially sanctioned ceremonial purposes.

Educational Property

It’s a Class 1 misdemeanor to possess or carry any weapon or sharp-pointed instrument on educational property, whether it’s a school, college campus, or other. Some of the weapons and tools that aren’t allowed on academic grounds include:

  • Firearms (BB gun, stun gun, air pistol, air rifle, and so forth)
  • Bowie knives
  • Dirks and daggers
  • Leaded canes
  • Switchblade knives
  • Slungshots
  • Blackjacks
  • Metallica knuckles
  • Razor blades
  • Fireworks
  • Sharp-pointed and sharp-edged items, aside from instructional and maintenance supplies


It’s considered unlawful for any individual who’s a participant, affiliate, or even a spectator at any parade to willfully or intentionally possess or carry a dangerous weapon or have one within reach.

This doesn’t just apply to parades; it also applies to funeral processions, picket lines, demonstrations held in public places owned or under the state’s control, and demonstrations held in private healthcare facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

As we discussed in the previous sections, North Carolina has very specific laws and restrictions on the carrying of knives. It is important to understand and follow these laws to avoid legal trouble. To help you better understand North Carolina knife laws, here are some frequently asked questions:

Can I carry a switchblade knife in North Carolina?

No, it is illegal to carry a switchblade knife in North Carolina. Under North Carolina law, it is illegal to possess any “switchblade knife” or “any sharp-pointed or edged instrument.”

Are there any knife restrictions for minors in North Carolina?

Yes, minors are prohibited from carrying any type of concealed weapon, including knives, without the written consent of their parent or guardian.

Is it legal to open carry a knife in North Carolina?

Yes, it is legal to openly carry a knife in North Carolina as long as you are not doing so for the purpose of intimidating or alarming the public. However, it is illegal to conceal any knife other than an ordinary pocket knife without a permit.

Is there a preemption law regarding knives in North Carolina?

No, there is currently no preemption law regarding knives in North Carolina. Each city and county can set its own restrictions on knives if they choose to do so.

Final Thoughts

In summary, it is important to understand and follow North Carolina knife laws to avoid criminal charges and potential penalties. Remember that it is generally legal to carry most types of knives, but there are restrictions on blade length and places where it is illegal to carry a knife. If you have any questions or concerns about knife laws in the state, it is always best to consult with a lawyer or law enforcement agency.

Ultimately, there’s no statewide preemption in North Carolina concerning knife use. Open carry is allowed as long as you’re carrying a legal knife, whereas concealed carry is unlawful unless you’re carrying a pocket knife. And the only exception to this law is if you’re carrying a concealed knife within your premises.

As for legal knives in North Carolina, they include bowie knives, switchblades, gravity knives, dirks, daggers, stabbing knives, and disguised knives. Otherwise, illegal knives include ballistic knives, spring-loaded knives, or any knife akin to a ballistic or spring-loaded knife.

As far as place-specific restrictions, you aren’t allowed to possess or carry a knife within state properties, educational properties, or parades.

See other State knife laws:

3 thoughts on “North Carolina Knife Laws [The Complete Guide]”

  1. I’m a bit confused. In North Carolina switchblades are indicated as legal, but spring-assisted knives are not. Are switchblades not spring-assisted? Hopefully you can clarify this for me.

    You have a great site!

  2. I carry a folding knife in a sheath on my belt sometimes I wear a jacket or long flannel shirt that covers the knife. The knife is a bit bulky to me for pocket carry although some people do pocket carry them. What would a folding knife in a sheath fall into legal because it can be seen as open carry? or concealed? and if its legal pocket size but I prefer to carry on a belt sheath is it legal?

    • Hey, James. Whether carrying a folding knife in a sheath on your belt is legal or not depends on the laws in your specific area. Carrying a knife openly in a sheath on your belt may be considered open carry and may be legal in some areas, while in others it may be prohibited. Carrying a knife in a sheath on your belt that is partially covered by clothing may be considered concealed carry, which may also be prohibited in some areas.


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