In most states, tactical folding knives are legal to carry, though rules vary on how you can carry them and where you can carry them. What makes these weapons/tools handy is that they have a clip that conveniently attaches to your pocket and the knife still can be easily withdrawn from where you’ve secured it though it all remains in place before you draw it. To make these knives even more handy is the way they can easily be opened with the thumb and flick of the wrist, due to a tiny knob on the blade where you can use your thumb to open the blade. These knives are legal because they are technically not “automatic knives” like the banned switch blade is. In most states you can carry them, though once opened during a fight the legality of their use may differ.
Here are the basic laws on tactical folders by state:
- Alabama: Can carry concealed or out in the open.
- Alaska: Can carry folding knives in the open or concealed though concealed weapons are banned with the exception of “ordinary pocket knives”.
- Arizona: Can carry folding knives in the open and concealed but concealed knife can only be a “pocket knife”.
- Arkansas: Can carry a folding knife in the open or concealed as long as the blade is only 3.5 inches long.
- California: You can carry folding knives in the open and concealed but it depends on city and county where rules differ. In LA, you cannot carry a knife in the open with a blade longer than 3 inches. In Oakland you can’t carry any knife with a blade longer than 3 inches. You cannot carry a knife on school grounds.
- Colorado: You can carry a concealed folder if the blade is 3.5 inches and you can open carry a knife generally. If the knife is intended as a weapon, it is illegal.
- Connecticut: Can open carry or concealed but blade cannot be longer than 4 inches and there have been cases in which 3 and 3.5 inch blades were considered illegal.
- Delaware: Can carry a concealed folder with a 3 inch blade and can open carry a knife.
- DC: Open carry and concealed knives must have 3 inch blade (or shorter, of course).
- Florida: Can open carry and can carry a concealed knife with a 4 inch blade.
- Georgia: In Georgia you cannot carry a concealed weapon but you can open carry. Cannot carry weapons on school grounds.
- Hawaii: Can open carry and carry a concealed knife, but the knife cannot be designed primarily as a weapon (daggers, dirks, switchblades, etc.).
- Idaho: Vaguely outlaws all dangerous and deadly weapons.
- Iowa: Can carry a concealed knife with a blade no longer than 5 inches and you can open carry.
- Illinois: Can open carry and carry a concealed knife and is illegal if intended to be used unlawfully.
- Indiana: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- Kansas: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- Kentucky: Considers a locking folder a deadly weapon. You can open carry.
- Louisiana: Blade must be less than 4 inches long if you carry it concealed. Can open carry. Only banned knife is the switchblade.
- Maine: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- Massachusetts: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- Maryland: Can open carry and carry concealed but if it is intended as a weapon it is illegal.
- Michigan: Can open carry and carry concealed but if the blade is longer than 3 inches there cannot be unlawful intent.
- Minnesota: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- Missouri: Can open carry and carry concealed when blade no longer than 4 inches.
- Mississippi: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- Montana: Can open carry and concealed knife cannot have a blade longer than 4 inches.
- North Carolina: Can open carry and carry concealed if handle is no longer than 4 inches.
- North Dakota: Can open carry and concealed knife cannot have a blade longer than 5 inches.
- Nebraska: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- New Hampshire: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- New Jersey: Law is reasonably vague enough to make a knife questionable to carry. It states that if it is carried for unlawful purpose it is, well, unlawful; with a short list of what knives are actually illegal: “”any gravity knife, switchblade knife, dagger, dirk, stiletto” according to the statute are illegal in New Jersey.
- New Mexico: This state seems to allow open carry of many kinds of knives, except switchblades and balisongs, but is sufficiently vague about concealed carry, stating that any weapon that can cause deadly harm is illegal to carry concealed.
- Nevada: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- New York: Can open carry and carry concealed if intent is not to harm anyone.
- New York City: Cannot open carry and concealed knife cannot be longer than 4 inches or lock.
- Ohio: Can open carry and carry concealed but concealed weapon cannot be “deadly”. Blade cannot be longer than 4 inches if concealed.
- Oklahoma: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- Oregon: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- Pennsylvania: Can open carry and carry concealed. Surprisingly they’re okay with balisongs too.
- Rhode Island: Concealed knife’s blade cannot be longer than 3 inches and you can open carry.
- South Carolina: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- South Dakota: Can open carry and carry concealed. Possession by minors restricted.
- Tennessee: Can open carry and carry concealed but blade cannot be longer than 4 inches.
- Texas: Can open carry and carry concealed. Knives cannot be over 5.5 inches in length.
- Utah: Can open carry and carry concealed, concealed knife cannot have a blade longer than 3.5 inches.
- Virginia: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- Vermont: Can open carry and carry concealed.
- Washington: Can conceal carry and open carry.
- West Virgina: Can carry a concealed knife if blade is no longer than 3.5 inches and you can open carry.
- Wisconsin: Can open carry and can carry a concealed knife but law states that you cannot carry a concealed “dangerous” weapon.
- Wyoming: You can open carry but a concealed weapon is determined to be legal or illegal depending on its intended use as to whether it is a “deadly weapon”.
For these reviews I’ve selected knives based on their legality in most states and their usefulness, durability and handling.
Smith and Wesson SWA24S Extreme Ops Linerlock Black Clip Point Blade Folding Knife
This is the knife I personally carry and even use around the house to open packages and such. It’s got a good grip, is a good size for handling and opens nice and easily with the thumb “knob” on the blade and a quick flick of the wrist. I chose this one for review too because it does not have a spring assist to open it, though such knives are nice they run dangerously close to being unlawful since automatic knives, including those with spring assists, are mostly outlawed. This knife stays legal in most states also because it’s blade is about 3 inches long. Most states allow at least a 3.5 inch blade.
I also like the look of it in black: Mostly remains undetected, especially at night. It has a nicely shaped sharp blade with serrated area near the bottom. I also like the fact it has a place for your thumb when open, to allow greater dexterity of use.
MTech USA MT-378 Folding Tactical Knife, Tanto Blade, Steel Handle, 4 1/2 inch Closed
This is a sleek little knife with a cool design seemingly built for deft movement. It has a 3 inch blade so is legal in most states. It has a sharp blade that comes to a very aesthetically pleasing point. This is a durable knife that fits well in the hand. Ideal for carrying around while out and about or for utility purposes around the house or job.
It is up to the reader, and a law enforcement officer and court, to decide whether spring assisted opening is legal. Some say it isn’t the same as the banned switchblade because those require only the push of a button and open immediately. The folders even with spring assists require the user to move the blade with the thumb to open the knife.
If a tactical folder with a spring assist is to your liking, because of the quick and convenient opening of the blade, the TAC Force Assisted Opening Tactical Folding Knife (TF – 705 series) is an excellent choice. It is black with half a serrated blade and has a spring action for opening and locking into place. The blade is 3 1/4 inches, again, staying within the law of most states. The handle has both a bottle opener and glass breaker, the glass breaker for emergencies like breaking someone out who is trapped in a car. This knife is ideal for emergency personnel like EMTs and fire fighters who need a knife that will open quickly in a crisis. The knife is durable, a good weight for handling and operates effectively. This is a very well-constructed knife.
Only draw-back is the bottle opener can be difficult to use, but if you like a really nice knife that probably won’t matter to you.