Knife Laws in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania knife laws are a bit vague and have room for interpretation. Any knife can be considered an offensive weapon, and some of the restrictions apply to offensive weapons only. Here is everything about knife laws in Pennsylvania.

What knives are legal to own in Pennsylvania?

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Bowie knives and other similar knives are legal in Pennsylvania. Bali or butterfly knives are also accepted, not to mention penknives, disguised knives – belt buckle, or lipstick knives. Any type of hunting knife is also accepted in Pennsylvania. You will notice that some types of knives are not even mentioned in the law, hence they can be considered legal.

What knives are illegal to own in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania has the curio exception. In other words, there are no banned knives, but you need a lawful purpose for any knife you get. If you get a sword or a switchblade, it has to be for theatrical purposes, or you want to display it in your home inside a case. If you walk around with a sword, you cannot claim that you have just bought it, and you bring it home. Just make sure it is not readily available to use. The story would be different if it was well packaged and less likely to be used. The court is usually responsible for such decisions.

What are the limits on carry?

You can carry any hunting knife in the open with no issues at all. In fact, you can carry any knife that cannot be opened automatically. As long as there is a lawful purpose, you should have no issues. On the other hand, prohibited offensive weapons cannot be carried – knives that open automatically, knives that can kill, and knives used for unlawful purposes.

Concealed Carry

There are no limitations regarding concealed carry, unless you rely on a prohibited offensive weapon.

Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations / Circumstances

You are not allowed to carry a knife in an educational institution, regardless of its type. Its grounds or safety zone – as well as transportation – also ban knives. The same rules apply to courthouse buildings.

Restrictions on Sale or Transfer

You cannot sell deadly weapons to people under 18 years old. Knives can go in this category, but the prosecution must provide the deadly element – or the aspect that makes the knife a deadly weapon.

Is there a statewide pre-emption?

There is not a statewide pre-emption in Pennsylvania.

Major Cities in Pennsylvania with Knife Ordinances

City, StateLaw Title/ Chapter/ SectionConcealed Carry Legal Yes/No Folder/LengthShort description from the law
Philadelphia, PA10-820NoAny knife or other cutting instrument which can be used as a weapon. Knife Rights is reporting all knives are illegal to carry except when actually in use on the job.
Monessen, PA§ 275-13NoPossess any type of knife, hatchet or ax unless engaged in picnicking for appropriate use.


The above-mentioned curio exception is the only one worth being mentioned – each case is individual, though.

Summary of Knife Laws in Pennsylvania

In the end, there are no banned knives in Pennsylvania, and the curio exception is a unique law that makes each case unique. There are no critical dimensions to remember either.