Pennsylvania Knife Laws

Pennsylvania Knife Laws 101: All You Should Know About

Laws around the USA vary from state to state. Landing in Pennsylvania from a different state can be nerve-breaking with all the new laws you must follow.

However, if you are the one who needs to carry a knife with you for your profession or any other reason, then we are here for you.

Carrying a knife anywhere can threaten people, especially if it’s an open carry. Yet, what do the Pennsylvania knife laws say about it?

Well, you can carry a knife with you legally as long as the knife itself falls under the requirements of the law.

Nonetheless, the laws are quite fogged, and not having a clear idea about the exceptions can lead to jail time and fines.

Thus, we will clear out every ins and out there in the Pennsylvania law. And then you can answer yourself.


Let’s start with the highlights that you should know about!

  • Any type of knife cannot be carried in a school or a courthouse
  • Carrying any type of switchable knife is illegal
  • Concealed carry doesn’t make any difference
  • Exceptions are given to Arms Forces, known carriers, and disabled people
  • If valid points are made to the judge, one can go free of charges
  • Ballistic knives are seen as the greatest threat in terms of knives
  • The penalty includes 5 years jail time, $2000, or both

The Basic Knife Law In Pennsylvania

The primary federal knife law that applies in every state in the USA is the U.S. Code§1242.

Everyone should be informed that it is against the law to carry a knife that opens using a switch, push mechanism, or spring approach.

Specifically, the blade in the knife cannot be connected with the mentioned ways.

 U.S. Code§1242

If it does, then it doesn’t matter which knife, what knife, or the purpose you are carrying it for, it becomes invalid.

Yes, knife laws in Pennsylvania are also strict about the approach of such knives, as they are more dangerous than a usual kitchen knife.

However, if the blade is not connected with it the push, spring, or switch protocol, then it is certainly an exception.

List Of Legal Knives

The type of knife you are willing to carry with you also plays a significant role. Some knives are, in fact, legal to use in the Keystone State.

Let’s take a look at them.

Pen Knives

Pen Knives

Pen knives, AKA pocket knives, are the ones that are foldable and can be carried in a pocket with ease. They are small in size and easy to handle.

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Hunting Knives

Hunting Knives

A partially serrated edge knife or a hunting knife passes the laws and can be carried with you. They are generally designed for cutting rather than any harmful thing such as stabbing.



Razor knives are knives that are known to be used for utility. Cutting plastics or fibers is the task that these razor knives are used for.

The government officers are never going to take you in charge of carrying it, which is a work knife.

Fan Knife

Fan Knife

Originated from the Philippines, the Fan Knives fall under the foldable category. Like a scissor, it has two handles and is certainly considered a non-lethal one.

Assisted-Opening Knives

Assisted-opening Knives

This one is a one-hander and is a foldable one as well. As per the U.S. Code § 1244, the exceptions include; knives that are carriable in one hand and fit the legal knife length required to pass the legal issues.

U.S. Code § 1244

List Of Illegal Knives

Now that you know the list of legal knives let’s talk about the illegal ones. Never in your darkest dream would you want to get caught with these.

Here they are;

Ballistic Knives
Ballistic Knives

The ballistic knives can be lethal and are forbidden to be seen in anyone’s pocket. The government is very strict about ballistic knives, which can lead to 5 to 10 years of jail time, including fines.

Gravity Knives
Gravity Knives

The gravity knives are known for their speed. Approximately 1,600 slashings and stabbings in New York were noted in 2019 with this deadly knife. Thus, federal law has banned its carrying.

Switch Knives
Switch Knives

Switch knives fall strictly under the law to be illegal. The law states that any knife that uses a spring, switch, or push system is illegal, and that’s what the switch knives do.

Thus, never dare to carry them in Pennsylvania or any other state in the USA.

Auto Knives
Auto Knives

The auto knives use a spring mechanism to get themselves unloaded. Additionally, most of them don’t have the safety features which include them in the banned list.

Limitations And Restrictions Of Knives In Pennsylvania

As per U.S. Code § 1243, selling, manufacturing, or in possession of a switchable knife is prohibited. You wouldn’t want to be caught with one in the entire United States. Additionally, none of them can be delivered as well.

However, if it’s any common carrier or contract carrier, they can do that. They gained the trust of the government as the common carriers and have been doing it for a long.

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Additionally, it makes sure they get in the hands of the right one.

Regarding restrictions, the 18 PA C.S.A. § 2301 says that any knife capable of causing injury is prohibited from selling to the age group under 18.

They are knives that can be used to penetrate and have the element of lethal.

Where Can I Carry Knives In Pennsylvania?

After the incident of the Franklin Regional High School stabbing, the whole of America is aware and more serious. Mostly about the laws present when it comes to carrying knives.

In a nutshell, you are not allowed to carry any lethal knives in a school according to the 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 912. Additionally, any type of cutting instrument such as a blade is also prohibited.

18 Pa.C.S.A. § 912

On the other hand, another place where you don’t want to walk in with a knife is the courthouse. The 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 913 applies here where it mentions;

What about if you carry a knife in a car in Pennsylvania? Well, the same rule applies here as well. As long as it’s not a switchable knife, then you can carry it with you in a car.

There are many reasons why one might carry one in their car, and it’s certainly fine to do so.

What Size Of Knife Can I Carry?

The Keystone State didn’t certainly make any law on the size of the knife you can carry. If it falls under the one where it is opened through a push, spring, or switch system, then the size wouldn’t matter.

Even if it’s a 2 inches knife, you will be held in charge for that.

Contrarily, there’s no included size that you can carry that is non-automated. It’s best if it’s a one-hander and not such a big one. You can distinguish which one is dangerous and which is not.

Thus, using your senses would be a smart decision to know what size knife is legal to carry in Pennsylvania.

Penalties For Carrying A Knife

If you are breaking the laws willingly and knowingly, then not only Pennsylvania but the entire USA has a problem with you.

As per Federal Law, anyone who is connected with selling, manufacturing, and in possession of a switchable knife will be in big trouble.

US Code § 1242 states that the offender will be fined $2,000 or imprisoned for a maximum of 5 years. Additionally, both of them can be applied if you are unlucky.

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When it comes to ballistic knives, the laws are even stronger and rougher. The amount to be fine would remain the same, but the jail time can get double if you are somehow linked with a ballistic one.


There is something called the “Curio Exception” in the law book of Pennsylvania. If you can prove to the judge that you own a switchblade knife with a valid counter, then you have the chance to escape.

The Curio Exception includes the possession of a switchable knife for collection, hunting, etc.

What you have to make sure of is that you are telling the truth, which is certainly valid from every perspective. If you have made your point with a solid baseline, then it beats the law.

Exceptions In Carrying A Knife In Pennsylvania

Except for the Curio exception, there are other exceptions that the government laws allow overriding.

Here they are;

  • Anyone working in defense with the authorization to use lethal weapons.
  • Common carrier or contract carrier that the government is aware of.
  • Any carrier that brings up arms for the armed forces.
  • Any individual who has only one arm is allowed to carry a 3inches switchable knife.

Despite being a switchable knife, it needs the effort to open the knife by applying pressure to the blade with the hand, wrist, or arm.

Is Concealed Knife Carry Allowed?

Pennsylvania’s law doesn’t care if you have a mechanical knife as an open carry or a concealed carry.

If you have it anywhere attached with you, then it’s prohibited, excluding the exceptions.

Thus, it’s better to avoid it even if no one can see your concealed carry. Once caught with one, there’s no going back.


To conclude, that’s all you need to know about Pennsylvania knife laws.

A knife that holds the mechanism, such as a push button that opens up the blade, is prohibited. Thus, transporting, possessing, or manufacturing one registers your name in the crime list.

However, when it comes to basic knives that draw no threat can be carried without a second thought unless it’s a school or a courthouse.

Additionally, there’s a “jail-free card” that you can use called the Curio exception. You are free to go if you can provide valid points to the judge.

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