Massachusetts Knife Laws (2021)

Massachusetts is an escape worth living for. The Bay State also called the 'Codfish State' is a wonderland for backpackers, tourists, and hikers. The discovery scope spans from the western Berkshire Mountains to the beaches of Cape Cod and vacation islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Music, art, history, soaring panorama, national landmarks, shopping, stretching beaches, laid-back islands, succulent seafood - Massachusetts offers limitless possibilities. Already looking up Airbnb? Wait, know the knife laws well before you throw in an automatic knife or a folder in your gear-slinger.


Massachusetts' knife laws are laid down in cryptic messages. It's harder to decipher than Egyptian hieroglyphics and leaves one with more questions than answers. To say the least, these laws, written in run-on sentences are bewildering. This is to say, the law is unclear as to which knives are legal to carry and which ones will leave you facing the plaintiff. In this article, we'll lay the laws down in plain English, so you know what you can carry within legal limits.


What Is Legal To 'Own'? Can You Own An Automatic Knife?

Important to note: Law differentiates between 'owning ' and 'carrying on person (includes inside a vehicle)'. So being legal to own does not translate into being allowed to carry on person.


Here's what you can OWN:
     -Balisong knives, or butterfly knives, are legal to own.
     -Switchblades and automatic knives are legal to own.
     -Ballistic knives are legal to own.
     -Dirks, daggers, stilettos, and push knives are legal to own.
     -Knives with brass knuckles are legal to own.
     -Disguised knives like penknives, comb knives, and belt knives are legal to own.
     -Large knives like Bowie knives are legal to own.
     -Throwing knives and throwing stars are legal to own.


Once the legal jargon is broken down in plain English, it seems you can 'own' pretty much all popular knives including tactical knives.

What You CAN and CANNOT Carry

This is where things get tricky. Here’s what’s legal and what’s illegal.
     -It is ILLEGAL to carry, open or concealed, double-edged knives, automatic knives or switchblades, dirks, daggers, stilettos, ballistic knives, and knuckle knives.
     -It is ILLEGAL to carry ANYTHING that is perceived as dangerous while disturbing the peace or being arrested.
     -It is LEGAL to carry folding knives, Swiss army knives, and kitchen knives as long as you do not behave in a way that makes them dangerous.

Restricted Knives:
Stilettos, daggers, double-edged knives, ballistic knives, automatic knives with a blade longer than one and one half (1 ½) inches, and any device which enables a knife with a locking blade to be drawn at a locked position. These items are also referred to as per se “dangerous weapons.” Apparently, the Law in the Bay State does not differentiate between 'open carry' and 'concealed carry'. Concealed carry is not an issue.


This serves as a general guideline for most people. Note that if you have a warrant against you or are deemed as 'disturbing the peace', there could be further restrictions.

The Final Cut

There's no ban on ownership of knives of any type. Most day-to-day knives are perfectly legal to own. However, there are severe restrictions when it comes to carrying, open or concealed. So, if you're going off-grid and thinking of carrying on your belt a nifty cutter, your safe bet is a folding knife, a swiss blade, or an automatic knife with a blade no longer than 1 ½ inch.