North Carolina State Knife Laws (2021)

There could be over a dozen good reasons why one may want to carry a knife in The Old North State. North Carolina boasts some of the most spectacular outdoor places in the world - from the tallest peaks in the East, barren island beaches, to plunging waterfalls. It also offers anglers a dream scope for fly fishing - a trout mecca loaded with brown, rainbow, brook, and Donaldson species. Need more adrenaline, and you can do a spiderman climb on the quartzite at Hanging Rock Park. All these outdoor thrills demand proper gear, and one of them is your friendly cutter. So, which knives can you carry when going fly fishing? And what can save the day when you're climbing the sheer vertical lines of the 300-foot Moore’s Wall cliff? Let's find out. North Carolina’s wordy knife laws are confusing and can be misleading. So, we’ve broken them down into plain English.


Quick Facts To Remember: 

Statewide Preemption: No
Concealed Carry: Concealed carry is strictly forbidden. However, the law contains an exception for "an ordinary pocket knife."
Minors: It is illegal to sell or furnish a "bowie knife" or "dirk" to a minor.
Schools: Knives may not be possessed openly or concealed on school grounds.


Restricted Knives:

It is ILLEGAL for anyone, including police officers, to manufacture, sell, possess or carry any “ballistic knife”. An exception clause may allow law enforcement officials to possess these knives for evidentiary or training purposes.


Concealed Carry: 

You're required by law to 'open carry' all knives except for 'ordinary pocket knife*' that may be concealed. However, there is an exception. One can conceal carry knives in general in state-owned rest areas, rest stops along the highways, and State-owned hunting and fishing reserves. Other than that, open carry is required by law.

According to North Carolina statute a pocket knife is:  
A small knife, made to carry in a pocket or purse, which has its cutting edge and point entirely enclosed by the handle, and that may not be opened by a throwing, explosive, or spring action. 


What Is Meant By "Opened by a Throwing or Explosive Action"?

It is is a bit ambiguous. What is meant by ‘opened by a throwing action’ can have many meanings. It can indicate a knife that jumps open when launched or thrown from the hand. But, it can also denote opening a knife by inertia of motion - like the gravity knife.  

What is Legal to Own
     -It is legal to own bowie knife 

     -It is legal to own a dirk, dagger, or other stabbing knife 

     -It is legal to own a switchblade 

     -It is legal to own a gravity knife 

     -It is legal to own a disguised knife, such as in a pen or lipstick 

What is Illegal to Own 

     -It is illegal to own a ballistic knife 

     -It is illegal to own any spring-loaded automatic knife or switchblade 

     -It is illegal to own any weapon that is skin to spring assisted automatic knives and ballistic knives


The State Law Says:

§ 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, shurikin, stun gun, or other deadly weapon of like kind, except when the person is on the person’s own premises…