Washington State Knife Laws (Updated 2021)

Since the U.S. beefed up laws on gun control which has grabbed the majority of headlines over the last few years, most of us seemed to have forgotten about the knife laws. There are stringent legal restrictions in place. If one is found breaking these laws, even by negligence, he or she might have to spend a moonlit evening downtown, behind the bars. So know your state's knife laws before you throw one in your carry-on and decide to go on a hike.


The truth of the matter is, there are many reasons to carry a knife, whether that's an automatic knife, a folder, or a fixed one - and most of those reasons are without harmful intentions. It's important to remember a knife is a tool, and it's much loved among the hunters, anglers, wildlife enthusiasts, backpackers, chefs, knife enthusiasts .. the list goes on. There are a plethora of reasons why you might want to sport a knife.


Demystifying Washington State Knife Laws - Automatic Knives, Folding Knives And Fixed Knives

First and foremost, understand your knife before you read the Washington State knife laws. Knives fall in 3 broad categories:
     1. Automatic knife
     2. Folding Knife
     3. Fixed Blade Knife


Fixed blade knives as the name suggests are a one piece structure without a folding mechanism. Kitchen knives are common examples. They can also include ice picks, push knives, bowie knives, and daggers. You also get the more robust, army-grade dedicated choppers for survival in deep uncharted woods. These are the daily drivers for survivalists, back-country hikers, and huntsmen.

A “dirk” or “dagger” is defined under Penal Code Section 16470 as:
A knife or other instrument;
     -With or without a hand guard;
     -Capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon; and
     -Which may inflict great bodily injury or death.

Under Washington State Laws it is LEGAL TO OWN and CARRY: dirk, dagger, or any kind of stabbing knife; a bowie knife; a stiletto; a disguised knife; and even throwing stars.


However, the bearer must carry them openly. This means they should NEVER BE CONCEALED as that will make them illegal.


Switchblades Or Automatic Knives

A switchblade is a type of knife that has a blade contained within a handle and can be opened with a lever. These types of knives normally have a spring mechanism that helps fire open the blade by pushing a button or a switch on the handle.

The law states that it is ILLEGAL to own any kind of switchblade or spring blade knife in Washington.

Restrictions on All Knives In Washington State
     -It is ILLEGAL to conceal carry a dirk
     -It is ILLEGAL to carry any kind of knife in or around the school or premises. 
     -It is ILLEGAL to conceal carry a dagger
     -It is ILLEGAL to conceal carry any dangerous weapon
     -It is ILLEGAL to open or conceal carry any weapon into a Courtroom