Wisconsin State Knife Laws (2021)

Wisconsin knife laws are riddled with jargon, they're lengthy, wordy, and throw a challenge even for those trained in the law. This blog decrypts the law and translates it into plain English so that you can understand what is legal and what is not when it comes to owning and carrying knives in the state of Wisconsin.


Carrying tactical knives is commonplace in America's Dairyland. The Badger State is a playground for outdoor lovers. This is where you leave the everyday for the extraordinary and lose yourself amidst pristine lakes, endless stretches of scenic trails, roaring waterfalls, and rippling streams. It’s what Wisconsin is all about. This also means Wisconsin is a playground for hunters and anglers. So, carrying a dependable cutter or an automatic knife while on the discovery trail is more essential than remarkable. Hence, it's important to know the knife law in Wisconsin.

Knives That Are Legal in Wisconsin 

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, hunter, angler, or just a knife lover, you're going to love the law in Wisconsin. It's because you can pretty much own any knife. From what we can see, knives are not included in the list of 'dangerous weapons'. So, it makes it LEGAL to own any tactical knife including:

     -Bowie knife
     -Disguised knives such as a pen, comb, or belt buckle knife
     -A ballistic knife
     -Any dirk, dagger, or other stabbing knives


Stay Safe. Definition of 'Carry' in Wisconsin.
Carry is legally translated as going “armed” by Wisconsin statute. Case law has further defined that “went armed” means that a weapon was either on a defendant’s person or that the weapon was within the defendant’s reach. In 2011, Wisconsin passed a law allowing licensed individuals to carry a concealed firearm in public. The law also allows an individual to carry a concealed knife or firearm in his or her own dwelling or business place or on land that he or she owns, leases, or legally occupies, even without a license.


However, some may still need to obtain a license under the new law. Wisconsin is a “shall issue” state, meaning that the Wisconsin Department of Justice (“DOJ”) must issue a license to carry a concealed 'weapon' if the applicant meets certain criteria.


Knives Legal To Carry Concealed Or Open Carry
Wisconsin law has removed most knives including automatic knives from the general list of 'dangerous weapons. This means there are no prohibitions on concealed carry for most knives. However, it's important to note that the law does not remove all knives from being a “dangerous weapon” for purposes of transfers to minors for example. There is essentially no clear appeal court-level guidance on what knives, if any, may be dangerous weapons.


‘Dangerous weapon’ means. . . any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm; . . . or any other device or instrumentality which, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm. 939.22. (10).


Knives clearly designed as a deadly weapon might be seen as dangerous weapons based on this definition, although very few knives would meet such criteria. In brief, you can own and conceal (oe open) carry most popular tactical knives such as an automatic knife, a folder, or fixed blade.