Are Butterfly Knives Illegal in NC?

Butterfly knives, also known as Balisong knives, have a rich history and a distinct charm. They’ve fascinated me for years, not only for their unique flipping action but also for their versatility. Originating in the Philippines, these knives became popular worldwide, thanks to their compact design and ease of use.

Before we dive into the specifics of North Carolina laws, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of how knife laws work. These laws differ from state to state and can even vary within counties and cities. Generally, knife laws categorize blades into various types, each with its unique set of rules.

At the federal level, laws tend to focus on the import, manufacture, and transport of knives. State laws, on the other hand, usually deal with issues like possession, open or concealed carry, and legal blade lengths.

Knife Laws in North Carolina

When it comes to North Carolina, knife laws are quite permissive compared to other states. The state law doesn’t specify any limit on the blade length or type of knife that can be carried openly or concealed.

Restrictions and Legalities

However, there are exceptions. The law prohibits carrying dangerous weapons with an intent to use them unlawfully against others. But how does this relate to butterfly knives?

How To Carry A Balisong

Butterfly Knives and North Carolina Law

In the context of North Carolina law, the butterfly knife falls under the grey area. The law doesn’t explicitly classify them as illegal, but they could potentially be considered “dangerous weapons” if used unlawfully.

Relevant North Carolina Statutes

The North Carolina General Statutes, §14-269, deals with carrying concealed weapons. It doesn’t specifically mention butterfly knives, but it does list “any other deadly weapon of like kind.”

Consequences of Carrying Illegal Knives in NC

Now, if you’re caught with a butterfly knife and it’s considered a dangerous weapon, what could happen?

Legal Penalties and Fines

In North Carolina, carrying a concealed weapon unlawfully is generally a Class 2 misdemeanor. This could result in a fine, community service, probation, or even jail time, depending on the circumstances and your prior record.

Real-life Examples and Court Cases

One real-life example is the case of State v. Delaney in 1985, where the defendant was convicted of carrying a concealed butterfly knife. This case sets a precedent, highlighting that legal outcomes can be unpredictable.

Butterfly knife in the hand

Safe Practices for Knife Enthusiasts in NC

With this uncertainty in mind, how can you enjoy your passion for knives legally and safely in North Carolina?

Legal Ways to Own and Carry Knives

One way is to opt for knives that are explicitly legal to carry, like pocket knives or fixed blade knives. Always remember, regardless of the knife you choose, it’s crucial to use it responsibly.

Tips for Knife Collectors and Enthusiasts

As a knife enthusiast, it’s also essential to stay updated on the latest laws and court rulings. Joining local enthusiast groups or subscribing to legal newsletters can help in this regard.

Frequently Asked Questions About NC Knife Laws

Are switchblades legal in North Carolina?

Yes, switchblades are legal in North Carolina. The state law does not specifically prohibit the possession or carrying of switchblades.

What is the legal blade length for knives in NC?

North Carolina law doesn’t specify a maximum blade length for knives that can be carried openly or concealed.

Can I carry a concealed knife in North Carolina?

Yes, it is generally legal to carry a concealed knife in North Carolina. However, the law prohibits carrying dangerous weapons with the intent to use them unlawfully against others.


North Carolina’s knife laws, like many states, are complex and nuanced. The legality of carrying a butterfly knife remains in a grey area. It’s neither explicitly legal nor outright illegal but subject to interpretation.

Ultimately, it’s essential for knife enthusiasts and collectors to respect the law and use knives responsibly. Stay informed about legal changes and court rulings, and when in doubt, err on the side of caution.

This article should not be considered legal advice. For any legal questions or concerns, always consult with a knowledgeable attorney or legal expert familiar with North Carolina knife laws.

I'm Justin, co-founder of AllofKitchen and your knife and steel specialist. My extensive experience ensures accurate and hands-on advice on every topic. Turn to me for insights on selecting the best knife or maintaining your steel tools to perfection. Knives aren't just tools; they're an extension of the chef, and I'm here to guide you to the perfect fit.

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