Alabama Knife Law – The Complete Guide (In Plain English)

Last updated on October 21st, 2023 at 11:45 pm

This article was created to be a brief synopsis of the law according to my understanding and is not legal advice. Knifeade is not a legal service provider. Using this site does not create a client/lawyer relationship. Because knife laws can be interpreted differently by different people and entities it is recommended that you consult legal counsel for specific information and guidance.

As a knife enthusiast, I’ve always been keen to understand the different knife laws across the United States. Recently, I decided to dive into the specifics of Alabama’s knife laws to help my fellow knife owners understand their rights and responsibilities within the state. In this article, I will provide a comprehensive guide on Alabama state knife laws, focusing on the legalities of owning, carrying, and using knives.

In Alabama, knife owners enjoy a significant amount of freedom when it comes to owning and carrying various types of knives. The state has relatively permissive laws, making it easy to understand what is allowed and what is not. However, certain restrictions tied to intent and location do apply. For instance, possessing a knife with the intent to harm others on public school grounds is illegal, aligning with the broader prohibition of weapons in such settings.

I will delve deeper into these restrictions and the various types of knives that are legal or illegal within the state, ensuring that you’re well-informed about your rights and the parameters set by Alabama law. With this knowledge, you can confidently carry and use your knives while respecting the rules in place.

Our Top Rated “50-State-Legal” Knives

*These knives are listed based on their broad legality across states, but always consult your local laws before making a purchase.

Does Alabama Have Statewide Preemption Knife Laws?

Alabama does not have statewide preemption knife laws, meaning local municipalities can impose additional ordinances restricting the use, ownership, and carrying of knives. This is particularly noticeable in Montgomery, where there is a three-inch blade limitation.

Alabama Knife Definitions

In Alabama, a knife is defined as an instrument with a sharp-edged blade used for various purposes, including cutting food, carrying out outdoor activities, or even serving as a means of self-defense. Consequently, the market offers a wide range of knife types, each designed for specific tasks and purposes.

Legal Knives in Alabama

Alabama law is quite lenient regarding the types of knives you can own, sell, or use. There are no forbidden knives under Alabama law, which means a variety of knives including balisongs, switchblades, gravity knives, folding knives, dirks, daggers, stilettos, Bowie knives, double-edged knives, pocket knives, Out-The-Front (OTF) knives, and others are legal to own and carry.

However, Bowie knives and knives of “like kind and description” may not be sold or transferred to someone less than 18 years of age. Additionally, although the prohibition on carrying concealed Bowie knives has been repealed as of January 1, 2023, it’s crucial to be aware that local jurisdictions may still impose restrictions.

Illegal Knives in Alabama

There are no specific knives deemed illegal under Alabama law, but there are restrictions on carrying knives with the intent to cause harm, especially on public school grounds. Carrying a knife or any deadly weapon on school property with harmful intent is considered a felony.

Alabama Knife Carry & Transportation Laws

Carry laws determine how and where you can carry your knives within the state.

Open And Concealed Carry

In Alabama, you can openly carry any style of knife. Concealed carry of knives is also not an issue under state law, although local ordinances may have their own stipulations.

Knife Length Limits

While Alabama does not have a state statute limiting knife blade length, local municipalities like Montgomery, Fairhope, and others have ordinances imposing a three-inch blade length limit.

Carrying In Vehicles

The laws surrounding carrying knives in vehicles are not explicitly detailed in state law, so it’s advisable to adhere to local ordinances and ensure you’re in compliance, especially when traveling through different municipalities.

Additional Restrictions

While the general laws are quite permissive, certain specific situations demand attention:

  • Conceal-carry restrictions may still apply in certain local jurisdictions.
  • Knowingly carrying or possessing with intent to harm on public school grounds is prohibited.
  • Sale/give/lend a Bowie or similar knife to a minor under the age of 18 is prohibited.

Persons Who Are Exempted

While the law is broad, certain individuals may have exemptions based on their professions or circumstances, though these exemptions are not detailed in the state statutes. It’s advisable to seek legal counsel to understand any exemptions that might apply to your situation.

Alabama Knife Length Laws

Alabama does not have a state statute restricting knife blade length. However, local ordinances in several counties within the state impose blade length limits, typically three inches.

From what I’ve been able to find, these counties include:

  • Montgomery
  • Fairhope
  • Tuscumbia
  • Tuscaloosa
  • Vestavia Hills
  • Mountain Brook
  • Midfield

However, there may be additional counties that I am not aware of.

Punishments & Penalties For Violating Knife Laws

Punishments For Violations

Violating knife laws in Alabama can lead to penalties like fines, community service, or even imprisonment, especially when carrying a prohibited knife in restricted areas such as schools or when selling or transferring restricted knives to minors under 18 years of age.

If you commit a more serious crime involving a knife, such as armed robbery or assault, you could face severe penalties, including substantial prison time.

Alabama Knife Law FAQs

How old do you have to be to carry a knife in Alabama?

There is no specific age limit to carry a knife in Alabama. However, it is illegal to sell, give or lend a Bowie knife or similar knife or pistol to a minor under the age of 18.

Can a felon carry a knife in Alabama?

Alabama law does not specifically prohibit felons from carrying a knife. However, this does not necessarily mean a felon can freely carry any type of knife. As always, individuals with criminal records should consult with a legal professional to understand their rights and restrictions.

Does Alabama have knife length limit laws?

Alabama does not have a state-wide statute limiting knife blade length. However, many local municipalities, including Montgomery, Fairhope, Tuscumbia, Tuscaloosa, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, and Midfield, impose a blade length limit, typically of three inches.

Are switchblades illegal in Alabama?

Switchblades are not illegal in Alabama. Alabama law allows the possession, sale, and use of switchblades.

Are butterfly knives illegal in Alabama?

Butterfly knives, also known as balisongs, are not illegal in Alabama. The law allows the possession, sale, and use of these knives.

Are OTF knives legal in Alabama?

OTF (Out-the-front) knives are legal in Alabama. These knives are included in the types that are allowed for possession, sale, and use.

Are gravity knives legal in Alabama?

Gravity knives are legal in Alabama. You are allowed to possess, sell, and use these types of knives within the state.

Alabama State Knife Law References

Official Sources of Alabama’s Knife Laws

  • Alabama Code § 13A-11-50 (2021): This section of the Alabama Code relates to the carrying of concealed weapons including certain types of knives.
  • Alabama Code § 13A-11-72: This section forbids certain individuals from possessing a knife or other listed weapons.
  • Relevant Statutes: 13A-11-50 (Carrying Concealed Weapons) and 13A-11-57 (Selling, etc., pistol or bowie knife to a minor) are statutes in Alabama law pertaining to knife regulations.

Significant Court Cases

Case TitleSummary
Smelley v. StateDefined a “bowie knife” as a long knife shaped like a dagger but with only one edge, excluding folding knives and certain fixed blade knives.
Brewer v. StateClarified the “catch-all” language of “like kind and description” relating to knives similar to bowie knives.
Driggers v. StateEstablished the standard for concealment in Alabama as whether the weapon “can be seen by an ordinary casual observer”.
Smith v. StateStated that a weapon not seen by one person but could have been seen by others does not amount to concealment.

Timeline of Major Changes in Alabama’s Knife Law

  • January 1, 2023: Repeal of restrictions on the carrying of a Bowie knife or a concealed knife in Alabama takes effect with the enactment of Constitutional Carry in the state​.


With a well-rounded understanding of the knife laws in Alabama, you can confidently carry and use your knives while respecting the legal boundaries. Alabama’s knife laws are relatively lenient, but being informed about the specific restrictions and local ordinances will ensure you remain on the right side of the law.

Alabama’s friendly stance towards blades is a welcome relief for knife enthusiasts. Despite the lenient laws, awareness of what you can carry and where is essential to avoid getting into trouble. Hopefully, this guide sheds light on the nuances of Alabama’s knife laws, ensuring you are well-informed and compliant.

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