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

Last updated on October 20th, 2023 at 05:12 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.

Arkansas is renowned for its plethora of fishing and hunting opportunities. The state had somewhat dated knife laws, but this changed in 2011 with a significant repeal. Today, Arkansas stands as a knife-friendly state much like numerous others across the nation.

Let’s delve into the current laws that might affect your knife usage in Arkansas!

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 Arkansas Have Statewide Preemption Knife Laws?

Arkansas lacks statewide preemption knife laws, which means individual municipalities have the leeway to impose restrictions on the possession, usage, and carrying of knives.

The article mentioned Palmer and Texarkana, however, it’s noted that there are no restrictive ordinances in Texarkana according to a reputable source​1​. The mention of Palmer seems to be incorrect as there’s no recognized municipality by that name in Arkansas. Also, the article’s claim about Fort Smith and Eureka Springs having blade length restrictions isn’t supported by the sourced information.

It’s true that the lack of statewide preemption laws can pose challenges for knife enthusiasts, as adherence to state law doesn’t shield one from potential local regulations. It’s advisable to familiarize oneself with the specific knife laws of each county when traveling within Arkansas.

Arkansas Knife Definitions

Here are some essential definitions to better understand the knife laws:

A Knife: Arkansas law defines a knife as any bladed hand instrument three inches or longer capable of inflicting serious physical injury or death by cutting or stabbing. This includes dirks, swords in canes, razors, ice picks, throwing stars, switchblades, and butterfly knives, but only under section 5-73-120 which addresses carrying a weapon with unlawful intent​.

A Deadly Weapon: A deadly weapon includes anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious physical injury, or anything used in a manner capable of causing such harm. This definition can encompass certain knives, especially when used or intended to be used unlawfully​.

Legal Knives in Arkansas

Arkansas law is lenient regarding the type of knives one can own. The list includes but is not limited to:

  • Balisongs or butterfly knives
  • Switchblades and automatic knives
  • Gravity Knives
  • Dirks, stilettos, and other slim or stabbing knives
  • Large knives like bowies, machetes, etc.
  • Pocket knives

What Kind of Knives are Illegal in Arkansas?

The law in Arkansas does not restrict the ownership of any specific type of knife​.

Arkansas Knife Carry Laws

The emphasis in Arkansas is indeed on the intention behind carrying a knife. It’s an offense to carry a knife with the intent to use it unlawfully against another person. Specific locations like public schools, government buildings, and public transport have restrictions on carrying knives. The exceptions to carrying knives include being on your property, in your place of business, or on a journey unless through a commercial airport at the security checkpoint​1​.

Arkansas Knife Length Laws

Previously, it was illegal to carry any knife, open or concealed, with a blade length more than 3.5”. However, the repeal of state code 5-73-121 abolished this restriction, making it legal to carry any type of knife regardless of the blade size​.

Arkansas Knife Laws by Demographic

Who Can Carry and Buy Knives in Arkansas?

Arkansas law prohibits selling or furnishing a knife to a minor under 18 years or to incarcerated individuals. The penalty for furnishing a knife to a minor is a Class A misdemeanor, and to an incarcerated person, it’s a Class D felony​1​.

Arkansas Knife Law FAQs

Are butterfly knives illegal in Arkansas?

Butterfly knives, also known as balisongs, are not illegal in Arkansas. The state does not restrict the ownership or possession of any specific type of knife, including butterfly knives.

Are switchblades illegal in Arkansas?

Switchblades are not illegal in Arkansas. You are allowed to own, possess, and carry switchblades, provided you do not intend to use them unlawfully or as a weapon against others.

Are OTF knives legal in Arkansas?

OTF (Out The Front) knives are legal in Arkansas. There are no specific laws in the state that restrict the ownership or possession of OTF knives.

Are automatic knives legal in Arkansas?

Automatic knives are legal in Arkansas. This includes switchblades and other types of automatic knives. You can legally carry them as long as you do not intend to use them unlawfully or as a weapon against another person.

Are gravity knives illegal in Arkansas?

Gravity knives are not illegal in Arkansas. The state has no restrictions on the ownership, possession, or carrying of gravity knives.

How old do you have to be to buy a knife in Arkansas?

There’s no specific age mentioned in the Arkansas state laws for buying a knife. However, Arkansas law prohibits selling or furnishing a knife to a minor under the age of 18 years. So it is generally assumed that you need to be at least 18 years old to purchase a knife. Always check with the knife seller to understand their policy on age restrictions.

Arkansas State Knife Law References

Official Sources of Arkansas’s Knife Laws:

  • Arkansas Code § 5-73-120: Governs the carrying of a weapon, including knives, and defines situations where it can be considered unlawful to carry a knife such as having the intent to use it unlawfully against another person.

Significant Court Cases:

Case TitleSummary
Erskine Flamer, Jr. v. State of ArkansasA case from 2021 where Erskine Flamer, Jr. was convicted by an Ashley County Court.
Bailey v. StateA case from 1964 where Luther Bailey was the appellant against the State of Arkansas.
Dontel Spraglin v. State of ArkansasA case from 2023 involving Dontel Spraglin appealing against the State of Arkansas.
Stanton v. StateA 2020 case where the Supreme Court reversed a defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder.
Joseph Chapman v. State of ArkansasA case from 2023 involving Joseph Chapman appealing against the State of Arkansas.

Timeline of Major Changes in Arkansas’s Knife Law:

  • February 9, 2007: Arkansas repealed its anti-knife statute that made it an offense to carry a knife with a blade of 3 inches or longer through Act 83 of 2007 (H 1235), signed by Governor Mike Beebe.
  • 2011: Arkansas repealed old knife laws, making the state more knife-friend.


Understanding Arkansas’ knife laws doesn’t require a law degree. This overview aims to provide a clear and accurate picture of what knives you can carry without landing in legal hot water. For further clarity, it’s always a good practice to check with local offices for the most recent information.

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