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

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.

Hawaii is one of the top destinations for tourists in the United States. Therefore, it is natural to expect the state to have strict rules on weapons to protect residents and visitors within the state. Right?

Hawaii knife laws are somewhat specific but also unclear in some sections. This article will attempt to simplify these laws to help you navigate the legal side of blades (and stay out of trouble).

Does Hawaii Have Statewide Preemption Laws?

Hawaii does not have statewide preemption meaning local counties within the state can impose stricter knife laws.

Interestingly (as of writing this), Hawaii has no city, town, or county with differing knife laws. This is rare compared to other states, and it means that Hawaii’s state laws are upheld across the board.

Legal Hawaiian Knife Definitions

There have been numerous cases where the Hawaiian court has been forced to define a dangerous weapon and describe the appearance of specific knives.

In this section, you will learn the essential meanings of certain terms within the law as defined in notable cases within the state:

  • Deadly or dangerous weapon: According to the law, it is an instrument whose sole design and purpose are to inflict bodily harm or death. In another case, a deadly or dangerous weapon is defined as something primarily designed as a weapon or diverted from its typical use and prepared for combat.
  • Diver’s knife: In 1975, Howard Giltner was convicted for having a double-edged diver’s knife with a blade of 6.5 inches. The court later concluded that the knife was neither a dagger nor a dangerous weapon because it was designed for underwater purposes.
  • Other knives that are not considered deadly weapons: According to Hawaii’s definition, this includes canes, kitchen knives, and nunchaku sticks (nunchuks).
  • Switchblade knife: A switchblade knife is any knife with a blade that opens automatically by applying pressure to a button or device on the handle or by operation of inertia and gravity.
  • Butterfly Knife: A butterfly knife is a knife with an encased blade in a split handle that unfolds manually or with the assistance of gravity and inertia.

Now let’s look at other vital details of Hawaii knife laws.

Legal Knives in Hawaii

In Hawaii, you can own any knife except for those listed in the illegal knives section. Here’s a list of legal knives in Hawaii:

  • Pocket knives or multitools
  • Bowies and other large knives
  • Throwing knives
  • Disguised knives
  • Undetectable knives

Illegal Knives in Hawaii

In Hawaii, you cannot own or possess switchblades and butterfly knives as described or defined by the law.

Hawaii Knife Carry Laws by Type

Hawaii has dedicated carry laws for two knives:

Switchblade Knives

The law states anyone who knowingly possesses, intentionally uses or threatens to use a switchblade to commit a crime will be charged with a Class C felony.

Additionally, it is illegal to manufacture, sell, transfer or transport switchblades in the state. This means that it is illegal to own or carry switchblades in Hawaii.

Butterfly Knives

Like switchblades, it is illegal to own or carry butterfly knives. The law clearly states that anyone who knowingly possesses or intentionally uses a butterfly knife to commit a crime or manufactures, sells, transfers, or transports butterfly knives in the state will be charged with a crime.

Other Knife Carry Laws in Hawaii

Besides the above laws, there are other notable knife carry laws in Hawaii:

  • It is illegal for any person not authorized by law to carry concealed upon a person or in any used or occupied vehicle by the person a dirk, dagger, slung shot, blackjack, billy, metal knuckles, pistol, or any other deadly or dangerous weapon.
  • Possessing, intentionally using, or threatening a deadly or dangerous weapon to commit a crime is illegal.
  • There is a zero-tolerance policy on possession, selling, or using a dangerous weapon or switchblade knife on school property or any grounds hosting school-related activities on or off school.
  • It is legal to carry open or concealed knives that are not considered deadly or dangerous weapons, such as diver’s knives, nunchaku sticks, canes, and kitchen knives.

Hawaii Knife Length Laws

In the case of Giltner vs. State, Giltner was found carrying a diver’s knife with a 6.5-inch-long blade which was later ruled to be legal.

There is no other mention of knife length in Hawaii knife laws; therefore, it is safe to say that there are no knife length limits in Hawaii.

This assumption means you can own any knife, including swords and other large knives in Hawaii. Remember, the imitations come when you choose to carry your knives in public.

Hawaii Knife Laws by Demographic

Let’s examine what the law says about who can own and carry knives in Hawaii.

How Old do You Have to be to Carry a Knife in Hawaii?

There are no age restrictions regarding who can carry a knife in Hawaii.

However, according to the law, it is safe to assume that nobody, regardless of age, can carry a dirk, slug shot, blackjack, billy, metal knuckles, pistol, or any other deadly or dangerous weapon upon himself or in a car.

How Old do You Have to be to Buy a Knife in Hawaii?

Selling, manufacturing, transferring and transporting switchblades and butterfly knives are illegal in Hawaii. This means that anybody selling or buying these knives, regardless of age within the state, is doing it illegally.

Besides switchblades and butterfly knives, you can own any knife you desire, but there are limits on what you can carry outside your home.

Can a Felon Carry a Knife in Hawaii?

There is no specific law referring to felons and knives in Hawaii. It is, therefore, safe to assume that Hawaii Knife laws apply to every citizen, convicted or not. Therefore, it is illegal for a felon to carry a dirk, dagger, metal knuckles, pistol, or other deadly or dangerous weapons.

Additionally, it is illegal for a felon to knowingly possess, intentionally use or threaten to use a deadly or dangerous weapon to commit a crime. The law further states that any weapon found in the possession of a convicted person will be destroyed by the sheriff or chief of police.

Location restrictions on knives also apply to felons.

Hawaii Concealed Carry Knife Laws

Open and concealed carry knife laws are tricky in Hawaii, but here is what you should know.

Can You Open Carry a Knife in Hawaii?

You can open carry knives that are not considered deadly or dangerous weapons in Hawaii. These include:

  • Kitchen knives
  • Canes
  • Diver’s knives
  • Nunchaku sticks

Remember, dangerous weapons are weapons designed primarily as weapons or diverted from their normal use and prepared for combat.

So, what does this mean?

With the above definition in mind, an instrument that is not a deadly or dangerous weapon when diverted from its normal use becomes illegal to carry.

Can You Conceal Carry a Knife in Hawaii?

You can conceal carry knives that are not considered as deadly or dangerous. However, this is only acceptable when you have no intention of diverting the knife from its normal use.

Remember, to conceal carry means carrying upon a person or in a used or occupied vehicle of the person. Additionally, it is illegal to open or conceal carry any knife on school property.


At the end of the day, understanding Hawaii’s knife laws doesn’t seem overly complicated. With that being said, I’m just a normal dude, and working my way through all of the legal jargon was a grind.

So, while I did my best, always check your state website for the most up-to-date information!

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