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

Last updated on October 20th, 2023 at 08:48 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.

Indiana has relatively lenient knife laws compared to other states, and is often considered one of the more knife-friendly states in the nation.

The laws primarily focus on location restrictions, but outside of these specific areas, individuals are generally free to own and carry a variety of knives. Indiana’s knife laws are also relatively straightforward, lacking the lengthy and complex clauses found in some other states.

Here is everything you need to know about knife laws in Indiana.

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 Indiana Have Statewide Preemption?

Statewide preemption refers to state laws overriding local laws. Indiana does have statewide preemption when it comes to knife laws, ensuring a uniform law across the state regarding crimes and punishments including those related to knives. However, some cities like Indianapolis have local ordinances related to carrying sharp objects or instruments on a person, but the enforceability of such ordinances may be questionable due to the statewide preemption.

Knife Legality in Indiana

Legal Knives

The following knives are legal to own and carry in Indiana:

  • Balisongs (Butterfly knives)
  • Bowies and other large knives
  • Disguised knives
  • Assisted knives
  • Dirks, daggers, and other stabbing knives
  • Switchblades or automatic knives (legalized in 2013)
  • Single-blade throwing knives

Illegal Knives

The only types of knives explicitly outlawed by Indiana law are:

  • Ballistic knives (knives with detachable blades propelled by a mechanism within the handle)
  • Chinese throwing stars (defined as throwing-knives, throwing-irons, or other knife-like weapons with multiple blades set at different angles)​.

Indiana Knife Laws by Type

Ballistic Knives and Chinese Throwing Stars: Manufacturing, importing, selling, giving, lending, or merely possessing these types of knives is against the law. Violation of this law concerning ballistic knives is a class B misdemeanor, while violation concerning Chinese throwing stars is a class C misdemeanor.

Indiana Knife Carry Laws

Carrying Knives in Specific Locations

It’s a class B misdemeanor to recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally possess a knife on school property if it’s intended to be used as a weapon. Schools may, however, authorize possession of knives for specific purposes, and knives secured in a locked vehicle are exempt from this restriction.

Open Carry

Indiana’s state laws do not have specific restrictions on the open carry of knives. Individuals are allowed to openly carry any legal knife. However, local ordinances in certain areas may impose additional restrictions, so it’s essential to be aware of these when traveling across the state.

Concealed Carry

There are no state-level laws in Indiana that restrict the concealed carry of knives, except within or on school grounds. Concealment of knives is not an issue in Indiana.

Indiana Knife Length Laws

There are no state laws in Indiana that place restrictions on knife blade lengths. Therefore, you are free to own any legal knife, regardless of its size. However, as there is statewide preemption, the laws are uniform across different localities within the state.

Indiana Knife Laws by Demographic

Indiana laws are clear on who can buy, own, or carry knives within the state. Keep reading to learn more.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Carry a Knife in Indiana?

Under Indiana’s regulations concerning prohibited instruments of violence, there is no explicit age cap imposed on carrying knives in the state. The prohibition of ballistic and Chinese throwing knives applies to all age groups. It’s also universally illegal to carry a knife on school property unless explicit permission is granted by the relevant school authorities. For firearms, there are age restrictions in place regarding their sale, transfer, or possession, with exceptions under parental supervision.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy a Knife in Indiana?

The law prohibits the purchase of ballistic and Chinese throwing knives for both adults and minors. All other types of knives are legal to own, but limitations may apply when carrying them outside your residential property.

Can a Felon Carry a Knife in Indiana?

Indiana law deems it a class A misdemeanor for a convicted felon to carry a knife within school property. Also, a felon will be charged with a level 6 felony if they use a knife to injure another person. A child (anyone under 18 years) who is a convicted felon will be charged with a level 5 felony if found in possession of a firearm. Besides these specifications, there is no other explicit provision under prohibited instruments of violence limiting knife carrying for felons.

Delivery of a Deadly Weapon to an Intoxicated Person

Indiana law uniquely prohibits the provision of a deadly weapon to an intoxicated individual or someone with a habit of intoxication. Given that a knife is considered a deadly weapon under the law, providing a knife to an intoxicated person is, therefore, illegal.

Indiana Knife Law FAQs

Are switchblades legal in Indiana?

Yes, switchblades are legal in Indiana. The ban on switchblades was lifted in 2013 by then-governor Mike Pence. Therefore, it is legal to own, possess, and sell switchblades or automatic knives in the state of Indiana.

Are butterfly knives illegal in Indiana?

No, butterfly knives, also known as balisongs, are not illegal in Indiana. They are included in the list of legal knives to own and carry in the state, provided that you comply with any local ordinances and avoid restricted areas such as schools.

Are OTF knives legal in Indiana?

Yes, out-the-front (OTF) knives, which are a type of switchblade, are legal in Indiana. They became legal along with other automatic knives when the ban on switchblades was lifted in 2013.

Are gravity knives legal in Indiana?

The laws in Indiana do not specifically mention gravity knives. However, they are not listed among the illegal knives, so they are presumably legal to own and carry. That said, remember to follow local ordinances and avoid carrying knives on school property or in other restricted locations.

Does Indiana have knife-length laws?

No, Indiana does not have state-wide laws restricting the length of knife blades. You can own and carry any legal knife, regardless of its size. However, certain local municipalities like Merrillville have ordinances in place limiting blade length, so always be aware of local laws as you travel across the state.

Indiana State Knife Law References

Official Sources of Indiana’s Knife Laws

  • Indiana Code Sections:
    • 35-31.5-2-180: Defines a “Knife” for legal purposes.
    • 35-47-5-2: Provides the law on knives with a detachable blade.
    • 35-47-5-2.5: Concerns possession of knives on school property.

Significant Court Cases:

Case TitleSummary
Jamone M. Williams v. State of IndianaA case was decided on October 12, 2023, by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Justin L. Haller v. State of IndianaA case involving sentencing for a Level 6 felony, decided in 2021.
William Butch Barclay v. State of IndianaA case decided on October 12, 2023, by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Oglesby v. StateA case from 1987 decided by the Supreme Court of Indiana.

Timeline of Major Changes in Indiana’s Knife Law History:

  • 1897: Initial enactment of Indiana’s knife law to control blacksmiths.
  • 1951: A law prohibiting carrying knives with blades longer than five inches was passed.
  • 2013: Repeal of the historic ban on switchblades, aligning with a few other states to legalize switchblades.
  • 2015: Introduction of HB 1634 by Rep. Peggy Mayfield, aiming to prohibit political subdivisions from regulating the possession, carrying, transportation, sale, purchase, transfer, licensing, registration or use of a knife or the components used to make a knife.


At the end of the day, understanding Indiana’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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