Maryland 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.

Maryland has had the same knife laws since time immemorial. For this reason, some argue that the state’s knife laws are old-fashioned and outdated. Despite this, it is still vital for knife owners to know what they are getting into if they’re moving to, visiting, or traveling through the Old Line State. So keep reading if you want to stay out of trouble in Maryland.

Does Maryland Have Statewide Preemption Knife Laws?

Maryland has no statewide preemption, so different counties within the state can have stricter knife restrictions.

Owning and carrying knives within the state is a tad bit frustrating for knife lovers because what is legal in one county can be illegal in the next town over.

Therefore, you must research what is legal and illegal depending on the county you plan to visit for your next hunting trip.

Legal Knives in Maryland

There are no limitations on knife ownership in Maryland, meaning you can own any knife you want, including:

  • Balisongs or butterfly knives
  • Bowies and other large knives
  • Stabbing knives like dirks, daggers, stilettos
  • Switchblades and other automatic knives
  • Gravity knives
  • Disguised knives
  • Throwing knives
  • Undetectable knives
  • Manual penknives

Illegal Knives in Maryland

There are no illegal knives in Maryland; the only restrictions are on selling, bartering, and carrying limitations.

So even though you can possess or own any knife, the law provides instructions on whether you can sell and how and where to carry your knives.

Maryland Knife Definitions

Before you read about knife laws specific to the state of Maryland, there are essential definitions you should know. Some of these are defined within the law, and some are derived from case laws:

  • Weapon – a weapon includes a dirk, bowie, switchblade, star knife, sand club, metal knuckles, and nunchaku. The law further states that a weapon does not have a handgun or a penknife without a switchblade.
  • Penknife – in the case of Bacon vs. Maryland, the court concluded that a penknife with a manual folding blade is not a weapon regardless of size.
  • A Switchblade knife or switchblade penknife – is a knife with a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or other devices on the knife’s handle. Another definition of these terms is a device designed to propel a blade from a metal sheath using a high compression ejector spring, also known as a shooting knife. Going by the second definition, a ballistic knife is also considered a weapon under state law.
  • Gravity knife – In Savoy vs. state case, the court concluded that a gravity knife is similar to a switchblade because you open a gravity knife by pressing a button. The only difference is that the blade is suspended through gravity. Therefore, according to the law, a gravity knife is also considered a weapon.
  • Conceal carry – in the case of Shipley vs. state, the court determined that a weapon is concealed if it is situated in a way that is not discernible by ordinary observation by people close enough or in contact with the possessor in the usual associations of life. However, absolute invisibility is not required. From the above definition, it is essential to note the warning that complete invisibility is not required. This makes knives like pocket clips questionable. However, the burden of proof that a weapon is concealed is on the prosecution and not the owner or carrier of the knife.

Maryland Knife Carry Laws

The above definitions will help you understand Maryland’s knife carry laws summarized below:

  • It is against the law to wear or carry concealed any dangerous weapon on or about the person.
  • It is illegal to openly wear or carry a dangerous weapon, tear gas device, chemical, or pepper mace with intent to harm another person or use unlawfully.
  • It is legal to carry a weapon as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger. It is up to the court to judge whether it was reasonable to have the weapon depending on the occasion and other facts presented in the case’s evidence.
  • It is illegal for a minor to open or conceal carry a dangerous weapon one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise. According to Maryland state law, a child is anyone under 16 years. This law also applies to several counties within the state, including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Washington, Worcester, Caroline, Cecil, Harford, Kent, Montgomery, Prince George, Talbot, and St. Mary’s County. A minor can only carry a dangerous weapon during a hunting trip or if they are engaged in or on the way to a military or civic activity like a trap shoot or sport shooting event.
  • It is illegal to carry or possess a knife, firearm, or any deadly weapon on public school property. However, students can use knives lawfully in school-related activities such as food preparation, biology dissection, woodworking, groundskeeping, maintenance, and fake knives for theatrical productions.
  • It is legal to open or conceal carry a pocket knife (with a manual folding blade) regardless of size.


Note that Maryland’s knife-carry-laws do not apply to:

  • Law enforcement officers retired or not with valid credentials
  • An officer in the state or any county within the state
  • Anyone with a permit issued by the state to carry a weapon
  • A person participating in a historical demonstration and authorized by the school to carry a weapon or a replica of the same
  • Employees of the county board of education who guard schools

Maryland Knife Length Laws

There are no knife blade length restrictions in Maryland. However, counties within the state can have provisions for the same.

Maryland Knife Laws by Demographic

Who can carry and buy knives in Maryland? Keep reading to learn more.

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

Maryland knife law does not have a specific definition of the term minor. However, it defines the word child as any individual under 16 years old.

According to the law, a minor cannot carry open or concealed any dangerous weapon one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset.

Does this mean a minor can carry a dangerous weapon during the day?

You are not wrong to interpret it that way as an ordinary person. For further clarification, consult your legal counsel or a law enforcement officer.

Remember, the age cap applies to several counties within the state, and others can have further restrictions on age.

Finally, anybody can carry a pocketknife with a manual folding blade of any size as long as they do not intend to use it unlawfully or harm others.

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

Maryland knife law bans selling, offering to sell, barter, or displaying a penknife with a switchblade, a switchblade, gravity knife, ballistic knife, and/or knife with a shooting blade.

This ban applies to everybody, regardless of age. Additionally, anybody can sell or buy a pocketknife with a manual folding blade in Maryland.

Can a Felon Carry a Knife in Maryland?

No statute addresses whether convicted felons can carry or own knives in the state. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the standard state laws apply to everybody, including convicted felons.

Remember, local municipalities can have different ordinances regarding the same so ensure you consult your lawyer or parole officer for more information.

Maryland Concealed Carry Knife Laws

The state laws specify how and where you should or shouldn’t carry a knife or dangerous weapon.

Can You Open Carry a Knife in Maryland?

You can open-carry any pocketknife with a foldable blade or dangerous weapon in the state as long as you have no ill intentions towards others.

Additionally, minors cannot carry a dangerous weapon an hour before dawn and an hour after dusk. Furthermore, it is illegal to openly-carry dangerous weapons on public school property.

Can You Conceal Carry a Knife in Maryland?

The law restricts anybody from wearing or carrying concealed any dangerous weapon on or about the person.

The most important thing to remember here is that absolute invisibility is not required, which brings to question knives like pocket clips and sword canes because the blade is usually concealed.


At the end of the day, understanding Maryland’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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