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

Last updated on October 21st, 2023 at 01:03 am

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.

Whether you use a knife for self-defense, hunting, or everyday tasks, knowing the legal boundaries within the state of Massachusetts is crucial. This guide seeks to outline the essentials of knife laws in Massachusetts, helping you avoid legal trouble while carrying your blade.

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.

The primary law concerning knives in Massachusetts is encapsulated in a lengthy sentence under section 269 § 10(b). It’s not the easiest law to interpret but fret not; we’ve broken it down for you.

Does Massachusetts Have Statewide Preemption?

Massachusetts lacks statewide preemption. This means various cities or towns within the state can enforce stricter knife laws. It’s advisable to do your due diligence when traversing different municipalities in Massachusetts with your knives to steer clear of legal hurdles.

Legal Knives in Massachusetts

Massachusetts law doesn’t outright ban the ownership of specific types of knives. You can own various types of knives including:

  • Switchblades or automatic knives (blades must be under 1.5 inches)
  • Balisongs or butterfly knives
  • Throwing or star knives
  • Bowies and other hunting knives
  • Dirks, stilettos, push knives, daggers
  • Ballistic knives
  • Lipstick, cane, and other disguised knives

However, while these knives can be owned, carrying them, especially in a manner suggesting use as a weapon, could be deemed a criminal offense.

Section 12 of Massachusetts law also restricts the manufacturing or sale of certain weapons, including switchblades, blackjack, metallic knuckles, or ballistic knives.

Illegal Knives in Massachusetts

While there isn’t a specific list of knives that are illegal to own in Massachusetts, certain types of knives are illegal to carry, and this distinction is vital:

  • Ownership means you can possess it within your home or residential property.
  • The rules dramatically change when you step outside your home carrying certain types of knives in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Knife Carry Laws

Under Section 10 of Massachusetts law, the following are prohibited from being carried, whether openly or concealed, on a person or within their vehicle:

  • Stilettos
  • Daggers
  • Ballistic knives
  • Knives with detachable blades
  • Knives with locking blades that can be drawn at a locked position
  • Dirks
  • Switchblades or automatic knives (if the blade is over 1.5 inches)
  • Slingshots
  • Metallic knuckles (“brass knuckles”) or anything similar
  • Nunchaku
  • Blowgun
  • Blackjack
  • Throwing knives
  • Zoobows (Kungfu sticks connected with rope, wire, chain, or leather)

Carrying any dangerous weapon, including the prohibited knives listed above, in a courthouse, prison, government building, or school grounds, without authorization from the relevant authority is illegal.

Massachusetts Knife Length Laws

In Massachusetts, automatic or switchblade knives with a blade longer than 1.5 inches are illegal to carry. In Boston, retailers are barred from selling knives with blades over 2.5 inches to minors, although there isn’t a specific law on carrying knives of this length.

Massachusetts Knife Laws by Demographic

Here’s what the law says about who can carry and own a knife in Massachusetts.

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

In Massachusetts, the law doesn’t specify an age restriction for carrying legal knives. Legal knives in Massachusetts include pocket knives, multitools or Swiss blades, and kitchen knives, as long as they are not used in a threatening manner or to cause harm.

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

In Boston, minors under 18 years cannot buy knives with blades longer than two inches, while in Cambridge, giving or lending any person under 18 a lock-back knife is illegal.

Can a Felon Carry a Knife in Massachusetts?

Convicted felons are prohibited from carrying any knives or dangerous weapons in Massachusetts. Violation of this provision can lead to a jail term of up to five years.

First-time offenders found guilty of carrying any illegal knives may be fined $50 or face imprisonment for up to two and a half years.

Massachusetts Concealed Carry Knife Laws

You can own any type of knife in Massachusetts, but there are restrictions on which knives you can carry and how you carry them.

Can You Open Carry a Knife in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, the law doesn’t specifically address the concealed carry of knives. However, carrying certain types of knives (the ones we mentioned above), whether openly or concealed, is illegal.

Massachusetts State Knife Law References

Official Sources of Massachusetts’s Knife Laws

Significant Court Cases

Case NameSummary
Commonwealth v. Alem A.Heller applied to knives in Massachusetts but double-edged knives could still be restricted.
Commonwealth v. DawsonInvolved evidence sufficient to charge defendants with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of six fire fighters.
Ramirez v. CommonwealthProhibition against civilian possession of stun guns under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, 131J violates the Second Amendment.
Caetano v. MassachusettsHeller applies to modern weapons and less lethal weapons in Massachusetts.


At the end of the day, understanding Massachusetts’ 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!

Leave a Comment