New Mexico Knife Law – The Complete Guide (In Plain English)

Last updated on October 21st, 2023 at 02:37 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.

Are you interested in owning and carrying pocket knives in New Mexico? Then it’s important to understand the state’s knife laws.

This guide will provide an overview of New Mexico knife law, including information on where and how one can carry a knife, age restrictions for ownership or use, penalties for violating those laws, preemption legislation regarding local regulation of knives, and exceptions to the statewide rule.

So whether you’re looking into buying your first pocketknife or want to brush up on what is allowed by law when it comes to blades – this comprehensive guide has got all the answers.

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.

Overview of New Mexico Knife Laws

Knife laws in New Mexico are designed to ensure the safety of citizens while allowing them to enjoy the use and ownership of pocket knives. A knife is defined as any cutting instrument capable of causing death or great bodily harm, including specific types like daggers, switchblade knives, bowie knives, poniards, butcher knives, and dirk knives. In New Mexico, it is legal to own and carry certain types of knives such as folding pocket knives, utility knives, hunting knives, and other single-edged blades.

Does New Mexico Have A Statewide Preemption For Knife Laws?

New Mexico law preempts local governments from enacting their own knife regulations, ensuring that the state’s laws supersede any local ordinances or regulations. This uniformity prevents cities and counties from creating their own knife laws that may be more restrictive than the state’s.

Definition of a Knife

In New Mexico, a knife is defined as any cutting tool capable of causing death or great bodily harm. This includes folding pocket knives; fixed-blade hunting or utility knives; dirks; daggers; stilettos; swords; machetes; razors; and other single-edged blades. Balisong or butterfly knives are also part of this classification, but their ownership and carry are illegal.

Types of Knives Allowed in New Mexico

In New Mexico, you can own and carry certain types of knives. However, the state law prohibits the ownership and carry of any type of automatic knife, such as a switchblade or butterfly knife.

Prohibited Knives in New Mexico

New Mexico law prohibits the concealed carry of certain knives, including dirk knives, poniards, any type of dagger, bowie knives, switchblades, butterfly knives, butcher knives, or any other knife which can cause dangerous wounds.

Carrying and Concealing Knives in New Mexico

Open carrying a knife is generally legal in New Mexico, as long as it doesn’t fall under the prohibited knives category. Concealing a knife is illegal unless it’s carried in a private automobile for lawful protection, or on one’s property.

Open Carry Laws for Knives

Open carry of a pocket knife is legal in New Mexico, with restrictions on the types of knives as mentioned earlier. There are no specific length restrictions mentioned in New Mexico laws for open carry. However, individuals under 18 years old are not allowed to own or possess any type of pocketknife in the state.

Concealed Carry Laws for Knives

To carry a concealed knife, you must ensure that the knife is not one of the prohibited types and should adhere to the restrictions on carrying deadly weapons as stipulated by New Mexico law. There isn’t a specified license or permit for carrying a concealed knife, other than the general restrictions on carrying concealed deadly weapons.

Age Restrictions on Knife Ownership and Use in New Mexico

The minimum age to own or possess a knife is 18 years old, and the minimum age to carry or conceal a knife is 21 years old in New Mexico.

Penalties for Violating Knife Laws in New Mexico

Violating knife laws could lead to penalties including a fine of up to $5000 and/or up to eighteen months of jail time if carrying a deadly weapon to school premises, which is a fourth-degree felony. Carrying an illegal knife is considered a petty misdemeanor.

Exceptions to the Statewide Knife Law in New Mexico

While New Mexico’s knife laws are generally quite lenient, there are some exceptions. For instance, knives with blades longer than four inches may not be carried concealed without a valid reason such as lawful protection or carrying on one’s property.

New Mexico Knife Law FAQs

Can a minor carry a knife in New Mexico?

No, a minor (anyone under the age of 18) is not legally allowed to carry a knife in New Mexico. Only individuals aged 18 and above can legally possess and carry a knife, provided that the knife is compliant with the legal specifications laid out in the state’s knife laws.

Does New Mexico have knife length laws?

New Mexico does have knife length laws. The state laws specify the maximum lengths for various types of knives. For instance, folding pocket knives must have blades less than 4 inches long, fixed-blade hunting or utility knives must not exceed 5 inches, stilettos cannot have blades longer than 8 inches, and so on.

Can a felon carry a knife in New Mexico?

Generally, a person convicted of a felony involving violence or threatened violence against another person within the last ten years is prohibited from owning certain types of weapons in New Mexico, including pocket knives with blades longer than four inches. It is always best for individuals with a criminal history to consult with a legal professional regarding the specifics of their situation.

Are switchblades illegal in New Mexico?

Switchblades are considered illegal in New Mexico. It’s prohibited to publicly carry these types of knives, and anyone found in possession of such can face penalties including fines and jail time.

Are butterfly knives illegal in New Mexico?

Butterfly knives, also known as balisong knives, are illegal in New Mexico. The state law explicitly forbids ownership and carry of these knives.

Are OTF knives legal in New Mexico?

OTF, or Out-The-Front knives, are typically classified as switchblades or gravity knives because of their automatic opening mechanisms. Since New Mexico law prohibits the carry of switchblades or gravity knives, OTF knives would also be considered illegal in the state. Always consult local laws or a legal professional for specific guidance.

New Mexico State Knife Law References

Official Sources of New Mexico’s Knife Laws

Significant Court Cases:

Case TitleSummary
State v. RiddallThis case involved a discussion regarding the demonstration of a knife as part of the state’s case under Section 30-7-8.
State v. NickThe New Mexico Supreme Court set aside the conviction of a juvenile who possessed a pocketknife on school grounds.
State v. MurilloThe court held that Section 30-7-8 is not repugnant to the right to bear arms under a federal standard, with “butterfly knife” included within the term “switchblade”.

Timeline of Major Changes:

  • 1953: New Mexico passed a ‘switchblade’ law which remains as § 30-7-8 Unlawful possession of switchblades.
  • 1991: In State v. Riddall, butterfly knives were held to be within the 30-7-8 prohibitions.
  • 2009: In State v. Nick, the New Mexico Supreme Court clarified that a pocketknife is not in the same category as daggers, bowie knives, and poniards, thus overturning a conviction of a juvenile for possessing a pocketknife on school grounds.
  • 2015: In State v. Murillo, the New Mexico court of appeals affirmed that Section 30-7-8 is in line with the federal standard regarding the right to bear arms, and included “butterfly knife” within the term “switchblade”.


In conclusion, understanding the knife laws in New Mexico is important for anyone who owns or carries a pocket knife. It’s essential to know what types of knives are legal and illegal to own and carry, as well as any age restrictions that may apply.

Additionally, it’s important to be aware of any local regulations regarding knives that may exist in your area. By familiarizing yourself with the New Mexico knife law, you can ensure that you’re following all applicable laws when carrying or using a pocket knife.

Leave a Comment