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

Last updated on October 21st, 2023 at 04:41 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.

Are you a knife enthusiast living in Ohio? Are you curious about the rules and regulations governing knives in your state? If so, then this article is for you.

This comprehensive guide covers all aspects of Ohio knife law, at least, as well as I can comprehend it.

In Ohio, owning or carrying knives is generally legal unless the knife falls under the category of a “deadly weapon.” However, certain restrictions apply to concealed carry, which can result in misdemeanor or felony charges if a knife is carried as a weapon without proper authorization. Statewide preemption was established on September 13, 2022, which ensures that local governments cannot enforce regulations that contradict state knife laws.

It’s worth noting that significant changes were made to Ohio’s knife laws on April 12, 2021, with the signing of SB 140. This bill amended various sections of the Revised Code, exempting knives that are not used as weapons from certain regulations. As a result, it’s crucial to understand the updated guidelines before carrying or using a knife in Ohio.

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*These knives are listed based on their broad legality across states, but always consult your local laws before making a purchase.

Overview of Ohio Knife Laws

With regards to the types of knives allowed in Ohio, it’s essential to note that state restrictions regarding concealed carry of knives have been removed as of April 12, 2021. This change signifies that the restrictions on knife possession and usage have loosened in the state, allowing for more freedom in carrying knives either openly or concealed.

However, some restrictions still apply to certain types of knives. For instance, if a knife falls under the “deadly weapon” category according to Ohio law, it would be restricted from being carried. Identifying the exact definition of a “deadly weapon” or a “knife” is essential when considering which knives are allowed and prohibited in the state. In general, knives that serve utilitarian purposes and are not deemed dangerous by statute would be allowed in Ohio.

It’s important to remember that although statewide preemption exists in Ohio, local laws may still vary. It’s essential to keep updated on the changing legislation and learn about any specific statutes in your area. Being informed about Ohio’s knife laws will help you stay within the boundaries of the law and avoid any legal issues related to knife possession.

Types of Legal and Illegal Knives

Legal Knives

Ohio state laws grant broad legal ownership to various types of knives, demonstrating a more permissive stance than many other states. For example, Ohio allows for the ownership of knives that are often restricted elsewhere, such as switchblades and gravity knives. The state also permits the possession and carry of balisong (butterfly) knives and balisong trainers, which are useful for safely practicing the flips and tricks associated with butterfly knives.

Other permissible knives include dirks, daggers, bowie knives, and stilettos. These types of knives are both functional and decorative due to their unique designs. Lastly, Ohio allows the carry and ownership of most pocketknives, without a specific blade length restriction, contrasting with the common restriction of a blade length shorter than 4 inches in many states.

Illegal Knives

Despite broad ownership rights, Ohio still places certain limitations on the ownership and carry of knives, specifically on deadly weapons and certain types of ordinance. One such example is the ballistic knife, classified as a “dangerous ordnance”. Ballistic knives possess blades that can be fired from the handle, making them potentially more dangerous than other types of knives.

Ohio law also prohibits the use of any knife as a weapon when it is concealed carried. Concealing a knife with the intention of using it as a weapon could result in misdemeanor or felony charges. Furthermore, specific restrictions apply for carrying knives in certain locations, such as “school safety zones” and court facilities.

Concealment and Open Carry Restrictions

Concealed Carry

As of April 12, 2021, Ohio removed state restrictions on the concealed carry of knives. Therefore, any knife may be carried concealed, provided it is not used as a weapon. However, location-specific “deadly weapon” restrictions still apply in areas like school safety zones and court facilities.

Even though you can carry any knife concealed, carrying certain knives concealed can be considered a misdemeanor or felony in Ohio if you intend to use them as weapons.

Open Carry

Ohio law also permits the open carrying of knives. As long as the knife is not used as a weapon, you can openly carry any knife without any specific restrictions, aside from those in place for location-specific scenarios such as school safety zones or court facilities.

Restrictions in Specific Locations

School Safety Zones

It is unlawful in Ohio to possess a “deadly weapon” within a “school safety zone” as defined by § 2923.122 (A) 1. This law does not have a specific exception for knives, so a concealed knife intended for use as a weapon can be considered a misdemeanor or felony. While cities may have their own restrictions on the types of knives that can be carried, it is crucial to check local ordinances when traveling with a knife outside your home county.


Ohio knife laws also prohibit the possession of a deadly weapon in a courthouse. To comply with the law and maintain legal standing, avoid carrying any knife when entering this sensitive location.

Critical Dimensions and Penalties

Length Limit Laws

Ohio knife laws also prohibit the possession of a deadly weapon in a courthouse. To comply with the law and maintain legal standing, avoid carrying any knife when entering this sensitive location.


Potential penalties exist for violations of Ohio’s knife laws. If you use a knife as a dangerous weapon or carry a prohibited knife like a ballistic knife, you may face legal repercussions. Consequences may include a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the severity of the offense. Despite recent legislation allowing Ohioans to carry various knives, it is crucial to understand local ordinances and rules to avoid potential penalties and stay within legal guidelines.

Exceptions and Exemptions

Law Enforcement Officers

As a law enforcement officer in Ohio, you have certain exemptions when it comes to knife laws. For instance, you are generally allowed to carry a concealed knife while on duty. However, these exemptions may not extend to off-duty situations, requiring adherence to the same regulations as the general public.


Members of the military also have certain exemptions concerning Ohio knife laws. Depending on your role within the military, you may be authorized to carry specific knives that are restricted or prohibited for the general public while on official duty. Off-duty, you should adhere to the same Ohio knife laws applicable to civilians.

Recent Legislation and Changes

SB 140

On January 11, 2021, Governor DeWine signed SB 140 into law, which went into effect on April 12, 2021. This law repealed the ban on the manufacture and sale of “switchblade,” “spring blade,” and “gravity” knives. It also clarified that a knife, razor, or cutting instrument is only considered a “deadly weapon” or “weapon” if used as one. Now, any knife may be carried openly or concealed, as long as it is not used as a weapon.

Criminal Justice Reform

The changes in Ohio’s knife laws, especially with the passage of SB 140, contribute to the broader goal of criminal justice reform. By removing restrictions on the manufacture, sale, and carry of knives, Ohio has become a more welcoming state for knife owners and those who use knives as everyday tools.

Stand Your Ground

Ohio’s recent expansion of the “Stand Your Ground” law impacts the general self-defense context, potentially including knives. The new law eliminates the duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense. While this topic can be controversial, it is crucial to stay aware of its implications and potential consequences.

Manufacturing, Selling, and Possession


Ohio has eased restrictions on the production of certain types of knives. The ban on manufacturing “switchblade,” “spring blade,” and “gravity” knives has been repealed, allowing for a more diverse market for knife enthusiasts and collectors.


When it comes to selling knives in Ohio, there are no specific restrictions on the sale or transfer of knives, except for ballistic knives. The updated legislation has made it easier for knife manufacturers and vendors to operate within the state.


There is broad legality in the possession of knives in Ohio. The state allows for the ownership of a wide variety of knives, including switchblades, gravity knives, balisong (butterfly) knives, balisong trainers, dirks, daggers, bowie knives, stilettos, and most pocketknives. However, there are restrictions on the possession of ballistic knives, classified as “dangerous ordnance.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the legal length for knives in Ohio?

In Ohio, there are no specific length restrictions for knives. Any knife may be carried openly or concealed provided it “was not used as a weapon”. However, certain types of knives are considered deadly weapons and are subject to restrictions.

Are automatic knives allowed in Ohio?

Automatic knives are allowed in Ohio. The ban on the manufacture and sale of automatic knives, such as “switchblades,” “spring-blades,” and “gravity” knives, has been repealed. It is now legal for individuals to own and carry automatic knives.

Are there age restrictions for carrying knives in Ohio?

I could not find specific age restrictions for carrying knives in Ohio. However, it is generally advised that minors should not possess weapons without parental supervision or consent.

Is it legal to own a butterfly knife in Ohio?

It is legal to own a butterfly knife in Ohio. The state laws allow for the ownership and carrying of butterfly knives unless they are used as a weapon.

Can you carry an OTF knife in Ohio?

OTF (out-the-front) knives are considered a type of automatic knife. Since automatic knives are allowed in Ohio, it is legal to carry an OTF knife, as long as it is not used as a weapon.

Are Bowie knives allowed in Ohio?

Bowie knives are allowed in Ohio. The state laws permit the ownership and carrying of Bowie knives unless they are used as a weapon. Keep in mind that carrying certain knives concealed and intending to use them as weapons can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges.

Are switchblades legal in Ohio?

Yes, switchblades are legal in Ohio. Following the signing of SB 140 into law on January 11, 2021, which went into effect on April 12, 2021, the previous ban on the manufacture and sale of switchblades was repealed. Consequently, not only is ownership of a switchblade legal, but its open or concealed carry is also permissible, provided the knife is not used as a weapon.

Can a felon carry a knife in Ohio?

The laws regarding felons carrying knives can be complex. While there is no specific law in Ohio that explicitly forbids a felon from carrying a knife, there are certain federal laws and other state laws that could apply. Felons could face legal issues if they use a knife as a dangerous weapon, especially if they have a violent criminal history. As such, it is highly recommended that any person with a felony conviction consult with a legal professional before deciding to carry a knife in Ohio.

Ohio State Knife Law References

Official Sources of Ohio’s Knife Laws

Significant Court Cases

Case NameSummary
Heyder, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 13AP-298, 2014-Ohio-1066The court of appeals reversed an aggravated-robbery conviction (premised on the defendant’s possession of a knife during the robbery) because the trial court admitted evidence of a knife that was not used in the robbery.

Timeline of Major Changes in Ohio’s Knife Law History

  • April 12, 2021:
    • Ohio Senate Bill 140 went into effect.
    • Permitted concealed carry of non-weapon knives; revised the definition of a “deadly weapon” to include a knife under certain circumstances.
    • Amended Ohio Revised Code sections 2923.12, 2923.18, and 2923.20 to exempt knives not used as weapons.
  • September 13, 2022:


In conclusion, it is important to be aware of the laws surrounding knives in Ohio. The state has a preemption law that prevents local municipalities from enacting their own knife regulations. In general, carrying and concealing knives are allowed as long as they do not exceed certain lengths or have prohibited features such as switchblades.

However, there are restrictions on the possession and use of knives in public places and for minors. Violating Ohio knife law can result in criminal penalties including fines and jail time depending on the severity of the offense. It is best to familiarize yourself with all applicable laws before carrying or using any type of knife within the state of Ohio.

Let’s come together to understand what knives are legal in Ohio and how they should be used responsibly so that everyone stays safe.

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