Wisconsin 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.

When it comes to owning pocket knives in the state of Wisconsin, there are a few laws that you should be aware of.

In this blog post, we’ll cover Wisconsin knife law and provide an overview of all the types of knives allowed within its boundaries, as well as those prohibited. We will also discuss carrying restrictions for pocket knives in Wisconsin, age restrictions for ownership, and any exceptions to these rules.

Finally, we’ll look at penalties associated with violating wisconsin knife law and provide some resources for further information on these laws.

So whether you’re looking to buy or carry a pocket knife in Wisconsin – read on!

Types of Knives Allowed in Wisconsin

Pocket Knives

Pocket knives are the most common type of knife and are allowed to be owned and carried in Wisconsin. These knives typically have a folding blade that is less than four inches long, making them easy to carry around without being too large or cumbersome. They can come with a variety of features such as serrated edges, gut hooks, pocket clips, and more.


Switchblades are also legal to own and carry in Wisconsin. These knives open automatically when the user presses a button or switch on the handle of the knife. This makes them convenient for quick access but they must still adhere to size restrictions; blades must not exceed four inches in length when opened.

Balisongs, commonly referred to as butterfly knives, are legal to own and carry in Wisconsin provided they meet certain requirements regarding size and design elements like locking mechanisms that prevent accidental opening while carrying it closed. The blade must not exceed four inches when opened; otherwise, it would be considered an illegal weapon under state law.

In Wisconsin, pocket knives and switchblades are both allowed while balisongs (butterfly knives) have some restrictions. However, there are certain types of knives that are strictly prohibited in the state.

Carrying Restrictions for Pocket Knives in Wisconsin

Concealed Carry Restrictions

In Wisconsin, it is illegal to carry a concealed pocket knife without a valid permit. This includes knives with blades that are 3 inches or longer. It is also illegal to conceal any type of switchblade, gravity knife, stiletto, dirk, or dagger regardless of blade length. Open Carry Restrictions

In Wisconsin, it is legal for individuals over the age of 18 to openly carry a pocket knife in public as long as the blade does not exceed 8 inches in length. However, there are certain locations where the open carrying of knives may be prohibited such as schools and government buildings. Additionally, some cities may have ordinances that restrict open carrying even further so it’s important to check local laws before doing so.

Carrying pocket knives in Wisconsin is subject to various restrictions, and understanding these laws can help ensure that knife owners remain compliant with the law. Next, we will explore age restrictions for owning a pocket knife in Wisconsin.

Age Restrictions for Knife Ownership in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, anyone over the age of 18 is legally allowed to own a pocket knife. There are no restrictions on who can purchase or possess a pocket knife in the state as long as they are at least 18 years old.

However, there may be additional restrictions depending on where you live. For example, some cities and counties have ordinances that prohibit people from carrying certain types of knives in public places such as parks or schools. It’s important to check with your local law enforcement agency for more information about any specific laws regarding knives in your area before purchasing one.

Additionally, if you plan to carry a pocket knife while traveling outside of Wisconsin it’s important to familiarize yourself with the laws of other states and countries before doing so since each jurisdiction has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to knives.

It is also worth noting that although anyone over the age of 18 is legally allowed to own a pocket knife in Wisconsin, minors (under the age of 18) may still be able to purchase them under certain circumstances with parental permission or supervision. However, this should only be done after consulting local law enforcement officials for advice on how best to proceed given any applicable laws or regulations pertaining specifically to minors owning knives in your area.

In Wisconsin, it is illegal for minors under the age of 18 to own or carry a pocket knife. Penalties for violating this law can be severe, so it’s important to understand the laws in your state before carrying a pocket knife.

Exceptions to the Rules in Wisconsin

Exceptions to the Rules in Wisconsin are few and far between. Generally, state laws regarding pocket knives are quite strict, with no exceptions made for certain types of knives or activities. However, there are a few specific instances where an exception may be granted.

One such instance is when it comes to carrying a pocket knife on school grounds. In most cases, this would be prohibited due to safety concerns; however, if the knife is being used as part of a class project or activity that has been approved by the school administration then an exception may be made.

Another possible exception could involve minors who wish to carry a pocket knife while hunting or fishing with parental permission and supervision. As long as all applicable laws regarding age restrictions have been followed and appropriate safety measures taken then this type of activity should not pose any legal issues in Wisconsin.

Additionally, some local municipalities within Wisconsin may have their own ordinances which allow for additional exceptions beyond what is provided at the state level. It is important to check your local regulations before engaging in any activities involving pocket knives so you can ensure that you are following all applicable laws and staying safe simultaneously.

Exceptions to the Rules in Wisconsin may vary depending on the type of knife being carried. Generally, pocket knives are allowed to be carried openly or concealed without a permit as long as they have blades shorter than four inches and are not considered “dangerous weapons” under state law. However, some exceptions do exist for certain types of pocket knives that may be longer than four inches but still legal to carry.

Switchblades, which typically feature blades over four inches in length, are generally prohibited from being carried openly or concealed without a permit in Wisconsin. However, there is an exception for switchblade owners who possess valid proof of purchase from before July 1st 1958 when such items were still legal within the state.

These individuals can legally own and carry their switchblades so long as they remain within the boundaries of their own property or residence at all times while doing so.

Balisongs (Butterfly Knives) also feature blades longer than four inches and are illegal to carry open or concealed without a permit in Wisconsin with no exceptions made for any individual circumstances whatsoever.

However, these knives can still be owned by anyone over 18 years old provided that they never leave private property while carrying them around with them at all times. Local laws may provide additional restrictions regarding possession of such items within public spaces like parks etc.

Automatic Knives (Stilettos), Gravity Knives and Dirks/Daggers cannot be owned nor possessed by anyone under 21 years old, regardless of whether it is on private property or not. This is due to their classification as dangerous weapons according to state law – even if the knife was purchased prior to July 1st 1958 when automatic knives were still legal within Wisconsin borders.

Exceptions to the rules in Wisconsin allow for some types of knives to be carried and used, such as pocketknives with blades shorter than three inches. However, it is important to understand all applicable laws when carrying a knife in Wisconsin; this section will provide resources for further information on knife laws in Wisconsin.

Resources for Further Information on Knife Laws in Wisconsin

When researching knife laws in Wisconsin, there are a few resources available to help you understand the regulations and restrictions that apply.

The first (and only official) resource is the official website of the Wisconsin Department of Justice. This site contains information about state statutes and regulations related to knives, including definitions for various types of knives, carrying restrictions, age requirements for ownership, and penalties for violations. It also provides links to relevant case law decisions from the Supreme Court of Wisconsin regarding knife-related issues.

Books can also be a great source of knowledge when it comes to understanding knife laws in Wisconsin. A few titles include “Wisconsin Knives & Knife Laws” by Mark Dakey; “Pocketknives & Other Hand Tools: An Illustrated History” by John Gauntner; and “Knife Laws Of The 50 States” by Alan Korwin et al., which provides an overview of all applicable federal and state laws pertaining to pocketknives throughout America’s fifty states plus Washington DC.

FAQs in Relation to Wisconsin Knife Law

Is it illegal to carry a knife on you in Wisconsin?

It is also illegal to possess certain types of knives such as switchblades and gravity knives in public places. Carrying any type of dangerous weapon, including pocket knives, on school grounds or in government buildings is prohibited by law. However, carrying an open pocket knife with a blade shorter than 3.5 inches for lawful purposes such as hunting or fishing is generally allowed in the state of Wisconsin.

Do you need a license to carry a knife in Wisconsin?

No, you do not need a license to carry a pocket knife in Wisconsin. According to state law, it is legal for anyone over the age of 18 to own and carry any type of pocket knife with a blade length up to 3 inches. However, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess or carry any type of pocket knife regardless of size. Additionally, certain types of knives such as switchblades are prohibited from being carried in public places.

Are switchblade knives illegal in Wisconsin?

Yes, switchblade knives are illegal in Wisconsin. According to the state’s statutes, it is unlawful for any person to possess or carry a switchblade knife with a blade that opens automatically by depressing a button, spring, or other device in the handle of the knife. This applies regardless of whether the knife is open or closed. Violation of this law can result in fines and possible jail time.

How old do you have to be to buy a knife in Wisconsin age?

In Wisconsin, the legal age to purchase a pocket knife is 18 years old. This applies to all types of knives including folding knives, switchblades, and other pocket-sized blades. It is important to note that while it may be legal for someone under the age of 18 to possess a pocket knife in certain circumstances (such as when used for work or hunting), they are not legally allowed to purchase one without parental consent.

Additionally, some local municipalities may have their own laws regarding the sale and possession of knives which could supersede state law. It is important to check with local law enforcement before purchasing a pocket knife.


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In conclusion, it is important to understand the knife laws in Wisconsin before carrying or owning a pocket knife. Knowing which types of knives are allowed and prohibited, as well as restrictions on carrying and age requirements for ownership can help you stay within the law. Penalties for violating wisconsin knife law can be severe, so make sure to familiarize yourself with all applicable regulations.

There are some exceptions to the rules that may apply in certain situations, so be sure to research those thoroughly if needed. For more information on Wisconsin Knife Law visit your local library or search online resources such as legal websites and state government websites.

If you are a resident of Wisconsin, let’s take a stand and ensure that Wisconsin knife laws are clear, concise, and reflect the current needs of citizens. By taking proactive steps to understand our rights and responsibilities when carrying knives in public places we can make sure everyone is safe while still allowing responsible individuals their right to bear arms.

Let’s work together to create legislation that protects both law-abiding citizens as well as those who may be unintentionally violating state laws with regard to knives.

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