Knife Enthusiasts Guide to Colorado Knife Laws

Colorado Knife Laws

Overview of Knife Laws in Colorado

Colorado knife laws are fairly straight forward, and in recent years have been made much simpler and easier to understand and abide by.

18-12-101. Definitions - peace officer affirmative defense

(a.3) "Ballistic knife" means any knife that has a blade which is forcefully projected from the handle by means of a spring-loaded device or explosive charge.

(f) "Knife" means any dagger, dirk, knife, or stiletto with a blade over three and one-half inches in length, or any other dangerous instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing, or tearing wounds, but does not include a hunting or fishing knife carried for sports use. The issue that a knife is a hunting or fishing knife must be raised as an affirmative defense.

For the most part, the only knifes which are considered illegal to own are ballistic knives. However it wasn’t until 2017 that gravity knives were made legal as well. This caused much confusion as knives, such as the butterfly knife in particular, were not always clearly defined as whether or not they were considered a gravity knife. However, thanks to the repeal of the law they are currently no longer a state based problem. It should be noted though that a number of counties and cities still have these knives banned.

As well, it doesn’t appear that there are any particular laws regarding minors when it comes to owning and carrying a knife. This should be handled with caution though, as there are laws regarding dangerous weapons, in particular guns, and how they related to minors.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview of Knife Laws in Colorado
  2. Which Types of Knives are Legal in Colorado?
  3. Colorado Knife Laws Length
  4. Colorado Knife Open Carry Laws
  5. Colorado Concealed Knife Laws
  6. Pocket Knife Laws Colorado
  7. Fixed Blade Knife Laws in Colorado
  8. Colorado Butterfly Knife Laws
  9. Automatic Knife Laws Colorado
  10. Colorado Knife Laws in 2018

Which Types of Knives are Legal in Colorado?

Type of Knife

Legal (*with restrictions)


Pocket Knife / Folding Knife


Butterfly Knives


Switch Blade


Bowie Knives






Dirks / Daggers / Stilettos


Ballistic Knives


Misleading Knives


Hidden Knives


Colorado Knife Laws Length

All legal knives will fall under two categories under Colorado law. They’ll either be over 3.5 inches in length, or they’ll by 3.5 inches and under in length. This distinction allows for an understand of which knives are legal to carry concealed and which must be carried openly in order for them to be considered legal.

Colorado Knife Open Carry Laws

For the most part there are no restrictions on which knives can be openly carried. So long as the knife is legal to own within the state, which is all but ballistic knives, then you may freely carry it out in the open.

Colorado Concealed Knife Laws

Concealed knife laws are a little more strict, and center around knife length over anything else. If a knife is over 3.5 inches in length then it cannot be legally carried in a concealed fashion. It should also be noted that the law also specifies items that are able to cut, stab, or tear wounds are illegal to carry concealed. This should be kept in consideration, as other states have used this wording against knives that were otherwise legal in length.

There are exceptions and areas where these laws do not apply, though for the most part this revolves around carrying the knife while on your private property.

18-12-105. Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon - unlawful possession of weapons

(1) A person commits a class 2 misdemeanor if such person knowingly and unlawfully:

(a) Carries a knife concealed on or about his or her person; or

(2) It shall not be an offense if the defendant was:

(a) A person in his or her own dwelling or place of business or on property owned or under his or her control at the time of the act of carrying; or

(b) A person in a private automobile or other private means of conveyance who carries a weapon for lawful protection of such person's or another's person or property while traveling;

There are other laws regarding this, however Colorado has undergone multiple changes, and as a result some pieces of the law are completely missing as they have been repealed.

Pocket Knife Laws Colorado

Generally speaking, pocket knives will not be a problem. The law states that knives which are over 3.5 inches in length are illegal to carry concealed, which means that a knife 3.5 inches or shorter is completely legal to carry. For the most part, pocket knives aren’t overly long. As such, they fall under this category.

Of course, that isn’t to say that there aren’t long pocket knives. If a pocket knife does reach over 3.5 inches in length then it must be openly carried.

Fixed Blade Knife Laws in Colorado

Fixed blades are completely legal to own and carry openly. However, if they’re over 3.5 inches in length then they, like the others, cannot be carried concealed. Generally speaking, fixed blades are typically larger, so these are highly likely to be within the legal limits for concealed carry.

Colorado Butterfly Knife Laws

Butterfly knives were once a grey area of the law in this state. They are technically a gravity knife, but when laws against such knives were in place it never once was brought up in court or defined as such. With the repeal of the laws which banned these knives though there is no longer a state based problem.

However, many cities, counties, and other municipalities currently have their own bans on these types of knives. Anyone living or traveling in Colorado will need to be familiar with the particular laws for each individual area.

Automatic Knife Laws Colorado

Automatic knives are legal to own and openly carry in colorado. If the knife isn’t over 3.5 inches in length then it is also legal to carry in a concealed manner. However, it should be noted that the law still prohibits objects which can cut, stab, or tear a wound from being carried concealed, as they are dangerous weapons. So long as the automatic knife is within these legal boundaries it is completely legal in all aspects.

Colorado Knife Laws in 2018

Though not guaranteed, given a major law change took place in 2017 there are likely to be other law changes in 2018 as a response. Some of these may involve the state as a whole, however smaller groups should be monitored to see if they repeal individual bans or if they hold onto them.

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