What is your preferred form of self-defense?

These days, there are a lot of personnel protection solutions to help give you peace-of-mind, and potentially keep you safe should a worst-case scenario occur.

But have you properly considered the legalities of whatever you’re carrying?

From non-lethal assailants to firearms, you need to understand what you can and can’t possess in public.

In this article, we take a look at blades and find out what is considered a concealed carry knife.

What are your rights? What’s legal? Should you own one?

Keep reading to find out.

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Concealed Carry Knives – The Short Version

A concealed knife is considered to be any blade you carry that is not visible to the public, or anyone around you.

The laws that govern carrying such an item are vastly different depending on where you live in the world.

two knifes on table

Disclaimer – remember that this website is written by tactical gear and combat sports enthusiasts. We’re not lawyers, or lawmakers. You should always double-check the laws in your own state, country, or region.

What is a Concealed Carry Knife?

To define concealed carry, perhaps it’s helpful to mention open carry, first.

Open carrying a knife is when you have a knife on your person that can be seen in plain sight by members of the public, and/or anyone around you.

A hunting knife in a belt sheath is a good example of this.

The definition of “plain sight” might vary from state to state in the US. In some states, the knife needs to be completely visible, in others, it can be partially obscured – such as on a clip in your pocket.

A concealed carry knife is defined as any knife that is hidden on your person, not in plain sight.

If you’re carrying any kind of blade that is not visible, and nobody is aware you have it, then it is considered a concealed carry knife.

And it doesn’t have to be physically on you, if it’s stashed in one of these cool tactical sling bags – it’s still considered a concealed carry knife. Likewise, if it’s in your glove compartment.

green military tactical folding pocket knife close-up

Some knives are specifically designed to be hidden from view. For some excellent examples, take a look at this review of the best concealed carry knives on the market.

Others are for more general use, such as for camping, hunting, survival, and tactical purposes. These compact folding knives will do the trick.

But remember, regardless of what the knife is called, or what you’re using it for, it’s still going to be classed as concealed if you keep it hidden – and that can make all the difference in the eyes of the law.

Knives and the Law

How well do you know your local knife laws?

When it comes to carrying any kind of blade, either a tool or a weapon, you need to be aware of the implications for carrying such items in your country, state, or region.

And although this legislation is often long and convoluted, ignorance is not an excuse. The basics are fairly straightforward to understand.

These laws also vary wildly depending on your location, and there isn’t one, catch-all knife mandate that applies to every place around the globe.

The laws governing the use and carrying of knives can be divided into these factors:

The length of the blade, the type of knife, how it is carried, and the reason or purpose for carrying.

In the UK, for example, you are allowed to carry a non-locking blade of up to three inches in length without a “valid” reason. Folding pen and pocket knives are permissible, for example.

Anything over and above that, and you have to be able to provide a sound rationale for carrying it – such as for entertainment (film and TV) or religious purposes.

Blades like butterfly knives, push daggers, and stealth knives are 100% illegal – regardless of length. As such, you might find it difficult to obtain a concealed or tactical knife in the UK.

If you are found with such an instrument on your person, or you have no legitimate reason for carrying a longer blade, expect a lengthy conversation with the police, a large fine, and possible imprisonment.

They take knife crime very seriously across the pond. In Australia, restrictions are even tougher, and you’re prohibited from carrying any knife in public, period. Even if it’s for self-defense purposes.

concealed carry karambit tactical self defense folding knife

They are allowed for hunting and camping, however.

In Europe, it varies drastically from country to country, with some locations being very strict, while others are more relaxed.

Go into any tourist shop in Prague, CZ, for example, and you might well see an interesting collection of blades, knuckle-dusters, and other such items in a glass case, next to stickers, magnets, and novelty gifts.

Other European cities are similar, and in my personal experience, I’ve found laws to be much more relaxed in Eastern European countries than they are in the West.

In the states, you’re generally allowed to carry any folding knife or blade without a valid reason, but the legally permitted length of this will vary from state to state (commonly from 1.5-5-inches depending on where you are).

This includes concealed carry knives – which you’ll notice are more widely available in the US than they are in the UK.

In most states, the carrying of switchblades is allowed.

For fixed blades or anything over the legal length (such as daggers, dirks, and other such weapons) you’re still allowed to carry them, but they need to be visible on your person and in a scabbard or sheath.

Again, this varies from state to state, and to check the legislation in your area, I recommended using this resource from the American Knife and Tool Institute.

And when it comes to breaking these laws, what might be considered a felony in one state, could be a simple misdemeanor in another.

Confusing, isn’t it?! Likewise, the laws surrounding the use of body armor in public.

Furthermore, there are certain places in the US where you’re not allowed to carry any kind of knife at all, such as in schools, courts, and government buildings.

And even if you have it safely packed in one of these awesome tactical messenger bags, you won’t be allowed to enter the cabin of a plane with any type of blade in your carry-on.

Which makes perfect sense, really.

As a rule of thumb for most countries, expect some trouble and/or to get into hot water with the authorities if you’re carrying anything that has been clearly designed with the intent to cause bodily harm.

Particularly if it is concealed in any way. Although it might fit your costumed attire, attending a public Halloween party with a sword cane is asking for trouble.

tactical shovel military knife boots binoculars and other survival equipment

Concealed Carry Knives – Pros and Cons

If you’re considering the purchase of a concealed carry knife, I would recommend you examine the reasons behind this decision.

To help, here’s an at-a-glance list of the advantages and disadvantages of hidden knife carry.


  • Can give you peace of mind for protection.
  • Can offer multiple uses – not just for self-defense purposes.
  • They’re cool.


  • Statistically, the knife carrier is more likely to get injured with their own knife than the assailant.
  • As this article has attested, knife laws can be confusing and vary wildly.
  • It’s easy to cut yourself.
  • A knife can easily damage or wear out your clothing and gear.
  • Multitools and folding knives are even more versatile – and can still be used for self-defense if absolutely
  • Not actually that good as a self-defense weapon in the first place.

The Verdict

Before you decide to carry a concealed knife, think very carefully about your intent, and be sure to research the local laws in your state or country to see what is and what is not permissible.

I carry a nice Swiss Army knife in an attractive leather sheath on my belt, and I use it all the time for odd jobs, or when out hiking, and camping. To be honest, I wouldn’t even reach for it in self-defense.

Personally, I don’t feel the need to carry a concealed blade at all – but to each, their own. Carrying a concealed weapon continues to be a polarizing topic.

If you are looking to carry something for self-defense, why not check out this review on tactical pens, instead?

Another good and trustworthy option might be a boot knife!

Not as dangerous as carrying a knife, and they can also help to break glass in an emergency, too.


Is it illegal to carry a knife on your belt?

It depends on the country, but in the US, you’re allowed to carry a knife on your belt in most states.

How do I measure blade length?

The length of a knife blade can be ascertained by measuring from the tip of the blade to the start of the hilt/handle.

What’s the best form of self-defense?

The undisputed, number-one form of self-defense is to run.

Carrying a non-lethal assailant like pepper spray or CS gas can help with this. Check out that article for more information.


Remember – the length of the blade, the type of knife, how it’s carried, and intent are all connected when it comes to the legislation that governs the use of knives in just about every country in the world.

And now you’ll be able to identify what is considered a concealed carry knife, and you can be sure to stay out of trouble.

Do you agree with the laws where you are? Are you interested in a concealed knife for EDC? Should all knives in public be banned?

Fire us some comments, below, and stay safe out there!