Can You Purchase a Butterfly Knife in California? What You Need to Know

Historically speaking, butterfly knives, also known as balisongs, have an interesting background. These knives were developed in the Philippines for self-defense but have since acquired widespread fame for their innovative style and spectacular flipping abilities. Yet their legitimacy differs from one jurisdiction to the next. 

Butterfly knives, for example, are allowed to own and possessed in California, although their usage is prohibited under certain situations. While prohibited by law, butterfly knives remain popular among knife enthusiasts and collectors. Despite the rise of many types of knives, butterfly knives continue to be highly sought after due to their original design and striking visual appeal.

In this post, I will provide the necessary details and rules to understand whether you can purchase a butterfly knife in California.

What Are the Knife Laws in Texas Regarding Butterfly Knives?

The knife laws in texas regarding butterfly knives are quite strict. It is illegal to carry, sell, or possess a butterfly knife in public places without a valid reason. Violation of these knife laws can lead to criminal charges and possible imprisonment. It is important to be aware of these regulations to avoid getting into any legal trouble.

Understanding Butterfly Knives:

Folding knives with two handles that pivot around a single blade are known as butterfly knives or balisongs. Among the many varieties of butterfly knives are the sandwich style, the channel style, and the zen pin style.

The blade of the sandwich-type butterfly knife is enclosed by two pieces of material, often metal or plastic, that serve as the handle. The handles of a channel-style butterfly knife are milled from a single slab of metal or other hard substance and have grooves specifically designed to accommodate the butterfly knife’s blade. The zen-pin type butterfly knife includes a pivot pin connecting the two handles and a stopper pin at the base of the handle to keep the blade in place.

The handles, blade, tang, and latch are all components of a butterfly knife. The knife’s blade is opened and closed using the two handles. The length and profile of the blade, and the tool’s cutting edge, are both customizable. The blade’s tang is the part that goes into the handles, and the latch is the little device that holds the blade in place while the knife is not in use.

Butterfly knives are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts because of their one-of-a-kind appearance and feel in hand. They may be used for various cutting jobs, but they are also often utilized for flips and stunts. Nonetheless, because of its potential danger and legal limitations in certain locations, it is necessary to handle them carefully and check local regulations before possessing or carrying a butterfly knife.

California State Laws on Butterfly Knives:

The state of California has strict regulations restricting the ownership, sale, and transportation of butterfly knives. A butterfly knife, as defined under California Criminal Code Section 21510, is a pocket knife with a blade that is two inches or longer, has a handle that revolves around the blade, and may be opened with a single hand.

Although California does not prohibit the ownership of butterfly knives, it does prohibit the concealed carry of such knives. It is also against the law to trade, import, or transport butterfly knives inside California. The only persons allowed to carry butterfly knives are those who work in law enforcement, in the armed forces, or who utilize them in the professions.

In California, if caught with a hidden butterfly knife, you may face up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. Butterfly knives are illegal to sell, import, or transport, and offenders face fines of up to $1,000 and/or a year in jail.

There is a distinction between butterfly knives and ordinary blades; these restrictions only apply to the former. In California, knives are permitted to be owned, sold, and transported except for those under particular prohibitions. 

Although it is not illegal to own a butterfly knife in California, there are regulations in place for buying, selling, and carrying them. Serious legal repercussions may ensue from any breach of these laws.


Local Laws and Regulations:

Knowing that municipal rules and regulations regarding butterfly knives may vary from state legislation is crucial. There are local regulations regarding the purchase, ownership, and movement of butterfly knives in several parts of California.

For example, according to Los Angeles County Code Section 13.56.010, it is against the law to own, sell, or produce butterfly knives. Similar to New York, San Francisco’s Police Code Section 653k forbids residents from owning, selling, or producing butterfly knives.

It’s vital to check the rules of your specific city or county in California before acquiring, owning, or transporting a butterfly knife there. It’s also important to remember that local legislation on butterfly knives may differ from state ones.

Avoid legal trouble by abiding by state and municipal regulations regarding butterfly knives. To ensure you follow the law and may securely carry and use a butterfly knife, it is important to learn the relevant rules and restrictions in your region.

Age Restrictions: 

Butterfly knives have a purchase age limit of 18 in California. Butterfly knives cannot be sold in the state of California to anybody under the age of 18. Before completing any transaction, shops are expected to validate the customer’s identity and confirm that they are of legal age to make purchases, regardless of whether the transaction takes place in-store or online.

Most stores will need a government-issued picture ID with a birth date, such as a driver’s license or passport, to ensure the buyer is at least 18 years old. Depending on their standards, some stores may additionally ask for other forms of identification or proof of age.

Butterfly knives are subject to additional restrictions in California, so even if you’re above 18, you should still read up on the rules. Before doing anything, it’s wise to double-check with the authorities and any other legal resources to ensure that you’re not breaking any rules.

Licensed Dealers in California:

Butterfly knives can be purchased in California from authorized dealers by those who are of legal age to do so. You can locate these dealers in towns and counties all around the state. Butterfly knives are not specifically regulated. Therefore a dealer’s license is not necessary to sell them. Nevertheless, dealers are still subject to state and federal regulations regulating the sale of knives and other weapons.

Dealers of butterfly knives may be obligated to track sales and hold stock of the knives they offer for sale. This is done to prevent the sale of knives to illegal immigrants or those who are not legally allowed to own such weapons. At their request, law enforcement agencies have access to these files.

The best way to choose a trustworthy dealer is to perform some background investigation. A good place to start is by reading customer reviews with local dealers online. Getting advice from other knife users or collectors is also a good idea. Moreover, the National Knife Collectors Association website has a directory of knife dealers that are professionals in butterfly knives.

Consequences of Violating California Laws:

In California, breaking the rules regarding butterfly knives may result in serious repercussions, such as fines and even jail time. Owning, selling, manufacturing, or transporting a butterfly knife is prohibited under California Criminal Code Section 21510. The penalties for being found in possession of a butterfly knife in California range from a misdemeanor to a felony.

A misdemeanor conviction may result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in county prison. Possession of a butterfly knife is a crime in California, punishable by up to three years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. The knife may also be seized by law enforcement.

To stay out of trouble with the law, it is crucial to learn about and comply with California’s prohibitions on butterfly knives. It’s also important to follow all applicable state and local rules and regulations while shopping for a butterfly knife, which includes purchasing one from a legitimate dealer.


In conclusion, Balisongs, or butterfly knives, are legal to acquire in California, but there are restrictions on when and where they may be used. These knives are widely sought after because of their unique design and impressive flipping abilities, yet they are illegal to possess, sell, or transport in California. 

For anyone caught carrying a hidden knife, the penalties may reach $1,000 in fines and/or a year in prison. When buying a butterfly knife, you should research your area’s local regulations and age limitations to ensure you don’t get in trouble.

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