How do you measure a blade for legal compliance?

May 9, 2001
The question is this: how do you measure a folder blade for legal compliance?

For instance, it seems some manufactures may measure a blade based on the sharpened portion of the blade. For folders, another interpretation could be the entire portion of the blade, including the non-sharpened area between the sharp portion of the blade and the handle. It’s unclear how a LEO or judge would measure a folder blade for legal compliance.

For example, here’s an excerpt the Atlanta, GA municipal ordinance on knives:

Sec. 106-306. Knives, razors, similar weapons.

It shall be unlawful for any person to have in such person's possession, except within such person's own residence or place of business, any of the following implements unless securely wrapped so as not to be readily available for use:

* * *

(3) Any knife of any kind, the blade of which when open projects from the handle more than three inches; this is intended to include all knives such as butcher knives or other knives which do not close.

My Delica 3 has a sub-three inched sharpened blade, but slightly more than three inches if you measure the entire blade from the end of the handle to the tip.

So what are your thoughts/experiences with how to measure blade length for legal compliance?
The basis I have always seen is the entire lenght of the blade from the tip to the handle. This topic has been covered several times, so a search of this section should help.
AKTI has posted proposed guidelines but I don't know if anyone has adopted them yet. Their guidelines measure from the end of the handle to the tip of the blade. Check out the new Delica 4. Both of mine are well under 3 inches. Good excuse to buy another knife. ;-)

Here's the link.
Even if it's a blunt-tipped sheepsfoot, and there's 2.5" of cutting edge and .5" of ricasso (meaning there's only 2.5" of "dangerous" length), you should still consider it a 3.0" blade. Better safe than sorry.
Almost all police from whom I have heard on this subject measure the length of the blade from the end of th ehilt or handle to the tip of the blade. I stress the "almost" because there are the occasional ones who measudre the sharpened edge or even the total edge. On my Delica 4, the length from tip to hilt is 2 7/8''. The cutting edge is 2 1/2" and the total edge measures 3" even.
Hi CHP5, I live in Atlanta too, (a recent transplant) and I carry whatever I want, whatever feels reasonable to me. I can't imagine a scenario I would find myself in where a police officer was measuring my knife. I've been carrying a knife openly (clip showing) for 15 years or so, and never once has a police officer asked me about it. I'm not the sort of guy who attracts attention.

I think your attitude when interacting with a police officer has a lot to do with whether he (or she) has a problem with you or not. If you're pleasant and cooperative, and you've done nothing wrong (beyond maybe speeding), a police officer has no real reason to hassle you. Maybe this is naive, but my experience with police has been overwhelmingly positive. If you are not a bad guy, and you don't see the police as the bad guys, chances are the police are not going to treat you like a bad guy. If the worst thing you've done is carry a knife that is a little over the legal limit, and are not using it for ill, then do police really care?

So (at the risk of pricking up the ears of local law enforcement) sometimes I carry a Manix, sometimes a Millie, sometimes a 710. Today, for the record, I'm carrying a Byrd Crow and a Case Large Stockman. The Crow easily passes the 3" test, the (non-locking) main blade of the Stockman is right at 3.25", if you measure it in the least forgiving way possible. It does pass the "palm test", (on my average-sized paw) though, which I'm told the local cops often use for checking blade length. If the blade is shorter than the width of the officer's palm, it's supposedly okay. So I'm fine today, unless I am somehow confronted by a small-statured officer who is out to get me for some reason, which is highly unlikely.
Thanks Moonwilson.

I live north of the city, but frequently come into the city limits. I agree with your advice and, at the same time, want to be in technical complience with the law.

The interesting thing about GA is that the concealed carry license only applies to firearms - not any other weapons including knives. I moved to GA from FLA - where that state issues a concealed WEAPONS license.
The most well known national case law is probably Texas, where they have the statwide 5 !/2" rule. They measure from the guard, bolster or end of the handel slabs to the tip in a straight line.