How do you tell if your knife is a "weapon?"

Big Dave

Gold Member
Dec 18, 1998
Hi guys,

My companies employee's manual states that if you bring a weapon to work you will be terminated.

So, where is the line between a pocket knife and a weapon? Is a "tactical folder" a weapon?

Anybody know how the courts or any other powerful minds have viewed this issue.


If you're seriously in fear of losing your job, assume anything that you might even suspect of possibly being considered a weapon by the most clueless person you can imagine... IS a weapon. Realistically, get to know your supervisors and feel out how they stand on the issue - they're the ones who will be making the call if someone complains.

As far as police & security folks go, assume that anything you are carrying if caught doing something naughty (including traffic violations) could seriously be considered a weapon. Otherwise, I wouldn't expect a hassle if you dress nicely and don't "look like trouble." Getting a copy of your state's weapon laws and carrying it in your wallet couldn't hurt.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
Hi Corduroy:

I'm not very concerned about my personal situation.

But, I'm trying to figure out what kind of knife would be defined as a weapon. Sure, any knife can be used as a weapon.

In Hawaii there is no limit on the length that a folder can have. It just can't have a sharpened top edge.

So, are there any clear cut answers?

In one of the magazines some people in the know stated that a blade over 3" usually scares people. Can the line be drawn with blade size?

Maybe I'm wasting my time?


PS. Not a bad idea to carry the law though.

I think that it boils down to three things.
The manufacturer designating it a weapon.
If the knife has been used as a weapon.(Obvios one)
What the LEO's attitude is that day.
I don't know about other states, but Arkansas Law states that any knife with a blade 3.5 inches or longer shall be presumed to be a weapon!
This gives the employer all he needs to send you packing if he wishes.
My employer has the same rule, but I carry a BM AFCK daily and no one has ever said anything. (3.9 inch blade)
Also, for those of you in AR, the law also states that any double bladed knife, dirk, or switchblade is considered a primae facie "weapon."
This law is selectivly enforced, and in practice is usually only a tool to bust someone the LEO wants to bust very badly but cannot find any other reason for doing so.

I cut it, and I cut it, and it's STILL too short!

The laws vary from state to state and privately owned companies can set their own policy. This can be very complicated. The best way to tell is read the companies policy. Hopefully it wont be too vague. A policy that simply states that people cannot carry a weapon is very vague. I would think though that if the policy simply said you cant have a weapon you should, hypothetically, be OK to carry a knife that is not defined as a weapon by your state law. At least that way your defense at your employment can be "its not a weapon by state law".

In Tennessee any knife, fixed or folder, with a bladde length of over 4" is considered a weapon.
In this case, probably the only people who can answer that question with any authority are the people who wrote the memo or the people to supervise the people who wrote the memo, or the boss/owner/CEO.

Nastiness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Amazing timing, Dave. I was coming out to the forum to post a similiar thread. In Canada the only restrictions seem to be (with the exceptions of autos, gravity-openers, belt-buckle knives, push-daggers, ballisongs, and "flick" knives) against carrying a knife as a concealed weapon.

Which actually brings up some interesting points and questions:

To define a knife as a weapon there must be some indication of intent to use it as such. This is a very grey area. Does the aggressive look of some knives indicate intent? If you have a valid reason for carrying a knife, does that prove you had no intent to use it as a weapon?

The question that has been bothering me the most is the carrying of multiple knives. If I have more than one tactical folder - will that make it harder to prove that I had no intent to use one of them as a weapon. It should be easy for almost anyone to show that they need a knife for daily use, thus removing the 'intent'. But how does one justify multiple knives?

On the question of concealment: Does a knife clipped to the inside of you pocket, with the clip and a portion of the handle visible, classify as 'concealed'? Or does it have to be totally hidden from view?

Hopefully, some of our fellow forumites will be able to shed some light on these issues.

"Walk softly and carry a big folder... and a small folder... and a SAK... and a multi-tool..."
I take a very clear and assertive position about my knife not being a weapon and being a "safety device". I say "The way most cops check if a knife is weapon is to see if the blade is longer than the width of their palm. See, this is a quarter inch below that limit." Then I say that I insist on carrying the knife whenever I drive to be able to cut loose a jammed seat belt after a traffic accident. That is the reason that I have a knife that can be opened one-handed. If they question the heavy construction of the knife I say that it is in case I have to break a car window after an accident.

My one-line explanation is just "I carry it in case of a car accident."

Don't say that "I carry it in case I get choosed." Like my old friend, Chris (Flash) Carter, once told the Sheriff in response to the question, "My God kid, what were you going to do with all this stuff."
I work for Ohio State, and they have an interesting new policy on workplace violence.

(to quote Dilbert "what was the policy before this??")

Examples include "possesion of deadly weapons on OSU property" and "threats, direct or implied."

Of course, they don't bother to define deadly weapon. And Ohio Revised Code doesn't really either.

ORC 2923.11 ""Deadly weapon" means any instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon."

But all it takes is for the receptionist to get skeeved out by my Spydie Cricket, and now I'm "making threats" towards my co-workers.

This is why people only see my Endura or SAK at work

I've always noticed that discretion goes a long way. I've also noticed that having a small pocketknife handy when your boss needs it makes you appear handy, and they may not be as likely to notice the vaquero grande in your back pocket.

Most people at work are too brain-dead to notice my clip-it, much less any concealed blades.
Many good answers here. Our company recently went through formulating a workplace violence policly. With cooler, rational heads on the committee, the policy was written more to focus on the actions of a person than the choice of tools used. Our site is mostly 1/2 office, 1/4 labs and shop, and 1/4 CAD and engineering. For knives, we used the state law to define what constititutes a "weapon". For those of us who carry knives as tools, we all fell easily within the state legal guidelines. No problem.

Shootist had the answer I was forming in my noggin as I read through this thread. Check the state laws. If the state law says it's a weapon, your employer (at their discretion) may or may not decide to make an issue out of anything. If your everyday carry "edged-tool" (that was for Mr. Mattis
) is legal by state law, your employer has little to say unless you actually intimidate or threaten somebody.

Don LeHue

The pen is mightier than the sword...outside of arm's reach. Modify radius accordingly for rifle.

How I tell the difference is, that if it is in my pocket, in a bagel, or cutting an inanimate object than it's a knife (or tool).

If it’s sticking out of another person or used along with threats (of bodily harm) than its a weapon.

Again, it's how you USE it.

At my work we have a no weapons policy, but at least 6 people in my Dept. carry multi tools with knife blades as long as my Mini Socom, yet my knife was called a weapon. Another guy has a 6" steak knife just lying on his desk for fruit. Yet mine is a weapon. In the print room there are several x-acto knives and scissors that are 8" long (just the "blade"). Oh well, I’ll just choose to be discreet.

My .02 cents

in your sure its the menacing way you get out of your volvo and growl that gives you away....(hi dave)
You could go with the FAA rules regarding this issue... if the FAA lets you on a plane with it - it aint a weapon.

Of course, if your company wants to get rid of you - a sharp pencil could become a weapon! I guess you M-9 Bayonet will have to stay at home...

I want a Light Saber.

Unfortunately, one's version of a weapon is another's utility knive/rescue blade.

Find something small and non-threatening or look into your city and state statutes and go with your gut.
When in doubt, leave it out....

God bless!

Romans 10:9-10

"Military" Fans Unite!!

This is the question that plagues those of us who live in the Buckeye State. As TomMarker put in his post, there is nothing that clearly defines a knive as a weapon. After spreaking to several LEO's, it looks like the answer for some of us is, it depends. It depends on why you are being checked out by the Police, it depends on the individual officer, it depends on where you are when you are stopped, it depends on how you look. One LEO told me if he had a reason to search me, I would get a weapons charge for ANY knife I was carrying. Even though it might get dropped, it is still a hassle for the person getting charged.

As to private companies, where I work, any knife is considered a weapon. It actually rests on the employees supervisor or manager to decide if they want to go through the loops for an employee carrying a knife. In general they won't do it. They might push it if the employee in question is, a problem employee, has been known to make threatening statements or trys to intimidate others. Almost anything can really qualify, it just depends on what side of the bed the employees boss rolled out on.

I just love it when issues are so clear cut as this. It makes life so easy.
I don't know about all the legal mumbo-jumbo, but realistically, damn near any object in the world could be considered a weapon if it was used as such. If I was working for a company of some type, and had employers, etc, I would take the asy road out: carry a Swiss Army Knife, Case pocketknife, or some other tame-looking, non-locking sort of knife. Realistically, if you work in an office, your need for a knife doesn't go past what any of these could do, and I doubt anyone would seriously consider a Case peanut knife as a weapon! I know it owuld be cooler to take the lastest Unobtanium folder with a 12" Death Laser Super Serrated Kill Super Fighter blade pattern, but is it worth it, or even required?
Great thread. I work in a SC hospital which is 'weapons prohibited'. Since I'm in ER, that's good on Friday/Saturday/Sunday drunk nights when everyone wants to take it out on the guys trying to take care of them (it's also a felony now to assault a healthcare worker while we're on the job). Since I wanted to bring my new Endura to work for getting into and out of the parking lot, I checked with our security head. He said that a folding knife under 4" was fine. Chuck also personally loved the knife and I think he's ordering one for himself! Anyway, I think you could save a lot of grief by checking with the company first. The 'threatening' factor also is an excellent point. Since my blade is plain edged, it probably is perceived as 'less threatening' by most sheeple.


[This message has been edited by volsfan (edited 27 May 1999).]
Big Dave

Be sure your knife does not say things like "The rippper, The slicer, the Evenger etc, etc"

You need a plain jane everyday "NON TACTICAL LOOKING" knife with a non-serrated blade.

Get one with a good handle and a 3.5 or ? blade and keep a low profile.

If you do use it to rehabilitate someone, the liers (lawyers) will run you through the mill trying to make you the bad guy. Don't give them the ammo they need by carrying a mean "LOOKING" knife or one that has a non-politically correct name.


[This message has been edited by wll (edited 27 May 1999).]
I worked at a place a couple years back that was very strict with their "NO Weapons" restrictions. They said there was no need for me to carry a knife on company property becasue they provide you with tools to work with. So when I arived to work, Ihad to leave my Boker and Bucktool in the truck and use there boxcutter, razor blades, and picks. Go figure right......