Shorter than 2" assisted opening knife?

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Mar 10, 2012
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Help me find a California legal spring assisted opening knife?

CA law states that:

1) An assisted opening knife is a switchblade.

2) That a switch blade can be carried if it is LESS than 2 inches long.

Does anyone know of any "spring" assisted opening knives with a blade that is LESS than 2 inches?

Not just a thumb stud. But actual spring assisted opening. Like with the knob on the bottom of the blade. My apologies. I do not know what that is called. (Although I will consider just a stud if thats all I can find.)

Things have gotten more dangerous here. I was compelled to start carrying a knife. But realized all of my folders are assisted opening. And well over 2 inches. I'd rather not go to jail in a self defense situation.

I'm finding plenty with 2 inch blades. But the law states that any assisted opening knife that is "2 inches or longer" is considered a switch blade. And against the law. So I have to find something under 2 inches.

Any recommendations greatly appreciated.
 
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You're mistaken about California law.

There is no blade length limit on assisted-opening knives in California. Only on knives defined as "switchblades", "butterfly knives", and "gravity knives".

Here is the statute from the California legislative website that defines "switchblade". Most notably is the exception to that definition that begins "Switchblade knife" does not include...".- https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=17235.&lawCode=PEN

As long as the knife has to be opened by applying pressure to the blade (thumb stud, disc, flipper, etc), and as long as there is a feature that creates a bias towards the closed position when the blade is closed (ball detent, lock back tension, etc), then the knife does not meet the definition of a "switchblade" under California law.
 

snuffle

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I am not a lawyer, my advice is worth what you paid for it, but my understanding of CA law matches Killgar's.

I can help more with listing CA-legal switchblades, if that's what you're interested in. Aside from the Calmigo, there's the Kershaw Launch 4. Smith & Wesson made one some time back called the Police, I've seen those around a few times. I don't know of many other out-the-side 2"ers that are going to available.

As far as out-the-front CA legals, Protech also made a single-action out the front that was sub-2", called the Tantilla, but it is a bit hard to find now. D-Rocket also makes one called a Talin that I saw available new recently.

And then there's Microtech, with sub-2" UTX-70s, mini-Troodons and Exocets. And Hogue makes the Micro-Incursion.
 

Smithhammer

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Trying to understand the Byzantine illogic of CA legalities is something I don't want to spend even half a minute of my life on, but if you're looking for a sub 2" assisted opening, the Calmigo mentioned above is a great choice. Even better imo is the Runt, which is a sub-2" auto. Comes in a couple different blade styles.

rS0jwH.jpg
 
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Just to add-

There's no reason to believe me, I'm just some guy on the internet. But you can read the same thing I posted above on the AKTI website (American Knife & Tool Institute). They are rather knowledgeable about such things, and actually played a part in the "exception" written into the law regarding the definition of "switchblades".

Here is the link to what the AKTI has to say on the subject. Scroll on down to the section on "Automatic Knives" to see the pertinent details- https://www.akti.org/state-knife-laws/california/
 

Landshark99

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You're mistaken about California law.

There is no blade length limit on assisted-opening knives in California. Only on knives defined as "switchblades", "butterfly knives", and "gravity knives".

Here is the statute from the California legislative website that defines "switchblade". Most notably is the exception to that definition that begins "Switchblade knife" does not include...".- https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=17235.&lawCode=PEN

As long as the knife has to be opened by applying pressure to the blade (thumb stud, disc, flipper, etc), and as long as there is a feature that creates a bias towards the closed position when the blade is closed (ball detent, lock back tension, etc), then the knife does not meet the definition of a "switchblade" under California law.
That is my understanding as well
 

crn3371

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Nov 1, 2019
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My Kershaw Leek spring assisted is legal in CA, but an auto must be under 2”. I fail to really see the difference between lightly flicking a flipper tab on an assisted, and pushing a button on an auto, but that’s the law here in the great state of CA.
 

LLRJ17

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Jan 16, 2022
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I have two CA legal automatics (<= 2" blade): Pro-Tech Runt and Boker Kompakt

The Runt is awesome and fires hard. The Boker, while no Pro-Tech, is quite impressive in its own right and runs 1/3-1/4 the cost.
 

Railsplitter

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Hogue Microswitch 1.95" Auto. It has a safety switch if that's your thing.
IMG_6129.JPG

Kershaw Launch 9 Auto. No safety switch.
IMG_6024.JPG
The Kershaw Ember is a nice little Assisted Opening Flipper but I don't have a picture of one.
 
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The wording of the statute and the wording of its interpretation varies wildly. I found links that said it was and links that said the assisted knife "was not" considered a switchblade. Which is illegal.

But even reading the following excerpt from the actual law. Contradicts itself:

"“Switchblade knife” does not include a knife that opens with one hand utilizing thumb pressure applied solely to the blade of the knife or a thumb stud attached to the blade, provided that the knife has a detent or other mechanism that provides resistance that must be overcome in opening the blade, or that biases the blade back toward its closed position."

First it says that as long as it opens with solely pressure to the blade or a thumb stud.

But then it says "... provided that the knife has a detent or other mechanism that provides resistance that must be overcome in opening the blade, or that biases the blade back toward its closed position."

What is the "mechanism that provides resistance that must be overcome in opening the blade or that bias the blade back toward its closed position." on an assisted opening knife?

It also does not say anything about assisted opening knives. But it does define switch blades as knives with a "spring opening". An assisted knife most definitely has a spring opening.

I can also post two of the top search results in google from attorney websites. Both interpreting the law for and against assisted opening knives.



I would love to find proof that I can carry an assisted opening knife with a 3 to 4 inch blade in California. But to this point I have not been convinced that I can.

Please convince me otherwise. I really wish that i could carry a full size assisted opening knife.
 

sgt1372

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There is no blade length limit on assisted-opening knives in California. Only on knives defined as "switchblades", "butterfly knives", and "gravity knives".

Things in CA re: knives that you can/cannot carry are complicated enough and I don't want to further complicate them here but ^this is not exactly true.

There is no STATE WIDE limit on the length of the blade on a folder that you can carry concealed (or on a dirk/dagger that you can carry openly) in CA but certain local jurisdictions (like SF, Oak & LA) limit the length of a knife that can be carried to only 3 inches.

Only the length of an automatic knife (aka "switchblade) that you can carry in CA is specified under State Law as under 2." There are a number of companies that make automatic knives that have blades under 2" that are legal to carry in CA.

There is butterfly and gravity knives are included w/in the definition of "switchblade" knives under CA law; there are no specific section of the penal code that address them separately.


As long as the knife has to be opened by applying pressure to the blade (thumb stud, disc, flipper, etc), and as long as there is a feature that creates a bias towards the closed position when the blade is closed (ball detent, lock back tension, etc), then the knife does not meet the definition of a "switchblade" under California law.

The OP apparently doesn't understand the difference between "assisted" and "automatic."

A"switchblade" is any knife that can be opened "automatically" with the push of the button (or the use of any other device) or that can be opened with a "flick of the wrist."

An "assisted knife" (as we all understand it, as well as under CA law) any knife that requires the user to apply pressure to the blade in order to opened it, even if the blade is "assisted by use of a spring to make opening the blade "easier" but will still not allow the blade to open "automatically."

Popular models of "assisted" knives include the Kershaw Leek or Blur and the ZT 0350 or 566.

--------------------------------------

To make matters even more complicated, I'm of the opinion that Spyderco compression lock knives "could" be considered switchblades under CA law because, if you release the lock w/your index finger, you CAN open the knife with a flick of the wrist WITHOUT touching the blade.

I don't think this matter has been litigated anywhere in CA yet but you might want to keep it in mind if you like to carry compression lock Spydies.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 10, 2012
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Here's one for assisted opening blades being legal.

“Switchblade knife” does not include a knife that opens with one hand utilizing thumb pressure applied solely to the blade of the knife or a thumb stud attached to the blade, provided that the knife has a detent or other mechanism that provides resistance that must be overcome in opening the blade, or that biases the blade back toward its closed position."

An assisted opening knife does utilize part of the blade to open. And has a mechanism that provides resistance. But I don't know what biases means. And I looked at every definition in google.

And we still have the issue of the spring.
 
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Things in CA re: knives that you can/cannot carry are complicated enough and I don't want to further complicate them here but ^this is not exactly true.

There is no STATE WIDE limit on the length of the blade on a folder that you can carry concealed (or on a dirk/dagger that you can carry openly) in CA but certain local jurisdictions (like SF, Oak & LA) limit the length of a knife that can be carried to only 3 inches.

Only the length of an automatic knife (aka "switchblade) that you can carry in CA is specified under State Law as under 2." There are a number of companies that make automatic knives that have blades under 2" that are legal to carry in CA.

There is butterfly and gravity knives are included w/in the definition of "switchblade" knives under CA law; there are no specific section of the penal code that address them separately.




The OP apparently doesn't understand the difference between "assisted" and "automatic."

A"switchblade" is any knife that can be opened "automatically" with the push of the button (or the use of any other device) or that can be opened with a "flick of the wrist."

An "assisted knife" (as we all understand it, as well as under CA law) any knife that requires the user to apply pressure to the blade in order to opened it, even if the blade is "assisted by use of a spring to make opening the blade "easier" but will still not allow the blade to open "automatically."

Popular models of "assisted" knives include the Kershaw Leek or Blur and the ZT 0350 or 566.

--------------------------------------

To make matters even more complicated, I'm of the opinion that Spyderco compression lock knives "could" be considered switchblades under CA law because, if you release the lock w/your index finger, you CAN open the knife with a flick of the wrist WITHOUT touching the blade.

I don't think this matter has been litigated anywhere in CA yet but you might want to keep it in mind if you like to carry compression lock Spydies.
Where did you find this quote?

"assisted by use of a spring to make opening the blade "easier" but will still not allow the blade to open "automatically."

Honestly want to know. Because i have not found any law or interpretation of the law that clearly addresses assisted opening knives in this way.

Again, I honestly want to be proven wrong. And to find out that assisted opening knives are legal in California.

Thank you for your reply.
 

Landshark99

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Joined
Jan 19, 2007
Messages
427
--------------------------------------

To make matters even more complicated, I'm of the opinion that Spyderco compression lock knives "could" be considered switchblades under CA law because, if you release the lock w/your index finger, you CAN open the knife with a flick of the wrist WITHOUT touching the blade.

I don't think this matter has been litigated anywhere in CA yet but you might want to keep it in mind if you like to carry compression lock Spydies.
you can do the same with the Benchmade access lock
 

sgt1372

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Oct 16, 2018
Messages
4,208
Where did you find this quote?

"assisted by use of a spring to make opening the blade "easier" but will still not allow the blade to open "automatically."

It's my own "attempt" to make the distinction between automatic and assisted but it is how CA law has been interpreted to EXCLUDE "assisted" knives from the definition of "switchblades."

If that doesn't satisfy you, just carry automatic knives made specifically for the CA market that are under 2" long.

See, for example: CA Legal Automatic Knives
 
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Sep 24, 2002
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5,287
Things in CA re: knives that you can/cannot carry are complicated enough and I don't want to further complicate them here but ^this is not exactly true.

There is no STATE WIDE limit on the length of the blade on a folder that you can carry concealed (or on a dirk/dagger that you can carry openly) in CA but certain local jurisdictions (like SF, Oak & LA) limit the length of a knife that can be carried to only 3 inches.

Only the length of an automatic knife (aka "switchblade) that you can carry in CA is specified under State Law as under 2." There are a number of companies that make automatic knives that have blades under 2" that are legal to carry in CA.

There is butterfly and gravity knives are included w/in the definition of "switchblade" knives under CA law; there are no specific section of the penal code that address them separately.

You are correct that some cities/counties in California have blade length limits on OPENLY carried knives. I was specifically referring to state law.

And not to be hyper-technical, but in Los Angeles (county and city) openly carried knives must have blades under 3" in length. Los Angeles County code 13.62.010. Los Angeles Municipal code Section 55.10 (a).

Of course there are exceptions to that length limit. If a person is carrying a knife for legitimate work or recreational purposes, or for purposes of religious worship, then there is no length limit on openly carried knives. Los Angeles County code 13.62.030. Los Angeles Municipal code Section 55.10 (c).

I don't know Oakland or San Francisco statutes by heart like LA, so off the top of my head I don't know what the details are of their local ordinances :) .
 
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Jan 1, 2003
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2,992
Why an assisted blade? If you are worried about the legalities of carrying an assisted blade knife, well, just don't carry one. They don't really provide any advantage over any other one hand opener, and your options are far greater with non-assisted knives. A knife with a flipper tab is just as good, some might even be better.
Have you considered the legal ramifications of actually using any knife of any size in a self defense situation? Stabbing or cutting somebody could end up with you being charged with far more serious offenses than carrying an illegal knife.
What makes you think a 2" blade would be any sort of deterrent? A knife is not a good choice for a self defense weapon anyhow, and a tiny one isn't any better. Just less blade to get stabbed with when the crackhead who takes it from you turns it against you.....
 
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