Understanding Your Knife Rights in Oregon

Knives are versatile tools used for a variety of purposes in everyday life. They can be essential for camping, hiking, or even simple tasks around the house. However, knives can also be seen as weapons, and their possession and carry are regulated by law. Understanding these laws is crucial for responsible knife ownership in Oregon.

Oregon has a reputation for relatively relaxed knife laws compared to other states. However, there are still restrictions in place, particularly regarding concealed carry. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of your rights and limitations concerning knife ownership and carry in Oregon.


Knife Carry in Oregon

Oregon law distinguishes between open carry and concealed carry of knives.

Open Carry

Open carry refers to carrying a knife in a visible and readily accessible manner. In Oregon, open carry of most knives is legal.

  • Legal Blades for Open Carry: There are no restrictions on the type of blade you can openly carry in Oregon. This means you can carry folding knives, fixed blade knives, automatic knives, butterfly knives (balisongs), and even daggers or dirks openly.
  • Manner of Open Carry: The knife must be clearly visible and not hidden by clothing or other objects. A knife clipped to your pocket or sheath worn on your belt are generally considered acceptable forms of open carry.

Important Note: While open carry of most knives is legal, certain locations may have specific restrictions. We’ll discuss these limitations in a later section.

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Concealed Carry

Concealed carry refers to carrying a knife in a way that is not readily visible. Oregon law restricts the concealed carry of certain types of knives.

  • Restricted Knives: The following types of knives cannot be concealed in Oregon:
    • Any knife with a blade that opens automatically by spring force or centrifugal force (automatic knives)
    • Any assisted opening knife
    • Any butterfly knife (balisong)
    • Any dirk, dagger, or ice pick
  • Exceptions to Concealed Carry Restrictions: There are a few exceptions to the concealed carry restrictions:
    • You can obtain a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) in Oregon. This permit also allows you to concealed carry any type of knife, including those listed above.
    • You are exempt from the concealed carry restrictions if you are carrying the knife for a lawful purpose, such as hunting, fishing, or employment-related activities.
    • The concealed carry restrictions do not apply to unloaded knives being transported in a locked container or in the trunk of a vehicle.


Places Where Knives Are Restricted

Even though open carry of most knives is legal in Oregon, there are certain places where knives may be restricted. Here are some of the common locations:

  • Public Buildings and Court Facilities: Oregon law (ORS 166.370) prohibits possessing any dangerous weapon in public buildings and court facilities. This includes schools (K-12 and universities), government buildings, courthouses, and other designated locations. However, there is an exception for “an ordinary pocketknife having a blade less than four inches in length.”
  • Schools and Universities: Many schools and universities may have their own policies regarding knives on campus grounds, even if they are not public buildings under ORS 166.370. It’s important to check with the specific school or university for their policies.
  • Other Locations with Posted Signs: Businesses and private property owners can restrict knives on their premises by posting clear signage. Always be observant for such signage and respect the property owner’s wishes.
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Federal Knife Laws

It’s important to note that federal laws also regulate knives in certain circumstances. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Switchblades: The Switchblade Knife Act of 1958 restricts the interstate transport, import, or sale of switchblades, particularly those that open fully automatically. However, this act does not generally prohibit simple possession of switchblades.
  • Impact on Oregon Knife Laws Federal knife laws are often less restrictive than state-level regulations. However, federal laws will supersede Oregon law in specific situations, such as air travel or entry into secure federal facilities.

Responsible Knife Ownership and Use

Beyond simply understanding the laws, it’s crucial to practice responsible knife ownership and use. Here are some essential aspects:

  • Safety Precautions:
    • Always handle knives with care and respect. Sharp blades can cause serious injury.
    • Store knives securely when not in use, especially out of reach of children.
    • When carrying a knife, be aware of your surroundings and practice safe handling to avoid accidents.
  • Legal and Ethical Considerations:
    • Never use a knife to threaten or harm another person.
    • Only use knives for lawful purposes (cutting, chopping, etc.).
    • Be mindful of the potential perception of carrying a knife in certain situations and avoid inadvertently causing alarm.


Oregon’s knife laws offer considerable freedom compared to many other states, providing clarity regarding types of knives you can carry, how you can carry them, and places where restrictions apply. These laws aim to strike a balance between an individual’s right to carry knives as a tool and the need for public safety.

By understanding the legal framework, observing posted restrictions, and practicing safe and responsible knife ownership, you can carry knives with confidence in Oregon. Remember, knowledge and awareness are key to exercising your rights as a knife owner and ensuring the safety of yourself and others.

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