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Are Butterfly Knives illegal

Written by:
Dr. Braide Honest
August 5, 2023
balisong knives

Hello dear friends, it’s always a delight for us at Noblie Collectibles to bring you the best blog posts and updates about knives on your number one knife blog. Today we’ll be considering a special class of knife – Butterfly Knives. The discussion includes legal considerations surrounding these knives, addressing the question, “Are butterfly knives illegal?” in various jurisdictions. You might just need to get a cup of your favorite coffee or tea as we get on this interesting discussion.

What is a butterfly knife?

We’ll begin today’s blog post by answering this question.

A BUTTERFLY Knife is also known as a FAN, BATANGA, or BALISONG Knife. It’s an original knife piece that gets knife lovers really fascinated. This knife is said to have originated from the Philippines and it’s also a folding pocketknife. Its features are quite distinct. This special knife piece comes in handy for light everyday cutting needs, self-defense, and martial arts.

The handle of the butterfly knife can be opened or closed to reveal or conceal its blade.  The closure of the handle on the blade is reminiscent of the wings of a butterfly body. This is the feature from which the Balisong Knife draws its name as the Butterfly Knife.

Brief history

There is a lack of clarity as to the actual origin of these knives; however, oral history has it that these masterpiece art knives were first created in the Philippines in 800 AD. Another historical claim is that the Balisong was originally an adaptation of a French measuring tool “pied du roi” translated as “Kings Foot”

The Butterfly Knife, otherwise known as the Fan Knife, Batanga or Balisong Knife was a tool commonly used by Filipinos, mainly those located in the Tagalog region. It served as a self-defense utility knife. They were also used in place of razor blades before conventional razors became available in the Philippines.

Regardless of the claims of the origin, it is noteworthy that the modern Balisong was perfected in the Philippines. The Balisong is mainly used as a weapon, not just as a utility tool. Another point that further substantiates the origin to be from the Philippines is that the “Flipping” opening technique was developed in the Philippines, which is a sharp contrast to the French “pied du roi” which was basically a folding ruler.

Very similar designs of the Balisong were produced in England in the later part of the 19th century. As compared to the later, these were primarily utility tools.

are butterfly knives illegal

Features of a butterfly knife

The butterfly knife is a versatile artistic knife piece; its folding mechanism is also unique. It features two handles that counter-rotate rotates. 

The blades are concealed in the handle of the knife when closed due to the grooves in the handle. The handle of this unique knife can be made of steel, brass, or wood. 

A discussion of the parts/features of the Butterfly knife is very important as it makes for safe usage and maintenance purposes.

The Butterfly knife features:

  • Unique Handles: The Butterfly knife has two unique handles, namely: the safe handle and the bite handle. These handles conceal the knife. They are also movable and foldable.
  • The Safe Lock:  Its handle is very safe and durable. The lock makes for the safe folding and intact locking of the blade. When the knife is released, the handles lock firmly, making it safe and easy to use.
  • Trickster Knife: This piece of knife comes in really handy for tricksters, as it helps them perform numerous tricks to the amusement of their observers. The interchangeable flipping of the knife using its two handles helps tricksters perform their tricky arts.
  • Concealed Blade: The concealing design of this knife gets people confused about what it actually is when folded, some think it’s a little piece of wood or metal.
  • The Construction: The construction of the Butterfly knife is another unique feature of this knife. It comes in two forms: 
  • Channel Construction: The channel construction begins with the making of the handle, followed by a groove; the blade is lodged in this grove.
  • Sandwich Construction: In the sandwich construction, the various parts are put together in layers, and screwed together. The blade lodges between these layers when the knife is closed.


Types of butterfly knives

Butterfly knives are built with certain core features, but largely separated into two groups: Trainer Blades and Live Blades.

Balisong butterfly knife trainers are blunt blades of steel; it has the same weight and feel like a live blade but for training.

Live Blades on contrast are the actual blades with very sharp edges.

butterfly knife trainers

Mechanism of opening

Opening of the knife depends on the experience of the handler. It can be opened by one or two hands. An experienced handler would usually prefer to display mastery by opening the knife with one hand manipulation known as flipping.

Flipping is also performed as an art to create amusement. For this purpose a blunt version of the knife is available for training purposes, this is to avoid injuries while practicing the tricks.

These knives are really fun to open.

The two pivot points of the knife allow the handler to flip open the knife.

Pros and cons of the butterfly / Balisong knife

The Butterfly knife is historically a weapon, a combat/self-defense knife. We shall be considering some advantages and disadvantages of this knife as such.

Pros of the Butterfly Knife

This unique knife piece has a number of advantages, which can help you decide whether or not it’s a viable tool for you, especially with regards to it being a self-defense tool.

  • Very Easy to Conceal: Its size gives it the advantage of being concealed very easily, as it can be stuffed into the pocket, boot, and stockings, and no one gets to know.
  • Blade Deployment: The tricks and skills of deploying the blade, especially when done with one hand by an experienced user can really be intimidating and at the same time flashy and fashionable. This causes hesitation and scares one’s opponent.
  • A Blunt Impact Tool: The tips of the handle and exposed back of the blade can be used to strike an opponent’s vital body parts. This causes excruciating pains to the body parts stroked, e.g.: the temple, neck, throat, hands, and other vulnerable parts of the body.
  • Easy Maintenance: The blade has just a few moving parts and has no strings attached, so this makes maintaining the blade really easy.
  • With appropriate practice, blade deployment becomes very easy and gives the user the advantage of prompt self-defense.
  • It has a simple and dependable latch lock mechanism.


Cons of the Butterfly Knife

Having considered some advantages of the Butterfly knife, we shall also look at some disadvantages to create a fair balance.

  • Proficiency of use: This blade can be harmful if the user is not skilled enough to use it. The users may lose or drop the blade during combat and can seriously get injured whilst using the blade in an unskilled manner.
  • Whilst it has the advantage of quickly pulling it out of one’s pocket, boot, or stockings, it’s not instantly ready to use as compared with a fixed-blade knife. If the user isn’t fast enough, an opponent using a fixed-blade knife can be at the advantage of launching a successful attack.
  • Good time of practice is required to get skilled and make the most of the Butterfly knife without cutting oneself and fumbling during combat.
  • The Butterfly / Balisong is not a beginner’s knife. A beginner with a butterfly knife will be easily outclassed by an experienced user of other simpler knives or weapons, such as a baton, stick, or a fixed-blade knife.
  • The Pop culture already makes the Butterfly a tool to be feared, since it’s associated with a certain negative vibe/feelings for anyone who uses it.
  • The Butterfly knife is illegal in certain countries, and in many states in the U.S.A. in certain states, one could face jail term for simply being in possession of the Butterfly knife.

We shall be looking at the legality of the Butterfly knife right away.

Legality of the butterfly knife

Legality of the butterfly knife

And now to the very core part of today’s discussion – The Legality of Butterfly Knife.

Being in the know of laws related to the possession and use of tools such as the Butterfly knife, Switchblades, and similar pocket knives is necessary and helpful as it prevents the handler from getting into legal issues. It is basically known and generally stated that “ignorance of the law is not an excuse”. This knowledge also helps you make informed choices and the most of your soon-to-be-acquired artistic and fashionable Butterfly knife.

The Butterfly Knife is illegal today or restricted in certain countries, the reason for these restrictions is quite similar to that of switchblades or other concealed weapons. These masterpieces are no longer very common in the urban areas of the Philippines.

We shall consider the issue of legality of the Butterfly Knife in a few countries.

Canada In Canada, Butterfly Knife is not specified as illegal, but it’s seen by law to fall under the centrifugal or gravity knives which are classified as illegal.

Denmark The knife law in Denmark classifies Butterfly knives as illegal.

LithuaniaButterfly knives are considered legal in Lithuania since they are not considered weapons, unlike switchblades.

Netherlands and  Belgium Butterfly knives are illegal.

FinlandButterfly knives are considered to be regular knives. It can be sold, purchased, and carried in public, but the handler has to be able to prove its use as a tool, not a weapon.

Italy:  If the butterfly knife is not sharpened on both sides, it’s legal, but illegal to possess without a justifiable reason.

France:  Knife laws in France permit the possession of a Butterfly knife if the handler is above 18 years old, but official authorization is required.

Hungary and  Czech Republic These countries consider the Butterfly knives as normal everyday knives, but it’s illegal to possess one in public that’s beyond 8cm in length.

Ireland:  Butterfly knives are considered offensive weapons and therefore illegal to possess.

The United States:  different states have different regulations with respect to the Butterfly knife. We’ll consider a couple of these states and their regulations.

Are butterfly knives illegal in California?

In the state of California, the Butterfly knife is categorized as a Switchblade, hence it’s illegal, since knives measuring above 2 inches, which can be deployed by flicking of the wrist and force of gravity are all illegal.  California Penal Code 17235   

Are butterfly knives illegal in New York City?

The laws in New York consider  Butterfly knives with a blade size equal to or exceeding four inches as illegal,  the manufacturing, sale, and possession are illegal and offenders are punished accordingly.  New York Penal Law Section 265.00(5)  

Are butterfly knives illegal in Arizona?

The state of Arizona seems to be very lenient in contrast to California and New York. One can own and utilize Butterfly knives of any length in Arizona,  without legal restrictions.

Are butterfly knives illegal in Kansas?

Provides similar liberty for ownership and possession of Butterfly knife, just like Arizona. So Butterfly knives are  legal in Kansas 

Are butterfly knives illegal in Texas?

Significant ease has been recorded in Texas in recent years. Knives with blades as long as 5.5 inches are permissible, with inclusion of the  butterfly knives.  

Are butterfly knives illegal in Florida?

The state of Florida seems to be slightly different as compared to other states. While it’s legal to own a  Butterfly knife in Florida,  there are legal consequences for using them publicly, except when deployed for the purposes of fishing, hunting, or other agricultural-related purposes.

We have also established earlier that the international laws of the Butterfly knives vary from country to country, so its important to be aware of these laws as its applicable to you before possession and usage of the Butterfly knife in different locations in a country and around the globe.

While the Butterfly knife is permissible and legal to possess in certain countries, the penalty for possessing a Butterfly knife in countries where they are prohibited ranges from a fine to a jail term or in some cases both.  The importance of the knowledge of your local laws cant be overemphasized.

Choosing the best butterfly knife

It’s common knowledge within the circle of knife lovers and enthusiasts, that Butterfly knives are gaining increasing popularity in today’s market.

The next thing relevant of course is making a choice of which butterfly knife to purchase, we shall consider and review a few butterfly knives at this point. 

The Dogbite knives DB3.1

Featuring a blade of 4.0 inches, an overall length of 9.1 inches, and weighs 5.0 0z. It’s a strong contender in today’s knife market. Its blade is made of 440c stainless steel, sandwich construction with titanium handle.

Its handle length is not ideal for most flippers, but it’s an ideal everyday tool, especially with consideration of its size.

The DB3.1 has a starting price of $220, has a standard silver model and other anodized models are available too.

Legality of the butterfly knives

The Bladerunners Systems Replicant

Comes in with a Blade measuring 4.5 inches, an overall length of 10.0 inches, and a weight of 4.9 oz.

The BRS Replicant Is considered to be a perfect piece that represents value for money amongst butterfly knives. It’s ranked second major in the BRS flagship models. It’s one of the most popular butterfly knives.

It uses a well-refined bushing pivot system. Its parts are easily replaceable. It has a very smooth motion. Its blade is made of 154cm steel scorpion, It possesses a crowned spine which makes flipping easy and comfortable.

The BRS has a starting price of $275 and comes in various configurations.


The HOM Design Rhapsody Trainer

This is another fine piece from our Butterfly Knives collection. It has a Blade of 4.6 inches, an overall length of 10.0 inches, and weighs 5.0 oz.

Its handle is made of 6AI-4V titanium, a 154 mm stainless steel blade, and an impeccable fit and finish design. There are hardly any complaints with this knife piece. It’s durable and loved by Trainers and comes in a tuned bushing system.

The HOM Starts at about $300. This is for the stonewashed version; anodized models cost around $320. It’s a trainer’s choice butterfly knife.

butterfly knives illegal

The Bladerunners System Alpha Beast

The BRS Alpha Beast was the first flagship model produced; it’s considered a revolutionary knife by the flippers community, as it was the first of its kind production.

It comes with a 154 cm scimitar stainless steel blade, a handle of 5.5 inches 6AI-4V titanium, and significant hardware improvement over the 2010 version 1.0.

Its dimensions make it a flipper choice butterfly knife, and has a motto: “For floppers by Flippers”

It costs $370. It has various renditions like Infinity, Premium, and Venom. Comes in an anodized handle, green handles, and pocket clips to acid-washed blades.

This is a great cutting utility tool and a top-tier flipper knife. Its price is considered absolutely perfect considering its features.

is butterfly knife illegal

Last, but by no mean the least in today’s blog post we’ll look at: 

The Benchmade 51 Morpho

The Benchmade 51 Morpho was released in 2009. It has a Blade of 4.25 inches, an overall length of 9.25 inches, and weighs 3.3 oz. This knife piece is seen as sharing similarities with the BRS Replicant, but it’s much lighter at a weight of 3.3 oz. Owing to its lightweight, it’s a very convenient carry-about knife.

Despite its lightweight, it remains effective for maneuvers. This knife is recommended for skilled flippers, not beginners. It presents with a G10 scale handle and a titanium liner configuration. It has a spare point blade, which makes sharpening really easy.

It’s available in several variants and starts at about $280. Some companies offer swappable parts. The most popular colors are Blue, Silver, and Black.

butterfly knife legality

FAQ on the Legality of the Butterfly Knife

Is A butterfly knife rare?

The butterfly knife is a special kind of knife, it’s uniquely built, packaged, and expensive. It’s legal in illegal depending on one’s location/region. Hence one reason it’s rare.

Can butterfly knives hurt?

Except for the Trainer version, I live blade Butterfly knife is usually sharp and can hurt the user, if they don’t use it skillfully and cautiously. If you are a learner, please get the trainer version first before advancing to a live blade.

What is the famous butterfly knife?

The butterfly knife is unique, so their models are generally quite popular. The Kershaw Lucha series is considered to be the most famous butterfly knife. The Lucha had a very fast rating ride to the top. So it stands arguably as the most famous butterfly knife.

The source for the best custom knives

Sure, you’re thinking of placing an order for your custom knife right now. Yeah yeah. Think no further. You my dear friend are at the right place and at the right time. Noblie Collectibles got you covered with the best available custom knives and other exquisite knives. Visit now to view our catalog and place your order.

Concluding words

It’s always difficult to say goodbye, but we’ll be back together in the next blog post, sharing with you and doing what we know how to do best – Knives and Everything Knives.

Just like any other weapon or combat tool, the Butterfly knife has its advantages and disadvantages. The Butterfly Knife is certainly an incredible combat and self-defense pocket tool, but relevant local and regional laws must be considered before the purchase and utilization of this masterpiece.

The Butterfly knife is by all standards a fascinating knife piece, however, if you’re a beginner it’s advisable you pick and practice with the trainer beginner’s blade before stepping up to the live blade and ready to deploy variants.

Don’t forget to leave your comments and feedback, as we’ll be glad to respond.

Until we meet on the next blog post, stay safe.

Warm regards.

Author: Braide Honest | Connect with me on LinkedIn

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  • Jordan Mitchell

    A fantastic violation of the rules for using butterfly knives worldwide! For those interested in Oregon, my home state, our rules are a bit unique. While butterfly knives are not treated as switchblades here and are generally legal, it can be tricky to carry them discreetly. They may fall under the category of “dangerous weapons”, which can lead to legal problems if you do not have the appropriate permit with you. It’s always wise to double check local laws or law enforcement to stay safe. Thank you for this instructive passage!

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