Can I Buy an Automatic Knife Online?

Can you buy an automatic knife online? Yes, you can buy automatic knives from an online retailer. However, you must make sure there are no state laws against these knives, and you must also comply with the Federal Switchblade Act.

State laws may restrict civilians from possessing or carrying automatic knives, while the FSA prohibits sales across state lines. There are some exceptions to this rule, depending on the profession of a person. For instance, the FSA doesn’t prohibit the shipment of these knives to military officers, military personnel, or businesses. 

There’s a lot of interesting information regarding this topic, so continue reading to find all of the details you should know.

Factors to Consider While Buying Automatic Knife Online

While you can order an automatic knife online, the process isn’t as simple as just sitting and waiting for the seller to ship it your way. The biggest obstacle in your way is a federal law called the Federal Switchblade Act, which bans interstate commerce of these knives.

As a result, someone in Pennsylvania may not normally receive an automatic knife coming from New Hampshire.

Let’s talk about the factors to consider before buying automatic knives online.

The Federal Switchblade Act: Transporting the knife

The Federal Switchblade Act (FSA) is the only Federal law in the United States regarding automatic knives. This act regulates the manufacturing and sale of switchblade knife models through interstate commerce. 

In other words, the law prohibits the commerce of automatic knives over state lines. Still, this law has no application to you as an individual or to knife merchants. Furthermore, it has no application to state laws either.

Passed on August 12 of 1958, the law against automatic weapons consists of two sections.

  • In the first section, the act bans importation and commerce over state lines of switchblade knives and gravity knives.
  • In the second section, the act bans knives with an automatic blade from being shipped via the U.S. Postal Service.

With this information in mind, it’s easy to reach the following conclusions.

  • First, no Federal law enforcement restricts you from owning, possessing, or carrying an automatic knife. Some states have ruled out bills that strongly regulate these knives, but the majority of the states still allow them.
  • Secondly, there’s no Federal restriction that bans the sale of automatic knives in all states. Like before, only some state knife laws put out limitations in this regard.
  • Lastly, there’s no Federal rule that forbids the hiring of carriers like UPS or FedEx to ship automatic knives. The FSA only bans shipping these knives through the U.S. Postal Service.

Does that mean that the Federal Switchblade Act doesn’t ban the transport of automatic knives over state lines?

Realistically, the Federal Switchblade Act is vague in some aspects, which means it’s easy to misunderstand its boundaries. However, this law applies to interstate commerce only. Thus, it doesn’t prohibit citizens from crossing state lines while carrying an automatic knife. Additionally, this law doesn’t forbid you from flying in a plane as long as you keep the knife in the checked baggage.

Related Article: 15 Pocket Knife Brands You Should Know

Legal Shipment: Shipping the knife

Since each state has its own rule on these knives, the question now arises whether shipping automatic knives are legal or not. The answer to this question is a bit tricky because it depends on a few things.

Can You Ship Automatic Knives?

Yes, but you should never ship automatic knives through the U.S. Postal Service. Federal law does prohibit shipping “injurious articles,” which includes Balisongs, gravity knives, OTF, and automatic knives using this service. This ruling has a few exceptions, but they don’t cover individuals anyway. Shipping this type of knife via the U.S. Post Office could warrant fines or even jail time. 

Does that mean that you can’t ship these knives at all?

You can ship automatic knives using either FedEx or UPS. There’s no restriction or penalty if you use common or contract carriers. Furthermore, the American Knife & Tool institute advises knife owners to use these methods instead of the U.S. Postal Service. It’s legal, and there won’t be any confusion about whether the knife you’re shipping classifies as automatic or not.

What do you mean by avoiding confusion over what type of knife I’m shipping?

Some states have their own laws for what classifies as an automatic knife. For example, California’s regulation considers Balisongs the same as automatic knives, but Colorado does not. If you don’t want to fall victim to anti-knife laws, knowing the limitations of your state will keep you from going to jail.

Where Can I Buy an Automatic Knife?

You can buy automatic knives via online retailers or platforms like Amazon, Blade HQ. However, the issue is whether or not you live in a state where these knives are legal. Make sure to clear any doubt first before ordering.

Does Amazon Sell Automatic Knives?

Yes, Amazon has many sellers that offer different styles of automatic knives for you to buy. Still, this online platform has to comply with the state’s law. If purchasing automatic knives is illegal where you live, the seller won’t ship them and may refuse the order.

Is it Legal to Buy Automatic Knives Online?

You can buy an automatic knife online legally if the law of your state allows the act of selling and purchasing these knives.

What States Ban Automatic Knives?

  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Pennsylvania 
  • Washington
  • Virginia

Those are the states in which the sale of automatic knives is not allowed. Additionally, the US Federal Law states that trading automatic knives over state lines or bringing them into the states from another country is also illegal.

Why are Automatic Knives Illegal?

Automatic knives are illegal in some states because they were associated with criminals back in 1950. Mobsters and thugs used to carry them around, which sparked a movement in the newspapers and the tabloid press. 

Eventually, the public felt scared about potential criminal waves using switchblades or flick knives as a weapon. As a result, politicians ruled out the first bill to ban the manufacture and sale of switchblades.

Can Civilians Own Automatic Knives?

Individuals can own and carry automatic knives in more than 40 states. Some of those states have certain restrictions, like allowing you to carry knives if the blades are 3.5-inch or less in length (Learn how to measure knife length here). Still, the FSA doesn’t prohibit individuals from carrying automatic knives in any way, meaning there’s no federal law against them.

To Wrap Up

Can you buy an automatic knife online is a question that requires you to consider many things before answering it. Primarily, you want to clear up whether your state allows civilians to own this type of knife. Then, using the right carrier is important to avoid facing anti-knife laws. As long as you clear those two things, it will be possible for you to buy an automatic knife online.

Brian Casey
About Brian M. Casey

As a food lover, Brian M. Casey developed a fascination for cooking at an early age. He soon realized that not only the ingredients matter but also the knives and the accessories used to turn those ingredients into a delicious dish. This way, Brian began his journey on the magnificent world of kitchen knives, outdoor knives, knife accessories, and much more. After years of experience with many ups and downs, Brian now wants to share everything he’s learned during his journey as an avid knife collector, a well-seasoned knife maker, and an all-around knives enthusiast.

2 thoughts on “Can I Buy an Automatic Knife Online?”

Leave a Comment