WHAT IS THE PERMITTED BLADE LENGTH?
Regulations on the use of knives in the German Weapons Act
Knives: useful tools and dangerous weapons
Carving wood, cutting vegetables, meat or fabrics—knives are usually tools that are used in the household and kitchen, for manual work and for outdoor activities. But knives can also be used as weapons. The German Weapons Act therefore regulates which knives may be carried and for which the purchase or possession is already prohibited. In the following summary, we would like to give a short and understandable insight into the famous WaffG §42a.
>>> Knives in the Weapons Act
>>> The paragraph WaffG §42a - Prohibition of carrying apparent weapons
>>> Possession and carrying of knives - Yes, No or Maybe?
>>> The generally recognised purpose
>>> Weapons prohibition zones
>>> The special case of switchblade knives
>>> Legal basis outside Germany
Knife in the Weapons Act
According to German weapons law, knives can be considered a weapon because they can be used to injure or even kill other people. The degree of danger that can be posed by a knife depends on the type and design of the model. The law therefore regulates the acquisition, possession and carrying of certain knives. All knives sold by us here on this site are legal within Germany within the framework of the WaffG. Purchase and possession are therefore permitted.
In the following, we will take a look at what restrictions apply when carrying knives in public.
(1) It is prohibited,
1. to carry apparent weapons,
2. cutting and thrusting weapons according to Annex 1 Section 1 Subsection 2 No. 1.1 or
3. to carry knives with a blade that can be locked with one hand (one-handed knives) or
fixed knives with a blade length exceeding 12 cm.
(2) Paragraph 1 does not apply
1. for use in photography, filming, television or theatrical performances,
2. for carrying in a locked container,
3. for the carrying of the objects reffered to in paragraph 1 nos. 2 and 3, provided there is a justified interest.
Further regulations remain unaffected.
(3) A justified interest pursuant to paragraph 2, sentence 1, no. 3 shall be deemed to exist in particular if the carrying of the objects is carried out in connection with the exercise of a profession, serves the maintenance of costums, sport or a generally recognised purpose.
Possession and carrying of knives - Yes, No or Maybe?
For easier understandig, we divide the paragraph into its three subparagraphs and include a few examples:
(a) General prohibition (prohibition of carrying and possession)
fist and thrust knives
knives in combination with other prohibited weapons
switchblade knives (exceptions according to WaffG Annex 2 to §2 par. 2-4. 1.4.1)
(b) Public ban on carrying
fixed knives with a blade length of more than 12 cm
folding knives with lock and blade that can be folded out with one hand
knives that are classified as cutting and stabbing weapons, exceptions are:
- use for sport, customs or occupation
- for photography or filming, theatrical performances
- carrying in a locked container, i.e. the knife must not be ready to hand for the generally recognised purpose
(c) carrying permitted
all folding knives that can be opened with two hands
all folding knives whose blades does not lock
fixed knives with blade lengths less than 12 cm
Speciality switchblade knives
The switchblades we sell are legal, no matter what some of our customers may think.
Switchblades are legal according to WaffG Annex 2 to §2 Para 2-4, 1.4.1, if:
- the blade jumps out of the side of the handle
- the blade is a maximum of 85 mm long
- the blade is not ground on both sides
We only sell switchblade knives of any kind to persons who have reached the age of 18 and can provide us with proof of this.
A note on our own behalf
The brief summary presented here serves only a non-binding informational purpose. Please note that there may be different strict interpretations of the provisions in the WaffG depending on the federal state and individual situation. All information is therefore without guarantee of correctness and completeness.
Individual laser engraving
On request, we engrave your pocket knife with your name.
Our sharpeners bring your knife back into shape in professional handicraft. Of course, this also applies to knives of other manufacturers and brands.
Pocket knife workshop
Would you like a completely individual pocket knife? In our pocket knife workshop you can build your own pocket knife. Sign up right away!
Buy pocket knives
In our online shop you will find numerous different handmade pocket knives.
The generally recognised purpose
In the sub-heading on the exceptions to the public carry ban, the "generally recognised purpose" is mentioned. This is not defined in detail anywhere. This formulation first suggests that it refers to common sense or normal public perception, according to which carrying and using a pocket knife, for example, is customary in various situations. Clearly excluded from this, however, is self-defence.
Since this definition is very broad, there is a lot of room for interpretation. So it can happen that in one control you get away with your knife without complaint, but in another you meet an officer who interprets this point more narrowly.
Weapons ban zones
Since the beginning of 2020, cities and municipalities can set up weapons ban zones (Waff §42 para. 6), these are either permanent (e.g. complete weapons ban in the area of Hamburg's Reeperbahn) or temporary, such as controls at railway stations or other places where many people gather. Within these zones, there are stricter regulations on carrying weapons or knives. For example, all fixed and folding knives with a locking mechnism are prohibited from a blade length of 4 cm. Pocket knives with slipjoints/non-locking blades, on the other hand, are not subject to any length restrictions.
However, there are again the famous exceptions. Residents and delivery traffic are exempt from the prohibitions within the no-weapons zones, as are professional use, costums (such as shooting parades, etc.) and the practice of sports. Holders of weapons permits (WB, WBK or KWS) are allowed to carry their knives that are §42a compliant, even within the zones. The transport of knives from A to B is also permitted as long as the knife is not ready for access, i.e. it is transported in a locked container. What exactly the definition of a locked container is now remains open. There are several rulings in which pieces of luggage such as backpacks or suitcases are considered to be locked containers because the knives are not ready to hand and thus represent a reduced potential danger.