Montana Removes Knife Restrictions

Did you know that Montana had restricted automatic knives to blades of less than 1.5 inches? Neither did we. Now, lawmakers have removed that archaic law.

The American Knife & Tool Institute announced Monday that legislators in Montana had resolved two issues that could easily have put unsuspecting knife owners in hot water.

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“While Montana is known for its wide-open spaces and as a paradise for sportsmen, until earlier this month, its knife laws were not in line with the needs of knife users in the outdoors or for many occupational needs,” said C.J. Buck, CEO of Buck Knives. He’s also the president of the American Knife & Tool Institute, the advocacy nonprofit for the sporting knife and tool industry and knife users.

HB 155: Montana Removes 2 Knife Restrictions

Knife laws across the U.S. tend to be confusing and often outdated. While modern knifemakers have embraced automatic deployment for many purposes, even search and rescue (see above image), laws still view this type of knife simply as a “switchblade.” And they’re sometimes banned where least expected, like Montana.

Rep. Casey Knudsen, R-33, introduced HB 155 to modernize Montana’s knife regulations. Gov. Steve Bullock signed it into law on April 3. It solved two concerning issues identified by the American Knife & Tool Institute in Montana.

Buck 110 Automatic
Previously, knives like the Buck 110 Automatic were prohibited in Montana

First, lawmakers repealed M.C.A. Section 48-8-331. This removed a regulation that prohibited automatic knives with blades longer than 1.5 inches in Montana.

That law could’ve easily ensnared unsuspecting knife owners visiting from out of state. Many brands make quality pocket knives with automatic actions. And modern knifemakers make many EDC-oriented pocket knives with automatic actions. While generally not threatening or designed as weapons, Montana law forbade this type of knife.

Secondly, HB 155 prohibits local governments from enacting or enforcing an ordinance, rule, or regulation that restricts or prohibits the use, possession, or sale of any type of knife that state law does not specifically prohibit. This protects Montanans and those visiting the state from varying laws in different locations.

“We’re thrilled that Montana passed HB 155,” Buck said. “This is another step in the right direction to ensuring all law-abiding residents of Montana are protected by the state’s laws and allowed to carry valuable and very user-friendly automatic knives. We thank Governor Bullock for signing the bill allowing self-reliant Montanans the personal freedom to carry the knives they choose.”

The changes made with HB 155 became effective immediately on April 3, 2019.

For information on state knife laws, visit www.stateknifelaws.com.

Sean McCoy
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Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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