Knife Laws In Iowa

Knife laws in Iowa are complex but favor the knife owner. Residents may own all other types of knives apart from the ballistic knife.

The laws prohibit ownership and possession of ballistic knives even when you are in your own house or property.

Note that you may own many types of knives, but one must adhere to many complicated rules that govern carrying these knives in public.

Knife Laws In Iowa


Residents of Iowa and visitors can buy, give, display, sell or receive various types of knives other than ballistic knife. Adults can possess or own a variety of knives such as pocket knives, fixed blade knives, dagger, stilettos, balisong knives and any other type of knives other than the ballistic knife. Other knives that adults can own or possess include disguised knives such as sword canes, hunting knives and lipstick knives.


Residents are free to carry open all legal knives except when they are on prison grounds, court houses and school ground. Iowa Code of 2012 classifies ballistic knives as offensive weapons. Section § 724.3 describes the offence of owning ballistic knives as a class D Felony.


Iowa Code 724.4A classifies schools as weapon free zone. So it is illegal to carry knives to schools. Also, it is illegal for residents or visitors to conceal and carry a switchblade, a stiletto, a dagger or a knife whose blade is more than 5 inches. It is also illegal to conceal and carry a balisong knife or disguised knives like lipstick knives and swords.

Length Limit

The state law does not impose any restriction on the knives. Residents can own sword canes, machetes, long Bowie knives, bayonets and any other knives that are lawful to possess. However, one may not conceal a knife blade that is more than 5”. Any person found carrying a knife that is longer than 8” faces a stricter penalty.

Concealed Carry

Iowa Code of 2012 Section § 724.4 provides that any knife that is not banned can be concealed and carried even if the length is 5” longer or shorter. However, if the blade is illegal, carrying it concealed is considered as a serious misdemeanor and the owner will be deemed to have committed an aggravated misdemeanor which attracts a stiffer penalty. Section § 724.4.3.h provides an exception and specifies that one may carry a fishing, or hunting knife concealed regardless of the length. However, this is only possible if the carrier engages in lawful fishing or hunting activities. Also, the person must have a rod or a rifle on the way to the activity and must possess a valid fishing or hunting license.

Other knife laws in Iowa

Iowa state law does not preempt ordinances or local rules on its subjects. For instance, Bluffs and Cedar Rapids enforces and allows only blades that are less than 3 “to be carried concealed. Those that are 3” or long must be carried open. Therefore residents should avoid surprises by researching on ordinances or just choose to open carry the knives.