The windswept state of South Dakota, once home to mighty herds of buffalo and, earlier, to Colombian and woolly mammoths, intrudes very little into the matters of knife ownership and carrying. After several repeals of earlier laws in the early 21st century, the Mount Rushmore State no longer limits the kinds of knives that can be owned within the state. Both open and concealed carry are fully legal for any knife or bladed implement, with no maximum length and no restrictions based on construction or other details.
Lacking a preemption law, South Dakota allows local governments within its boundaries to set their own rules and regulations about knife ownership and carrying. This means many locations have ordinances far less tolerant of knife rights than the state itself. A savvy knife owner should learn local knife rules to avoid legal problems while traversing the state with knives in their possession.
Legality of Knife Possession
South Dakota statute § 22-14-19 once forbade the ownership, sale, or manufacture of ballistic knives in the state, but this regulation was repealed on July 1st, 2006 by SL 2005, ch 120, § 258. Since that date, there is no limit to the type of knives that residents or visitors to South Dakota may have in their possession, or that they can make, buy, and sell like any other physical article of consumer goods.
Legal knives include all knives deployed by spring action, gravity, compressed gases, or centrifugal force, including ballistic knives, switchblade knives, gravity knives, and balisong or butterfly knives. Single and double-edged fixed blade knives are legal also, including the familiar Bowie knife, daggers, dirks, stilettos, push knives, KA-BAR knives, hunting knives, and many other variants. Throwing implements like throwing knives, martial arts stars, and shuriken are permitted, as are large bladed instruments such as swords, sword-canes, machetes, and bolo knives. Even exotic types like disguised knives and undetectable knives are perfectly legal to own.
All legal knives can also be legally carried openly or concealed.
Knife Length Limit
The state of South Dakota imposes no knife length limits within its current statutes. With no law to preempt local ordinances, however, major cities and some other localities have their own laws regarding knife length. For example, Rapid City, SD’s Code of Ordinances, section § 9.28.030, forbids concealed carry of any knife with a blade longer than 3”, while section § 9.28.040 outlaws carrying any knife in an establishment selling liquor, with the exception of a folding knife with a blade shorter than 3” carried in the closed position.
Concealed Carry of Knives
South Dakota concealed carry law applies only to firearms, omitting any mention of knives, and it is therefore legal to carry any knife or bladed implement concealed.
Other Knife Law Considerations in South Dakota
South Dakota’s knife laws allow ownership, open carry, and concealed carry of anything resembling a knife or bladed implement, setting it among the leading states for breadth of legal knife ownership. These rights are still limited by the presence of local ordinances, however, and until a preemption law is passed (if one ever is) knife owners should familiarize themselves with local knife laws in order to remain legal, especially in the matter of concealed carry.
Resources and Further Reading