We are bound by the law, so that we may be free.


It is important that you not only handle and throw your knives and tomahawks safely, but you should also do so while observing the laws and legislation that apply where you are throwing.

This can be a thorny issue because ‘knife carry and use’ can be a legal minefield, particularly here in the UK where I am based. What follows is a simplified guide for UK throwers; if you live outside of this fair isle then please do carry out due diligence so you know where you stand.

What you can and can’t carry

In the UK you can legally carry a folding blade on your person that is shorter than 3″ (7.62 cm) provided you are at least 18 years old.  Obviously most throwing knives are longer than this and are ‘full tang’ so would not be deemed ‘legal carry’.

Even a knife that is short enough to be legally carried (such as a pen knife) cannot have a locking blade, cannot open automatically (such as flick knives), must not be a butterfly knife (where the blade is hidden inside a handle that splits in two around it, like a butterfly’s wings) or be disguised as anything other than a knife (such as a concealed belt buckle blade and other such ‘ninja’ implements).

In addition, you should have a good reason to carry any knife that will stand up to discrimination; you may use it, for example, as a utility tool for your work, or for religious reasons (such as the kirpan carried by some Sikhs). If you are stopped and searched or seen handling a knife without good reason in public, you may face a maximum penalty of 4 long years in prison and a fine of £5,000 so this is no joke.

  • Never throw knives in public, unless you are doing so at a designated range that has been set up for the express purpose of throwing practice.
  • When transporting throwing knives, either on your person (eg in a bag) or in a vehicle, they should be placed in a locked container, in much the same way as you might transport sharp edged tools like chisels); this precaution should be sufficient to prove that you have ensured that they cannot be easily accessed or tampered with. I have known people adapt sound equipment cases, ammo boxes and even jewellery cases; as long as you can fit it with a sturdy padlock, it should be fine but I would suggest you get something a little bigger than you currently need so that as your knife collection grows, you have spare capacity!
  • Don’t take your knives into locations where security measures are typically heightened, such as airports, schools or other public forums, without contacting the relevant security officials ahead of time to determine their requirements. There may be perfectly good reasons why you might want to take knives into such places (an overseas flight for competition or a demonstration at a local college for example) but airing on the side of caution is always advisable in such circumstances.

Isn’t all this just pandering to nanny State interference?

I would be the first to welcome a relaxing of the current ‘weapons’ legislation in the UK; as a survival instructor, hunter and long term martial artist, it frustrates me that I am required to observe such restrictions.

But, the way to affect change is not to defy the laws of the land – to do so will only play into the hands of those who would rather butter knives were also banned in public spaces! Instead, we must work to educate those who make policy so that they can appreciate that knives are just tools and are not inherently evil or dangerous. The fact that the humble screwdriver is close behind knives as the ‘weapon of choice’ in UK homicides speaks volumes – where there is a will, there will always be a way and if they too are banned, those with ill-intent will switch to pens and pencils instead and then where will we be?

The point is this: the laws we have have at least been designed to protect the general public and if we want to live  in this land and enjoy the relative freedoms it offers (and believe me, there are a lot of places in the world with fewer laws that you wouldn’t want your family to exposed to) then we need to play ball and respect the rules that are in place.

For now, no one is saying we cannot carry or throw knives for recreational purposes; we just need to make sure we are observing a set of easily implemented rules and regulations. If you choose to flout these rules, please consider that you may be doing harm not only to yourself but to the rest of the throwing community.

So how can I carry throwing knives legally?

There is a good argument for the fact that many of the tools we throw aren’t really even ‘knives’ and are more closely related to oversized darts than cutting tools! However, there is much variance out there – some throwers have no edge and a blunted point while others have a honed working edge and must be held carefully to avoid self-inflicted injury when executing half turn throws. The authorities have neither the time or inclination to further refine the laws around throwing knives in an effort to produce a list of ‘acceptable’ tools that are exempt from current legislation. Instead all ‘knives’ are treated with the same broad brush: whether you are throwing modified nails and spikes, commercially available knives or home-brew tools, the same rules apply.

Don’t worry – all is not lost but, given how steep the penalties are for abuse of the laws surrounding knife carry and use, I would strongly advise you to follow these basic guidelines:

What about tomahawks and axes?

Everything written above applies equally to carrying and throwing heavier implements such as axes and tomahawks: keep them under lock and key and don’t brandish them in public, unless you are at a designated range and you should be ok.

Shuriken stars, on the other hand, are banned outright which creates an interesting grey area for some implements like triple pronged axes with a spiked pommel…shorten the handle sufficiently and what are you now holding?! You can see how quickly this can become a murky landscape with plenty of trip hazards right?

andyfisherThe Law