It is a criminal offense to possess a weapon for a dangerous purpose in Canada. The criminal code makes carrying or concealing a knife that opens automatically or by hand pressure or gravity an offense in Canada.

The law was designed to stop switchblades and butterfly knives from being sold to minors, but the laws were written so that they catch all automatic opening knives under its broad definition.

What is the legal size knife to carry in Canada?

Knives are deemed “prohibited weapons” if they have specific characteristics. These include folding knives with a blade less than 6 centimeters in length (2.36 inches), fixed blade knives with blades fewer than 30 centimeters (11.81 inches), or other considerations that make the knife dangerous regardless of the blade length are prohibited.

Knife Legislation in Canada

The Canadian Criminal Code criminalizes the possession of knives that open automatically. Specific prohibitions and a catch-all section for weapons with “automatic mechanisms.” The law does not use “switchblade,” but it applies to knives that open using an automatic mechanism such as a spring. These include butterfly knives.

Canada has strict laws prohibiting the import of switchblades or any knife having a blade that opens automatically by centrifugal force or gravity. Butterfly knives fall into this category and are banned from Canada.

The law states that if you are found walking around with a switchblade or butterfly knife, you will be apprehended, your knife seized, forfeited, and destroyed, and you could face up to 5 years in prison.

Why Are Switchblades & Butterfly Knives Illegal in Canada?

They are considered to be dangerous weapons

The Criminal Code of Canada forbids possession of these weapons. They are considered dangerous weapons, which can cause severe injury or death if misused.

The new law in Canada comes after years of debate and discussion on whether to ban these knives. It was finally decided to ban them because they are too dangerous for public safety and can cause an increased risk for injury due to their quick deployment mechanism.

Butterfly knives are illegal because of their action and their length

Reasons for being banned in Canada are the flipping action, also known as centrifugal force, and the overall size, which is usually over 2.75″ inch blade length.

The switchblade is a double-edged knife that can flip out with just a button. There is no way to open it without using your finger or some tool. It is illegal because it can be used as a weapon.

They look scary and have associations with gang activity/violence

They were viewed more as a “thug’s tool” and weren’t widely used by anyone who has any, shall we say, “non-nefarious” use for a knife.

They can be easily concealed in a pocket or under a jacket

Butterfly knives and switchblades are usually small, compact blades that are easy to carry on your person.

Usually, people would conceal them in a pocket, hand, or under a jacket. Since they can be easily accessed and activated, they can be used to cause severe damage to another person without their knowing it.

What is a Butterfly Knife and What is a Switchblade?

A butterfly knife has a blade that opens when the user presses on the top of the handle. At the same time, a switchblade is a type of folding knife with one or more blades that are hinged at one end and can be locked into position by engaging the spring-loaded lock.

Butterfly knives are often used as self-defense weapons, while switchblades are most often used as weapons. Switchblades were initially designed to be opened with one hand, but two-handed opening methods in recent decades have primarily replaced this.

Parts of a switchblade or butterfly knife

Bite handle

The bite handle allows for containment of the blade during non-use when the knife is closed. The bite handle is often made of plastic.

Choil

The choil is the reduced section of the blade that lies just before the start of the main handle. This area allows you to choke up on edge by positioning your index finger or thumb to increase your control while using.

Kicker (or Kick)

The Kicker is a small bar that extends out to keep the blade closed when not in use. When used with a spring, the trim tab keeps the edge closed until you are ready to open it.

Latch

The latch is the spring-actuated safety lever that prevents the blade from opening when in the locked position.

Latch gate

The latch gate is a part of the switchblade that goes over the blade and secures it safely. This part is also known as the mechanism or safety latch, as it prevents the blade from accidentally deploying.

Pivot joint

The pivot joint is the part of a folding knife that allows the blade to fold into the handle. On most knives, it is a screw pin that inserts through one end of a steel shaft (called a pivot bushing) inserted into the handle and threading into another bushing at the other side of the handle.

Safe handle

The safe handle is the part of a switchblade that automatically folds into place during the release of the blade. The safe handle is meant to prevent injury to the user.

Swedge

A “swedge” is a ground taper intentionally created by the grinding process to assist in the slicing ability of a blade. Swedges can appear on both sides of the knife, one side, or even neither (an actual double-edged dagger).

Tang

The tang usually extends out of the handle, with prongs on either side so that a user can pull the blade out. When pressed down, the spring retracts the knife into the handle.

Zen Pins

This is the part of the switchblade that you pull on.

Blade

The blade is the flat cutting piece attached to the handle.

Conclusion

For inexperienced users, butterfly knives are likely to injure the hand of the user if misused. Switchblades are similar in that they can easily stab what they’re not intended to and damage the user if misused.

Additionally, both knives can be modified into effective weapons with little work. These reasons, among others, lead to a change in provincial laws prohibiting butterfly knives and switchblades.