Michigan Knife Law - no legal vehicle carry for fixed blades?

Hi all,
Now that I’ve researched and bought a fixed blade knife for EDC, I’m looking at the knife laws where I live, work, and regularly travel through.

Knife laws changed in MI late 2018 or early 2019… turns out that my fixed blade hunting knife is illegal to carry at all in MI where I work, unless I’m actually hunting. … or maybe only illegal to carry concealed unless I’m hunting … the law, as written, is really murky.

Also turns out that it’s illegal to transport in my vehicle EITHER concealed or open on my person OR concealed or open in the vehicle. From what I’ve been able to glean this is to prevent you having it in the glove box or tucked down beside the seat. Violation is a 5 year felony. :rage:

As best I can tell I have to carry it locked in an inaccessible place, like the trunk (no trunk on my pickup, guess I have to lock it in my toolbox). Carrying it in my 3-day bag in the back seat of the pickup looks to be a felony.

Anyone have more detailed information or ideas on how to manage this? @Dawn does the legal team have any light to shed on this?

Knife laws in Michigan are indeed murky. It’s all about intent. If it’s on your belt, backpack etc and you say it’s for cutting tape, cordage, or camping etc they can’t do much. Again intent is the name of the game. Don’t ever admit it’s for self defense.


@Spence how do you manage carry in your vehicle? since it says you can’t carry in your vehicle either concealed OR open?

My big knife i keep on my belt. I haven’t had any issues, however I don’t take that to bigger towns/cities either. I live in farm country so everyone usually has a folding and fixed blade on hand.

Most of the cops around here carry fixed blades too. They really can’t be beat as rescue tools.


Knives are not pre-empted under Michigan law. This means that every city. Town, township and county can have different laws about knives. Mackinac County and the towns here are mostly farm country and recognize knives as tools with different purposes. The areas you frequent here in Michigan are not as laid back.

According to state law you just can’t carry a knife with ill intent. Ann Arbor may say no knives at all. Your best bet is going to be to contact an Attorney and ask how you can carry/transport your knife legally. Be sure not to mention anything about self defense with it. Carrying a knife for self defense is illegal state wide, using one as a “weapon of opportunity” in an emergency is ok though.

I’ve never said Michigan laws aren’t confusing or counterintuitive unfortunately.

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I’m just going with :angry: on that one.

Self defense can be many things. If carried in northern Michigan in case one is attacked by coyotes, bear or mountain lion, I would think any cop or game warden would be sympathetic…people who survive a bear attack frequently did so by using a knife. Get attacked by another human and then the knife is unlawful if used. Kind of stupid IMO if you fear for your life but perhaps the prosecutor would take that into consideration…not offering legal advice, just thinking and wondering on this blog.

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No, they will not. Never say it’s for self defense. My go to is “I open a lot of packages.”

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If I was an officer and found you with a large knife in the field and your explanation was you open a lot of boxes, I’d be very suspicious that you were lying.

Moreover, bears are specifically identified as one of several animals where the use deadly force to defend yourself or others or even livestock in Michigan …is justified…as this attorney notes on his webpage.


One might consider a CPL for self defense…and a box cutter for boxes. What we tell police should be honest …or say nothing…call an attorney and let them respond to questions. This is an excellent free tutorial from an attorney and also a detective on why talking to the cops can hurt you even if you are innocent…well worth the time to watch.



If i have a big knife with me in the field it’s my camp knife, much lighter than an axe. If they ask about my karambit while I’m in a town somewhere it’s for opening packages.

I really don’t care how suspicious an LEO finds my answer. They’re paid to do a job, not sympathize. I’m not going to make it easy on them to lay charges on me.

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Legal question for 2A supporters: why doesn’t the explicit ban on self defense knives fall under the “common use” standard used for firearms? It seems like this should be struck down as unconditional if the right defendant could be paired with the right attorney. I wish 2A groups would pursue non-firearm cases like this.