A bushcraft or survival knife is a vital tool for most preppers. Therefore, we want to be able to carry a knife in our kit when we are out practicing bushcraft skills. UK law tightly controls weapons, including knives, but in some circumstances it is legal to carry a knife in the UK. It is important to understand when you can carry a knife because falling foul of knife laws can land you with a 4 year prison sentence and an unlimited fine. In some scenarios, however, it is legal to carry a knife in the UK.
As preppers, we often think of major disaster scenarios where security forces or government has collapsed. In those situations, complying with the law would become irrelevant, but it is important to be able to comply with the law in a functioning society.
What Does The Law Say About Carrying A Knife?
The law does not specify what is legal, instead it says what is illegal. In the UK it is illegal (according to gov.uk) to:
- sell a knife to anyone under 18, unless it has a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less
- carry a knife in public without good reason, unless it has a folding blade with a cutting edge 3 inches long or less
- carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife
- use any knife in a threatening way (even a legal knife)
So Is It Legal To Carry A Knife In The UK?
The short answer is yes, it is legal to carry a knife in the UK, but not just any knife. You need to have a good reason to carry a knife with a fixed blade or blade longer than 3″. The difficult part of this is that law does not specify what a “good reason” is. The gov.uk website lists the following as examples of good reasons to carry a knife in public:
- taking knives you use at work to and from work
- taking it to a gallery or museum to be exhibited
- if it will be used for theatre, film, television, historical reenactment or religious purposes
- if it will be used in a demonstration or to teach someone how to use it
This list is not by any means comprehensive. It is just a few examples of the type of activities that are acceptable. Carrying a knife for bushcraft purposes seems to fit with the intent of the items in the list above. You would, however, have to be carrying the knife when you were specifically going to use it for bushcraft.
You can not legally carry a knife (apart from a knife with a folding blade less than 3″) when just going about day to day life. This clashes with the prepper mentality of having everything that you need in a disaster accessible at all times.
If you are charged with carrying a knife illegally, a court will decide if your reason for carrying the knife is a good one. If they decide your reason is not a good one, you could be hit with a prison sentence and a fine.
How To Comply With The Law For Carrying A Knife
In order to comply with the law, include a small folding knife in your every day carry kit. We recommend the Huntsman Swiss Army Knife. This is a folding knife with a blade of less than 3 inches, and so is legal to carry in the UK without good reason. This might not be the ideal knife to have if disaster strikes, but it is still a very useful knife to have.
When you are camping, or practicing bushcraft or survival skills, you have good reason to carry a larger knife.
You can have a larger survival knife with a fixed blade in your bug out bag if your bag normally stays at home. Keep your bug out bag at home unless actually bugging out in disaster or emergency scenarios. If you want to take your bug out bag with you at other times, for example at work or when away from home, you may need to leave the knife at home.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is our interpretation of the law. It is your responsibility to make sure that you comply with the law. If you are charged with carrying a knife illegally, a court will decide if your reason for carrying the knife is a good one.
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