Federal laws in Australia determine what knives you can legally bring into the country. There are several different categories of knives that are illegal to have in Australia. The Prohibited Weapons Act of 1996 with a republican date of 28 May 2020 contains the latest amendments.
If you are found possessing any of these illegal weapons, there are penalties that may be assessed. However, if you have a purpose for carrying these knives, there are special permits. Apply for a permit if your reason to have any of these knives meets the exemption rationale.
1. Flick Knives
Blades in flick knives fold or are recessed into the handle. To use the knife, apply pressure to a button or spring on the handle to release the blade. Most flick knives are designed to lock in the blade when it is fully extended.
With the ability to lock in the extended blade, well-made flick knives have the strength advantage you would find with a fixed blade knife.
Folding knives are preferred by many because their size and ease of concealing the knife. Most of these knives will fold to fit into your pockets, which puts the flick knife in the category of a pocketknife.
Also known as switchblades or switches, flick knives are manufactured with the military and other emergency personnel as their target markets. People who purchase flick knives usually do so for self-defense.
2. Sheath Knife
Other terms for an Australian sheath knife are an out-of-the front knife or sliding knife. Blades in these knives open from and close into the handle. In essence the handle is the sheath or holder for the blade.
These blades have sheaths or coverings into which the blade retracts when pressure is applied. Conversely, when pressure is reapplied, the blade will be released. Sheath knives are typically used for hunting and self-defense.
In countries other than Australia, sheaths are leather, nylon, or plastic holder for a knife. Frequently, fixed blade knives are stored and carried in a sheath. The sheath protects the knife blade and the person who is wearing the sheath from inadvertently injuring themself.
Australia’s definition of daggers as a category of knives includes sharp pointed stabbing instruments that can be concealed. Blades of daggers have cutting edges on both sides of the blade or they can have a needle-like blade.
Push daggers or push knives that are currently produced are manufactured for self-defense. Most are made with a t-handle. The shape of the handle allows the user to grip the handle in the palm of their hand. You hold the t-handle, so the blade juts out from your fist.
Most other daggers are now collectibles. These daggers include replications of ones that medieval knights would have used. Other daggers are also reproductions of weapons that fantasy characters would have utilized.
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4. Butterfly Knives
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The blades on butterfly or balisong knives can be single or multi-edged. Two handles are attached to the blade. With a rotation of the handles, the blade is easily concealed. To open the knife, one uses gravity or centrifugal force.
There are two theories regarding the origin of the butterfly knife. One group believes the knife was first created in the Philippines; others find support that its roots are in France. Regardless of its history, users of the butterfly or balisong knife can perform amazing flipping tricks.
As a weapon, the butterfly knife falls into the folding or pocketknife category. The design of the knife delivers quick deployment. Another feature of butterfly knives are single-handed use. This makes the knife a powerful weapon for self-defense.
5. Throwing Stars
Star knives are also known as Chinese stars or ninja stars. Typically, these weapons measure from two to six inches in diameter. Star knives are produced in different weights, styles, and with a varying number of points.
For Australian law, star knives are defined as blades that have two or more angular points. The blades, points, or spikes spread out around a central axis point. These knives are designed to spin around the center when thrown at a target.
History or lore tells us that throwing stars were part of the samurai’s cache of weapons. In the feudal era these were called shuriken. The blades were easy to conceal. This made them a powerful weapon intended to confuse or misdirect the opponent.
Today, Hollywood has added to the mystique of the uses of the throwing star. Ninja stars and other versions have appeared as a weapon of choice of both the hero and villain in recent movies. From this usage, a growing field of star knife competition has arisen.
6. Trench Knives
In this grouping of knives, the blades can be singular or multi-edged or spiked. The blade is fitted into a handle made of a hard substance. Another version of trench knives are blades that can be fitted of the hand of the user instead of the hard substance.
Trench knives are so-called because of their creation and use in World War I. A key battle strategy of World War I was trench warfare. This called upon the soldiers to fight in close quarters such as the trenches.
These knives were designed by soldiers during WWI. The design purpose then and now is to kill the enemy quietly and quickly.
Some in the military use a version of the original trench knife today and refer to it as a boot knife. As the name implies, boot knives are stored in one’s boot. This makes them a comfortable option. Additionally, a trench or boot knife is easily concealed.
7. Ballistic Knife
These weapons can be used both as a fixed blade knife or a weapon that can be airborne. The blade is attached to a hollow tube. At this stage, the knife acts and is used as a fixed blade knife.
To transform it from a fixed blade knife, most ballistic knives have springs inside the hollow tube. When this spring is engaged, the blade will be propelled.
Blades from ballistic knives can be discharged as a projectile. The detachable blade can traverse up to 20 feet with a speed of up to 40 miles per hour. These traits transform this knife into a gun-like weapon.
One theory of why this knife was created is because of how quietly it operates. The ballistic knife has greater accuracy than the star knives, which are also a very silent weapon.
In Australia’s Prohibited Weapons Act 1996 with republication 28 May 2020, there are three other groupings of knives that are listed. They are:
- Blades, knife, or axe made to be modified to be thrown
- Claws that are also made to be modified or thrown
- Other – blades capable of being disguised or concealed that can be spikes or single or multi-edge blades.
These groupings capture other weaponry that can have blades, spikes, or claws. Other attributes included in these groups are any concealed knife that could be mistaken for other item. For example, walking sticks, canes, or riding crops cannot have blades hidden in them.
Another type of illegal knife that falls into the other category is a credit card knife. The knives or blades are sheathed in material and design to look like credit cards.
If you plan on traveling to Australia, I would leave my knives at home.