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The Best Butterfly Knives for Beginners and Experts

By April 9, 2021No Comments
The Best Butterfly Knives for Beginners and Experts

The balisong, also known as the butterfly knife, emerged in the Philippines as early as 800 A.D., and was used as a self-defense and utility knife by peasants and noblemen alike. Today, these incredible tools are primarily seen swinging through the air in dramatic martial arts displays. Enthusiasts and amateur users in the U.S. and beyond have adopted this eastern weapon with pride, and the consumer balisong market is experiencing something of a boom – making this a great time to jump in and see what all the fuss is about.

Whether you’re looking for a blunt practice butterfly knife to get started with or a fully-fledged spear point balisong, you’ll find something on this list that suits you perfectly. Take care, however, as, unfortunately, balisongs have been the subject of a good deal of public controversy, owing especially to their use as weapons of intimidation in action flicks in the 80s and 90s. Due to this, they are illegal to own in several countries and states. If you want to find out more about the restrictions on balisongs and the reasoning behind them, check out the handy Q & A below.

And if you’re interested in other types of knives, you can always check out our growing collection of buying guides.

Are butterfly knives illegal?

In the U.S., butterfly knives or balisongs are perfectly legal to own and use within your own home, but problems arise when carrying them off your property. It is illegal to carry a butterfly knife in certain states, whereas there are specific limits in others, which you’ll find listed below. 

It’s imperative that wherever you live, you check your local laws before buying or carrying a butterfly knife, as some countries, including the U.S. and Canada, consider them an offensive weapon. In these places, it is illegal to own a butterfly knife altogether – even as a private display piece.

Are trainer butterfly knives illegal?

Blunted practice butterfly knives and trainer knives are perfectly legal in many countries, including the US, Canada, and the U.K. As such, you need no permit nor special permissions to use them or carry them in public. However, while there’s no strict legal limit on carrying them, it’s still important to treat them carefully. You should avoid taking them out in public, as they may cause alarm and get you into problematic situations with law enforcement or otherwise. Balisongs are seen as intimidating weapons, and so even if yours is not real, it may still get you into trouble with the law, especially if it looks just like the genuine article.

Are butterfly knives legal in Texas?

Butterfly knives were illegal in Texas until 2013, as they fell under the definition of a switchblade, making them illegal to possess privately or to carry in public. Since then, that law has been repealed, and they are now perfectly legal for both ownership and carry. Still, as they were once classed as offensive weapons, it would be prudent to err on the side of caution and avoid taking your blade out in public.

Are butterfly knives legal in Canada?

Unfortunately, Canada follows the same strict rules as the U.K. and Australia and generally defines a butterfly knife or balisong as a prohibited weapon. This is due to the switchblade and spring-loading mechanisms found in many balisongs. As such, it’s illegal to own such a knife altogether in these countries, and importing one in could land you in serious trouble.

What States is the butterfly knife illegal?

As noted, most U.S. states allow for the private use or concealed carry of butterfly knives, but they are entirely illegal in some states. These places include Hawaii, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, and in California and Chicago, there are 2” and 2.5” blade limits, respectively. These rules and limits are often topics of debate in court, and as such, they are prone to change every few years, so make sure to consult your state’s guidelines regularly to abide by the law.

Why is it illegal to own a butterfly knife in some places?

The major factor that has caused butterfly knives to be made illegal in so many places is that they are classed as gravity-operated weapons. This describes anything with a concealed blade that can be triggered by swinging the blade or by using a spring latch, much like a traditional balisong. The problem with this is that such a knife can conceivably be carried and concealed by a criminal, only to be rapidly extended in an intimidating fashion. They are not just dangerously sharp knives but also capable of creating high-tension, fear-based situations in the wrong hands.

As such, no matter what type of balisong you buy or for what purpose, it’s always important to ensure that your knife is used only responsibly and safely and that you obey the local laws of your specific state or jurisdiction. Balisongs are beautiful knives, and only with stringent care and a thoughtful approach can enthusiasts eventually win over those who still fear them today. 

1. Maxace Knives Serpent Striker II

A premium butterfly knife with solid built quality, the Maxace Knives Serpent Striker II is an evolution of its original design, with milled and chamfered steel liners that allow for precision control of its pivot handle. A blunt, weighted trainer knife is also included, making this the perfect beginner butterfly knife kit.

Key Features

  • Steel-grey colorway
  • Tanto blade style
  • Satin finish

Specifications

  • Stainless steel
  • 4.5” Blade

2. ArtisanCutlery Mini Auto Butterfly

A marvelous multi-tool with a bevy of useful additions, the ArtisanCutlery mini auto butterfly knife is not just a competent balisong but also a 3” ruler, hex wrench, flathead screwdriver, bottle opener, and pry bar! Each of these useful functions is kept bound to the single blade, so don’t worry about them all getting in the way of each other – accessing them is as easy as triggering the balisong’s spring action with a flick of its black titanium handle.

Key Features

  • Dark steel colorway
  • Strong spring action
  • Multifunctional bonus tools

Specifications

  • Stainless steel, Black Titanium
  • 3.25 “Blade

3. Benchmade 51 Morpho Balisong Knife

A balisong butterfly knife in a stunning blue and chrome colorway, the Benchmade 51 Morpho is pretty to look at and offers a solid construction. Anodized titanium liners complement its black G10 handles, and a crowned blade spine offers the slick 4.25” steel blade a beautiful, sturdy bolster point. Pair this with a fast-action spring latch, and you’ve got one slick weapon on your hands.

Key Features

  • Blue and chrome colorway
  • Crowned blade spine
  • Spring-latch mechanism

Specifications

  • D2 Tool steel, Anodized Titanium
  • 4.25 “Blade

4. Kershaw Lucha Balisong Knife

The Kershaw Lucha balisong knife is a fighter in both name and nature, with a clip point mechanism and a sharp 4.6” stainless steel blade that makes it a real buttery knife for only experienced users. This is a knife representing a fusion of western and eastern ideals, with renowned U.S. knife-maker Kershaw taking on the balisong for the first time and delivering a sterling product. Other titanium scales are also available for wielders who want to add a bit of extra flair to this already excellent knife.

Key Features

  • Silver chrome colorway
  • Clip point blade
  • Flat blade grind
  • Stonewash finish

Specifications

  • Stainless steel
  • 4.6 “Blade

5. Benchmade 85 Balisong Knife

Butterfly knives often fall into traditional or modern categories quite easily, but the Benchmade 85 defies labels and straddles that line boldly. This is a classic drop-point blade knife with a sleek modern aesthetic, pairing a carefully contoured 4.4” blade and a sturdy billet titanium handle in a jaded silver style – all of this combines for a striking fusion of the old and the new.

Key Features

  • Jaded silver colorway
  • Drop-point blade
  • Stonewash finish

Specifications

  • Stainless steel, Titanium
  • 4.4 “Blade

6. BRS Hybrid Replicant Balisong

Bioengineered to allow for swift and fluid knifeplay, the BRS Hybrid Replicant is a balisong butterfly knife with a long 4.5” spear point blade. Plain-edged but with plenty of flair thanks to its blue and grey chrome colorway, the Replicant is a great butterfly knife for those seeking a weapon that marries technical prowess with the overall style.

Key Features

  • Blue and grey chrome colorway
  • Spearpoint blade
  • Plain-edged

Specifications

  • Stainless steel, Titanium
  • 4.5 “Blade

7. Maxace Knives Obsidian Black Balisong

Inspired by the ultra-sharp volcanic glass known as obsidian, the Maxace Knives Obsidian Black balisong is a competition-worthy weapon with a sharp 4.5” spear point blade and a beautiful obsidian-style titanium handle. A zipper pouch and trainer knife are included with the package, making this a great comprehensive kit.

Key Features

  • Obsidian-style handle
  • Spearpoint blade
  • Flat blade grind

Specifications

  • Stainless steel, Titanium 
  • 4.5 “Blade

8. Bear and Son Bear Butterfly Knife 517

This one is for the nature lovers out there! A sharp butterfly knife with a real stag antler bone handle, the Bear Butterfly Knife from Bear and Sons, combines natural materials with cutting-edge science. The stainless steel blade has been coated with boron for a reflective black finish, and a zen pin construction gives the antler body a super-durable build. This is one sharp butterfly knife with a hollow blade grind for increased aerodynamics.

Key Features

  • Boron-coated black blade
  • Genuine stag handle
  • Made in the USA

Specifications

  • Stainless steel, Stag antler bone
  • 4 “Blade

9. Bear and Son Smooth Bone Balisong

Another great knife from bear and Son, this smooth bone balisong is a deadly black and white weapon with a stylish ivory and ebony look. The black stainless steel blade is easy to manipulate thanks to a pair of smooth white bone handles, each with polished nickel bolsters and tight zen pin construction. The blade is hollow once again, making this an extremely aerodynamic knife.

Key Features

  • White bone handle
  • Clip point blade
  • Black blade finish

Specifications

  • Stainless steel, Bone
  • 4” Blade 

10. Hinderer Knives Nieves v2 Balisong

A flawless butterfly knife named after the revolutionary female Philippine Guerrilla leader, Captain Nieves Fernandez, the Hinderer Nieves v2 is a stringently built, military-spec weapon with a strong history. Nieves assisted U.S. troops during World War II, and this knife stands as a tribute to her spirit and skills, combining a swift spear point blade with a light skeletonized titanium handle to form one beautiful balisong.

Key Features

  • Chrome steel colorway
  • Spearpoint blade
  • Flat grind edge
  • Stonewash finish

Specifications

  • Stainless steel, Titanium, Bronze
  • 4.625 “Blade

11. Bradley Kimura Balisong Knife

The Bradley Kimura balisong is a spear point butterfly knife with a reversible latch and flat blade grind, ideal for tricks and displays. The azure and silver gilding give it some colourful flair, and a bead blast finish really makes the steel shine. Get in quick if you want one because the first production run comes with a special engraving to mark the occasion.

Key Features

  • Azure and silver colorway
  • Spearpoint blade
  • Reversible latch
  • Bead blast finish

Specifications

  • Stainless steel
  • 3.88 “Blade

12. Boker Plus Mini Balisong

This butterfly training knife from Boker may be blunted, but that doesn’t make it any less brilliant. This is a great beginner butterfly knife for those just starting out at such an affordable price, and its stainless steel blade and skeletonized construction make it a solid choice for learning the ropes before you step up to a real butterfly knife.

Key Features

  • Cobalt and silver colorway
  • Blunt training knife
  • Satin finish

Specifications

  • Stainless steel
  • 3.25 “Blade