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What is a Ballistic Knife? How Does it Work? Where to Buy?

There are many types of handheld knives available on the market. They include various types of pocket knives, small hunting knives, and certain types of utility knives. One handheld knife that often comes up is the ballistic knife.

A ballistic knife is a handheld knife with a removable blade, which ejects from the handle with the press of a trigger. This knife is mostly used by the military and self-defense.

Ballistic Knife Guide

Overview of Ballistic Knives

The name for a ballistic knife comes from the fact that the blade flies forward from the knife when triggered. In this way, the blade becomes its own projectile. This is why some people consider the ballistic knife to be a firearm.

There are different kinds of ballistic knives with various methods of propelling the blade. Some use air compression or gas propulsion to send it further.

Spring Vs Air Compression or Gas Propulsion

Air compression and gas propelled knives tend to last longer since the spring experiences less wear over time. The blade has a less accurate aim when fired, though.

Spring-based ballistic knives are more accurate and generally quieter. However, they still lack precision. The spring also experiences more wear in this version.

The mechanism for ejecting the blade from a spring-based ballistic knife is composed of four key parts: a hollow handle, a removable blade, a spring, and a trigger. The spring is located inside the handle. The trigger is usually in the form of a lever or switch, located on the outside of the handle. The blade is fitted into the handle and locked into place.

ballistic knife parts

The blade remains locked inside the handle until the trigger is pressed. When this happens, the spring propels the blade forward, releasing it from the knife. The blade is ejected forward, sometimes for several yards.

Russian models of the ballistic knife are especially lethal. It is triggered by pulling a pin or pressing a button. The blade stays attached to the handle once deployed, allowing it to be reloaded over and over again. This version of the ballistic knife features a powerful spring that can propel the blade up to 20 feet.

The deadly nature of the Russian ballistic knife is not surprising when you consider the fact that the ballistic knife was based on the NRS-2, a similar knife that originated in Russia. It featured a firearm in the handle. It was manufactured in large numbers during the 1980s and provided to Russian special forces, specifically a unit called the Spetsnaz. It was known as a silent killer, and these troops were trained to use the knives to eliminate enemy troops.

NRS-2 ballistic knife

What Are Ballistic Knives Used For?

Ballistic knives can be used for a variety of uses. They are mainly promoted for military units and self-defense, due to their projectile nature and quiet operation.

However, the knife can also be used as any other knife. The blade is fixed, providing stability while cutting. It is often used outdoors for purposes such as cutting branches.

Are Ballistic Knives Legal in the U.S.?

In the mid-1980s, the ballistic knife was being sold and advertised in the United States. Its reputation preceded it, though: it was already known to be used by Soviet troops for killing and debilitating, which made it seem like a dangerous Soviet weapon in the eyes of Americans. Around 1986, it was banned in the United States.

This ban covers all types of ballistic knives, including those propelled by spring, gas, or air. Those powered by gas and air compression are considered especially dangerous since they can propel the blade further and sometimes use an explosive charge to do so.

what is a ballistic knife

Originally, a ban was initiated in New York after testimony was presented that the knife could pierce police body armor. While this bill failed to pass, it was soon followed by others that succeeded. Eventually, a federal act passed which banned the possession, manufacture, sale, and importation of ballistic knives.

The law does have two key exceptions:

  1. The law specifies that ballistic knives cannot be carried or sold across state lines. This means that you may be able to purchase, make, or sell one within a state’s borders. However, individual states will have their own laws, so it’s best to check first.
  2. Members of the military are exempt. However, the conditions for carrying these knives are often dependent on the contract between the manufacturer or seller and the specific military branch.

The U.S. is not the only country that bans the use of ballistic knives. Many nations, especially Western nations, prohibit the possession and sale of these knives.

Where to Get a Ballistic Knife

As mentioned above, if you are in the military, you will find it easier to purchase a ballistic knife. However, make sure to check with individual state laws and the military contract you are bound by.

As a citizen, it may be more difficult to get your hands on a ballistic knife. You cannot purchase from someone in another state or country, and you cannot carry across state lines. However, you may be able to make your own or purchase one from a seller within your own state. Again, check with your state’s specific laws to make sure you are not violating any.

It is always possible to purchase a ballistic knife online. However, remember the laws about interstate commerce and importation. This means that the seller cannot ship to you from another state or country. Make sure you know who you are buying from and where they are located, to avoid violating any federal or state laws.


A ballistic knife is a unique knife that involves propelling a fixed blade like a firearm. There are various models that may include different methods of propulsion and different triggers. They are handy for members of the military and citizens who intend to use them outdoors or for self-defense.

However, possessing or selling a ballistic knife is mostly illegal in the U.S. Purchasing or selling one may be difficult if you are not in the military, though it will depend on the specific state laws of your state. Always do your research and know the laws where you live.

If you do not intend to carry the knife across state lines or out of the country, it may be possible to buy or make your own knife. If your state permits this, you can get your hands on a ballistic knife and learn its benefits for yourself.

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