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How To Build a Legal, Featureless AR 15 in Restrictive States

The great ‘gun-pocalypse’ in California and the strict legislation being passed in other restrictive states have moved the goal post even higher for those of you who want to build and own a legal AR 15. The newest restriction in CA has banned the ability to build new AR 15 rifles with the standard bullet button. The new laws, in a nutshell, state that the definition of a fixed magazine now requires the action of the weapon to be disassembled or opened to remove the magazine in any way. Luckily, the gun community is smarter than the anti-gun legislature and we have the means to own and build a California-compliant AR 15 even still, as well as featureless AR 15s for New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. 

Keeping your AR 15 Legal in CA, NY, and Beyond

So, there are two general routes you can take to build an AR 15 that’s legal in those not-so-gun-friendly states. The first is to modify your AR to be completely featureless (no more “scary bits”). If you’re in California, the second route is to work within the definition of a fixed magazine. California has a ban on what they call “assault weapons” and defines them as a weapon with a removable magazine and any of the following features:

  • Flash suppressor
  • Thumbhole stock
  • Folding or telescoping stock
  • Grenade launcher or flare launcher
  • Forward pistol grip
  • Protruding Pistol grip

New York’s SAFE Act isn’t much different: Just like California, it bans AR 15s that feature removable magazines and at least one other “scary feature”. So, how do you get around this legal mess and retain your right to own a black rifle? With these two nifty little devices:

The AR MagLock and QR Pin

So, to keep the above features you have to modify your weapon to no longer accept a detachable magazine. This would make your rifle a California- or New York-compliant AR 15. With the legislature changing the definition and essentially banning the building of new rifles with bullet buttons, the industry responded with the AR MagLock. 

ARMagLock - AR-15 Magazine Lock

The AR MagLock is designed to replace the function of a magazine release. Once the magazine is in place it cannot be removed, until the AR is broken open. To remove the magazine, you remove the rear takedown pin and open the rifle slightly. Hit the AR MagLock and the magazine drops and you can reload. The MagLock also has a QR pin. QR stands for quick release, which allows you to remove the pin rapidly. This pin is outfitted with a spring to relieve tension and the pin itself has a thumb ring that's easy to grip and rip. 

The MagLock is already approved by the California DOJ as a device that will render your AR 15 California-compliant. The same would apply for the New York SAFE Act. We've already put together the lower parts kit you'll need to build in California, too:

Classic Lower Parts Kit (CA-Compliant) | AR-15

The Featureless AR 15

Remember that list of features we have above? If you’d rather keep the “naturally” removable magazine on your AR, you’ll have to get a little more creative. That means removing all of those from your AR 15 so you have a featureless rifle. There are specialized stocks and grips that skirt the definition of a “thumbhole” or “pistol”, as well as alternative muzzle devices to a flash hider. This is the more expensive route to take, but if you want the quickest reloads possible and want to maintain your AR 15 the way it came from the factory, this is the road you’ll have to travel. 

The Resistance Grows

The good news is as hard they try, state legislatures cannot beat the firearms industry and our ability to beat their uninformed laws. Being compliant doesn’t mean giving up. All AR owners should be compliant with the law, but we should all continue to attempt the reverse the decisions of anti-gun legislation. Stay tuned for more compliant and creative features that’ll keep your black rifle in your safe and on the range - even if you live in an anti-gun state.

DISCLAIMER: If you are new to the world of DIY gun building, you likely have a lot of questions and rightfully so. It’s an area that has a lot of questions that, without the correct answers, could have some serious implications. At 80 Lowers, we are by no means providing this content on our website to serve as legal advice or legal counsel. We encourage each and every builder to perform their own research around their respective State laws as well as educating themselves on the Federal laws. When performing your own research, please be sure that you are getting your information from a reliable source.

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