How to Make Your “Illegal” AR 15 CA-Compliant
Things are constantly changing for AR 15 owners in the not-so-gun-friendly state of California. We’re here to help you navigate that minefield of ever-changing legislation so you can keep your dearly beloved black rifle safely in your home – legally, that is. In our last article, we detailed how to get around that whole “bullet buttons aren’t allowed anymore” thing, which you can read here. For everything else you need to know, keep those eyeballs planted here. Here’s how to make your AR 15 CA-compliant, given the current laws governing black rifles.
First thing’s first, let’s go over how to make your AR 15 CA-compliant based on the state’s two laws, SB 880 and AB 1135 (these legislations define an assault weapon in the eyes of the California Department of Justice). You’ll have to decide which route you want to take, though. That means deciding whether you want to stay with fixed magazines or detachable magazines:
If you want your AR 15 to have detachable magazines (and no bullet button):
Official sources say you have until January 1, 2018, to register your bullet button-equipped AR 15 as an assault rifle under California law. But, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to completely neuter your AR 15, and you don’t have to keep your magazines fixed!
You can even get rid of that stupid bullet button altogether. You’ll be able to enjoy using your standard lower receiver with a regular magazine release. To go this route, there are some very important things you need to do to make your rifle “featureless”:
- Remove your pistol grip. Yeah, it sucks, but you’ll need to ditch that iconic pistol grip altogether. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your AR 15 with the same general ergonomics, though. There are plenty of “non-pistol” grips available that are comfortable and even a tad stylish, and they’ll let you carry your rifle in generally the same fashion as before. Lucky for us, the folks making these laws have never held an AR 15, so they don’t even know what to really ban.
- Remove your flash hider. Can’t have a flash hider, sorry. That’s okay, though, because the typical 5.56 or .223 doesn’t report much blast at the muzzle. Again, this isn’t a huge loss and many bench shooters gunning for accuracy forego a flash hider.
- Pin that stock. Your stock can’t adjust or fold in any position, and it can’t be a thumbhole stock. It must be fixed. You can get a good ole’ M16 buttstock if you enjoy classic aesthetics, or you can even buy an M4 buttstock that’s been pinned at the factory, making it fixed. None of us really adjust our stocks once they’re set, so again, not a huge loss. Good job, CA DOJ.
- Ditch the forward pistol grip. Just like the lower receiver’s pistol grip, any forward pistol grip is illegal. Now, you can have things like the Magpul Angled Foregrip – your forward grip simply can’t have that “broomhandle”, or vertical design.
- Ditch the grenade launcher. We rolled our eyes at this one, too. If you have a grenade launcher – well, surprise, you can’t. That includes flare launchers with a diameter less than 37mm. That magic number would constitute said launcher not being labeled a destructive device in other states, but it’s California, so you can’t have it.
Our CA-Compliant AR 15 Lower features a pinned M4 buttstock with an AR MagLock!
So, ditch all that stuff and you can also ditch the bullet button, enjoying detachable magazines once again. If you take this route, you can easily convert your lower using a standard Classic Lower Parts Kit.
If you decide to keep your AR 15 with a fixed magazine:
Then you get to keep all those features that a “normal” AR 15 comes with – the stuff we just mentioned above (except for that grenade launcher). There are just two restrictions to keep your AR 15 CA-compliant. Your black rifle cannot have any of the following equipped:
- Fixed magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds
- Overall length of less than 30”
You’ll have to invest in the AR MagLock or some other magazine lock that require you to break open your lower receiver. Regardless of what device you choose to go with (if you take this route), you should pick up one of the Quick Release AR-15 Takedown Pins, available on the California-Legal AR 15 Parts section.
This will let you pop open your lower in a matter of seconds, rather than fighting with the traditional rear takedown pin. Thought making your AR 15 CA-complaint would be a pain? Think again. Sure, missing out on some features is annoying, but you’ll get to use your rifle the way it was intended.