For firearms, California is one of the most authoritarian states in terms of regulations. Take the AR-15, for example. A California compliant AR-15 must be “featureless,” which means it cannot feature any of the following:
- Pistol grip
- Thumbhole stock
- Folding/telescoping stock
- Flash hider
- Underbarrel grenade or flare launcher
- Forward pistol grip
The good news, and perhaps one of the few saving graces, is California allows for detachable magazines and standard-capacity magazines. As the world changes, so too will their laws and regulations regarding firearms, so pay close attention.
California AR-15 Legislation
A few years back, in 2017, California passed Senate Bill 880, known as the Bullet Button Ban, in which they redefined their definition of a fixed magazine. In S.B. 880, legislators claimed:
“[A fixed magazine is] an ammunition feeding device contained in, or permanently attached to, a firearm in such a manner that the device cannot be removed without disassembly of the firearm action.”
Bullet buttons do not require the user to disassemble the upper and lower receivers to remove a magazine; therefore, according to the new legislation, they are no longer fixed magazine conversions for the AR-15.
AR-15 Parts Not Allowed in California
To create a “featureless” rifle in California, as we said before, you cannot use specific components to construct your rifle. These include:
- Pistol Grip — A vertical pistol grip would allow you to completely wrap your hand around the grip and use the trigger simultaneously. California banned their use.
- Thumbhole Stock — While not incredibly common, a thumbhole stock, which combines the stock with the grip, allows the user to control recoil and use the trigger with ease.
- Folding/Adjustable Stock — If you want a California compliant AR-15, invest in a fixed stock, as adjustable, folding, and telescoping rifle stocks are banned.
- Grenade or Flare Launcher — California is not alone in banning grenade or flare launcher underbarrel attachments on rifles. The 40mm grenade launcher — used by the U.S. military — is a Class III NFA item, though 37mm launchers are purchasable outside of California.
- Forward Pistol Grip — A forward pistol grip or vertical grip located anywhere along the handguard is a no-go in California.
Are 80% Lowers Legal in California?
Actually, yes. California allows 80% lowers, though they do regulate their sale and usage. For instance, when you build an 80% rifle in California, you must undergo a background check before milling the blank receiver.
Furthermore, California requires all 80% firearm owners to apply for a serial number via the California Department of Justice. Once you received your number, it must be engraved somewhere on the lower.
What About AR Pistols in California?
You may like the term short-barrel rifle, but in California, it’s the AR pistol. Like the AR-15, the AR pistol must adhere to California’s firearm laws and regulations. Also, you may not have a threaded barrel or handguard attached to your AR pistol. If you want a muzzle device — one approved by the state — it will need to be welded on.
Like with 80% rifle builds, 80% AR pistol builds are legal. Again, you must serialize your lower before completion, and it cannot feature any of the previously mentioned banned items, which would designate your new pistol as an “assault weapon.”
California Safe Muzzle Devices
While California banned using a flash hider, they did not altogether restrict muzzle brakes or compensators. The key here, however, is to avoid any mention of a flash hider. If the product description mentions suppressing or flash hiding, then forego your purchase.
But if you want a safe muzzle device offering recoil reduction and thread protection, here are a few top choices:
- Precision Armament M4-72 Severe Duty
- DPMS Miculek Compensator
- VG6 Gamma 5.56 Muzzle Break
- Strike Industries J-Comp v2
- SLR Synergy Linear Hybrid Compensator
- SureFire ProComp
Are you ready to build a California compliant AR-15? An 80% rifle kit will allow you to construct a firearm ingrained with your style and with parts of your choosing — so long as they’re legal under California law.