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How to Build a Legal AR-15 in California

5D Tactical - 20th Apr 2023

Legal Disclaimer: 5D Tactical remains a loyal and staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, however, we are not lawyers. The information provided in this blog is meant to be a service to the public and is not meant to be taken as legal advice.

Please stay up to date with your local and state laws regarding gun control laws. If you need a definitive answer do your own research as well, otherwise, consult your own attorney.

Firearms ownership in California is tough as its one of the most authoritarian states; in terms of gun control restrictions. For those wanting to build their own AR-15 rifle, it's important to be familiar with what parts that can be legally used. Due to arbitrary rules and laws set by non-gun people, some parts could classify your gun into an "assault weapon." 

Fortunately, the team at 5D Tactical can offer guidance on your next project. However, as the world changes, so too will its laws and regulations regarding firearms, so pay close attention.

California AR-15 Legislation: Magazines and Bullet Buttons

Bullet buttons were banned in CA as new laws were passed that only allowed featureless AR-15s to be able to have detachable magazines. If you had any of the features we list below, you'd legally be forced to use a fixed magazine setup with your AR15. 

Featureless AR-15s: Parts Banned In California

California compliant AR-15 must be “featureless.” This means that you cannot use a few, specific components to construct your rifle.

In California, a legal AR-15 cannot feature any of the following:

  • Pistol grip
  • Thumbhole stock
  • Folding/telescoping stock
  • Flash hider
  • Underbarrel grenade or flare launcher
  • Forward pistol grip

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; 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?

Not anymore. California used to allow 80% lowers and you used to even be able to get them registered, if you so chose. But after Governor Newsom signed multiple anti-gun laws, which went into effect July 1, 2022 - we no longer were able to sell 80 lowers to Californians. 

What about AR Pistols in California?

Regardless of state, AR pistols were legal to buy and own in all 50 states (some are more difficult than others for sure). However, with the legal drama over the ATF's rule 2021R-8F, which essentially seeks to eliminate the protections AR pistols had when using a stabilizing brace - the government agency is now looking to criminalize millions of Americans so that they can bully law abiding citizens into registering their guns while reaping the profits of people paying for the tax stamp.

The legal debate in the courts has not yet concluded yet, but so far it's not looking good.

Are Flash Hiders Legal in California?

No, California banned the use of a flash hider and most compensators (though you can still buy them). However, muzzle brakes are completely ok to buy and use.

California-Safe Muzzle Devices

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.

Upgrade your AR15 with 5D Tactical

To own a firearm is an American tradition with firm roots in our Bill of Rights. At 5D Tactical, we believe that our 2nd Amendment rights extend to the construction of firearms as well.

All over the country, there are thousands of DIYers who enjoy building a rifle in the comfort of their own workshops. After all, there’s nothing like the feeling of firing a rifle you’ve built for the first time. Unfortunately, we can't help Californians with the purchase of 80 lowers, but we still carry plenty of other parts you can use to complete your build!

If you want to build a carbine in California, then it’s vital that you stay current on local laws and regulations. For help building a compliant AR-15, reach out to our team today.