If your AR-15 doesn’t currently comply with CA laws, (unsure? Read this article to find out) there are a few different options to bring it back into compliance. 

First, decide if you want to make your AR featureless or keep your features and fix your magazine. 

Featureless vs Fixed Mag

To make your rifle featureless, it usually means buying a new stock, which your local gun guy can install for you for a relatively small charge, or you can install it yourself if you prefer.  Youtube has how-to videos for most brands if needed.  We like Thorsden stocks, but there are many other options to choose from.  Featureless rifles are popular for those who don’t mind the different way of holding the firearm (think hunting rifle, with your elbow out) and don’t want the hassle of breaking open the action every ten rounds.  This option was very popular, at first…

Then people started getting creative.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and this case is no different.  Within a year, several different options to fix your magazine and easily separate the action came on the market, making this option not only cheaper than buying a featureless stock, but easier and quicker than the previous bullet button. 

To fix your magazine, you need either an internal maglock which is a small pin milled into the inside of your lower, or an external maglock which is a piece glued to the outside of your lower.  Even though you can install the external ones yourself, we highly recommend our internal maglock for several reasons:

  1. They last the life of the gun
    • All maglocks will fall out of calibration after it gets used enough.  If you locktight the allen wrench hole on the external version (which you’re supposed to do to make it legal – can’t remove the magazine with a tool remember) then when they come out of calibration they’re no good anymore.  You’ll have to cut it off and buy a new one.  Not only will this add up in cost but it’s also not great for your lower.
  2. Good for any upper
    • With nothing attached to the outside of your lower, you don’t have to worry about it getting in the way of a non-standard or side-charge upper.
  3. Good for any magazine
    • It can be calibrated to fit any mag, so you haven’t wasted money if you buy a brand that’s a slightly different size and the mag drop works when you test it.  It’s a ten second easy fix to make it hold your new mag properly.  Which brings me to…
  4. Easy to adjust
    • Not only for adjusting into calibration to hold your mag, but also quick and easy to adjust out of calibration if you want to shoot on your own property or plan on moving out of state.  It takes ten seconds to convert it to drop the magazine normally again, and nobody would ever know you have a CA legal lower. 
  5. Inexpensive
    • We (Gold Country Sports in Newcastle, CA) hold the patent on the internal maglock, and charge $50 to install it in your lower for you, which makes this the cheapest option as well.  If you live near Newcastle, you can drop it off and pick it up about two weeks later.  If it’s not driving distance, you can take your lower (stripped or not) to any local FFL to ship.  Ask around or negotiate for the best deal for dealer fees for this, many charge only $10. 

The maglock will make your firearm legal.  To make it easier to use, many choose to also purchase an opening device.  The $50 option above includes a ring on the rear takedown pin to pull open.  We carry three (much) easier add-on options to speed up use:

  1.  Juggernaut Hellfighter
    • The usual favorite, it’s an easy-to-press button on the left side of the lower which replaces the rear takedown pin.  It also holds the upper open a fraction of an inch – just enough to “separate the action” and drop the mag.  To close you simply press the upper back down.  It’s also the least expensive of the options.
  2. Cross Armory Quick Pins
    • Good for lefties, it’s an easy-to-press piece on both sides of the gun that you pinch to open.  This does not hold the upper for you like the juggernaut, so you do have to be careful not to let it fall open as it may damage the front pivot pin or hole if you allow it to drop enough times.  To close, simply press the upper back down.  This is the priciest of the three options.
  3. Patriot Pin
    • This one has a lever on the takedown pin that you press with your thumb to open.  To close, you hold the upper down and press the pin back in with your thumb.  It’s easier to use than a ring on the takedown pin, but doesn’t offer the ease of closing like the other two options.

Any of these options can be purchased and/or installed free of charge at the same time as your internal maglock installation, or you can install yourself.

Additional helpful devices

  1. BAD lever
    • “Battery Assist Device”, this is to move the bolt catch from the left side of the rifle to the right side.  This is handy because you have to close the bolt to drop the magazine and it places the release in an easy to reach location to be pressed with your right index finger.  Not necessary but nice if you’re looking for the quickest and easiest way to change mags. 

Although the most recent “assault weapon” laws were meant to further restrict using AR rifles, the only thing it really succeeded in doing was annoying everybody by having to purchase some new items to update their lower.  By doing this though, it actually made AR’s quicker and easier to use than the previous bullet button.  Nobody thinks this will be the last update to the law that we’ll see, but for now, these options will give you a legal, (better) functioning AR.

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