This will be my only post on the legalities of the AR-15 in the great state of California.  I am not a lawyer nor a lawmaker.  This is my understanding of the CA law in order to construct a CA legal AR at the time of writing.  LAWS CHANGE OFTEN, this is not to be construed as legal advice.

When I first set out to learn about the AR-15 and it’s legality in California… I had no idea where to begin.  I also saw much use of the term OLL, but wasn’t sure what that meant either.  Luckily, the nice guys over at CalGuns.net created a flowchart that you follow and to determine a rifle’s legality.  Since I’ll actually be building one, I’ll use this as a guide to ensure I’m following the rules.  Stepping through the flowchart below:

Calguns Rifle ID Flowchart

Here’s a link to the flowchart that will open in a new window (PDF) CalGuns.Net Semi-Auto Rifle ID Flowchart

Starting in the upper left hand corner:

Was the rifle registered as an Assault Weapon (AW) before the AW Control Act of 1989?
Obviously not, we’re building a new rifle today.. so the answer is a glaring NO. Next…

Is the rifle an AR or AK type? And if yes, is it listed on Appendix B or C?
OK, here’s where the term OLL comes from. Yes, I’m building an AR style rifle… but the law says what I CAN’T do, not what I CAN. The models shown on the Appendix list are deemed illegal by CA, but AR-15 parts that are not on the list are thus OK. You can legally purchase an ‘Off the List Lower’ (OLL) from your favorite FFL dealer that sells them. Alright, so now that I’m not purchasing from the dreaded ‘list’, I’ll answer NO and move on…

Is the rifle barrel shorter than 16 inches long?
I thought it would be pretty cool to build a short tactical rifle… but this section means I HAVE to purchase a barrel at least 16 inches long. Womp Womp. 🙁 Answering NO and continuing…

Is the rifle listed on Appendix A?
Nope! Next…

Is the rifle chambered in .50 BMG?
Wouldn’t that be awesome??? Holy crap…. but the answer is NO.

Is the rifle’s overall length less than 30 inches?
I can’t speak to every Upper Receiver and collapsible stock on the market… but from what I can gather, those two parts assembled with a 16 in barrel will yield a 30+ inch rifle in it’s collapsed state. Of course, I haven’t built anything yet so I can’t quite whip out a tape measure and answer YES / NO. We’ll assume NO for now and keep this in mind going forward…

Does the rifle have a detachable magazine?

AR-15 Bullt Button Function

The mag release that comes standard in a ‘Lower Parts Kit’ (LPK) would yield a YES answer and deem my rifle illegal in CA. There are a few different types of magazine release buttons that you can buy that require a tool to activate them. One of these types is called a ‘Bullet Button’ that requires a pointy tool object or a spare bullet to activate.  I’ll be installing one of these so we can answer NO to the flowchart and proceed.  This video gives you a pretty down and dirty demo of how it works:

Does the fixed magazine hold more than 10 cartridges?
This is easy, I’ll simply purchase 10 round magazines when the time comes.

Result:
Yay! We’ve arrived at the green LEGAL box. Whew! Just because I know that my rifle is legal… it doesn’t mean that my friendly neighborhood Law Enforcement Officer is versed in all of this knitty gritty. CalGuns.net has a great post with friendly reminders on how to keep out of trouble with you OLL AR-15 here: How NOT to get Arrested for your OLL Read up!

Other Sources:
Bullet Button http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=46802