We all know that living in anti-gun state makes it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own firearms. California is one of those states and notoriously unfriendly to gun owners. On top of a long, long list of restriction on gun ownership, the state also restricts many features normally found on a basic AR-15, and it is unlawful for you to own (or possess) a non-compliant AR.

Remember, laws can and do change around this topic, so be sure to always check what meets the legal requirements when you’re going to buy a firearm.

What Makes an AR California Compliant?

In brief, AR-15 rifles in California must conform to these restrictions for semi-auto rifles that do not have a fixed magazine:

  • They must have a total length of 30 inches or more, regardless of magazine type
  • No pistol grip that protrudes “conspicuously” beneath the action
  • No folding or telescoping stocks permitted/no thumb hole stocks
  • No detachable magazine/fixed magazines cannot accept more than 10 rounds
  • No grenade or flare launcher
  • No flash suppressor 
  • No forward pistol grip
  • No threaded barrel

A complete and current list can be found here. For many of the guns below, they have a fixed magazine system limited to 10 rounds – 10 rounds is the limit regardless of what the magazine may look like – which allows those guns to retain some of the above features. So, if you are in California, the gun will be the “CA Compliant” variant.

Related: What Makes a Rifle CA Compliant?

Top AR Rifles for California

While law-abiding citizens of California cannot legally possess the same AR-15s that gun owners in most other states can, it doesn’t mean they have to miss out on all the fun and versatility that an AR-15 brings to the party. While many reading this from a free state will just say that Californians should simply vote with their feet and move, there are many factors – such as work, family, lifestyle, and memories – that help dictate where we live. 

If you happen to live in California, we’ve selected the top five California-compliant AR-15s for you to check out. Here they are in alphabetical order.

Daniel Defense DDM4 V7


Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 CA Compliant

The DDM4 V7 by Daniel Defense features M-LOK attachment points, and the barrel is cold hammer-forged. A free-floating MFR XS handguard provides a lighter weight at 6.2 pounds, superior cooling, modularity, and all of the strength you’d expect from Daniel Defense product. On top, you’ll find an uninterrupted 1913 Picatinny rail to accommodate optics and accessories. Built for use under virtually any conditions, the mid-length gas system offers smooth and reliable cycling. 




Diamondback DB15

Diamondback DB-15 CA Compliant

The DB15 comes in at an amazing price point! Featuring a gas-impingement system, 4140 chrome-moly barrel and CNC machined components, you’ll get more bang for your buck (pun intended). An M-LOK rail, MOE grip, and a Magpul MOE stock round out the features on this California-compliant AR-15!


Patriot Ordnance Factory Minuteman


POF Minuteman CA Compliant

POF’s Minuteman is equipped with E2 dual-extraction technology consisting of four small channels cut into the walls of the chamber to allow small amounts of gas pressure to push against the neck of the spent case. It features a Mil-Spec aluminum anti-tilt buffer tube, which uses a carrier cradle extension to ensure the carrier is always supported by the buffer tube even when the bolt carrier is fully forward. This rifle is packed with features and lightweight at 6.2 pounds.



Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II


S&W M&P-15 Sport II

The California-compliant version of the popular M&P15 Sport II rifle doesn’t disappoint. It’s lightweight at just 6.5 pounds, features Smith's durable Armornite finish, has a fixed black stock, QD sling swivel attachment points, a gas block with a Picatinny-style rail, a dust cover, and a forward assist. It has all of the reliability and versatility you’ve come to expect from Smith & Wesson in a California-compliant rifle. 


Wilson Combat Protector


Wilson Combat Protector

The Protector from Wilson Combat features a match-grade precision button-rifled barrel integrated with a black nitride Mil-Spec bolt carrier group. It has a free-floating Wilson Combat M-LOK handguard with a slim, ergonomic profile for a comfortable and secure grip. There’s a non-adjustable gas block. It’s further protected by a durable low-signature Armor-Tuff coating, and a TacFire muzzle brake helps reduce muzzle rise and felt recoil. The two-stage Tactical Trigger (exclusive to Wilson Combat) has a crisp trigger pull. An ambidextrous safety selector, fixed carbine stock, and featureless grip round out this California-compliant model. 


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