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California Single Shot AR Pistol

In many of the states, it is legal to manufacture your own single shot AR pistol to a semi-auto AR. However, in California, semi-auto AR pistols are illegal.   Many Californians are hungry to get their hands on these types of weapons.  I can’t blame them since it is compact, easy, very accurate  to shoot  (better than a handgun), and concealable.  In my opinion, AR pistols are the best home defense guns to use versus a handgun. They are great personal defense weapons (PDW) for home and while outdoors camping. Overall, it’s just what everyone MUST have in their arsenal of self defense weapons.

 NOTE: This is not a legal advice. I am not a lawyer and you should seek the advice of a lawyer knowledgeable in firearms like Michel Law in Long Beach, CA.

BRN180 Single Shot AR Pistol

Roadblocks to Owning California Single Shot AR pistol.

The legal definition of a “handgun”:

Penal Code 16640.   (a) As used in this part, “handgun” means any pistol, revolver, or firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.

Penal Code 16530.  

(a) As used in this part, the terms “firearm capable of being concealed upon the person,” “pistol,” and “revolver” apply to and include any device designed to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled a projectile by the force of any explosion, or other form of combustion, and that has a barrel less than 16 inches in length. These terms also include any device that has a barrel 16 inches or more in length which is designed to be interchanged with a barrel less than 16 inches in length.

California Single Shot AR Pistol & Unsafe Handgun Law 

In our great state, we do have laws that prevent us from building our own handguns due to the Unsafe Handgun Law.  Manufacturers must first receive an approval by letting a D.O.J. approved laboratory test the newly manufactured handgun for drop testing and fire up to 2000 rounds before they can be considered to be added to the roster.

You can read more about the lab test required here:

Title 11, Division 5, Chapter 5, Department of Justice Regulations for Laboratory Certification and Handgun Testing

Penal Code 32000. (a) A person in this state who manufactures or causes to be manufactured, imports into the state for sale, keeps for sale, offers or exposes for sale, gives, or lends an unsafe handgun shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year.

In addition to the above hurdles, there is also the micro-stamping law that applies to manufacturing a handgun for the California handgun roster.  Currently, there are no manufacturers who are capable of integrating microstamping into their handguns.  Microstamping means that the handgun is able to mark the ammo casing with the serial number of the handgun.   

The good news is that California does allow us to have bolt action or California single shot AR pistols.  The penal code below exempts single shot / bolt action AR pistols from the Unsafe Handgun Law and Micro-stamping requirements. 

Penal Code 32100(b) Article 4 (commencing with Section 31900) and Article 5 (commencing with Section 32000) shall not apply to a single-shot pistol with a break top or bolt action and a barrel length of not less than six inches and that has an overall length of at least 10½ inches when the handle, frame or receiver, and barrel are assembled. However, Article 4 (commencing with Section 31900) and Article 5 (commencing with Section 32000) shall apply to a semi automatic pistol that has been temporarily or permanently altered so that it will not fire in a semiautomatic mode.

If you’re planning to build your own Single Shot AR Pistol, you can certainly do so by reading penal code 29180. See penal code below that applies to making your own AR from scratch.  When I say scratch, you will require to build it from an 80% lower AR and prior to starting the build, you must first get the go ahead from CA DOJ.

Penal Code 29180.   

(a) For purposes of this chapter, “manufacturing” or “assembling” a firearm means to fabricate or construct a firearm, or to fit together the component parts of a firearm to construct a firearm.

(b) Commencing July 1, 2018, prior to manufacturing or assembling a firearm, a person manufacturing or assembling the firearm shall do all of the following:

(1) Apply to the Department of Justice for a unique serial number or other mark of identification pursuant to Section 29182.

If you eventually convert the California single shot pistol AR to a semi-automatic fire, then you can potentially be in the gray area of “manufacturing” since you created it from the start (I am not a lawyer and this is merely my own opinion).  The other issue of making your own firearm is that you cannot sell it to another person.  Your family will have to bury your AR (or destroy it) with you when you die (granted you live and die here in California). 

The other law you should be highly concerned about is assault weapons law.   You can easily break California’s assault weapon laws due to the law’s legal jargon and complexity.  It’s a confusing law that can get you easily in trouble, in jail, and may cost you several thousands of dollars.  Furthermore, there are federal laws that you can potentially also break by creating a short barrel rifle or an “any other weapon” (also known as “AOW”) (this article was written 4/2022 several months before the ATF rolled out their pistol brace rules).   You must read that rule to figure out if you’re building yourself a mound of legal trouble.  

California Penal code 30515 defines an assault weapon.

Penal Code 30515.  

(4) A semiautomatic pistol that does not have a fixed magazine but has any one of the following:

  • (A) A threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer.
  • (B) A second handgrip.
  • (C) A shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel that allows the bearer to fire the weapon without burning the bearer’s hand, except a slide that encloses the barrel.
  • (D) The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip.

(5) A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.

Solution to California Single Shot AR Pistol

You’re still reading up to this point, you’re seriously planning to build your own California single shot AR pistol.   There are several ways to get your hands on an AR pistol.  

The first is through a private party transfer (PPT) which is the simplest and best route.  Find someone who previously had an California AR pistol semi-auto prior to the ban who is willing to sell their AR Pistol.  These types of PPT are the safest way to get your hands on a semi-auto AR pistols since it was approved when it was DROS’ed back when it was legal.  However, it is very expensive and good luck finding one.  

The second is to purchase your California single shot AR pistol from a FFL 7 like TacticCAL! We do sell them in different calibers as a single shot or bolt action.  Since I manufactured them as single shot pistols, you can take them home and do what you want with them.  Again, I am not a lawyer and cannot give you advice as far as what to do with them next.    Once you own these, then if you decide to sell them, you can since it’s manufactured by a licensed FFL manufacturer. 

There’s a debate on some forums whether converting your AR single shot pistol to semi-auto legal or not. A lawyer will tell you that it’s best not to but other Californians like Reno May are confident that he can. If you decide to convert your newly owned single shot pistol AR to semi-auto, make sure you pay close attention to California’s assault weapon laws.  According to penal code 30515, it must have a fixed magazine and a 10 rounds or less capacity magazine.

It would be nice if CA DOJ can give their opinion in this matter but they will not give you a direct answer but refer you to the penal codes and other laws that pertains to manufacturing and owning a firearm. If you read further in other firearm forum such as, there are no consensus whether this route is legal or not. But it is certain that there is no 100% prohibition from turning your Single Shot AR Pistol to semi-auto once you purchased one. What do you think?

TacticCAL Offers California Single Shot AR Pistol

We offer a complete matched uppers and lowers from  Wilson Combat and Aero Precision.  You just have to choose which one.  Calibers come in 2.23/5.56mm, and .300 blackout.   

Now that you know what to do, what are you waiting for?  You can check out our shopping page for our AR pistols.

Once you order, you will receive an email to schedule your appointment to DROS this California AR pistol.  After 10 days, you should be able to comeback to pick it up.  

Single Shot AR Pistol
BRN 180 straight pull bolt action California AR Pistol