The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Assault Weapon Ban and Compliant Parts

It’s said that one of the hallmarks of wisdom is learning from past mistakes. If that were the case, then you’d think so-called assault weapon bans would themselves be banished. In 1994, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB), was passed, with a subsection banning weapon systems that looked scary to those who didn’t know better. It expired in 2004 due to a sunset provision, thus providing ample evidence in follow-up studies that AWBs do nothing to reduce crime. 

Yet enemies of liberty persist, ever pushing for more gun control. Biden’s 2020 presidential platform stated it in plain English: “Get weapons of war off our streets. Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.” And it goes on and on from there. Several states have long-standing AWBs. Make no mistake, by legislation or executive order fiat, more battles over the Second Amendment are coming. Where governments have turned their back on their citizens, such as California, the grassroots fight tirelessly continues in courtrooms, thanks to organizations like the Firearms Policy Coalition, Second Amendment Foundation, and others.

Please note we use the term “assault weapon” frequently in this only because it’s used in AWB legislation not because it’s a meaningful term.

Let’s break down how AWBs are typically structured and how the residents of those states are coping. Let’s look at how they have to configure their guns and some clever products enterprising Americans have developed to deal with the laws. Those in occupied land may not realize they can still own reasonably capable guns. For those in free America, look what’s happened to your brothers and sisters. Don’t let it spread. The will and spirit of Americans can’t be diminished — hold the line against infringement of the Second Amendment.

COMPONENTS OF AN ASSAULT WEAPON BAN

Despite the expiration of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, DC and a number of states currently have AWBs, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii (pistols only), Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

Some typical elements:

Bans on named firearms: This is like playing gun control whack-a-mole, but most AWBs ban a list of specific guns.

Bans on particular features: These laws rely heavily on classifying certain functional features of a firearm as particularly heinous. For instance, a semi-automatic rifle or pistol may be classified as an illegal assault weapon if it can accept a detachable magazine and also has one (or two, depending on the state) of the prohibited features listed in the law. This may include items such as a pistol grip, folding or telescoping stock, forward pistol grip, flash suppressor, thumbhole stock, bayonet mount, and grenade/flare launcher. So in areas with a one-feature prohibition, such as California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, and New York, you can’t have any prohibited features if your gun also takes detachable magazines. In two-feature areas, you can have just one evil feature in addition to an open magwell. Maryland has a short list with two required to be illegal, so many rifles are legal there, including heavy barreled builds since the Colt HBAR was originally exempted by name. On the other hand, New York lists everything, plus also threaded barrels. Configuring a weapon to avoid being classified as an AW has become known as a “featureless” build.

Featureless grips make it harder to work your safety selector, so look for ambidextrous and/or extended selectors like this one from Resurgent Arms.

Magazine restrictions: All ban states plus Colorado and Vermont have magazine capacity restrictions. Some prohibit possession entirely, while others carve out grandfathered magazines.

Registration and transfer restrictions: Most ban states required guns classified as assault weapons to be registered prior to a certain date. Some also prohibit transfer of the registered guns, so your children can’t even inherit them.

MAGAZINE-FED GUNS

The initial test in these an Assault Weapon Ban is if the gun is semi-automatic and capable of accepting a detachable magazine. To avoid the AW classification, you can either disable semi-automatic operation or fix a 10-round magazine in place (numerous companies offer kits for this) — but both routes severely restrict functionality. But if you do so, you can go to town kitting out your rifle, since it won’t be classified as an AW.

California has a specific definition of a fixed magazine — it can’t be removed without disassembling the firearm action. So companies have designed products to quickly pop open the upper to release the magazine. For example, Juggernaut Tactical’s popular Hellfighter system for ARs locks the mag release until you crack the upper just slightly open with a quick release rear takedown pin. Then, you can drop the empty mag, while the action is disassembled and no longer functions as a semi-auto.

AWD Complaint

Juggernaut Tactical’s Hellfighter kit locks the magazine release in place until you crack the upper open a bit using a quick-release rear takedown pin. They also offer a lower with their rear pin and a pre-installed Hogue Freedom Fighter mag lock for minimal impact on the exterior of the gun. You can loosen the lock when in free America to use the mag release normally.

Mag changes are actually pretty quick with this type of system. However, California law restricts you to 10 rounds in a fixed mag, unlike a featureless build, and malfunctions that require dropping the mag to clear are a pain in the ass. Other companies offer fixed mag systems too, notably one from AR Maglock that solves the malfunction clearance problem.

States like New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii don’t define “capable of accepting a detachable magazine” any further, so it’s not clear how these devices might play out in court. Tread carefully in these jurisdictions.

Of course, you can opt for guns with traditional rifle stocks like the M1A and Ruger PC carbine, which require little to no effort to make ban-state legal.

PISTOL GRIPS

One commonality in gun control and Assault Weapon Ban mythology is the pistol grip, which apparently makes guns look more evil, like the military’s M16. The absurdity is clear when you compare the ubiquitous AR-15, vilified as an unconscionable weapon of war, with the M1A – considered to be completely fine, since it looks more like a traditional hunting rifle, even though the M14 was also military-issue and is chambered in a more powerful caliber.

Several states, such as Massachusetts and New York, only stipulate that a prohibited pistol grip “protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon” with no further details, while California goes on to define it as a “grip that allows for a pistol-style grasp in which the web of the trigger hand (between the thumb and index finger) can be placed beneath or below the top of the exposed portion of the trigger while firing.” On the other hand, Connecticut defines it as “a grip, such as a pistol grip, a thumbhole stock, or other stock, the use of which would allow an individual to grip the weapon, resulting in any finger on the trigger hand in addition to the trigger finger being directly below any portion of the action of the weapon when firing.” Naturally, these unhelpful government agencies don’t provide official determinations on prospective designs, but with the detailed description outlined in California law, various companies have released so-called featureless grips designed specifically to avoid such categorization.

featureless grips

1. Thorsden Customs FRS-15 Gen II
2. Thorsden Customs FRS-15 Gen III
3. Strike Industries AK Simple Featureless Grip
4. Strike Industries Megafin Featureless AR Grip
5. Resurgent Arms Featureless AR-15 Rifle Grip
6. Strike Industries AR Simple Featureless Grip
7. Solar Tactical Kydex Grip Wrap
8. Juggernaut Tactical Featureless Grip

One of the simplest types are Kydex grip wraps, such as those made by Solar Tactical, which are pieces of Kydex formed around standard pistol grips to prevent the shooter from grasping it normally. If you’re handy and have some Kydex and a heat gun, you can make your own. Advantages include consistency in grip angle, simple installation and removal (e.g. when taking your gun to and from free America), support for a wide assortment of rifles, and no need to replace your original grip. Easy removal is also a downside if you’re worried about unscrupulous individuals messing with your grip wrap, leaving behind an “illegal” pistol grip.

Next are one-piece fin grips, which install in place of the regular grip. They function similarly to grip wraps without the worry of being easily modified into an illegal state, though they’re also not as easy to swap out. They’re only available for the most popular platforms; examples shown here for ARs and AKs are from Strike Industries.

Ironically, precision rifle shooters often pull their thumb over to the strong side of their weapon to break a shot. The idea is to isolate the trigger press and minimize movement of the weapon. While it’s not ideal for dynamic movement, you can still run a rifle effectively without wrapping your thumb around the grip.

Finally, purpose-built grips contort themselves specifically to comply with the “web of the trigger hand” language while still allowing you to grasp them to retain positive control of the weapon. They feel and look unconventional and aren’t as comfortable with their long, raked grips. But they’re surprisingly workable, as long as you don’t have stubby fingers for the long reach to the trigger or big meat puppets that get pinched. Thorsden Customs offers two versions of a grip/stock assembly that are popular and work well, goofy looks aside. If you want a regular buttstock, Resurgent Arms has a contoured stubby little grip that you can grab on to. Both Thorsden and Resurgent offer re-contoured end plates for more comfort when rubbing on your hand. And Juggernaut pushes further with a featureless grip they describe as the “most aggressive yet.” Unlike the others, it’s aluminum and noticeably heavier. There are additional options from other companies too. When moving to and from free America, these grips also take more effort to swap out — don’t lose that spring
and detent.

BUTTSTOCKS

Almost all Assault Weapon Bans require you to run a fixed stock for a featureless configuration. You could simply install your favorite fixed buttstock; just make sure there’s enough clearance for your featureless grip. Or secure an adjustable stock in place — modify it yourself or use a stock designed for this purpose. For example, Mission First Tactical makes a version of their BattleLink stock with a roll pin to lock it. You can also insert Strike’s AR stock stop into the underside of your receiver extension to cover up all but one hole, so your stock locks in one position.

Assault Weapons Ban buffer tube

Cut and insert Strike Industries’ AR stock stop into the underside of your receiver extension to cover up all but one hole, ensuring that your stock can only lock in one position.

Not being able to adjust your stock is quite an annoyance, but practically speaking it doesn’t detract from your ability to run your gun.

OTHER EVIL FEATURES

Other prohibited features can be excluded without materially impacting your ability to deliver shots on target. When’s the last time you affixed a bayonet? Many like forward grips, but would you trade your mag well for one?

It’s infuriating though, as these restrictions all infringe on the Second Amendment. They’re nonsensical, confusing gun owners on how to remain legal. But so long as the laws stand and law-abiding citizens wish to remain so, there are many ways to configure a compliant rifle. An important point on semantics: Some refer to these products as loopholes; that’s a misnomer — if something is compliant with the law, it’s not a loophole, it’s simply legal.

Unfortunately, gun control like AWBs is more about control than public safety. If you’re in free America, stand firm and hold the line against more laws. You don’t want to defile your rifles like the ones shown here. If you’re behind enemy lines, get yourself more modern sporting rifles. However weird they may look, train with them, and you can still use them effectively to protect yourself, hunt, compete, and have fun. We’ve met prospective new gun owners in ban states with no idea how silly the AWB laws actually are, but boy do they light up behind an AR. Help educate them and open their eyes. Finally, support the organizations that are fighting hard for the Second Amendment. 


 


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One response to “Assault Weapon Ban and Compliant Parts”

  1. Gene Harris says:

    Gun writers/owners need to stop using the media/politician words, assault weapons. This gives their words credibility since “we” use the same terms. I understand you are referring to bans named by politicians, but clarify that the rifles being banned are semiauto rifles, not assault weapons No one can define an assault weapon effectively because it is a nebulous term used on purpose that can be used to refer to any gun. I have an assault pencil if I use it to attack someone!

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