How to Buy an AR Pistol in California via Private Party Transfer, Including Compliance Tips with the Assault Weapons Ban

12/4/20234 min read

black assault rifle on brown wooden log
black assault rifle on brown wooden log


*Note: is not a dealer and does not provide legal advice. It is your responsibility to check with your local law enforcement for the most up to date laws and regulations. This is a general informational guide to the process.

Buying an AR pistol in California is not as difficult as most think, but a specific process must be followed. If purchasing an AR pistol brand new, you as a civilian are limited to Single Shot Exemption firearms which are specially made to fire one shot at a time. If you want to buy an AR pistol in the standard semi-auto configuration, you must purchase it through a Private Party Transfer like any other "off-roster" handgun.

Understanding California's Assault Weapons Ban

Before diving into the process, it is essential to have a clear understanding of California's Assault Weapons Ban. The ban restricts the possession, sale, and transfer of specific firearms that are classified as assault weapons. AR pistols, which are essentially shorter versions of AR-15 rifles, fall under this classification. Others include Micro Dracos which are based on the AK-47 platform. Despite not being any more dangerous than a full length rifle, they are treated as special items by the government.

However, there are certain exemptions to the Assault Weapons Ban, such as the "single-shot exemption" and the "bullet button". These exemptions allow individuals to legally possess and transfer AR pistols in compliance with the law. Keep in mind that attaching a stock reclassifies the firearm as a Short Barrel Rifle, which is not legal for civilians in California.

Step-by-Step Guide to Buying an AR Pistol via Private Party Transfer

1. Find a Seller: The first step is to find a seller who is willing to transfer their AR pistol to you through a private party transfer. This can be done through online platforms like the forums at, gun stores, or local firearm communities.

2. Verify Eligibility: Both the buyer and the seller must be eligible to participate in a private party transfer. The buyer must be at least 21 years old and possess a valid California Driver's License or Identification Card. The seller must also be a California resident and legally allowed to possess firearms.

3. Complete a Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC): Before the private party transfer, the buyer must obtain an FSC by passing a written test administered by the California Department of Justice. This certificate is valid for 5 years and serves as proof of firearm safety knowledge. Note: This requirement can be waived by presenting an active California CCW permit.

4. Inspect the Firearm: When meeting the seller, thoroughly inspect the AR pistol to ensure it is in good condition and in compliance with California law. It should have a fixed magazine (i.e. Maglock) or a "bullet button" device installed (such as the Kingpin device), which prevents the removal of the magazine without using a tool or by separating the upper and lower receivers. Check for rust, loose parts, cracks, and wear in the barrel rifling.

5. Complete the Private Party Transfer at an FFL (dealer): Both the buyer and the seller must complete a Private Party Transfer form, also known as a "Firearms Transfer Record". This document includes information about the buyer, seller, and the firearm being transferred. It must be completed accurately and signed by both parties.

7. Wait 10 Days if approved: The Department of Justice will review the submitted transfer forms and perform a background check. This is generally done quickly and you will need to wait 10 days after submitting the transfer to pick up your gun from the dealer. This is unavoidable and the same wait as if you buy a new gun.

8. Pickup the Firearm: Once the buyer receives the approval, they can arrange a time and place to pick up the AR pistol from the seller. The seller must ensure that the buyer's identification matches the information provided in the Firearms Transfer Record.

Compliance Tips with the Assault Weapons Ban

While purchasing an AR pistol through a private party transfer, it is crucial to ensure compliance with the Assault Weapons Ban. Here are some compliance tips:

1. Fixed Magazine or "Bullet Button": As mentioned earlier, the AR pistol must have a fixed magazine or a "bullet button" device installed. This modification prevents the removal of the magazine without using a tool.

2. Magazine Capacity: The magazine capacity of the AR pistol must not exceed 10 rounds. It is illegal to possess or transfer standard-capacity magazines in California, which have been redefined as "high-capacity" by arbitrarily created unconstitutional laws.

3. Barrel Length: The barrel length of the AR pistol must be less than 16 inches. Any barrel length equal to or greater than 16 inches would classify the firearm as a rifle, subject to different regulations. A gun that was ever registered as a rifle cannot be configured as or transferred as a pistol.

4. Compliance with Other Laws: Ensure that the AR pistol complies with other California firearm laws, such as the requirement of a firearm safety device, proper storage, and transportation regulations.

Conclusion congratulates your decision to defend yourself and your family with one of the most effective firearms platforms available for home defense, the AR-15. Make sure to research proper ammo projectile types for your intended use, and we highly recommend taking professional training courses to maximize your safety and effectiveness.

Remember, it is essential to stay updated with any changes in California's firearm laws and consult with legal professionals or law enforcement if you have any doubts or questions regarding the process. Show off your new AR Pistol in our California gun forums (just cover up the serial number for privacy)!