Non detachable magazines
How is "detachable magazine" defined?
Detachable magazine is defined in the California Code of Regulations as "any ammunition feeding device that can be removed readily from the firearm with neither disassembly of the firearm action nor use of a tool being required. A bullet or ammunition cartridge is considered a tool." The California Department of Justice originally interpreted the term "detachable magazine" as not requiring permanence beyond the use of a tool being required. The first official documentation of that position was in January of 2002 in a letter and opinion to DSA arms regarding a modification to a FAL that only used a screw to make the magazine non-detachable. That opinion was reaffirmed in the sworn testimony of Ignatuis Chinn in Hunt v. Lockyer. In 2006, DOJ attempted a rulemaking that subsequently was withdrawn to add the concept of permanence to "detachable magazine." A memo that was left posted after the rulemaking was not completed on DOJ's website was challenged as an underground regulation and DOJ agreed not to attempt to use the proposed permanence rule as rule of general applicability.
Does this mean I can have the prohibited features?
The short answer is, yes. If you have a fixed or non-detachable magazine attached to your semiautomatic rifle you can have otherwise prohibited features like pistol grips and folding stocks. Each of these comply with the definition of "detachable magazine" outlined above.
There are three primary types of magazine fixing devices for AR type rifles. They are the Classic Prince-50 kit, the Prince-50 Bullet Button, and the B-15 Bullet Button. The latter two types allow one to remove a magazine with a tool and place a new 10 round magazine into the rifle which is explained in this post on Calguns.net.
There are three very important warnings to keep in mind.
- Never permanently attach a magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds as that triggers an alternative definition of Assault Weapon at Penal Code 12276.1 (a)(2) ("A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.")
- If you are using the Classic Prince-50 magazine fixing kit you can not remove the magazine while the lower is attached to a semiautomatic centerfire upper and has any prohibited features still attached. You can either remove the prohibited features or scissor open or remove the upper to load. If you want to be able to use a tool to remove the magazine you should be using one of the bullet button devices.
- All semiautomatic centerfire rifles must be at least 30" in overall length as anything less triggers an alternative definition of Assault Weapon in Penal Code 12276.1 (a)(3) ("A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches.") California measures rifle overall length with folding stocks and other non permanent components in their smallest configuration. This is a difference between California and Federal interpretations.
There are also bullet button devices for AK's and other semiautomatic rifles. The JJPerl bullet button is a popular choice for AK style rifles.