Going Featureless with the AR15

by on 11/04/2016

What is a featureless rifle? Why would you want a featureless rifle?? What the hell is a feature??? These are all great questions and to most non-California residents, something that would probably never cross their mind. Here in the “People’s Republic,” there is legislation that bans certain types of rifles based on the features it has. This legislation (Assault Weapon Ban) mostly stopped the sale of modern sporting rifles in “Communist Country” until a compliant solution was developed. That solution was known as the bullet button, which fixed the AR magazine into place so that it could not be readily removed without aid of a tool such as a bullet. Now that SB880 has been signed, the bullet button will no longer allow for modern sporting rifles to be compliant with the existing laws, thus banning these rifles based on their features. We will spare the readers the debate about whether or not this accomplishes anything and instead focus on how to adapt to these ever changing laws if you currently own or want to own a modern sporting rifle in California.

Features such as a telescoping stock, pistol grip, forward vertical grip, and flash hider are what the state legislators have chosen to use when they set out to define what an “assault weapon” is. They accomplished this by running their grubby little gun grabbing fingers through publications such as the Shooter’s Bible and selecting the parts most common with what they deemed were scary looking rifles. If you have these features on your modern sporting rifle, it will be considered an assault weapon, you will be in violation of the law and face felony charges if you do not register it with the state of California come 2018. SB880 also bans the sale of semi-automatic modern sporting rifles capable of removing the magazine without “breaking” the action open (upper/lower receivers) and any of the aforementioned features.

Now, if you want to keep these features on a rifle you already own, you have a few options. One can either register their rifle with the state as an “assault weapon” or install a new magazine lock that would fix the magazine into place, thus preventing it from being removed and therefore require the action to be taken apart to remove the magazine. Currently, there is only one, maybe two, magazine lock/s that will be compliant with SB880 for AR-pattern rifles. So, if you don’t want to have to break the action open to change a magazine, you will have to remove these features from your rifle and then you can unregister it as an “assault weapon.”

Thordsen Customs has been offering a featureless rifle stock solution for AR-pattern rifles for quite some time. The “FRS-15” stock kit is a stock that adapts to the lower receiver where the pistol grip would normally attach. The kit from Thordsen Customs includes a cover that will slide over a standard buffer tube. The stock comes with a nice rubber pad on the shoulder to help cushion recoil impulse. Since the stock is fixed, non-telescopic and does not have a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the rifle, it will not be considered one of the banned features. That is all subject to change depending on what the regulatory agency chooses to do when it comes to defining particular components such as what happened with the pistol stabilizing brace. In addition to the FRS-15 stock or some other similar non-pistol grip and non-telescoping stock assembly, you will have to remove the flash hider and any vertical grip the rifle may have to be considered featureless.

We start out by removing our A2 “Birdcage” flash hider. This is a classic muzzle device but its flash hiding capability makes it a banned feature.

We will be replacing the A2 birdcage with a Fortis “Rapid Engagement Device” (RED) 5.56 Brake. The RED brake is made from 4140 steel and is nitride coated for excellent corrosion resistance. This muzzle device is a recoil compensator and does not reduce flash.

In order to preserve the nice nitride finish on the RED brake, we put some painters tape on it when we cranked it down.

Muzzle brakes have an opening at the end of the muzzle device that is only slightly larger than the projectile unlike a flash hider, which will have a large opening. The chambers on the side are design to help mitigate muzzle rise. The brake will have a significant flash signature compared to a flash hider which reduces the flash by effectively dispersing gases exiting the barrel.

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