Legality of the WASR Rifles California
Some websites report that it's not possible to buy an AK in California. Fortunately, this is not true. However there are a few California specific limitations. Now first of all, we are NOT lawyers. We don't pretend to give legal advise and YOU are responsible for your own actions. For the latest on California gun law we recommend you try the Calguns Foundation Wiki which is by far the most complete, accurate and up-to-date site on the topic. There are some very knowledgeable people at Calguns who can give you the skinny on the 2A fight in California. If you are just looking for a quick overview; keep reading, we'll try to give you the cliff notes.
San Francisco has banned the Happy Meal and is considering a ban on the sale of pets. That much is true. Some web sites report that AK's are banned in California. This is not true. AK style rifles are not banned in California. After all, this isn't Connecticut:-)? It is also not true that in order to buy a firearm in CA you need a secret password, a note from your mother, a PETA membership card and a pint of organically raised unicorn blood.
All kidding aside, there are a lot of very real restrictions on which rifles you can buy and own in California. We'll go over the different restrictions and how they relate to the WASR series. If you are really interested, the
Who can buy
If you are a legal resident* of 18 years or older you can purchase a rifle in California. You'll have to pass a background check, fill out a lot of forms and "cool down" for 10 days.
*=Little known fact: if you are a legal resident but not a US citizen you need to be in possession of a hunting permit in order to buy firearms. To get a hunting permit you need to take a Hunters Safety Course and take the "Hunting License Test".
Banned by Name
There are lists of of rifles that are truly banned. These lists are officially called the "Roberti-Roos Assault Weapon (AW) list" and the "Kasler v. Lockyer Assault Weapon List". If a rifle is on either list it is commonly refered to as being "banned by name". There is fair a number of AK(M)'s on these lists. For example the "MAADI MISR" and the "Norinco AK-47" are "on list" guns. This means you can not buy/own them in California. Fortunately neither list contains any type of WASR rifle. This means that you can own a WASR as long as it complies with the other rules.
Full Auto AK's
Long story short. Full-Auto is a no-go. Full stop. Not that there were ever any full auto WASR's manufactured / imported, but this also means you can not do any Youtube inspired "Full Auto" DIY projects without risking some serious jail time.
If the barrel is shorter than 16 inches, or the rifle can be fired in a "configuration" that is shorter than 30 inches overall you can not buy/own it in California. This means that any type of WASR with a folding stock is out of the question because it does not meet the >30" rule.
Figure 1: Too bad, so Sad! This GP WASR-10/63 "folder" is illegal in California because when the stock is folded it is less than 30"!.
Figure 2: Another one bites the dust! This classic WASR-10 "under folder" is 25" long with the stock folded and therefore also illegal in California :-(.
The WASR-22 is the only WASR that shoots a "rimfire" cartridge (.22LR). California does not consider the ".22 WASR" an Assault Weapon (and we must admit we agree on that one:-)). Therefore the rest of the laws below, with the exception of the 10 round capacity mag's rule, do not apply to the WASR-22.
Figure 3:The WASR-22 is NOT an Assault Weapon. No contest Your Honor.
A.) WASR's with a detachable magazine are illegal on any rifle that has any of the following features:
B.) Pistol Grip
C.) Forward Pistol Grip
D.) Flash Suppressor
E.) Folding / Collapsible Stock
F.) Grenade / Flare Launcher
This would make all remaining WASR's illegal. Century Arm's works around this by installing a "Magazine Lock" (also called "Bullet Button") on all AK's sold in California. An AK bullet button is an attachment that is screwed onto the trigger guard and prevents the shooter from pushing the mag release lever by hand. You need to stick a screw driver or other narrow implement, like the tip of a bullet, (hence "bullet button") into the attachment in order to push the mag lever forward. Once this is installed, California considers the magazine to be "Fixed" and not "Detachable" anymore. This is the "regular" way in which AK's are sold / owned in California. "Fixed" magazines can only have a 10 round capacity. The moment you click a 30 round AK magazine, that you legal own, into a WASR with a bullet button you are committing a felony. Nice to know huh?
If you are willing to sacrifice the look of your "Real AK-Look" of your WASR to be able to get around the bullet button (which is very annoying indeed) you can do this. Since you don't have feature D E or F the only thing you need to do it get rid of your pistol grip or thumb hole stock and install a grip or stock that prevents you from getting your thumb around the underside of the rifle. This is called making the gun "Featureless". A featureless gun is not considered an AW so it does not need to have a bullet button! There are several "grips" and stocks on the market that can help you make the gun featureless. The big disadvantage is that you loose much of the AK look, which is a one of the biggest reasons people buy the WASR in the first place.
It is illegal to buy or sell a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds in California. This goes for any gun. It is also illegal to bring one into the state or to manufacture (assemble) one.
If you owned 10+ AK magazines before this law went into effect you can legally keep them and use them as long as you don't stick them into your "bullet button" equipped WASR (see above).
This infotainment article should give you a good general idea of the status of the WASR in California. Again, we are not your lawyer, in fact we are not lawyers at all. Don't undertake any action based on the information provided in this article. Always abide by the law and don't forget: Prisons have a special wing for people that are looking for the "Grey" areas. :-)