Disclaimer: This article is only meant to be a product review; depending on your location, these products may or may not be legal. It is your responsibility to ensure you are properly abiding by federal, state, and local laws applicable to you regarding firearms. Nothing written here should be taken as legal advice. Laws regarding firearms vary depending on where you are; they are always subject to change, be responsible.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that California has some of the strictest gun laws in the US. While this article is primarily geared toward California gun owners who own a M4/AR platform rifle, there are some states and localities that have similar firearms restrictions, so you may find this article to be beneficial. In these states and localities, the AR style rifle is illegal if it has “one of several specified military-style features” and does not have a “fixed magazine.” However, there are simple modifications that can be made to your AR rifle which will allow you to own one, and still be a law-abiding citizen.  The two products that this article will be reviewing are the AR MagLock and the Patriot Pin, you can see both of these demonstrated in the following video.

As a courtesy and full disclosure to our readers, I received both the AR MagLock and Patriot Pin from the folks at Patriot-Pin for this review.

California gun owners: Get compliant or register before June 30, 2018

California has required fixed magazines on “assault weapons” for some time now. Assault weapons include semiautomatic, centerfire rifles that do not have a fixed magazine, but have “military-style features” such as a folding or telescoping stock, pistol grip, flash suppressor, or forward pistol grip. Basically, this means the M4/AR style rifles are banned in California unless the rifle has a fixed magazine. In the past, the infamous bullet button, a magazine release button which required the use of a tool or bullet tip in order to successfully release the magazine, made the AR rifle California compliant and therefore not an assault weapon.

However, following some recent high-profile shootings, such as the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, California introduced Senate Bill No. 880 (SB 880), which outlawed the bullet button. SB 880 amended the preexisting definition of an “assault weapon” and defined a “‘fixed magazine’ as ‘an ammunition feeding device contained in, or permanently attached to, a firearm in such a manner that the device cannot be removed without disassembly of the firearm action.’” For AR owners, this means that in order for your AR rifle to be considered a legal firearm, the magazine must only be detachable when the lower receiver is separated from your upper receiver (disassembly of the firearm action).

California gun owners have until January 1, 2018 June 30, 2018 to either get compliant, register their AR rifles as assault weapons, or risk becoming a felon.

Edited: “pursuant to Assembly Bill 103 (Stats. 2017. Ch. 17), the assault weapon registration deadline has been extended through June 30, 2018” (State of California Department of Justice)

Step one: Get compliant with the AR MagLock

Patriot Pin and AR MagLock combo | California: Get compliant and Get faster
The author’s rifle with the AR MagLock (spray-painted). The takedown pin utilizes a pull ring.

The AR MagLock is a magazine release button that only works when the lower and upper receivers of an AR are separated. Basically, it turns your AR rifle into a fixed magazine rifle, which then allows you to legally have “military-style features” on that rifle. Some consider the AR MagLock to be a superior option over the original bullet button (a new compliant model has since been released). This is because with the AR MagLock you no longer need to carry or manipulate an additional tool or bullet tip to release a magazine; the user just needs to pull out the rear takedown pin in order separate the lower and upper receivers before you can release the magazine.

Step two: Get faster with the Patriot Pin

Patriot Pin and AR MagLock combo | California: Get compliant and Get faster
All the contents of the Patriot Pin with their AR-15 combo wrench (sold separately)

The Patriot Pin is a clever product meant to speed up the process of conducting a magazine change on a fixed magazine AR rifle. Instead of having to physically pull out the rear takedown pin, the Patriot Pin is a lever that allows the user to simply push out the rear takedown pin with the shooting hand thumb. This allows the user to conduct a magazine change without having to take his shooting hand off of the pistol grip. Due to its simplicity, the Patriot Pin’s claim of being the “fastest takedown pin removal system available” goes unchallenged, and its users concur. With some training, users employing the AR MagLock and Patriot Pin combo can conduct magazine changes faster than they have in the past with the bullet button.

While the smooth mechanics of the Patriot Pin is indeed its most noteworthy aspect, its next best feature is the Delrin takedown pin. Delrin is a thermoplastic engineering polymer characterized by its high strength, resilience, and natural lubricity. (If you care for the science, you can learn more about Delrin by reading its design guide.) The decision to implement a Delrin takedown pin was made to minimize the metal-on-metal wear and tear resulting from the frequent disassembly (and reassembly) of the lower and upper receivers. Patriot-Pin also has plans to release a Delrin front pivot pin as well in the near future.

Patriot Pin and AR MagLock combo | California: Get compliant and Get faster
The author’s rifle illustrating the mechanics of the Patriot Pin

The verdict

The good
-If the laws are applicable to you, the AR MagLock allows you to legally keep AR features
-Patriot Pin allows faster magazine changes for AR rifles with a fixed magazine
-Delrin pins are self-lubricating and produce less wear and tear
-Both are easy to install

The bad
-Patriot Pin takes a little time to break in
-Training is required to become proficient

It is important to note that although the AR MagLock and the Patriot Pin work more efficiently together, they are two different products from partnering but separate manufacturers. At the time of writing this review, the AR MagLock has an MSRP of $54.95, and the Patriot Pin has an MSRP of $89.99. Patriot-Pin also sells combo wrenches and unbutton tools on their online store if you need these tools for installation.

I have yet to put these products through some long rigorous use but felt it was important to get a review published as soon as possible. Lest you forget, the deadline for California AR owners to get compliant is June 30, 2018. However, I have nothing but good first impressions during my early training with both products. My goal is to publish an updated review after some long-term use, and see how well it continues to perform. Remember that as great as these products appear to be, they require some training and familiarity because the extra steps required to conduct a magazine change takes getting used to. Be responsible, get compliant, and get proficient.

Whether you use the AR MagLock and the Patriot Pin, or another fixed magazine device, tell us about your experience!