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What Handgun Modifications Are Illegal In California?

As a gun owner in California, it's important to know the state's firearm laws, including the regulations surrounding handgun modifications. While upgrading and modifying a handgun can be an excellent way to improve its performance, certain modifications can be illegal and come with serious consequences. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the handgun modification laws in California and explore what types of modifications are considered illegal.

Firearm Modification Laws in California

California is known for having some of the strictest firearm laws in the United States. The state's regulations on gun ownership, storage, and modification are complex and can be challenging to navigate without legal guidance. In California, handgun modifications are governed by state law and enforced by the Bureau of Firearms.

According to California law, it's illegal to modify a handgun in any way that would make it more dangerous, more difficult to track, or more difficult to identify. Modifications that are deemed unsafe or that significantly alter the firearm's appearance or function are also prohibited.

What Handgun Modifications Are Illegal in California?

  • Short-barreled handguns - Short-barreled handguns, also known as "sawn-off" handguns, are illegal in California. These are handguns with a barrel length of fewer than 3 inches or an overall length of fewer than 6 inches. Possessing or selling a short-barreled handgun is a felony offense and can result in significant fines and jail time.
  • Silencers - The use or possession of a silencer, also known as a suppressor, is illegal in California. Silencers are devices that reduce the sound of gunfire and are often used in hunting or shooting sports. However, in California, silencers are considered dangerous and are prohibited under state law.
  • Armor-piercing ammunition - In California, it's illegal to possess or sell armor-piercing ammunition. This type of ammunition is designed to penetrate body armor and is often used in military or law enforcement applications. Possession of armor-piercing ammunition is a felony offense and can result in significant fines and jail time.
  • Magazine modifications - Modifications to handgun magazines that increase their capacity are illegal in California. Under state law, handgun magazines are limited to a capacity of ten rounds. Any modification that increases the magazine's capacity is considered illegal.
  • Concealed carry modifications - Certain modifications to a handgun that make it easier to conceal can also be illegal in California. For example, adding a shoulder stock to a handgun or converting a handgun into a rifle can make it easier to conceal and is therefore prohibited.

Consequences of Illegal Handgun Modifications in California

Violating California's handgun modification laws can result in serious legal consequences. Possession or sale of illegal firearms or modifications can result in felony charges, significant fines, and long-term imprisonment. In addition to these legal consequences, individuals who violate California's handgun modification laws may also face a loss of gun ownership rights, difficulty finding employment, and other negative consequences.

If you're facing charges for illegal handgun modifications in California, it's essential to seek legal representation from a Los Angeles firearm attorney or criminal defense lawyer with experience in gun law. An experienced attorney can help you understand the charges against you, navigate the legal system, and work to protect your rights and freedoms.


In conclusion, California's firearm laws are strict, and handgun modifications are no exception. Modifications that make a handgun more dangerous, harder to track, or harder to identify are illegal under California law. Short-barreled handguns, silencers, armor-piercing ammunition, magazine modifications, and concealed carry modifications are all prohibited under state law. If you're a gun owner in California, it's crucial to understand these laws and regulations to avoid serious legal consequences. If you're facing charges related to illegal handgun modifications, it's important to seek legal representation.

H Law Group Online

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