Are M1 Garands Legal In California? A Detailed Look At The Laws

The M1 Garand is an iconic WWII-era rifle coveted by many gun collectors and enthusiasts. But if you live in California, you may be wondering – are M1 Garands legal in my state? If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Yes, M1 Garand rifles are generally legal for California residents to own, with some qualifications.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the legal status of M1 Garands in California in detail. We’ll look at the specific laws and regulations surrounding these historic rifles, as well as qualifications, restrictions, and legal acquisition methods for California gun owners.

Overview of California Gun Laws

When it comes to firearms, California has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States. Understanding these laws is crucial for gun owners and enthusiasts, particularly when it comes to owning and possessing specific firearms like the M1 Garand.

Here is an overview of the key California gun laws that you need to know.

Firearm Safety Certificate

California requires individuals to obtain a Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) before purchasing or acquiring a firearm. This certificate is obtained by passing a written test that covers topics such as firearm safety, handling, and storage.

The FSC is valid for five years and is a prerequisite for obtaining any firearm in California, including the M1 Garand.

Background Checks

All firearm purchases in California, including the M1 Garand, require a background check. This involves submitting personal information and undergoing a background check conducted by the California Department of Justice.

The background check ensures that individuals with certain criminal records or mental health issues are prohibited from owning firearms.

Approved Handgun Roster

California maintains an Approved Handgun Roster, which lists handguns that are certified for sale within the state. However, the M1 Garand is not a handgun but a rifle, so it is not subject to this roster.

Nonetheless, it is important to note that any modifications made to the M1 Garand that would convert it into a “short-barreled rifle” would be subject to additional regulations.

Magazine Capacity Limits

California enforces magazine capacity limits, which restrict the number of rounds that a magazine can hold. As of 2021, the maximum allowed capacity for most firearms, including the M1 Garand, is 10 rounds.

However, there are exceptions for certain individuals, such as law enforcement officers or individuals who owned magazines that were legally acquired before the ban took effect in 2000.

Assault Weapons Ban

California has an assault weapons ban that prohibits the possession, sale, or transfer of specific firearms that are deemed “assault weapons” by the state. While the M1 Garand is not classified as an assault weapon, it is important to be aware of any modifications that could potentially classify it as such.

California law defines assault weapons based on specific features, such as detachable magazines and pistol grips.

For more detailed information on California gun laws, you can visit the official website of the California Department of Justice:

M1 Garand Rifle Specifications

The M1 Garand rifle is a legendary firearm that holds a significant place in American history. Let’s take a closer look at its specifications:

Semi-Automatic Operation

The M1 Garand operates on a semi-automatic mechanism, meaning that it fires one round with each pull of the trigger. This feature allows for a faster rate of fire compared to bolt-action rifles, making it a popular choice among military personnel during World War II.

8-Round Clip

The M1 Garand is equipped with an 8-round en-bloc clip, which is inserted into the rifle’s internal magazine. This clip system allows for quick reloading, ensuring that the shooter can stay engaged in the action without having to manually load each round individually.

Large Caliber (.30-06)

The M1 Garand fires the .30-06 Springfield cartridge, a powerful and versatile ammunition known for its excellent long-range performance. The .30-06 round has a long history of military and civilian use, and its availability makes the M1 Garand a practical choice for hunting and target shooting enthusiasts.

It’s important to note that while the M1 Garand is a remarkable firearm, its legality can vary depending on the state you reside in. In the case of California, there are specific laws and regulations that need to be followed.

For more information on the legality of M1 Garands in California, you can visit the official California Department of Justice website here.

M1 Garand Ownership Qualifications

Before considering the legality of owning an M1 Garand in California, it is important to understand the qualifications required by the state. California has specific laws and regulations in place to ensure the safe and responsible ownership of firearms.

No Assault Weapon Designation

One of the key reasons why M1 Garands are legal in California is that they are not classified as assault weapons. California defines assault weapons based on specific features such as detachable magazines, pistol grips, and telescoping stocks.

Since the M1 Garand does not possess these features, it is exempt from the assault weapon designation.

No Magazine Modifications

Another qualification for owning an M1 Garand in California is that the magazine must not be modified to hold more than ten rounds. California law prohibits the possession of magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds, and this applies to the M1 Garand as well.

It is important to ensure that the magazine is compliant with state regulations before purchasing or owning an M1 Garand.

10-Day Waiting Period

California law requires a mandatory 10-day waiting period for all firearms purchases, including the M1 Garand. This waiting period allows for a thorough background check to be conducted on the purchaser.

It is important to note that the waiting period begins from the date of purchase or transfer of the firearm.

Safe Handling Demonstration

As part of the ownership qualifications, individuals in California must also demonstrate safe handling of firearms. This typically involves passing a written and practical examination to ensure that the owner understands the proper handling, storage, and use of the M1 Garand.

This requirement is in place to promote firearm safety and prevent accidents.

For further information on the specific laws and regulations regarding M1 Garand ownership in California, it is recommended to consult the official website of the California Department of Justice:

Purchasing and Importing M1 Garands

Private Party Transfers

In California, individuals can legally purchase and import M1 Garands through private party transfers. This means that if you find someone who already owns an M1 Garand and is willing to sell it to you, you can go through the necessary legal procedures to transfer ownership.

However, it is important to note that both the buyer and the seller must be California residents and must comply with all state and federal laws regarding the sale and transfer of firearms.

C&R License

Another option for purchasing and importing an M1 Garand in California is to obtain a Curio and Relic (C&R) license. This license is issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and allows collectors to acquire and possess certain firearms that are considered to have historical or collector value.

Once you have obtained a C&R license, you can legally purchase an M1 Garand and have it shipped directly to your residence.

FFL Dealer

If you do not have a C&R license, you can still purchase and import an M1 Garand through a Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer. FFL dealers are licensed by the ATF to engage in the business of buying, selling, and transferring firearms.

By going through an FFL dealer, you can legally purchase an M1 Garand and have it shipped to the dealer’s premises. You will then need to complete the necessary paperwork and background checks before taking possession of the firearm.

CMP Sales

The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is a government-chartered organization that promotes firearms safety training and marksmanship skills. The CMP also sells surplus military firearms, including M1 Garands, to eligible individuals.

To purchase an M1 Garand through CMP sales, you must meet certain criteria, such as being a U.S. citizen, being at least 18 years old, and being a member of a CMP-affiliated organization. The purchase process involves completing an application, providing proof of eligibility, and passing a background check.

It is important to thoroughly research and understand the specific laws and regulations surrounding the purchase and importation of M1 Garands in California. Consulting with local law enforcement or legal professionals knowledgeable in firearms laws can provide further guidance and ensure compliance with all applicable regulations.

Related State Laws and Restrictions


When it comes to transporting M1 Garands in California, there are a few important laws and restrictions to keep in mind. According to California law, firearms must be transported in a locked container or the trunk of a motor vehicle, separate from ammunition.

This means that if you plan on taking your M1 Garand to the range or on a hunting trip, you’ll need to ensure it is securely stored and not easily accessible from the passenger compartment. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the specific transportation laws in your area and adhere to them to avoid any legal complications.

Storage and Display

Proper storage and display of firearms are crucial to ensure safety and compliance with the law. In California, firearms must be stored in a locked container or secured with a locking device, such as a trigger lock or cable lock, to prevent unauthorized access. This applies to M1 Garands as well.

Additionally, it is important to note that displaying firearms in a threatening or careless manner is prohibited. If you own an M1 Garand, make sure to follow these guidelines to ensure safe and legal storage.

Hunting Usage

For hunters in California, it is important to understand the regulations surrounding the use of M1 Garands in hunting activities. California law requires that hunters use ammunition that is legal for the specific game they are hunting.

Additionally, there may be restrictions on the type of ammunition that can be used in certain areas or during specific hunting seasons. It is always recommended to check with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife or consult local hunting regulations to ensure compliance when using an M1 Garand for hunting purposes.


In summary, while closely regulated, M1 Garand rifles remain legal for purchase and ownership in California by lawful gun owners who follow all applicable state and federal laws. By understanding the specific qualifications and process to acquire M1 Garands, California gun enthusiasts can legally own a piece of WWII history.

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