With ever-changing gun laws in California, it can be tricky to keep track of what types of magazines are legal to own. If you’re a gun owner in California wondering about the legality of 15-round magazines, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: No, it is generally illegal for civilians to possess 15-round magazines in California, with few exceptions.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through California’s key magazine capacity laws, exceptions that allow ownership, potential penalties, how to modify or dispose of prohibited magazines, and more. With over 3000 words of detailed information, you’ll have a full understanding of 15-round magazine regulations in CA once you’re finished reading.

Background of California Magazine Laws

California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States. One aspect of these laws pertains to the ownership and possession of large capacity magazines, which are generally defined as magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

To understand the current regulations, it is important to be familiar with the history of magazine laws in California.

1999 Statewide Ban on Large Capacity Magazines

In 1999, California implemented a statewide ban on the sale, transfer, or possession of large capacity magazines. This ban made it illegal for individuals to own magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The intent behind this ban was to reduce the potential lethality of mass shootings and other gun-related incidents.

According to statistics from the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control, states with high-capacity magazine bans have lower rates of gun deaths compared to states without such bans. While the effectiveness of this ban is debated among gun rights advocates and gun control proponents, it remains in effect today.

2016 Voter-Approved Proposition 63

In 2016, California voters approved Proposition 63, which further tightened restrictions on large capacity magazines. This proposition not only maintained the ban on the sale and transfer of these magazines but also made it illegal to possess them.

Individuals who already owned large capacity magazines were required to surrender them, sell them out of state, or permanently alter them to comply with the new restrictions.

Proposition 63 also mandated background checks for ammunition purchases and required individuals to obtain an ammunition purchase permit. These additional measures aimed to enhance public safety by making it more difficult for individuals with criminal intent to access firearms and ammunition.

Current Status of CA Magazine Restrictions

As of now, it is illegal to own, possess, or purchase large capacity magazines in California. Violations of these laws can result in criminal charges and penalties. However, it is important to note that the legal landscape surrounding gun control is subject to change, and individuals should stay informed about any updates or revisions to the existing regulations.

For more information on California’s gun laws, individuals can visit the official website of the California Department of Justice at https://oag.ca.gov/.

Is It Legal to Possess 15-Round Magazines in California?

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States, and the possession of high-capacity magazines is no exception. In 2000, the state passed a law prohibiting the sale, transfer, and manufacture of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

However, if you owned a 15-round magazine prior to the ban, you may be wondering if you can legally keep it.

Limited Exceptions Allowing Ownership

While the possession of 15-round magazines is generally prohibited in California, there are some limited exceptions that allow individuals to legally keep them. One such exception is for law enforcement officers and active-duty military personnel who may possess these magazines for official use.

Additionally, individuals who owned 15-round magazines before the ban went into effect are allowed to keep them, as long as they are not used in a firearm.

It’s important to note that the possession of high-capacity magazines obtained through these exceptions must still comply with certain regulations. For example, law enforcement officers are typically required to carry their credentials when in possession of such magazines.

Consequences of Illegal Possession

It is crucial to understand that possessing a 15-round magazine without meeting the exceptions mentioned above can have serious consequences under California law. Violating the ban on high-capacity magazines is considered a misdemeanor and can result in fines and even imprisonment.

It’s important to comply with the law and to understand the specific restrictions in your jurisdiction.

If you are unsure about the legality of your possession of a 15-round magazine or have questions about California’s gun laws, it is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable attorney or refer to official sources such as the California Department of Justice’s website (https://oag.ca.gov/firearms) for accurate and up-to-date information.

Modifying Magazines to Comply with Laws

California state law restricts the possession and sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. However, there are ways to modify your magazines to comply with these regulations. This article will explore two common methods: making permanent modifications and using removable blocking devices.

Making Permanent Modifications

One option for modifying your magazines is to permanently reduce their capacity. This involves physically altering the magazine to limit the number of rounds it can hold. While this may sound daunting, there are several tutorials and resources available online that can guide you through the process.

One common method is to permanently attach a block at the bottom of the magazine, reducing its capacity to 10 rounds or less. This can be done using epoxy or other adhesives. It’s important to note that once this modification is made, it cannot be undone without damaging the magazine.

Before attempting any modifications, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with California’s laws and regulations regarding magazine capacity. It’s also recommended to consult with legal professionals or firearm experts to ensure you are in compliance with the law.

Removable Blocking Devices

Another option for complying with magazine capacity restrictions is to use removable blocking devices. These devices are designed to limit the number of rounds that can be loaded into a magazine. They can be easily installed or removed depending on the shooter’s needs.

One popular type of removable blocking device is a magazine limiter or a “magazine block.” These blocks are typically made of plastic or metal and are inserted into the magazine to reduce its capacity. They can be adjusted to comply with the specific regulations of your state.

It’s important to note that while removable blocking devices provide flexibility, they must be used responsibly. It is illegal to possess or use a magazine that has been modified to hold more rounds than allowed by law, even if the device is removed.

Before purchasing any blocking devices or modifying your magazines, it is recommended to consult with local law enforcement or legal experts to ensure compliance with California’s magazine capacity laws.

Disposing of Prohibited Magazines

When it comes to owning firearms and accessories, it’s important to understand and abide by the laws in your state. In California, the possession of magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds is generally prohibited.

So, if you find yourself in possession of a 15-round magazine in California, you may be wondering how to properly dispose of it. There are a couple of options available to you.

Selling to an Out-of-State Buyer

If you no longer wish to keep your 15-round magazine, one option is to sell it to an out-of-state buyer. While California law prohibits the sale of these magazines within the state, it is generally legal to sell them to individuals residing in other states where such magazines are not restricted.

However, it’s important to check the specific laws of the state where the buyer resides to ensure compliance.

When selling to an out-of-state buyer, it is advisable to follow all necessary legal steps, such as conducting the transaction through a licensed dealer or utilizing a transfer service to ensure compliance with federal regulations.

This will help ensure that the magazine is transferred legally and responsibly.

Destroying the Magazine

If selling the magazine is not a viable option for you, the next best course of action is to render it permanently inoperable. There are various methods you can use to destroy the magazine to make it unusable. One common method is to disassemble the magazine and separate its components.

You can then dispose of the parts separately to ensure that the magazine cannot be reconstructed or used.

Another option is to physically modify the magazine to reduce its capacity to 10 rounds or less. This can be done by permanently blocking or altering the magazine’s internal structure, preventing it from holding more than the legal limit of rounds.

It’s important to note that these modifications should be irreversible and clearly evident to anyone inspecting the magazine.

Once the magazine has been rendered inoperable, it is recommended to dispose of it in a responsible manner. This can be done by taking it to a local recycling center or contacting your local law enforcement agency for guidance on proper disposal procedures.

Remember, it’s crucial to comply with the laws and regulations regarding firearm accessories in your state. If you have any doubts or questions about owning or disposing of a prohibited magazine, it’s always best to consult with legal professionals or law enforcement authorities for guidance.

Purchasing CA-Legal Magazines

When it comes to owning magazines in California, there are strict regulations that gun owners must adhere to. The state has implemented laws that limit the capacity of magazines to 10 rounds or less. However, it is important to note that these restrictions apply to the purchase of new magazines, and not necessarily to the possession of existing ones.

Therefore, if you already own a 15-round magazine, you may legally keep it, as long as it was acquired before the ban went into effect.

Buying 10-Round or Lower Magazines

If you are looking to purchase a magazine in California, you will need to ensure that it complies with the state’s regulations. This means that you can only buy magazines with a capacity of 10 rounds or lower.

It is crucial to double-check the capacity of the magazine before making a purchase, as owning a magazine with a higher capacity than allowed can result in legal consequences.

There are several gun stores and online retailers that offer a wide selection of CA-legal magazines for purchase. These magazines are specifically designed to comply with the state’s regulations, allowing gun owners to stay within the confines of the law while still enjoying their firearms.

Prices for these magazines can vary depending on factors such as brand, material, and additional features.

Considering Reliability of Reduced Capacity Magazines

One important aspect to keep in mind when purchasing reduced capacity magazines is their reliability. Some gun enthusiasts argue that lower capacity magazines may be less reliable compared to higher capacity ones.

The reasoning behind this is that reduced capacity magazines require more frequent reloading, which can increase the chances of malfunctions or failures.

However, it is worth noting that many manufacturers have invested in improving the reliability of their lower capacity magazines. They have made advancements in design and materials to ensure that these magazines function reliably and feed ammunition smoothly.

Additionally, proper maintenance and training can also contribute to the overall reliability of any magazine, regardless of its capacity.

If you are concerned about the reliability of reduced capacity magazines, it is recommended to do thorough research and read reviews from reputable sources. Gun forums and websites like guns.com or shootingillustrated.com often provide valuable insights and user experiences that can help you make an informed decision.


California’s magazine capacity restrictions aim to limit the potential harm caused by mass shootings and other firearm crimes. While owning 15-round magazines remains illegal for most civilians, certain exemptions apply for specific groups.

Gun owners must educate themselves on current laws and properly modify, dispose of, or replace any prohibited magazines. With smart compliance, lawful owners in California can continue exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.

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