Home Defense AR-15 and Legal Considerations in California

Sparrow Dynamics
3 min readJan 7, 2022

This article is still a work in progress, but I will publish it now while I work on it because it is helpful information.

Using a rifle in a home defense situation that you “think is compliant” or were told is compliant, but is not, will REALLY compound legal problems for you if (God forbid) you ever had to use it. The time to figure out if your home defense rifle is truly compliant is now, not when you hear a bump in the night. Please consider this if you intend to have a rifle for home defense. If you just have a rifle for the range, then this matters a little less and that is not what we are discussing below.

The legal considerations of having a rifle for sport is very different than for self-defense, because your targets are very different and could potentially change your life forever.

The grip on a featureless rifle is one element you should research before deciding to configure a home defense rifle. The DOJ definition of pistol grip is this… “A grip that allows for a pistol style grasp in which the web of the trigger hand (between the thumb and index finger) can be placed below the top of the exposed portion of the trigger while firing.” Carefully read the definition and look at the grip for yourself. Some grips could/would compound the legal complications for the user if it were used in a home defense situation in California.

Here are 3 qualifying questions you can ask yourself:

A) Does it allow for a pistol style grasp? Most people understand this to mean wrapping your thumb and a couple of fingers around while the trigger finger is pointing forward.

B) While doing (A), CAN the web of your hand go below the top of the exposed portion of the trigger?

C) While doing (B), can you reach the trigger and pull it?

Some other questions to ask about point (B) above that may be a little more vague.

Is the web of your hand only the skin on the back of your hand? We believe many would say no. Is the web of your hand the fleshy part between your thumb and index finger and from the skin on your palm to the skin on the back of your hand? We believe most would say yes, including medical professionals. How many would think that half of the web of your hand can cross the line and still be ok? Can all the web be below the line, but just a thin layer of skin on the back of your hand be above it and be ok? In other words, does it say the web of your hand, or does it say a portion of the web of your hand?

Reading an analysis from 2A attorneys can be helpful. Here is a 6 page analysis on our grip from Michel & Associates. https://www.sparrowdynamics.com/CRG-15-Grip-Legal-Info-s/108.htm

We also know these laws and definitions are abhorrent and unconstitutional, but we believe it is wise to have your home defense weapon be clearly compliant. It is unwise to install a grip on your home defense rifle that is in a questionable legal gray area (and there are a few of those grips out there). We really don’t care what grip you use, but consider for yourself if it meets or doesn’t meet the CA DOJ’s definition of a pistol grip, or if it is in a gray area… don’t just trust us or any manufacturer’s statements. Legislators and DOJ prosecutors hate that you own an AR in California. Prosecutors will do everything they can to vilify you if you find yourself in a self-defense case. Don’t make it easy for them, because that wouldn’t be good for you, your family, or the 2A cause.

Serious food for thought; hope this helps!