Dealing with California Gun Regulations

We sat down with Wilson Combat's John May and asked…

We sat down with Wilson Combat‘s John May and asked him to explain the ins-and-outs of what it takes to get a pistol approved for California sale.

We have been shipping our products to California for years. Being such a large market populated with gun lovers and such great weather, it seems like a place a Wilson Combat customer could live.

In past years to get on the “Approved” list we had to submit three pistols:

-one for the State’s collection

-one that was shot and dropped to pass their requirements

-and the last remained at the testing lab for future demands (?!)

In addition to committing three pistols for the process and providing the ammo for the testing, we were charged a fee for the testing. Keep in mind that one pistol was returned, but it was for the most part destroyed. When a model was added to the approved list it is very specific right down to the grips included on the pistol. A small improvement to our Light-rail pistol created a lengthy and problematic process to make sure that we could offer it to replace our current pistol, and just this year we had to leave the new logo off of our pistols delivered in Cali.

Customers that want to take full advantage of our custom handguns cannot and they must be in the exact configuration that is listed on the approved list including sights, thumb-safeties, grips, finish color and apparently even the logo on the slide. A customer may order an approved model, take possession of same, and then send it back to us to be transformed into exactly what they were looking for. Every day we send pistols out with two sets of grips, the ones listed on the approved model and the one that the customer wanted. I am not sure how a different grip really makes a difference, but that is the law.

Another example could be an ambidextrous safety, if not listed on the approved model, the only option is to fit both, send it with the appropriate safety and allow the customer to change it after they take delivery of their new pistol. Every day we explain to California residents how we are limited on what we can do on their custom gun order.

One of the most recent additions to the requirements to be on the approved list includes a loaded chamber indicator and a magazine disconnect. Anything already on the list is grandfathered, but no new models will be accepted without this among other additions. While the loaded chamber indicator is pretty easy to accomplish, the magazine disconnect is not. It can be done, but it will no longer be a 1911 or have a match quality trigger that our customers are accustom to receiving from Wilson Combat.

Until the law changes we will only offer twelve models currently listed, and our customers that want something different will have to order them just like they are listed and then send them back to have them changed to meet their exact demands.

Load Comments
  • Pat

    Am I understanding correctly that once the customer takes possession of a gun from the list it is THEN ok to make modifications that would normally keep the gun from being on the list in the first place? If so then what exactly does this “law” do to make guns “safer” for Californians? Does having such modifications made create a problem for the gun owner should he later wish to sell the gun to someone else in the state? Also, what are the issues that might be encountered if a resident of some other state purchased a gun not on the list and then moved to California?

  • I wish a lot more people would wright as good as you. Seems like people are putting out a lot of garbage lately but I am glad I found someone who cares what they post.

  • Michael

    California gun laws drive me absolutely nuts. The fact that the exact same gun but with a different finish color or grips is not allowed is a crime. I believe this is nothing more than California’s attempt to discourage gun makers from distributing guns to Californians. I greatly appreciate the manufacturers that modify pistols to California’s completely obsurd laws.

  • Stan

    I live an California and I am glad to see that Wilson goes to that extent for its customer. I am LE so I am exempted from the CA models. I just wanted to again thank Wilson Combat for making such a terrific pistol and their customer service is second to none. I carry my Professional Supergrade off duty and trust it fully in protecting my family and I.