It never ceases to amaze me that even in the harshest environment and climates—places that would kill most organisms—the sprouts of life not only exist, but also sometimes thrive. Of course, to survive in a tough environment, you have to be tough, and in California, the toughest has to be Franklin Armory, an AR-style rifle manufacturer located in this politically inhospitable state.

The company has been in California for 20 years, and it takes a lot of determination and ingenuity to continue to operate there. That same level of American know-how and plain refusal to surrender can be found in all of the company’s rifles. Franklin Armory first came to my attention with its rather clever not-a-rifle/not-a-handgun XO-26, which conformed to the restrictions placed on so-called “assault rifles” in California.

The company also manufactures AR-style rifles and carbines, including standard civilian, California-compliant and law-enforcement-only versions. The AR that grabbed my attention was Franklin’s M4-SBR-L, a semi-automatic, direct-gas-impingement-system carbine chambered in 5.56mm NATO and loaded with extra features that should appeal to the patrol officer or special-operations team member.

Gun Details

Both the upper and lower receivers of the M4-SBR-L are machined from 7075-T6 aluminum billet and hardcoat anodized in a variety of colors. Since Franklin Armory uses CNC machines to carve out each receiver from a solid block of aluminum alloy, giving them a distinctly beefier look than usual, the company can also add custom features directly to the parts.

The lower receiver has an integrated and enlarged triggerguard for ease of use with gloved fingers. At the front of the triggerguard and just above the magazine well is a grooved memory tab for finger-off-the-trigger safety (at least for right-handed shooters). The magazine well itself is significantly flared to aid with faster magazine reloads, and the front of the magazine well features a checkered pattern to provide extra grip to those who like using it as an improvised vertical grip. For more information, call 408-779-7560 or visit

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