Do It Yourself: FAL Magazine Release Lever modification
Project: how to make your FAL post SB-23 compliant in California.
DISCLAIMER: It is YOUR responsibility to verify the legalities of this modification to see if your rifle is still in compliance with all State and Federal firearms laws, specifically "Assault Weapons" regulations. If you have any doubts/questions about firearms regulation/legalities, please contact your local State authorities (DOJ Firearms Division) or the BATF to verify that your issue/questions are legal. It is highly recommended that you get their rulings in writing (CYA).
The Information on this page is for informational purposes ONLY. I will NOT take any responsibility for what you do with the information found on this web page and the legalities of the information.
This modification is really simple to accomplish with relatively little investment ($$). The supplies can be easily found at any local hardware dept store and can be done with simple DIY hand tools.
Tools & Materials
1) Here are some of the tools that are helpful in completing the modification.
#8-32 tap & tap holder
#29 (3.4544mm) or 9/64 (3.5719mm) Cobalt drill bit
5/64 allen key (for the set screw)
hand file (mill)
electric drill or drill press
|#8-32 X 1/2 inch long Set screw|
The set screws can be found at most local hardware store. I purchased the stainless steel 'Set Screws' from Ace Hardware (approx .30 cents each) and they are also available at Home Depot.
Picture on the left show an un-altered magazine release lever next to some of the tools. The picture on the right shows a couple of the modified magazine release levers with the set screws in place.
Magazine release lever setup
2) To make sure the hole is drilled straight through, the magazine release lever spring hole should be perpendicular to the work surface. I used a drill bit and a torpedo level to make sure everything was square before clamping the piece in the vise.
Drilling through magazine release lever
3) Safety Notice: Eye protection should be worn to protect your eyes from flying metal bits.
When you start to drill through the magazine release lever, make sure you keep the drill and drill bit square to the work. Take your time and use some oil to help the drill bit cut it's way through. A new high quality hardened drill bit, should make this an easy job. Don't force the drill bit, as you risk breaking the drill bit.
The #8-32 tap specifies a #29 drill bit, if you can't find a #29 drill bit a 9/64 drill bit would do very nicely. I actually prefer the 9/64 drill bit, as I think it's just a tiny bit larger than the #29 drill bit. It makes threading the hole that much easier with the tap, since the hole is a little bit larger.
If the magazine release lever is difficult to drill through (too hard or the drill bit won't bite), it may be easier to anneal (heat) the part with a torch before drilling. Annealing the area will make it easier for the drill bit to bite and drill through the piece.
The picture on the left show the spring hole before drilling and the picture on the right shows the spring hole completely drilled through the magazine release lever.
Threading the hole with the #8-32 tap
4) Secure the tap in the tap holder. Threading the hole may take some time. Keeping the tap and work piece properly lubricated with oil will make threading the hole easier. You'll have to turn the tap back and fourth until you thread the hole completely through. Again take your time and don't force the tap through, or you risk breaking the tap.
To be sure the threads were cut nicely, I flipped the magazine release lever over and chased the new threads with the tap a few more times. I then took a hand file to remove the burrs around the hole.
Installing the 10 rd magazine and the modified magazine release lever
5) Assembling a post-SB23 FAL to comply with California SB-23 law. Here we have a 10 round magazine from DSA and the modified 'fixed' magazine release lever.
Note: you should NOT have the pistol grip installed on the rifle until after you install the fixed 10 round magazine and the modified fixed magazine release lever. The rifle pictured above was just disassembled with the fixed 10 round magazine for picture taking purposes.
Insert the Bolt Hold Open Device first.
Insert the 10 round magazine into the magazine well.
Insert the modified Magazine release lever.
Screw in the BHOD/Magazine release lever pivot screw.
Turn the set-screw in the modified magazine catch, until it bottoms out onto the receiver (don't over tighten). Make sure that the 10 or 5 round magazine is secured into the magwell.
With all the components installed on the rifle, all that is required is to use the allen key to screw in the set screw until in bottoms out on the receiver.
Here is the finished product.
California DOJ "Definition of a Detachable Magazine"
The modification to the magazine release lever is real easy to do, and yet it should comply with the California Dept. of Justice's definition for a "Fixed Magazine".
CCR 11 § 5469 Definitions (PDF)
California DOJ "Characteristics of an Assault Rifle"
With the 'fixed 10 round magazine' it should also NOT be classified as an Assault Weapon per SB23 definition of an "Assault Weapon".
A Post-ban FAL can not be assembled with more than 10 imported parts listed in Section 178.39
The FAL contains 17 of the 20 parts described in Section 178.39.
Look at this FAQ for more information: FAL Files US Parts FAQ
If anyone has a letter from the California Department of Justice regarding the legalities of this modification, please contact me via email (posted below). We would like to post a link to the letter or host a copy on this site. We can discuss this via email.
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This site was last updated 01/11/09