View Full Version : High Capacity Magazine Rebuilding... Am I Really Going There?

12-13-2009, 5:05 PM
I really wanted to avoid starting a thread on high cap mags. As someone who was well advised in the late 90s as to what I should buy and what I should register, I'm really not affected by these decisions. Neither are most of the people well qualified to answer these questions. We are all quite tired of seeing the numerous posts on the topic however, all to be answered with a similar response.

Through all of the posts, and information referenced, I'm still seeing a few discrepancies in the laws as we are commonly interpreting them here.

I'll bring up the questions that I've been wondering about and hopefully we can have some quality answers.

Some post that you cannot "rebuild" a magazine where the parts are not common with the magazine you could have legally possessed before 1-1-00. These include the Pmag controversy, and from the other thread, most 10/22 mags. Pmags didn't exist in the 90s, and 10/22 mags need to be smashed with a hammer to find out that the parts are not compatible with current magazines. (Butler creek vs TacInnovations).

The spring from a Pmag is the only part that could be held in common. Magpul states that their springs are specifically designed for the Pmag, but could be used in a USGI spec mag... That said, ANY spring COULD be used in ANY magazine. It's really not hard to make or find a spring.

Others post, and unfortunately they are sometimes the same ones posting the above opinion, that as long as you had x high cap magazines when you started, and x high cap magazines when you finish, you are A-OK... The problem with this is that parts incompatibility becomes a big issue. No part of a 30 rd Pmag could be used to rebuild a 20 rd USGI mag. NO PART of a beta C drum could be used to rebuild ANY of the other mags. Yet that specific situation, rebuilding a 20rd usgi to a beta C, has been given numerous times. There are SO MANY high cap threads that I simply don't have the patience to look up that reference, but it's not my imagination.

The wiki doesn't clarify this much,
The general rules regarding magazine repair appear to be that as long as one ends up with the same number of legally possessed large-capacity magazines, has a plausible path of replacement parts from the original possessed large-capacity magazine to the repaired magazine, and the magazine continues to work in the firearm it was originally designed to operate in, one would not be violating the law.

Plausible path? What's defensible?

Inquiring minds want to know. Either we stick with this "you had one high capacity magazine, now you have another. You do not have two." OR "you actually took a part from the rebuild kit and replaced a part in your old magazine, then replaced all the other parts".

It's confusing nonsense. And it needs to be resolved. I've got tons of old magazines, all different kinds, stored in various places, parents houses, etc... Can I rebuild each and every one of them into 100rd drums for my AR?

Second thought.

There are many pistols on the market based on identical frames, where the key difference is just the barrel, or the barrel and slide, but the basic dimensions are the same. In these caliber variations, mostly between 9mm and .40sw, the magazines are often almost identical as well. This leads to the unintentional consequence of buying a 10rd mag in .40sw that holds 13 rds of 9mm. Often this magazine loaded with 9mm will function perfectly in the 9mm variant of the pistol.

This should be legal, no reason not to be.

So that leads to this issue first, what if you need to tweak the feed lips a little bit. Maybe just bend them a tiny bit to hold the round at a different angle or height.

from the wiki
There are no restrictions on modifying a legally possessed large-capacity magazine to work in another firearm as long as the magazine continues to operate in the firearm it was originally designed for.

Is this legal? You aren't manufacturing anything. Hell, it'll still function in the original weapon because as soon as you load the mag back up with .40 and cycle it, it will probably "clearance itself ;)"...

What if you don't own the .40sw version of the weapon, or caliber conversion kit. You order 10rd .40 mags, or purchase them at a local store. You do this with the full intention of using them in your 9mm handgun, because that's all you have.

You bought a legal product, and once you owned it, there is nothing prohibiting your possession of it...

I heard a quote here once that a 10rd beowulf mag is a 30 rd .223 mag. Or a 26 rd 6.5 grendel magazine...

If it was marked 10 rounds, .50 beowulf, couldn't anyone buy it and use that to hold 30 rounds of .223?

Since unmarked, couldn't one assemble 30rd rebuild kits into 10 rd .50 magazines, then use them for .223 ?

Ok last point.

Since so many people are buying rebuild kits, and the DOJ letter states there is no responsibility to hold onto the old parts, why isn't there a large trading economy of beat up old high cap magazine parts kits? Some of us may be cheaper than others. If I was to ruin one by converting a high cap to a 10/30 for use in an OLL build, I sure as hell would rebuild it into a nice Pmag first, then use the parts left over to make the 10/30. I can spraypaint that abomination black.

As a final point to all, I quote a wordy post I made a few months ago.. It just says everything I want to add now. How not to get in trouble.

Here's how it goes. Cop says, where did you get those magazines? Those are high capacity!! Those are illegal!! And you say... NOTHING ! You say, I don't talk to police without a lawyer, sorry. You think you're gonna convince that cop that you're right and he's wrong? Maybe before he arrests you ask him what the PC he is arresting you for is, and to have his supervisor look it up. Make no statements about your magazines or where you got them.
Worst case scenario. You have said nothing to the police and are arrested. Your lawyer then asks the judge what PC you were arrested for, and the case is thrown out. Yet again, you have NEVER said anything about the magazines, because you have a 5th amendment that says you don't have to say a word, backed up by the supreme court.
If the DA tries to press charges for manufacturing or conspiracy to import they are going to have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt without you saying a single word in court that you did not previously own high capacity magazines which you then rebuilt with the new parts. Since there has never been an age restriction on the possession of magazines you could be 10 right now and your dad could have given them to you when you were a baby. They cannot prove this beyond a reasonable doubt UNLESS YOU MAKE A STATEMENT AND SCREW YOURSELF!!@!!@ That's the key here. Shut up, don't say a word and you can't get in trouble for this.

Go ahead, buy your Pmag rebuilds, legally rebuild your old magazines, don't do something stupid like post here how you just made a bunch of high caps and incriminate yourself.

This wins as my longest post ever. I finally cracked. One too many high cap posts.

12-13-2009, 5:09 PM
as long as you had x high cap magazines when you started, and x high cap magazines when you finish, you are A-OK...

"long as you had x high cap magazines when you started, and x high cap magazines when you finish, you are A-OK... " <- this is just what some simple minded people WANTED to believe...

Getting "replacement parts" for a magazine that you HAD before the ban and then fixing THAT particular magazine is covered and is A-OK (from the letter from DOJ); but no laws, no official opinions, no letters stating that you can REPLACE large capacity magazine in a 1:1 fashion...

why isn't there a large trading economy of beat up old high cap magazine parts kits?

Cuz, they are not worth of anything.... I got tons of old parts.... but the bodies & floorplates are beated up, scratched up, the follower doesn't work well, I am not going to bother to sell those for $1 a piece....

12-13-2009, 7:15 PM
Yeah it so fuzzy. Say I have one 30rd , owned before 2000. I order a pmag rebuild kit. Arrives here , and I use everything to rebuild my old 30rd. So I now destroy my old 30rd to keep the same amount of magazines I had before ordering the kit or wtf?

12-13-2009, 8:22 PM

With that out of the way let's talk about the only two prohibited things.

1. Import. If you don't import a complete magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of the ammunition it was designed to take you've done nothing wrong. There is a specific ruling in Hunt v. Lockyer that subcaliber ammunition doesn't make a magazine into a large-capacity magazine as long as it isn't a large-capacity magazine in its original intended caliber. Buy as many .50 Beowolfs as you'd like but I'd caution that it looks better to own a firearm in that caliber... Parts are parts and unassembled parts are still just parts - even if its 100% of a magazine.

2. Manufacture. First, there is no restriction on a magazine once it's 11 rounds or more. Once a large-capacity magazine, always a large capacity magazine. However, the caution you're hearing is that you want to have a plausible path from large-cap(20) to large-cap(100) as if there are records of you're buying the new parts in the intervening 3 years and there is no plausible path from lc(20) to lc(100) then a DA may be able to make a case for manufacturing by inference. The "beyond a reasonable doubt" threshold makes that hard here though.

Final thoughts. The statute of limitations is 3 years. They have to prove that you imported or manufactured in the 36 months before you were charged. Exercising your 5th amendment and your common sense about record keeping means even the edge cases are non issues.


12-13-2009, 8:36 PM
I have RAWs and high caps and I travel 8-10 times a yr to NV to shoot. I have the benefit of having a relative in Nv so I leave a batch of mags there so I don't have to worry about "importing" my existing mags back to Ca.. I also carry a copy (laminated) of my reg form.. I just don't want to deal with the nonsense of an over zealous officer. This also applies to range masters who watch me drop mags (GIs 30s) and throw new ones in and then ask to see my rifle. It is annoying and sad that everyone walks around pointing fingers in this state and "whispers" about those around us.. Common sense should prevail with some discretion. Just my .02

12-13-2009, 8:40 PM
Great way to finish this thread Hoffmang!

I suggest we lock this thread at this point. :)

12-13-2009, 9:08 PM
Why does it look better to own an upper of the respective caliber ? :p does California dare ? Does anyone even make clearly marked ten round beowulf mags ?
I'm still left with a muddy view of how you rebuild an aluminum 20rd mag into a drum. Are you calling that bunk or is there some feasible way that the conversion took place ?
I fully understand the statute of limitations.

12-13-2009, 9:31 PM
Sorry I'm on my phone so I can't edit.
I'm hoping for the idyllic resolution of "yes it is legal". No hoops. No hush hush or whispering or rebuild kits. If it becomes common practice for us with RAWs or featureless builds to purchase completely assembled magazines for a different weapon or caliber then it becomes a simple matter to have alternate caliber magazines manufactured or labeled by an out of state vendor. The end effect pretty much invalidates the law. Once defeated they either give up completely or they make a costly mistake of trying to prosecute an example case who has not violated the letter of the law. Imagine all the people.