Do AR Pistols Need To Be Featureless?

do AR pistols need to be featureless

AR rifles have caused much controversy among gun owners by the reclassification of these firearms as assault weapons unless they are configured to be featureless. Many people who own these rifles have found themselves now in possession of a firearm that is deemed illegal. Making the AR featureless is the only way to legally remain in possession of these firearms. How do these rules apply to AR pistols? Do AR pistols need to be made featureless to ensure their legality?

AR pistols must be featureless. AR pistols built on the design of the AR-15 rifle have many of the features that classify the AR rifle as an assault weapon. The same rules that apply to making an AR rifle featureless to make sure it is legal apply to building a pistol on the AR framework.

If you own a pistol that is constructed on the AR platform, you will need to make sure that it complies with the necessary gun laws to ensure that the firearm is legal. There are several modifications a gun owner can make to an AR pistol that will allow them to legally possess the firearm and make sure to still remain within the law.

Why Do AR Pistols Need To Be Featureless?

AR pistols are built on the same foundation as AR rifles which gives them the potential to have similar firing capability and result in the firearm being classified as an assault weapon.

In the eyes of the law, these features make it easy to discharge many rounds in succession, replace a magazine and do it all over again. This poses a security and public threat if these types of firearms are used for non-legal activities, and they can be used against law enforcement agencies that may have less firepower.

In an attempt to limit the potential threat that these types of weapons pose to public safety and use in criminal activities, certain features that make the firearm easy to use and fire many rounds in rapid succession are deemed illegal.

As a result, if you want to own a firearm that has these types of capabilities, you need to remove the features that render the firearm illegal. This is where the term “featureless” comes from for the AR platform firearms.

Many of these regulations originated from the California gun laws that first implemented these measures to restrict these firearms. This has resulted in featureless firearms, sometimes referred to as California configured firearms.

Fostech MFG AR15 Tomcat Pistol Review

How Can You Make An AR Pistol Featureless?

An AR pistol that has all the features of an AR rifle in a small, compact configuration of a pistol that can be fired with a single hand can be a devastating weapon. Some of the features that define a pistol as being an assault weapon include the following.

  • A semiautomatic pistol without a fixed magazine.
  • A threaded barrel to which a flash suppressor can be fitted. 
  • A forward handgrip.
  • A silencer.
  • A second or forward handgrip.
  • A shroud that partially or completely surrounds the barrel or is attached to the barrel providing the ability for the shooter to grasp the barrel without burning their hand on the hot barrel.
  • If the firearm is able to accept a detachable magazine at a position on the firearm that is outside the pistol grip.

If the AR pistol has any one of these features, it is deemed to be an assault weapon and is considered illegal. 

The result of this legislation is that these features need to be removed and the pistol made featureless in order for it to be legal.

It is also illegal to take an existing AR rifle and convert it into an AR pistol. However, it is permitted to convert an AR pistol into a rifle and then convert it back to a pistol.

You are also not allowed to add a buttstock to an AR pistol which allows for the weapon to be shouldered. This converts the pistol into a short-barreled rifle, or SBR, which, while it is legal to own, requires the owner to go through a special permitting process to legally own it.

ammo and ar pistol

Why Would Anyone Want An AR Pistol?

With the regulations surrounding the ownership and construction of the AR pistol, you may wonder why anyone would want to jump through these hoops and go through the trouble of building or owning such a firearm.

It is actually not as difficult as it sounds to keep your AR pistol legal, and an AR pistol offers some benefits for the owner.

  • AR pistols are lighter and more compact than a rifle which makes them easier to carry.
  • The firepower of an AR pistol substantially outstrips that of a standard pistol. An AR pistol can shoot rifle-caliber ammunition in a pistol-sized weapon.
  • In some states, concealed carry only applies to a handgun which also has restrictions on how the firearm is transported in a vehicle. An AR pistol can be legally transported in a vehicle in the same way as a pistol.
  • An AR pistol is more accurate over longer distances than a standard pistol.
  • AR pistols are customizable, which allows you to build a handgun that suits your particular needs, including setting the pistol up for the caliber rounds of your choice.
  • Parts for the AR pistol are easy to source because they use the same parts as their rifle counterparts.
  • An AR pistol is a suitable alternative weapon to own in the states in the US, where short-barreled rifles are not legal.
  • You can cross state lines with an AR pistol because the weapon s classified as a pistol and not a short-barreled rifle.

Most people who own an AR pistol will tell you that the main reason to own one of these versatile handguns is that they are a lot of fun to shoot!


An AR pistol uses the same framework as an AR rifle, which gives it the potential to be classified as an assault weapon. If the pistol is deemed to be an assault weapon, it is considered to be illegal and can land you in on the wrong side of the gun laws.

The only way to one these pistols and not contravene any firearm laws is to make the weapon featureless. The legislation around creating the AR pistol as featureless may seem restrictive, but it is not difficult to keep the specifications of the pistol within the legal limits.

The benefits of owning an AR pistol, even in a featureless configuration, are making these firearms continually growing in popularity among gun enthusiasts.