IMPORTANT NOTE: This post is no longer accurate as of September 4, 2022 and is only for historical reference. For our updated guide on ‘How To Buy An AR-15 In New York State After 2022’ please CLICK HERE or copy/paste the following URL into your browser (https://nylegalar-15.com/the-complete-guide-to-buying-an-ar-15-in-new-york-state-after-2022).
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So, you’re thinking about purchasing the most popular sporting rifle in modern history but you’re not sure where to start. Well, look no further, this New Yorker will walk you through all of the steps from deciding if the AR platform is right for you to enjoying the thrill of shooting the most controversial & versatile weapon in modern U.S. history. The first thing most people ask me is “is it even possible to own an AR15 in New York State?” and I am delighted to tell them YES! As long as you do not live in New York City.
Yes, it is possible to own an AR15 in New York State while remaining SAFE Act compliant and the process isn’t as complicated as you may think. You do not need a special license and you do not need to register your AR15 as an assault weapon if you follow these 5 simple steps.
- Find a SAFE Act compliant model of AR15 or one that can be readily converted to meet SAFE Act compliance through permanent modification (such as locking the magazine).
- Locate a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) dealer who is AR friendly and willing to process the transfer.
- Find your chosen compliant model online and in stock or at your local gun shop (if there is anything left in stock after the 2020 rush).
- Place your order online with your chosen FFL listed on the order and have the AR15 shipped to them.
- Go to your FFL’s location after they contact you to run a background check through the FBI NICS system, pay your transfer fees, and take home your shiny new AR15 rifle!
Although this article is written for those who have never purchased an AR15 in NYS, there is still valuable information regarding SAFE Act compliant options.
PLEASE NOTE: this is not to be taken as legal advice. I am not a lawyer and I do not know all of the laws that vary from county to county and among the various municipalities in New York State. Always ask your FFL and seek professional legal opinion PRIOR to ordering your AR platform firearm from an online dealer. Make sure you are legally allowed to own a firearm and that you can pass the NICS background check before pursuing the purchase of any firearm in NYS.
Is The AR Style Platform The Right Choice For You?
Let’s face it, the AR-15 has become a household recognized name nationwide due to its publicity, news coverage, and is the center of many political debates when it comes to gun control.
However, the AR platform firearm has gained popularity and is the most commonly owned firearm among Americans due to its modularity, reliability, and the small learning curve it features for new gun owners. It has even been compared to the swiss army knife due to its popularity and wide range of application.
Whether you’re looking for a new hunting rifle, something fun to target shoot with, or a dependable home defense weapon, the AR-15 has probably come up in your searches many times over and for good reason – the AR-15 is the most versatile rifle available on the market today.
Brandon Herrera would cringe while reading these words but I think the AR platform is superior to the AK and it is much easier to find or convert an AR to being NY compliant than it is to find a NY legal AK platform rifle – believe me, I’ve tried and the only manufacturer I know of (Riley Defense out of NC) hasn’t had any in stock since late 2019.
That being said, if you’re looking for a new rifle for hunting, sporting, or home defense that is easy to learn, easy to use, and extremely upgradable, then the AR-15 is the right choice for you.
Choosing The Proper Caliber For Your Needs
Being extremely versatile, the AR platform is available in a wide range of calibers from the smaller .22lr to the larger 6.5 Creedmoor. Some people have even built ARs in .50 BMG.
The following chart shows the most common calibers, their effective ranges, and popular uses:
|Caliber||Effective Range*||Most Common Use|
|.22lr||Up to 150 yards||Plinking at targets, varmints.|
|.223/5.56x45mm NATO||Up to 600 yards (100-300yds most effective)||Target shooting, varmints, coyote hunting, deer hunting (at 100 yards maximum).|
|.308||Up to 1,000 yards (400-700yds most effective)||Target shooting, hunting (medium-big game like deer, hogs, elk, bear, etc.).|
|7.62x39mm||Up to 400 yards (100-200yds most effective)||Target, hunting (medium game like deer and hogs).|
|.300 AAC/.300 Blackout||Up to 750 yards (400-500 yards most effective)||Target, hunting (medium game like deer and hogs).|
|6.5 Grendel||Up to 1,000 yards (500-800 most effective)||Target, medium game hunting (deer, hogs, etc.).|
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*PLEASE NOTE: barrel length, type of ammunition, wind, and intended purpose are all major variable factors when it comes to effective range. The above chart depicts average estimates based on most common use case scenarios using the most popular types of ammo for each caliber.
The most common caliber for an AR15 to be chambered in is the .223 or 5.56x45mm NATO configuration so we will focus on these models when shopping for your first AR rifle in NYS due to ease of availability.
Understanding The NY S.A.F.E. Act
The NY SAFE Act, also known as Senate Bill S2230 (Link to complete bill is found here), is Governor Cuomo’s failed attempt at reducing gun-related violence and crimes through violating the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution with the strictest gun law in the nation.
I agree that any form of ‘gun control’ is in itself inherently anti-constitutional and that isn’t up for debate; however, my goal here at NYLegalAR-15.com is to help New Yorker’s exercise their rights to own AR platform firearms without violating NY’s strict gun control laws.
The SAFE Act has banned the following features from any semi-automatic rifle that is ‘capable of receiving a detachable magazine’ and has ‘one or more of the following military characteristics’:
- Folding or Telescoping Stock
- Protruding Pistol Grip
- Thumbhole Stock
- Second Handgrip or Protruding Grip that can be held by non shooting hand
- Bayonet Mount
- Flash Suppressor
- Muzzle Brake
- Muzzle Compensator
- Or a threaded barrel designed to accommodate the above (flash suppressor, muzzle brake or muzzle compensator)
- Grenade Launcher
The SAFE Act also limits the capacity of removable magazines and even fixed magazines to 10 rounds. Hunting laws limit all semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, or pistols with a barrel length of 8-inches or longer to a 5-round capacity during hunting use.
Understanding how the SAFE Act works will be your guide in determining if an AR platform model is NY compliant or not.
S.A.F.E. Act Links & Resources
- Assault Weapon Features and Definition (https://safeact.ny.gov/resources-gun-owners#assault-weapon-registration)
- Banned Features PDF (https://safeact.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/02/rifles_banned_features.pdf)
- Ammo Rules & Regulations (https://safeact.ny.gov/ammunition-registration)
Clarification On The ‘7-Round Limit’ Rule In S.A.F.E. Act
The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association brought a lawsuit against Andrew Cuomo and the SAFE Act in an attempt to get it repealed and the final ruling in 2015 showed that overall the case failed to repeal the SAFE Act but it did reverse the 7-round capacity limit based on it being unconstitutional and unenforceable (see details on the case by clicking here – (https://www.nysrpa.org/legal-action-against-cuomo-gun-law/)
How To Find A NY Compliant Model AR15 (.223/5.56 Caliber)
Well, now that you understand the (un)SAFE Act, you could google it for hours, ask various online stores via their chat/email features or call around to local gun shops but, if I told you to do that then this article wouldn’t be of much value, now would it?
Luckily for you I have done most of that work for you and below is my go-to list for NY Compliant AR15 rifles.
NY compliant AR15s come in 4 different configurations so I will give you my recommendation for each one:
- Featureless (can accept a detachable magazine but does not have any ‘evil’ features)
- Fixed-Magazine (can retain all of the so-called ‘military characteristics’ without the ability to accept a detachable magazine)
- Bolt Action (not semi-automatic)
- Pump Action (not semi-automatic)
Recommended Featureless AR Rifle –
Photo Courtesy of smith-wesson.com
S&W M&P15 Sport 2 (Model #12001) – CA Compliant version with 10-round detachable magazine. Chambered in 5.56 NATO (can accept 5.56x45mm NATO or .223 rounds).
Features a fixed stock in the farthest position, a crowned muzzle (unthreaded), a fin grip (not pistol grip), with no bayonet lug. Comes with Smith & Wesson’s famous Lifetime Warranty.
This is the first AR I ever purchased personally and some of the things I like about this rifle are the ambidextrous safety (something I prefer on ALL of my AR rifles for ease of use), the fixed length of pull, and the fact it comes with a Magpul MBUS Gen II rear sight preinstalled. Being chambered in 5.56 NATO it can readily accept 5.56x45mm or .223 ammo with no issues (it eats up steel ammo with no issues feeding or cycling).
Things I don’t like as much are the plastic handguards due to the fact they have no heat shields built in and it isn’t easy to hook up a light or laser to the hand guard; although that can still be accomplished with the proper mounts. While adapters are available to allow for attaching a picatinny or mlok style device, you are limited to the 12 and 6 o’clock positions only.
While the rifle can be modified by switching out the hand guard, you may have to remove the delta ring and swap the front A2 sight/gas block with a low profile gas block to accomplish what you’re looking to do. Alternatively, you can leave the front A2 gas block/sight combo in place and use a ‘drop-in’ handguard (the easiest way to ‘upgrade’ the handguard on this model) to add flashlights, lasers, bipods, etc. to the rifle.
Smith & Wesson is based out of Massachusetts and their products are 100% American Made.
Recommended Fixed-Mag AR Rifle –
Photo Courtesy of dark-storm.com
Dark Storm DS-15 MOE Fixed Magazine Rifle (Model #DSI-DS15-MOE-FX5-BLK) – 50 State Legal 10-round fixed mag. Chambered in 5.56 NATO (can accept 5.56x45mm NATO or .223 rounds).
I suggest the Dark Storm Industries Fixed-Mag Model that can be ordered directly from the manufacturer (Found Here). They are based out of Oakdale New York and they specialize in fixed-mag and featureless AR15s. Even though they are a bit pricier than your typical entry level AR their quality is top-notch and you get what you pay for.
While some local shops may have fixed-mag models in stock, there aren’t many mass produced fixed-mag models direct from the factories on the market as the demand isn’t as high when compared with featureless models and due to the fact that most states do not actually define what they consider to be an acceptable fixed mag solution for compliance (NY being one of them) leaving the manufacturers open to legal scrutiny.
Most of the fixed-mag configured models I have found at local shops in NY tend to be marked up $300-$700 MORE than they would cost to buy and fix the mag yourself (if it were legal for you to do so). This premium is charged due to the fact that they have to buy in non-compliant models and do some armorers work themselves to make the models ‘compliant’ and because you may not be educated on the process as I’m explaining it to you in this article.
If you are willing to pay such a high premium then by all means do so and support your local shops; however, I find this to be far too much to pay for something I can accomplish myself for around $30 and 20 minutes of my time.
If the DSI Fixed-Mag rifle is above your budget then I highly recommend the DIY method of buying a complete upper, a complete lower, and a mag-lock device to install into the lower yourself.
Installing the MEAN Arms MA Lock is much easier than it sounds and it will get you better acquainted with how the mechanics of the AR platform work. Keep an eye on our YouTube channel as we will be uploading an instructional video on how to install an MA Lock for NY compliance.
I recommend buying an Anderson Manufacturing complete lower from Sportsman’s Guide (click here for exact model), installing a MEAN Arms MA-Lock for compliance (can be bought here), and pairing it with a complete upper from CBC Precision Firearms (click here for our exact recommended upper) combined with CBC’s bolt & charging handle (purchased separately here). CBC has great quality uppers in nearly every caliber imaginable and at various lengths (just be sure the barrel is a minimum of 16” for Federal compliance).
Bear Creek Arsenal is another option for complete uppers and they are about 50% cheaper than CBC; however, their quality is definitely inferior when compared to CBC. Click Here for our recommended BCA complete upper.
This will produce a quality entry-level mag-locked AR15 that is 100% American Made. Anderson is manufactured in Kentucky, MEAN Arms is out of Georgia, and CBC is located in South Carolina. Bear Creek Arsenal is located in North Carolina.
With product costs, FFL fees, taxes and shipping the DIY method should cost you around $586 (BCA Upper) to $850 (CBC Upper).
Recommended Bolt Action AR Rifle –
If you are ready for a simple DIY build, similar to my mag-locked suggestion, then I highly recommend buying a complete bolt-action upper, chambered in .223 Wylde, from a company called Uintah Precision out of Utah which can be purchased directly from the manufacturer (purchase by clicking here) and pairing it with a quality Anderson lower from Sportsman’s Guide (click here for exact model). Building this will cost you around $1,375 with product costs, shipping, taxes and FFL fees.
Photo Courtesy of uintahprecision.com
You can also purchase Unitah’s complete bolt action rifle directly from their website for $1,675.00.
If you want to shell out a little extra cash ($1,800+) for a high tier completely built bolt action AR rifle then I suggest the ReVolt AR-15 manufactured by Patriot Ordnance Factory out of Arizona. The only place I can find it left in stock at the time of writing this article is at TNT Gear (click here for exact link). Alternatively, you can reach out to POF directly and see if they know of where else to find this exact model in stock (contact them here).
BUYER’S NOTE: I have not shopped at TNT Gear before so I do not have any review on them yet.
Photo Courtesy of pof-usa.com
Recommended Pump Action AR Rifle –
Photo Courtesy of worldoftroy.com
Troy Pump Action .223 (Model #SPAR-S23-16BT-19) – comes with a 10 round magazine and chambered in .223 (accepts .223 ONLY. DOES NOT accept 5.56x45mm NATO). Features a built in side folding stock.
This is my go to recommendation for a pump action AR15 due to the high quality Troy offers and the overall look and feel of this AR. It is available in .300 Blackout and .223 chambering. I recommend the .223 – but be mindful that you cannot use 5.56 in a .223 caliber firearm as the 5.56 operates at unsafe pressures for a .223 chambered firearm and injury may occur.
This model can be purchased directly from Troy for $1,169.00 (click here for link) and shipped to a trusted FFL that accepts AR transfers (FFL List Here). Troy is based out of Massachusetts.
Another awesome feature is the side folding stock that actually feels very well put together. I had the luxury of holding this in hand and checking out its features at Runnings in Liverpool, NY. Runnings has compliant ARs from time to time but they usually sell out the same day so it’s best to order directly from Troy for this model.
If you are having trouble getting the compliant model from our suggested sources then you can always google the exact model number (e.g. ‘S&W 12001 in stock’) and find a reputable source that way. In fact, that is exactly how I found DKFirearms out of Virginia.
BUYER’S NOTE: I have not shopped at TNT Gear before so I do not have any review on them yet.
How to find an FFL who will transfer an AR platform firearm
Your local FFL may or may not be willing to take in a non-compliant rifle and fix the magazine themselves for an added cost. Also, if they are willing to permanently fix the magazine for you, they may offer their own solution or one they see fit that isn’t the same device we recommend (MEAN Arms MA-Lock) and that is fine – as long as it is SAFE Act compliant.
I have personally called and/or emailed all of the FFLs I could find in NYS on Google and I have put together a list of all of the FFLs that are AR friendly and willing to transfer online orders that can be found by visiting this page (click here for our trusted FFL list).
Always contact your preferred FFL prior to placing any online order just to ensure they are still accepting transfers and that they are okay with transferring online orders.
A Few Questions You Should Ask Your FFL Before Making Your Purchase:
- Are you accepting transfers for online orders?
- Are you transferring AR15s (or lower receivers)?
- How much do you charge for a transfer?
- Are there any other fees or taxes charged outside of the transfer fee?
- What payment methods do you accept?
- What is your policy for transfers and what do you need from me to make it happen smoothly?
- What are your current hours of operation?
- What do I need to do when my firearm arrives?
IMPORTANT: You NEED to make sure your photo ID has your current address on it in order to process the transfer. If not, you will need additional forms of identification. This is a legal requirement. Avoid putting yourself or your FFL in an awkward position and have your valid photo ID with current address ready before transfer.
How To Find A Seller Who Is Willing To Transfer An AR Platform Firearm To NYS
So you’ve found the model you want and you have an FFL who is willing to accept the transfer so naturally the next step is to simply order from any website that has the model in stock and wait for it to arrive, right?
Actually, there is one more hurdle to jump when getting a SAFE Act compliant AR in NYS as some companies simply will not ship an AR15 or any AR variant, compliant or not, to NY buyers.
GrabAGun.com, Guns.com, and several other trusted online firearm retailers refuse to ship AR platform firearms to NY buyers as per company policy – even though it is legal for them to do so.
This is why I’ve put together a list of websites who are willing to ship AR15s to NY buyers and you can find that complete list by clicking here (updated frequently). A few of my favorite places to buy an AR15 online include:
While I do like to support small local businesses, I personally prefer to order my rifles online as it is usually easier to find exactly what I want and it can save me 50-100% off the price that most local shops in NYS are currently charging. For instance, the same S&W recommendation I offer here cost me $750 from DKFirearms (even during the peak of panic buying in 2020) and the few places I found that stock this rifle in NYS charge over $1,100-$1,300 for the same identical model. That is almost double the price of MSRP. If you find a model you really want then be patient, it will usually come back in stock online if you just wait it out for a while.
How To Order Your AR-15 Online
Providing the model you want is in-stock, ordering through these sites is pretty straight forward. Simply place your order with your FFL’s address in the shipping address area. Then you’ll want to send an email to their customer service email address, attach your FFL’s email address to the recipients, and request that the company reach out to your chosen FFL directly for a copy of their license.
They should be quick to communicate with one another and get the order processed fairly quickly; however, if there are any delays due to the high demand then please be patient while the FFL and online store communicate regarding your order.
Once your order is shipped you will receive a tracking number and you should share this with your FFL just in case the seller hasn’t. When the package shows it has been delivered, you still have to wait for your FFL to contact you and set up a time for transfer.
NOTE: Always do your due diligence with the online shop and make sure you feel comfortable before placing your order. Just like with any other industry, there are fake websites out there seeking to take your hard earned money. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is (unless it’s from a reputable store on our list). Never pay for your order via venmo, paypal, cashapp or any other third party payment process. I usually call or email the place ahead of time if I haven’t shopped with them before. The internet is loaded with gun forums and shoppers willing to share their experiences so if you find an online store that isn’t on our list then feel free to google it.
How To Process The Transfer And Pick Up Your New AR-15
Once the firearm arrives, your FFL will contact you with times that they are able to have you go to their place of business to process the transfer. You will have to fill out some paperwork (a 4473 which you can view by clicking here) and process an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check per NYS law. Do not print and fill this form out – your FFL will provide this form for you either in print or electronic format depending on their internal systems.
The NICS check can be pretty quick but it may be put on delay which can lead to a 1-3 day wait before getting the result back. In my experience, this process has not taken more than 15 minutes total; however, your experience may vary so keep that timeframe in mind and do not worry if the check is put on delay.
Once the background check clears, the FFL will take your payment for the transfer fee (and any administrative fees) and then they will physically give you your new AR15 (or lower if you are going with the DIY build route). If you fail the check then you will still have to pay the FFL a fee and usually a restocking fee from the seller as well.
Transfer fees can vary from $10-$50 so be sure to ask your FFL ahead of time so there are no surprises on either end.
PRO TIP: Most dealers have small or side businesses and if they give you good service be sure to compliment them with a tip. I always bring extra cash to throw my FFL a nice tip for their service. It’s never expected but it goes a long way in showing your gratitude for those who are serving our community by upholding the 2nd Amendment.
Order Ammo, Magazines And Cleaning Supplies After You Have Ordered Your Firearm
If you feel confident that you will pass the NICS check and receive your firearm without any issues then you should definitely order ammo and some extra magazines so you can have it in-hand before you pick up your firearm.
I have put together a comprehensive list of all the places to buy ammo online for New Yorkers which you can view by clicking here. If you order from Lucky Gunner be sure to have your ammo shipped to the same FFL who is transferring your AR to you so you can pick them both up at the same time.
As far as magazines go, the general rule of thumb is to pick up at least 9 magazines for every rifle you own. I suggest the 10-round Magpul mags as they are the industry standard for quality and ease of use in 10-round AR magazines (click here to buy from Primary Arms).
Another good option I recommend is the 10/30 magazine from Hexmag because they give you the look and feel of a 30 round magazine while remaining SAFE Act compliant (click here to buy them from Sportsman’s Guide). If you want the traditional GI style magazines then you can get a 10/30 version from ACS (click here to buy from Gun Mag Warehouse).
Keep an eye on our website for our upcoming articles on SAFE Act compliant magazine comparison.
Another important thing to consider is ordering tools for cleaning and maintaining your AR.
I personally use the following products and I suggest you pick them up before your gun arrives:
|Product Image||Product Name||Purchase Link||Price*|
|OTIS Tech Patriot Series Cleaning Kit (.223/5.56)||Buy On Amazon||$23.91|
|Hoppe’s 9 Bore Snake (M16 – .223/5.56)||Buy On Amazon||$12.99|
|Hoppe’s 9 Elite Gun Cleaner – 8oz||Buy On Amazon||$22.80|
|Hoppe’s 9 Elite Gun Lube – 4oz||Buy On Amazon||$13.49|
|OTIS Technology Brush Kit – 9pk||Buy On Amazon||$13.49|
|J Dewey Cleaning Rod With Chamber Brush for .223/5.56||Buy On Amazon||$13.99|
*Prices Accurate When Originally Posted
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Once You Have Your Firearm, Mags And Ammo
The first thing you should do is read through the entire manual that comes with your firearm (if one is provided for your model).
Most brand new firearms are coated with a special oil for storage to prevent rust or corrosion during storage before being sold so be sure to field strip your AR, clean it up, and lube it prior to firing the first round.
Practice, practice, practice! Training and practice is vital to responsible gun ownership.
Click Here to see our suggested resources for FREE targets you can print at home.
Always make sure you follow safe firearm practices.
That’s it! I tried to pack in as much relevant information as possible so you would have a complete guide to the entire process of buying your first AR-15 (or variant) in New York State.
If you have any questions feel free to comment below or send me a private message to email@example.com and I’ll do what I can to help you out. Check out our other articles to learn more about the AR-15, how it functions and how to keep yours running like new.
Also, if this guide helped you out then be sure to send us some pictures of your new AR-15 once you have it in hand!
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any thoughts On using a kali key?
I haven’t used the Kali Key due to their legal advice on their website regarding NYS compliance. They advise not owning any regular BCGs if using their product for a build. You can read that from them by CLICKING HERE. Also, I feel there are better options for a manually operated AR-15 such as the Solo 300 or the bolt action upper receivers by Uintah Precision (CLICK HERE for a direct link to their bolt action uppers).
Have you used the Kali Key before?