California Handgun Roster: Just The Facts

Posted by Tony & Rifle Supply Team on 7th Jan 2022

California Handgun Roster: Just The Facts


We are often asked “What is the California Roster?” And honestly that's a great question. So we decided to write this article to help in answering this question. Keep in mind that we will not be covering the roster in detail, nor will we be pointing out any flaws or giving our opinion. This post is written to simplify and provide an overview of the information.

The Basic History:

On January 1, 2001, California enacted a regulation with the intention was to expand the safety requirements of handguns sold in the state.

“No handgun may be manufactured within California, imported into California for sale, lent, given, kept for sale, or offered/exposed for sale unless that handgun model has passed firing, safety, and drop tests and is certified for sale in California by the Department of Justice.”

The states intent was to eliminate the sale of "unsafe" handguns to normal residents in California, forcing manufactures to show that their products were safe. The state would require the manufacturer to providing three test pieces and pay a fee for each model they wanted to sell in California. If the handgun model pass it would be added to the roster to be sold in the state. Once on the "list" the model would remain on the roster so long as the manufacturer pays a fee each year.

So What Does This Mean?

In English it means that California has set specific requirements that handgun manufacturers must comply with if they want to continue to do the business of releasing new models of handguns in California. Any handgun that has passed the new requirements gets put on the California handgun roster. The current roster has just under 800 handguns certified for sale in California but per the regulation,

"any handgun that was legally owned and registered before the roster's implementation in 2001, or which were taken off the roster (or discontinued) after their legal purchase and registration, can legally be sold in a private party transfer (PPT) as long as it is done through a federal firearms license (FFL) in accordance with state law."

Also, keep in mind that California does consider some modifications made on certain pistols to be in violation of the manufacturing portion of these regulations, rendering that particular firearm non-compliant and thus illegal.

The Simple Answer:

Basically it boils down to, California residents having a specific “roster” or list (*see example photo) of handguns that are approved to be sold in California. This regulation is not limited to in person handgun purchases but also includes any handgun being purchased online and being shipped to california must be on the roster as well. (with the exception of some Private Party Transfers and Law Enforcement Officer purchases).

The good news? We here at Rifle Supply can help. We have done the legwork and research for you and have made it easy as pie to find a California compliant handgun. Just visit the website where we have created a category specifically for California approved handguns from all the major manufactures like Glock, Springfield, Smith & Wesson, Ruger and more.

We hope that this basic overview has helped to answer some of your questions and give you a better idea of what the California Handgun Roster is. Below we have provided a link to our selection of California compliant firearms and a link to the approved handgun roster on the California State Website.