Best AR-15 Bullet Button: AR MagLock+Patriot Pin 2.0 [Review & Install]

Want to get your AR-15 California compliant today?

If you’re not going the featureless route

Best Featureless Grips
A Few of Our Featureless Rifles

Then you’ve got to go the fixed magazine route.

But the rules have changed starting from 2018…

We’ll tell you all we know…and our favorite California compliant solution (since there’s a lot).  The AR Maglock with the Patriot Pin.

We’ll cover how it works, why it’s still pretty fast, and how to install it.

Disclaimer that this is not legal advice and you should double-check everything, especially since the laws surrounding this always seem to be in flux.  Also the installation instructions are for entertainment only.  Always have a qualified gunsmith work on your firearm.

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Current California Assault Weapon Laws

It used to be that with a simple “tool” you could release your fixed magazine.

Ultimate Bullet Button Tool, Ben Sharmak
Ultimate Bullet Button Tool, Ben Sharmak

But thanks to SB880…a fixed magazine is when a “feeding device contained in, or permanently attached to, a firearm in such a manner that the device cannot be removed without disassembly of the firearm action.”

So now you have to open up the upper and lower halves before the magazine release can be used.

Read more in our SB880 article where we talk about registration too.

But you had until June 30, 2018 to become featureless, have a new fixed mag system, or register.

Enter…AR Maglock & Patriot Pin

One thing about these kinds of laws…the ingenuity of determined people shines.

AR Maglock and Patriot Pin Combo
AR Maglock and Patriot Pin Combo

Check it out…the AR Maglock ($55) replaces your entire Bullet Button or standard magazine release.  It adds a little arm so you can’t press it in if the upper is in place.

So simple it’s GENIUS!

Pressed In AR Maglock
Pressed In AR Maglock

Once the rear takedown pin is released and you open up the upper and lower halves…you can now press the magazine release button.

But pressing in the takedown pin one side…then pulling it out the other side gets annoying if you’re shooting a lot.

Patriot Pin, Open Action
Patriot Pin, Open Action

BOOM!

The kit comes with an extra takedown pin and ring that you can use to pull easier…but still…

That’s where the Patriot Pin ($89) steps in…it replaces the endplate and rear takedown pin so you have a lever to easily press with your firing hand that releases the upper and lower.

Plus the pin is made of Delrin (plastic) so there’s no excessive wear on your aluminum parts with the regular steel pin.

Here it is in action again with a tactical reload (round in the chamber):

There’s a new version 2.0 of the Patriot Pin which we go over too.

Pros

AR Maglock and Patriot Pin
AR Maglock and Patriot Pin
  • No registration required
  • Reasonably fast reloads…especially if a round is in the chamber (make sure to put it on safe first though)

Cons

  • Still not as fast as a regular magazine release…if you’re competing you’ll probably go the featureless route
  • Little more annoying on an empty magazine bolt hold open situation since you can’t open the upper/lower halves if the bolt is to the rear.  You’ve got to release the bolt, open it up, drop the mag, put in a new mag, put the upper/lower together, and use the charging handle.
  • Double-feeds will suck since you can’t easily release the pressure by removing the magazine.  You’ll have to disassemble the AR Maglock (pretty easy…just need an Allen key) or disassemble your magazine from the bottom.  I wouldn’t recommend using permanently modified mags.
  • A little pricey with the AR Maglock at $45 and the Patriot Pin at $79.  However…there’s a Combo which brings it down to $119 for both.  Or even a bigger Compliance Kit with all the tools and extra goodies.

Worth it for some compliance peace of mind…

55
at Patriot Pin

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Version 2.0

The first iteration above was great and worked flawlessly.

But you still had to install the backplate normally (fiddling with the detent and spring that want to disappear).

Now…with Version 2.0 you can simply add in the rear pivot pin and spring from the back.

Patriot Pin 2.0 Rear Detent Hole
Patriot Pin 2.0 Rear Detent Hole

And they threw in a castle nut locking pin so you don’t have to stake your nut to really lock it in place.  Oh…and check out that QD sling mount too.

Patriot Pin 2.0 Castle Nut Lock
Patriot Pin 2.0 Castle Nut Lock

One more goodie…they added a rubber band thing which attaches to your forward assist so the two halves don’t go flying when you activate the Patriot Pin.

Patriot Pin 2.0
Patriot Pin 2.0

Here it is in action…

I also really like their Compliance Kits if you don’t have a bunch of AR tools lying around.

Patriot Pin Kit 2.0

It comes with some helpful tools like:

  • combo wrench (to take off your castle nut and other stuff)
  • unbutton tool (if you have an older Bullet Button)
  • front pin tool (so you don’t lose those pesky small pins)

Plus some other goodies like:

  • front Delrin pin (Delrin is a plastic so it doesn’t cause unnecessary wear from opening and closing your upper/lower halves all the time)
  • mag coupler
  • NICE gun mat
  • some sweet swag

ARMagLock Generations

So far I’ve tried out the Gen 1 and Gen 3.

Gen 1 is what is shown in the videos and what I’ve shot the most.

AR Maglock and Patriot Pin Combo
AR Maglock and Patriot Pin Combo

It works.

Gen 3 promises auto-drop capability but it takes some finessing of screw tension and positioning.

I can get it to work for a period of time with one specific magazine.  But then it stops working.

AR Maglock Gen3
AR Maglock Gen3

However, it’s backwards compatible, so if your specific lower and mag combo doesn’t work well, you can always make it Gen 1.

Another great thing is that it also comes with a nifty polymer roller where it touches your upper (instead of metal touching metal).

Installation

Now that you’ve gotten your kit…how do you install it?

It’s easy…and I’ve got tons of pictures to help you through it.  If you’ve assembled an AR-15 lower before…it’s even easier.

First…remove your current bullet button.  This one only requires a screwdriver.

Remove Current Bullet Button
Remove Current Bullet Button

While the other more popular one requires a “rabbit ear” tool that you probably lost…but the kit comes with one!

Bullet Button Removal Tool
Bullet Button Removal Tool

Lay out everything in the AR Maglock bag.

AR Maglock Parts
AR Maglock Parts

This is roughly how it’s going to be assembled.

AR Maglock Assembly
AR Maglock Assembly

Position it into the normal magazine release well.  Make sure to put the spring in there first.

Positioning of AR Maglock
Positioning of AR Maglock

Doublecheck that it will clear your lower.

Doublecheck AR Maglock
Doublecheck AR Maglock

Now go to the other side and put in the mag catch.

AR Maglock Mag Catch
AR Maglock Mag Catch

And screw it in.

AR Maglock Screw
AR Maglock Screw

Function check…

Tighten AR Maglock
Tighten AR Maglock

And…it works!

AR Maglock Function Check
AR Maglock Function Check

Now onto the Patriot Pin!

A little more difficult but the kit comes with all the tools.  V1 below.

AR-15 Compliance Kit
AR-15 Compliance Kit

First press down on the buffer detent…

Depress Buffer Detent
Depress Buffer Detent

And remove the buffer and spring.

Take Buffer and Spring Out
Take Buffer and Spring Out

Use the castle nut tool to loosen the nut.

Patriot Pin Remove Castle Nut
Patriot Pin Remove Castle Nut

While being careful the detent spring doesn’t launch out.

Stop Before Spring Comes Out
Stop Before Spring Comes Out

Carefully take out the spring and the takedown pin.  I left the detent in there.

Rear Detent and Takedown Pin
Rear Detent and Takedown Pin

Put in the Delrin pin and the lever and make sure the channel in the pin matches up with the detent.

Insert Delrin Pin and Lever
Insert Delrin Pin and Lever

Thread on the new endplate and put the buffer detent back on (with the spring).

Threading Endplate
Threading Endplate

Capture the buffer detent but screwing the buffer tube in enough…then put back the other spring.

Add in Spring
Add in Spring

Press in the spring against the endplate.

*Patriot Pin 2.0*  This is the step you get to avoid!

Press in Spring Against Endplate
Press in Spring Against Endplate

Then press in the endplate until it matches up with the cutout in the receiver.  And screw in the endplate.

Screw in Endplate
Screw in Endplate

Match up the Patriot Pin lever with the endplate.

Match Up Lever and Endplate
Match Up Lever and Endplate

Screw in from the bottom.

Install the Screw
Install the Screw

And…you’re done!

Completed Patriot Pin
Completed Patriot Pin

Conclusion

What do you think about the AR Maglock and Patriot Pin 2.0 combo?  I give it 5 stars for its ingenuity.

It’s pretty fast and allows for disassembly of the mechanism in case of a double-feed.

My Editor’s Pick for the best current fixed magazine solution for California.

55
at Patriot Pin

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Want to go the featureless route…check out the best muzzle brakes, grips, and fixed stocks in our complete Featureless Guide.  Or if this is bumming you out…check out Editor’s Picks for the best guns & gear.

12 Leave a Reply

  • Benz

    I might have to get one of these... I had a local shop install the juggernaut rear takedown pin and it suuuuuuuuucks. Good attempt at a product, but it takes very little effort to over-rotate the pin - then the detent slides out of place and... you can imagine. Thanks for showing this product!

    5 months ago
  • John

    Hi, I noticed that the maglock wasn't permanently fixed using red loctite and this seems to be an ongoing debate. Is there a general consensus at this point around requiring the maglock to be permanently in place (can't use an allen wrench to service the tool)?

    9 months ago
  • Albert

    Why does CA keep screwing around? Just BAN the private ownership, sale and possession of guns. It's already a 'SACTUARY', so why not just 'do it'?? "Citizens" have no rights in CA.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      They are smart...boiling the frog technique.

      1 year ago
  • Roy

    Armaglock gen2 and kingpin even better option.

    1 year ago
    • Dustin

      Agreed, its the best solution on the market imo. Allows for dropping a mag with bolt hold back and easy double feed clearing. I recommend this to all our fellow california ar15 owners.

      8 months ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hey Roy, I checked and mine is the AR Maglock with the "kingpin." Just didn't know the ring + pin had a specific name. Thanks!

      1 year ago
      • Roy

        Kingpin is actually a push in take down pin, not the take down pin with the ring that you still pull out.

        1 year ago
        • Eric Hung

          Oh gotcha, thanks for the clarification.

          1 year ago
  • doinkus

    Having just gotten into firearms ownership and bought 2 AR's, I read these and am very glad that I moved from California to Utah. My condolences to my CA brethren.

    1 year ago
    • Patriot

      I vote for refusal to comply and appropriate action vs. anyone who attempts to violate your rights.

      1 month ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks :-(

      1 year ago
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