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The 6 Best Ban-State Carbines

Ban state carbines are what you can legally purchase in states that have an assault weapon ban. For now, only a few states have any sort of restriction on what form of rifle you can purchase, but that can change at any time. 

Obviously, assault weapon bans are idiotic. Unconstitutional. There’s not much evidence they even work. However…that doesn’t stop some of the population and legislators who want to be popular with them from passing them or trying to. 

Bear in mind every state AWB has it’s own intricacies, so you need to know which rifles are AWB compliant in your state – New York, New Jersey, California, Maryland, Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Washington state all have differing laws – if you live in one, or may have to move to one.

So, what are the best options for a person who has fewer of them? Here are 6 excellent choices. 

Ruger Mini-14

Ruger makes a number of good choices for this purpose, and the Mini-14 has been a mainstay among ban state carbines since the 1990s. 

The Ruger Mini-14 has a scaled-down version of the M14/M1 action, made for .223 caliber, though it’s available in 7.62x39mm and others as well. It’s not fully ban-state legal, as the barrel cover and flash hider on some models puts it in a legal gray area in some jurisdictions. 

The Ruger Mini-14 has always had an innocuous appearance as a selling point, and it has seen some police service in multiple countries. While it is a semi-auto with a traditional stock, the drawback has always been Ruger’s proprietary magazines, which are rarer and much more expensive than AR-15 magazines. 

With that said, the Mini-14 has unfortunately become far more expensive in recent years and much rarer in stores. 

SEE ALL Ruger Mini-14 DEALS

Fightlite SCR

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The Fightlite SCR is essentially the unholy union of an AR-15 and a semi-auto shotgun, with a rat-tail bolt carrier and recoil spring that angles into a more traditional-looking stock on the receiver. However, it uses the AR-15’s gas system (and the entire upper receiver) and accepts AR-15 magazines. 

This makes the Fightlite SCR a legal option in some – but not all – assault weapon ban states, as the regulations differ. It is neither Illinois nor Washington compliant, as those states’ laws prohibit features – such as barrel shrouds/handguards and detachable magazines – that modern rifles have. 


Ruger American Ranch

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The American Ranch is a variant of the Ruger American bolt-action rifle but made to accept detachable magazines – the 5.56, .300 Blackout, and 6.5mm Grendel models accept AR magazines – with a Picatinny rail mounted to the receiver to mount any optic. 

Accessorizing is somewhat easy; rails that mount to swing swivel studs are nothing new, so an optic, light and a sling are a cinch. The mini-action (5.56mm and related calibers) models have 16-inch barrels, so they’re not as unwieldy as some bolt-action rifles. 

While not a classic “Scout” rifle, they’re arguably a better take on the concept…and cheaper to boot, as most Scouts will run you triple the MSRP on an American Ranch. 

SEE ALL Ruger American Ranch DEALS

Marlin 1894

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A lot of armed citizens have defended themselves with lever-action rifles, and they are still absolutely viable for the purpose. 

The 1894 recently re-entered production, as the Marlin brand had to shut down and re-tool after being acquired by Ruger after Remington’s bankruptcy. Ruger-era Marlins are said to be among the finest they have ever produced.  

The 1894 is a pistol-caliber lever-action rifle, offered in .357 Magnum/.38 Special and .44 Magnum/.44 Special. The 1894 is side ejecting (optics can mount to the receiver) and is widely considered to have one of the best actions in any lever gun, as it’s a top choice for CAS/SASS shooters. 

SEE ALL Marlin 1894 DEALS

Ruger 10/22

Ruger 10/22Ruger 10/22

The great thing about the Ruger 10/22 is that it’s 50-state compliant as it is a rimfire. Ergo, the only drawback is magazine capacity if limited to the 10-round rotary box. 

But don’t sleep on it just because it’s a rimfire. .22 LR at rifle/carbine velocity is absolutely capable of doing vital damage, and the cost of ammunition is such that you can do a lot of practice and training for pennies on the dollar compared to .223/5.56. 

The accessory market is enormous, the base rifle is fairly cheap, the magazines and ammo are everywhere, and it’s a semi-automatic carbine that’s legal in every US state. That’s a lot to like. 

SEE ALL Ruger 10/22 DEALS

From The Surplus Corner: SKS


In jurisdictions where it’s legal, the SKS is another solid contender. Rugged, reliable, and common enough to be fairly easily found. 

The SKS uses the same ammunition – 7.62x39mm – as the AK family, so it’s easy to feed. The only real drawback is the semi-fixed magazine, so the rifle has to be loaded (10 rounds at a time) using stripper clips. 

The Chinese-manufactured rifles are more common and usually less expensive, though they tend to have cheaper furniture. The Yugoslav and Russian models are generally more desirable…and expensive. However, parts and accessories are widely available, and the rifle is C&R eligible. 


Honorable Mention: M1 Carbine

M1 CarbineM1 Carbine

The M1 Carbine was the AR-15 of its day and does everything a person would need an intermediate rifle to do at reasonable distances. The only drawbacks are that most of the reproduction models are known for reliability issues, and magazines are an absolute crapshoot. You get a magazine or magazines that work with your rifle, or you don’t. 

To get an M1 Carbine, you can really work with, rather than an enthusiasts repro, you need to find a genuine GI production rifle or a Fulton Armory reproduction, and those will cost you. Accessorizing is possible – Ultimak rails, for instance – though good options are limited. 

With that said…it put an awful lot of bad people in the dirt. 


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