The Guns of California

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A quick visit to some gun shops in the Fresno/Clovis area

It's been years since I did a tour of the gun shops in the Fresno and Clovis area. Time to go out and see what is available to the general public. Did some research online, made some phone calls to ask what time some shops opened up, pulled out a paper map and made some "x" marks. Asked two individuals to come along for the ride. Needed someone to babysit the GPS and another to read the paper map. I wasn't about to get lost on this trip. August 9, 2011, 9:00 a.m.--we head out.

A&A Firearms
5030 N. Maroa Ave.
Fresno, CA 93704
Julian Arvizu--Owner

Just off of Shaw Avenue. Right next to the gas station. Suggest parking in the area near the liquor store. Friendly service. Small shop. Looks like a family operation. Daughter (?) behind the cash register. Mother (?) putting rifles on the rack. Son/brother (?) sitting at a desk. Decent selection of handguns. Nice selection of AR receivers. Told me that receivers were treated like rifles, so there's no need to pull out your handgun safety certificate.

William B. Mayfield
4281 N. First St.
Fresno, CA 93726

Last time I was here they were at a different location under the name of "Gilman Mayfield." Still have the dog walking around the shop. Friendly service. Lots of wood and glass cases. Lady answered my question about availability of a magazine. They didn't have it in stock. Even went online to see if they could find one for me. Then I saw it. The Franklin Armory XO-26b configuration pistol. Made in Morgan Hill, CA. I ask the gentleman behind the counter if I can have a look at this piece of hardware. I think it's Mayfield himself that helps me. It's a little on the heavy side. Dig that flash hider. Dig that forward pistol grip. I need to remind myself I'm in California and I'm holding this thing in my hands. I'm in love. Dig that price: over $1,000.00. Fun doesn't come cheap anymore. I'm told that a customer had put a red dot scope on his and uses it for hunting. This model has been out for around 4/four months.

Breco Enterprises
1508 Tollhouse Road
Suite A
Clovis, CA 93611

Small parking area. On the side of the shop. Three spaces. One space already taken up. Small shop. Friendly service. Good selection of handguns. Good selection of rifles and shotguns. Dig that AK pistol. What's the deal with this? Comes with a blocked magazine that makes it a single shot pistol. However, once the new owner comes in possession of said pistol, they can insert a 10-round magazine and everything is legal. In a word, the pistol is crude. Pride of ownership, a family heirloom? I don't think so. The Saiga rifle is another story. Cursory inspection shows a nice finish, no rough edges. I'd buy one if I needed something that shoots the same round the AK-47 fires.

We The People
725 Pollasky Ave.
Clovis, CA 93612

Small little strip mall. Parking is tight. There is something really cool about walking into a gun shop and seeing someone behind the counter working on the receiver of a rifle. It's sort of like going into the kitchen of a restaurant and seeing the food prepared. Ryan Cox (I always make it a habit of getting the business card of any shop I go into.) was helping a customer make a decision about her first firearms purchase. He has a law enforcement background. He told me that they put together all of their AK type rifles on the premises. They don't buy them complete from the wholesalers. The shop also does refinishing. He was listing off all of the finishes that are available in his shop and the minute he said Duracoat my ears perked up. I may be coming back to this shop again. He was kind enough to allow me to take a photo of his AKs. He showed me his manufacturer stamp. It takes something like six months to get the BATF paperwork cleared before a shop is cleared to put together it's own rifles. I'd go for the fixed stock AKs. The wire or metal stocks make it nearly impossible to line up the front and rear sights. An AK rifle under $700.00 seems like a decent price. Yeah...I'd love to buy a rifle of this type for $300.00 or $400.00 but I have yet to see a AK rifle with that figure written on the price tag. And there was a customer's Dragunov rifle with a black Duracoat finish and Harris bipod. Always something to see in this shop.

PRK Arms
5530 East Lamona Ave.
Suite 103
Fresno, CA 93727

South of the Fresno airport. I've died and gone to heaven. The first thing you see when you go into the shop are Mac-10 clones hanging on the wall. Masterpiece Arms. I've only seen them in ads in the Shotgun News. And dig that Czech Skorpion pistol. And check out that Vector Arms Uzi pistol for under $900.00. An FAL. An H&K .223 rifle with a thumbhole stock. Somebody pinch me. Looks like they are expanding into the next shop. Lots of staff members. All friendly. They allow me to take photos. But NO FACES or SERIAL NUMBERS they tell me. They once had a 9mm carbine. A civilian version of Smith and Wesson's 9mm submachine gun. It's the weapon Lee Marvin used in the film "Prime Cut." Very rare. Very gone. "Things don't stay on the walls too long" one staff member tells me. No kidding. After 1994 I didn't think I'd ever see a California gun shop carry this kind of hardware ever again.

Over the years I had heard rumors on the Internet about off list lower, bullet buttons, California compliant rifles. It took time, but someone did the work of finding the grey areas in the California assault weapons laws. Someone took the time of sending in their prototypes for approval by the California Department of Justice. came along and informed the rest of us of what was going on. Now, if you flip through the pages of The Shotgun News and see something with some "evil" features on it, chances are good you may be able to find a California legal version of it somewhere. You'll be forced to contend with the 10-round magazine capacity and the bullet button that requires a tool rather than a finger to push so you can get the magazine out, but it's better than nothing.


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