California Configuration Issues with Fabrique National's PS90 and FS2000 Rifles
Both the PS90 and FS2000, in their default configuration, are like a laundry list of things you can't have in California.
The PS90 is the first of the FN rifles to have had a California compliance kit made available for it. There are two kits on the market, one of which I have access to and the other one I do not. The one I have access to, is the one marketed by Cold War Shooters.
The hurdles involved in rendering the PS90 California-legal are:
The forward stock protrusion under the barrel could be considered a forward pistol grip.
The owner's manual states that the device on the front of the barrel is a flash hider.
The thumbhole stock is a restricted feature.
Overall length of the rifle is around 26", which is fine by federal law, but not for a semi-automatic centerfire rifle in California.
The Cold War Shooters Kit
The CWS kit is a fixed-magazine solution. The kit contains a barrel extension and a magazine locking bracket. The extension addresses the minimum length issue, and aesthetically resembles a suppressor. It does not function as a suppressor, however. The magazine locking bracket consists of two aluminum pieces which are screwed onto the magazine, and which clamp onto the front of the receiver. There is a conveniently placed depression in front of the magazine well, into which the round ends of the brackets are inserted.
Installation: You must drill holes through the end of a 10rd magazine in order to run the screws through it. Some pre-drilled 10rd magazines are available from CWS. You must also screw a collar onto the barrel, and then screw the rest of the barrel extension onto the collar. With pre-drilled magazines, installation difficulty is minimal.
Reloading: Pull the magazine release, and lift the magazine upwards (it will hinge about 2" upwards). The magazine travels far enough up that it's possible to feed rounds into the magazine lips, and this is how I reload my personal PS90CA. Another method is to press the takedown button under the magazine, and slide the receiver and mag off of the rifle. You then have completely normal access to the magazine.
Reversibility: The kit is completely reversible, in the event that the law changes or you move out of California. After removing the screws on the barrel extension and the bracket, the PS90 is completely restored to its factory configuration.
Availability: It may or may not be on the CWS Website, but you can call their order number to place an order at any time.
The Lanworld Inc Kit
I do not have access to one of these kits, so I can't guarantee that all of this information is accurate. That having been said, I will do my best. The Lanworld kit is a "bullet button" style design, using a modified magazine release. Apparently the recommended tool to operate the magazine release, is a credit card. This is a permanent modification to the magazine release, but replacement mag releases are said to be available. The barrel is left in its stock configuration; Lanworld chose to extend the buttstock by 4" instead of the barrel, to reach 30" of overall length. I believe that the stock extension modification is not permanent, but I do not know for sure.
Installation: The rifles are sold pre-configured with this kit. I believe they sell the kits separately upon request, but I'm not sure how hard it is to install one.
Reloading: Swipe a credit card through the crack behind the magazine, and it apparently releases the mag.
Reversibility: I'm not sure about the stock extension, but with some work it is possible to replace the magazine release with a new one from FN.
Availability: These may be ordered from Lanworld Inc's website, or from Metroshot (a gun store located in California)
Featureless Kit Design Considerations
A number of folks have expressed a desire for a "featureless" PS90, which would legally be able to use detachable magazines. While this would be somewhat of a holy grail, there are a number of legal problems with it which a conservative legal stance would render an expensive undertaking. A less conservative stance may work, however that may be undertaken at the owner's risk.
The "thumbhole" in the stock, may be filled in. This neutralizes the thumbhole stock issue.
The nub on the front could be cut off, or the contour could be filled in with some material. That should neutralize the possiblity of the "forward pistol grip" being an issue.
The 30" overall length issue can be addressed, as in the CWS or Lanworld kits, by extending the front or back by 4"
The flash hider, is the TRULY sticky subject on the PS90.
Call it a muzzle brake instead? According to a sworn statement submitted by Ignatius Chinn for the "Hunt vs Lockyer" (now "Hunt vs Brown") case, the Department of Justice determines whether or not a muzzle device is a "flash hider" by, among other things, consulting advertisements and owner's manuals from the manufacturer. I own a PS90 instruction manual, and the muzzle device is referred to as a "flash hider" in multiple places. It is absolutely unsafe to consider it a "muzzle brake" in the face of the contents of the owner's manual.
Chop it off? If you don't care about reversibility, simply chopping off the muzzle device's "cage" area is a safe path to go. However, it then becomes necessary to permanently extend the overall length of the rifle, as you have just brought it under 26", which is the federal limit. The extension between 26" and 30" for California law does not have to be permanent, but the Federal 26" length must be permanent. You could do this pretty easily, by welding a Yankee Hill comp/brake onto the end.
Cover it with a sleeve? The problem here, is that this would still reduce flash far more than the original device. You are left with an internal cavity, within which much of the flash will occur and dissipate. The original flash hider is still installed underneath as well, and it is not clear that a covered flash hider somehow ceases to be a flash hider.
Replace the barrel? FN's barrel design is complicated, but the legality of this solution is equivalent with chopping off the flash hider. CMMG makes PS90 replacement barrels, however they're 10.5" SBR barrels. A custom run of barrels could be done, but probably at a fairly high price. Nonetheless, this would be an elegant solution. A custom run of 20" or so barrels would simultaneously eliminate the flash hider, address the overall length issue without further stock or barrel extensions, and potentially provide greater accuracy and power.
Eventually, we'll get there and have a California-compliant semi-auto FS2000. Until then, I present this analysis for those interested in undertaking this endeavor. Most of the statements about the PS90 apply equally well to the FS2000. Now, it's also worth noting that you can press down the detent on the gas adjustment valve and then rotate the valve until it's open. You can then remove the valve itself from the rifle, which will result in a bit of flash coming out the side of the rifle. This will completely disable the FS2000's gas system, thus allowing it to be used without further modification.
The hurdles involved in rendering the FS2000 California-legal as a semi-automatic weapon are:
The owner's manual states that the device on the front of the barrel is a flash hider. There's plenty of wishful thinking among Californians that this could be considered a muzzle brake, but the wishful thinking is absolutely, totally wrong! BOF has stated that the owner's manual is used as a source to determine whether a device is a flash hider or a muzzle brake. This page of the manual's statement is absolute. Click the 'owner's manual' link above for a scan directly from an FS2000 owner's manual. "The flash hider plug can be fitted onto the flash hider in order to protect the barrel" - the muzzle device is a flash hider!
The thumbhole stock is a restricted feature.
Overall length of the rifle is around 29.5", which is fine by federal law, but not for a semi-automatic centerfire rifle in California.
Fixed magazine kits are stymied by the presence of two magazine release buttons, one of which is located on the bottom, the other of which is located on the side of the rifle.