I'm in california too. If you want no heartache, get a bolt action .223.
Our legal ARs, with bullet buttons, were almost outlawed this July. The law that outlawed the use of bullet buttons was broad enough to affect Mini-14s, Saigas, or any other rifle with a detachable magazine (including lever or bolt). It was shot down, but the forces that brought it up swore to do it again.
Check out calguns dot net.
Warning aside, I own AR and MINI. So far I find myself more accurate with AR.I like both, but probably like mini better.
I have unconverted Saiga in .308, and like it also. Saiga isn't as precise as AR in my experience.
If we have to weld mags in place like the law we were almost stuck with, an AR may be easier due to the pivot pins: pull the rear and you have no obstructions.
Good luck deciding.
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