Pistol braces have received a lot of attention in the weapons market over the past couple of years, especially since the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives appeared to be threatening the demand for pistol braces to be registered or destroyed.
However, if you are not aware of the latest updates or of what pistol braces are and why they drew so much attention, this is an article that will help you get a better picture of that.
If you do know what pistol braces are and want to attach one to your rifle, then you might be wondering if you can actually do that, and, if so, how it will alter your weapon’s categorization.
Whatever the case is, keep on reading this article to get all the answers you need!
What Are Pistol Braces?
Pistol braces are also known as stabilizing braces or arm braces. As their name suggests, they are a removable attachment for contemporary weapons.
They replace the buttstock, and their main intention is to assist the person firing the gun to hold their gun with only one arm.
When Was The First Pistol Brace Made?
Alex Bosco designed the first stabilizing brace back in 2012. His intention was to assist a crippled veteran in shooting his AR-15 gun with better precision.
Alex then built SB Tactical®, “a groundbreaking thought leader committed to providing hard-core shooters what they need,” and collaborated with SIG Sauer to bring their product to the market.
Hence why you might see or hear pistol braces also being called SIG braces.
How Do Pistol Braces Work?
These braces are equipped with straps that can be adjusted on the shooter’s arm and be tightened over it to fit properly and stabilize the gun on their forearm.
This way, pistol braces contribute to a better shooting accuracy and the reduction of recoil when the shooting happens only with one hand.
The majority of stabilizing braces have either a soft loop fastener or a stabilizing fin as a means of stabilization. Loop fastener braces have a hole through which the shooter’s arm can be inserted until the hand reaches the pistol grip.
After establishing a good grasp on the pistol grip, the gun user can adjust the straps to fit the weapon correctly around his or her forearm before firing.
A pistol brace with a stabilizing fin (also known as a blade) is designed to offer a strong anchoring point for the elbow pit.
This fin is usually easy to move and adjust to fit the curve of the arm, so all the shooter has to do is keep the pistol grip tight and make sure that the fin blade is stabilized on his or her forearm or elbow pit.
Why Is There Such A Buzz Around Pistol Braces?
On paper, a stabilizing brace is designed to make it easier for crippled or disabled gunmen to wield handguns, especially when a two-handed hold is not possible.
However, because of their similarity to shoulder stocks and the fact that a pistol brace is attached to the same area as a stock does on handguns, its entrance into the market was quite controversial.
As you can imagine, many people took advantage of this legislative loophole and treated the pistol brace as if it was a shoulder stock.
That way, they could use their AR-15s as if they were SBRs. Although not as comfortable as actual stocks, shouldering braces appeared to allow shooters to circumvent SBR rules, with many gun channels addressing the issue with contempt for the ATF.
Under What Category Do Brace-equipped Guns Fall?
While it is true that a pistol brace can also serve as standard stock, it was not intended to be used as one.
However, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives concluded in 2015 that equipping a firearm with a barrel length of fewer than 16 inches with a pistol brace constituted “redesigning” the gun into a short-barreled rifle.
This was readdressed in 2017 when the Bureau sent a letter declaring that shooting a firearm from the shoulder with a brace no longer qualifies it as a National Firearms Act firearm.
The last update on this was some draft ATF documents that leaked on the internet in 2020, containing a rulemaking plan to categorize weapons with braces as NFA goods, which would mean that they would fall under the same category as short-barreled rifles or silencers.
What Does That Change For Gun Owners?
This is still under consideration, so for now there are no restrictions or requirements for attaching a pistol brace to a rifle.
However, if the ATF reissues a statement and changes the regulations, owning a rifle that is brace-equipped will mean that you will have to go through an SBR registration process.
This basically means that before legally possessing a short-barreled rifle, citizens must complete the gun’s registration papers, pay a $200 tax stamp, and wait for the agency to approve their ownership of the gun before actually claiming to be its official owner.
And, of course, the way you treat your gun will be very different.
Can You Put A Pistol Brace To A Rifle?
Yes, you attach your pistol brace to a rifle. Despite the ups and downs with the regulations on pistol braces, gun manufacturers keep on producing them, and SB Tactical has even entered the distribution system, selling new goods.
Pistol braces continue to be a good and inexpensive alternative to traditional long ARs or SBRs, but it is important for the buyers (and gun users) to acknowledge the risks and only wear the pistol braces on their forearms.
The Bottom Line
There are no rules regarding the possession of shoulder braces as of May 2021, and the 2017 ATF letter is still the most recent source explaining their legal usage.
As a result, you may purchase a pistol brace now and install it on any of your authorized weapons straightaway.
Although you may theoretically shoulder it and use your brace as a shoulder stock, you should not overlook the importance of safety.
Therefore, I strongly suggest you avoid doing so and that you only use pistol braces the way they were designed to be used.