Do I Have a Pistol With A Brace Or An SBR?

U.S.A.-( With pistol braces in the news, I decided to build a new AR pistol. I used a Liberty Bell Firearms lower receiver, a random .300BLK upper receiver I had lying around the house, and an SB Tactical pistol brace.

I wondered what would make my pistol a short-barreled rifle (SBR). I decided to look through all the ATF documentation I have and determine what isn’t allowed. After spending hours looking over the documents, I am now more confused than ever. I will not reveal the companies involved because I don’t know their current relationship with the ATF. All information comes from the documentation that AmmoLand was able to acquire from our sources within the ATF.

It is apparent that the ATF doesn’t have any set standards when it comes to pistol braces.

More often than not, what determines what is and isn’t a brace is what reviewer in the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) gets assigned to your product. This reason is why the Department of Justice (DOJ) told the ATF’s industry side not to take any action on pistol braces.

FATD has told several companies that the ATF would consider its brace a stock unless they included a Nylon strap. At the same time, another company submitted a very similar brace that did not have a Nylon strap in the design. Another FATD reviewer determined that the second brace was not a stock even though it didn’t have a Nylon strap.

FATD rejected another pistol brace because of a raised ridge design on the back of the brace. The reviewer determined the raised ridges were more than a design feature. The reviewer thought that the ridges could help the shooter shoulder the pistol by adding “grip.” Since the ruling, multiple companies have used designs on the back of the pistol braces, and the ATF gave them the green light even though the previous company had to change their plan to make the back of its brace smooth.

In internal meetings, the ATF discussed whether a company showing a pistol shouldered in pictures and videos would reclassify the gun with a brace to an SBR. If a user shouldered the firearm, it is still a pistol, but if a company representative did the same thing, it would magically become an SBR. If someone in a company misspeaks and calls the gun a rifle or carbine, it would automatically become an SBR. If the ATF can “read between the lines” and determine you are marketing a pistol with a brace as a rifle, they can make it an SBR.

Another reason FATD decided a pistol brace is really a stock is because of surface area that exceeds what is allowed. It seems like this would be an easy thing to avoid, but the ATF doesn’t appear to have a standard. Once again, it depends on what reviewer you are assigned. Some pistol braces have been rejected because of excessive surface area, while the ATF approves other braces with bigger surface areas.

FATD has also rejected pistol braces because the manufacture used hard plastic. The ATF informed the manufacture that the only material allowed is flexible rubber. Another reviewer approved a brace that used the same hard plastic as stocks.

We don’t know if a specific number of characteristics make FATD determine a pistol brace is a stock. Does it have to be made of hard plastic with a particular surface area, or is it just up to the reviewer? The ATF doesn’t seem to know either.

Do I have a pistol with a brace, or do I have an SBR?

Outside getting rid of the unconstitutional NFA, I think the only way for the ATF to fix the problem with pistol brace classifications is to remove SBRs from the registry. So, in the end, I can’t say what is a pistol with a brace and what is an SBR. Even if I could figure out what is what, the ATF could change the definition of a pistol with a brace tomorrow, and we could all have Any Other Weapons (AOWs).

About John Crump

John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at

John Crump

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“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

― Ayn Rand


“When all rights are taken away, the right of rebellion is made perfect.” -Thomas Paine

Last edited 1 year ago by Random71

We lost Colorado years ago when we (peoples republic of Denver Boulder) decided to make dope legal here and the liberal refuse from other states followed; bringing their stupid with them. I have to call myself a former Coloradoan in search of a state where common sense is still king.


you shouldn’t be suspicious They are!! It’s led and promoted by our Californication governor. Gov Pole


After the “Night Of The Long Knives” it appears we can now
count my beloved Arizona out as well. I hope all the Conservatives that didn’t bother to vote are happy. I sure
as hell am not. And I don’t look for Arizona to be voted
“Most Gun Friendly State” again despite winning every year since the survey began.


If they’re gonna take away all our guns anyway, might as well put a proper butt stock on it so you can at least more effectively kill as many as of em as possible when they come to take them. Says a fellow, once proud Arizonan : )

Big George

My wife & I are beginning to re-think our move from Commiefornia to AZ after yesterday’s debacle! South Dakota is looking more appealing every day.


South Dakota looks good, eh? My wife and I live in Washington. I have lived in WA State since late 1957. In the middle 80’s while on a hunting trip to Montana, I became enamored with the way of life and the freedom AND the prices of real estate. My ex-wife couldn’t or wouldn’t allow herself to live that far away from a mega-mall. So, for the sake of my children in WA, I have stayed until this day. In the last three years, the prices of real estate In ID, Ore, Montana, South Dakota, etc., first doubled and now… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Oldman

and wyoming

Big George

And, after yesterday you can count Arizona OUT too!! If Arizonian’s think for one minute lil’ astronut kelly is going to allow AZ citizens to continue enjoying their gun freedoms, guess again!


Exactly. The government has no constitutional authority to regulate firearms or any weapons which citizens choose to employ to defend their lives, liberty and property.

Period. Unless the 2nd amendment is abolished or amended, all gun laws are unconstitutional and without any legal power.

Green Mtn. Boy

In fact the government is expressly prohibited from such, as in “Shall Not Be Infringed”.


You have the firearm you chose to make. Who cares what some chump who works at an unconstitutional government agency thinks? An agency which incidentally exists for the sole purpose of infringing on your right to keep and bear arms, and to interfere with your choice of and access to arms. Abolish the ATF and the NFA and the GCA and the Hughes Amendment and all FOID cards and all CCW permits. Americans don’t need permission slips to buy, build, own, carry or use firearms. SCOTUS needs to start respecting the 2nd and issuing decisions to strike down all the… Read more »


Who cares? The jury that puts you in prison for 10 years, that’s who.


My self made home business was destroyed in 1994. I got no money, no family. Not much of anything since. What I do have is an AR that I built entirely from non gun parts and pieces. It’s mine. It’s got a proper butt stock on it. Because that’s how I made it, for me. No jury is going to put me in prison over it. Why? Because my case will be handled on the spot. Then whoever tries to take it, and I can bring our cases to a higher authority together. Take your pretended legislation and fake laws… Read more »


I love how PATRIOTS talk.
Always HANDLE YOUR ISSUES ON THE SOPT, as the Constitution and the Founding Fathers intended.

Half the readers on this blog just wet their pants.

Last edited 1 year ago by tetejaun

How is that going to work when their savior Liden becomes the new president. Were screwed.

Green Mtn. Boy

This,as it is not a Constitutionally authorized agency.

That said beyond time to rescind the NFA and defund the ATF

Green Mtn. Boy


Thank you for the work you do on behalf of Americans 2 nd. amendment rights.


The tyranny of bureaucracy. Death by a thousand(s) minions. And none of them answerable to the people.


There is nothing worse than trying to deal with regulators who have no measurable standards. And I agree that if the 1934 NFA ever had a Constitutional purpose, it has long since outlived it. SBSs and SBRs are not the guns of choice in the bloody homicide records in Baltimore, Chicago, etc.


And this is exactly how societies lose the rule of law.
First, it is made subjective. The ‘law’ doesn’t apply rationally and equally, but is only some appointed burrocrat’s opinion. And like all opinions, it changes with the burrocrat’s whim.
Thus, the law eventually loses all value in the sheeple’s eye’s, so they will someday submit to a dictator just because they blame the corrupted ‘legal’ system for their own failure to keep criminals out of running the system, since they’re way too busy playing videogames.


The “sheeple” have been watching the left do away with law and order for the last 12 years and still let their votes go for the criminal element because of the promise of freebies. Once the criminals have what they want, there will be no more freebies or video games.


Good piece, John, but let’s add one more unknown variable: If the PSB exceeds a “pull length” (which is not a pull length, because it is not a stock) of 13.5″, ATF may consider it a stock, and what it is attached to, an SBR. Although the ATF has attempted to prosecute at least one person for this, the 13.5″ limitation is published nowhere, except perhaps memos to manufacturers. Does that clear things up? (Not.)

Last edited 1 year ago by FPV02

I have subscribed to this forum for a long while, some very good and enlightening articles. This being one. The NFA, GCA, Hughes amendment all unconstitutional infringements. Why do the NRA go along with these infringements? Worse more recently, actually promoting “red flag” laws. Not to mention instigating the bump stock ban! Why are all the unconstitutional agencies, unelected bureaucrats creating laws by fiat through regulations “allowed” to continue their rule? Why do WE not do anything other than grumble and complain, “write to our reps” we are told, nothing happens EVEN in a red state (TN) with staunch 2A… Read more »


“Whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers… a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy.” -Thomas Jefferson


Who gives a rats ass. It’s not fully auto, I should be able to have it without a stamp a fee or what ever and really I should be able to have a fully auto too but they have already made it illegal, illegally.
Constitutional carry all across the USA is a must. ATF should loose the F.


STAND for the Constitution and NOT the unconstitutional ATF.

I am always ready to defend my Constitutional Rights. No “interpreting” necessary.

Unfortunately…too many Americans will kneel. It is just so easy to be a slave. Just as so many did not vote in 2020. As in 2016 where only 43% of Republicans voted, it is just so easy to “let someone else do it”.
Of course, with that fat belly is laying on your thighs are you sit on the toilet, well….lack of action, to be sure.

America dies from apathy, self-indulgence, lack of action and cowardice.


Petty godlets, tyrants all, wallowing helplessly in the nannie swamp that is BATF..
I can’t get a speeding ticket until they have PROOF I have travelled at a speed in excess of a certain number posted on visible signs along that stretch of roadway.

BATF need to either “post some speed limits” that are universally comprehensiblem or take “speeding” off their list of “offenses”.

CHarlie says yes Bily says no, Pete can’t make up his mind.. NOT ENFORCEABLE.


I guess I don’t care. Ever known anyone prosecuted for a 922r compliance infraction? Ever known anyone prosecuted for not registering anything like a 30rd mag, or your AR15 when politely asked? Got a bump stock? Are you worried? I don’t think “they” care, either. Yeah, if you’re stupid and brag and make a spectacle of yourself, then maybe you deserve to be made an example. But otherwise, just shut up and carry on.


@Trap – Mostly true, however there are many circumstances in which you could get screwed: firearm is stolen, you use firearm in self defense, a LEO in a bad mood sees you (or one attempting to get ahead, or meet some quota, or whatever). Consequences of prosecutions are not trivial. This isn’t a traffic ticket we are talking about. Even if we accepted that these items are evil and responsible for how they are used, speeding should bear far harsher consequences. Per year, per unit, cars are involved in at least 10-100 times as many deaths as ARs. Speeding is… Read more »

American Patriot

It all depends…..If Biden wins its an SBR.
If Trump wins it’s a pistol brace!

Scotty Gunn

If Biden wins, it was lost in a boating accident.

Unlicensed Bozo


Last edited 1 year ago by Unlicensed Bozo

Hey John, what’s the length of pull on the pistol in your video? Thanks.