Leaked: Congressional Research Service Report on Firearms Stabilizing Braces

SIG SAUER Pistol Stabilizing Brace
SIG SAUER Pistol Stabilizing Brace

WASHINGTON, D.C.-(Ammoland.com)- AmmoLand News has obtained a report dated February 12th, 2021 sent by the Congressional Research Service to Congress members about pistol braces. (embedded below)

Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a non-partisan government think tank that works with Congressional members on reports about different issues. The service consists of 600 government employees, including lawyers, economists, reference librarians, and social, natural, and physical scientists. It is the policy counterpart to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

William J. Krouse, Specialist in Domestic Security and Crime Policy, #ad wrote the report for members of Congress detailing the ATF’s long saga with stabilizing braces. This report can be a sign that Congress is once again looking into the brace issue. The CRS confidentially works with members of Congress, so AmmoLand News hasn’t been able to determine what member requested the document.

The document starts by Krouse summarizing the December 18th, 2020 pistol brace guidance letter submitted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to the National Register. In his determination, the ATF was “preparing to reclassify certain heavier, larger handguns (pistols) equipped with stabilizing braces as more stringently regulated short-barreled rifles.” On December 23rd, he notes that the ATF “withdrew its guidance, pending further Department of Justice review.”

Krouse explains how a pistol brace helps a disabled shooter use an AR/AK-type pistol. He describes how the user would attach the stabilizing brace to their gun and how an operator would strap the pistol brace around their forearm. The specialist explains that the first model was to help a disabled veteran safely use his firearm. From his description, Krouse studied the history of pistol braces.

Krouse then goes onto say that shooters can use stabilizing braces and similar devices as a “quasi-shoulder stock.” He states in his opinion that by adding a stock to certain pistols, the user could change a firearm’s classification under the Nation Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), effectively turning the gun into a short-barreled rifle (SBR) or a short-barreled shotgun (SBS).

The specialist points out that the ATF has long held “that the attachment of a shoulder stock to a handgun or pistol grip firearm transformed that GCA-regulated firearm into an NFA-regulated short-barreled rifle or shotgun.”

Krouse points also out that in November of 2012, the ATF ruled that a user installing a stabilizing brace would not be enough to change the firearm classification.

Krouse then speaks about the ATF’s 2015 open letter, which seemed to insinuate that a shooter could not shoulder a firearm with a brace installed. He mentioned several private letters that the agency issued that walked back these statements. Although in 2018, the government charged an individual with possession of an unregistered SBR because his AR-pistol had a cheek rest installed and its “length of pull” was greater than 13.5 inches. The defendant beat the charges because of the “ATF’s failure to take the measurement properly in alignment with the barrel’s axis.” Krouse echoed what the industry has been saying for years.

He states: “This case is an example of how the absence of definitive determinations about the legality of firearms equipped with stabilizing braces and similar devices may create repercussions.”

He then explains different NFA items and gives an overall review of firearms, such as what constitutes a shotgun and what constitutes a smooth bore pistol. He explains the differences between GCA-controlled firearms and NFA-controlled firearms. Krouse also breaks down other firearms laws that surround both.

Krouse discusses a potential gray area in the law. He mentions how “some GCA-regulated handguns and pistol grip firearms are dimensionally equivalent—in terms of their barrel lengths, overall lengths, and/or barrel bores—to other NFA-regulated firearms.” He explains by modifying the barrel length of a rifle or shotgun, a user could change the classification of the firearm. He points out that if a pistol never had a stock attached that a user could not turn the gun into an SBR or SBS under the NFA.

Krouse mentions companies successfully marketing AR and AK-type pistols #ad since the sunsetting of the Clinton era “assault weapons” ban. He notes that many of the guns that companies are selling would have been illegal under the expired law. However, AmmoLand News is unsure as to why he stated that fact in this document.

10 To 40 Million Pistols Equipped With Stabilizing Braces

He then discusses how the sale of these firearms has exploded in the past 12 years. He theorizes the rise of these guns is due to pistol braces. The government unofficially believes that there are 10 to 40 million pistols equipped with stabilizing braces in the country. This number is higher than previously thought.

The document ends with the firearms rights advocate’s view that stabilizing braces are a viable alternative to creating an NFA firearm. He also points out that anti-gun advocates want to see the ATF reverse course on its brace rulings and have called on Congress to act.

The document is a valuable insight into the information that the CRS is providing Congress on gun issues.

Congressional Research Service Issues Report on Stabilizing Braces for Congress

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 www.crumpy.com.

John Crump

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How about removing SBR’s, SBS’s and suppressors from the ’34 GCA. Criminals don’t worry about the law and law-abiding citizens aren’t going to commit crimes with them anyway.


Prior to the enactment of the Brady Bill, handguns and longarms were treated quite differently. Only handguns required a background check. Both required the ATF form to be completed. When the Brady Bill started treating pistols and rifles the same,.. that is when the whole issue of short barrel weapons should have been revisited and re-evaluated. Instead they just piled a new regulation on top of a mountain of existing laws. That mountain is so big it is no wonder newly elected representatives and senators offer “new” laws, ignorant that some of what they propose already exists in law. Wouldn’t… Read more »


SteetSweeper, that idea makes far too much sense – the Republicans will never go for it: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/28/17064540/donald-trump-gun-control-full-transcript-roundtable Toomey, Grassley and Cornyn think the 2nd Amendment protects the right to have a bolt action rifle for deer hunting (but you can only use your own – no lending/borrowing without completing a transfer through an FFL). Grassley also thinks that, instead of arresting, convicting, and incarcerating murderers, we should ban violent movies. Steve Daines knows that when cowardly government employees fail to do their jobs, the answer is . . . more government employees. John Rutherford (not only a Republican, but former… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by JSNMGC

Who is the ATF trying to kid? a pistol with a brace can be shoulder fired. Stop the nonsense. A pistol with a brace, and an SBR shoot the same ammo. All this crap is some “pencil-neck” sitting behind a desk trying to justify their worthless government position. “Shall not be infringed”, that right should be posted in big letters in every ATF office. They should be made to read it daily.


Should be posted in every LE office.


I believe a definition would need to follow so they understand what it says. The wordsmiths today like to play.

Connor H

Good point, they’d probably get the ATF to redefine “infringe”…

Courageous Lion - Hear Me Roar - Jus Meum Tuebor

And anyone violating it needs to be prosecuted for violating their oath of office as well as violations of rights under color of law.


“…..shall not be infringed.” Should be ” Nuff Said”. Our Founding Fathers would already have been finished shooting a second time. They are spinning in their graves for how we have relinquished what they gave us.

“In other news, a new poll has found that 1 out of 3 Democrats are just as stupid as the other two. ”….and voted for Creepy. Sleazy, Senile Socialist Puppet #46 Joey and the real threat Kamal Toe to retain those voters on the Government Plantation..
A Liberal is an idiot wrapped in moron muffin and smothered in free shit stupid sauce.


Your first paragraph is 100% on the money.
If the People are unwilling to stop things, government will take everything.


Shall not be infringed MEANS NOTHING because Americans refuse to make it mean anything.
Sitting, quietly, is America’s preferred method of protest.


You don’t have any military training or discipline, do you?


I am the guy those stabilizers were created for. An injury left my off-side arm useless to lift and carry any weight, i.e. pick up and hold a rifle. Those arm braces allow me to actually raise and shoot an AR, just as advertised. IMHO- There are 2 key things about this that elude people: a) AR pistols are currently designed built and marketed as ‘handguns’ (and legally so), and All handguns are solidly protected by Heller, But b) Joe and the Dems want to Ban All AR type actions of every kind. His Assault Weapons Ban would not/could not… Read more »

Courageous Lion - Hear Me Roar - Jus Meum Tuebor

An incredibly psychopathic control freak thieving lying usurper of the position he is in politician.

expanded and accurate version


As always Mr Crump thank’s for keeping us up to date with your research.


Mr. Crump, I believe everyone who comes here in earnest, appreciates your work. I also think you deserve extra credit for reading and interacting in the comment area. Something I would love to see out of Harold Hutchison !


Here’s the madness of this all. The short barreled rifle “ban” (a $200 tax stamp in 1934 was a ban) was the result of no more research than congressmen watching black and white hollywood gangster films. They were banned because they were “too easily concealed.” It’s madness because regardless how short a rifle is, it’s not nearly as concealable as a pistol. What the hell justification is there in banning shorter rifles if pistols are allowed? Also, with the advent of Bullpups, you can get longer barrels in shorter firearms, making long barreled rifles shorter than “short barreled rifles.” Make… Read more »


Well said…ive long since said these SBS and SBR laws are very outdated. Too bad we can’t repeal the whole thing along with the 86 Hughes amendment and get some new machine guns in the pipeline!


absolutely spot on. HOWEVER you seem to suffer under the delusion that gummit uffishuls actually apply REASON. They do not never have and I do not expect to live long enough to see that happen. The ONLY rational course of action is to assume they only want to take it all, and then to consistenly deny or foil them at every attempt to take a milimeter. And simultaneously begin pusing them back at every opportunity to retake what they’ve illegally stolen from us while we were distracted with “other things”. by the bye, don’t take my “delusion” comment above too… Read more »


@TS – According to all I’ve read – NFA was originally written to ban handguns. Arbitrary barrel length was added to prevent manufacturing a “rifle” that was really a large pistol. In other words the exact opposite of what is being argued now. Political realty meant handgun wouldn’t pass, so was removed from bill. They just “forgot” to remove barrel length requirements. So we are suffering from an oversight – designed to keep us from making AR pistols and claiming they are rifles. Stupidity abounds. Let’s use common sense – remove SBR, SBS and suppressors from NFA. So many more… Read more »


I would like to see Ammoland start a section specifically on the ATF. Gather and post all the ATF documents that are squirreled away, leaked, or wherever they can be found. Provide commentary, legal review just like John Crump is doing. Give readers the dos and donts for home builders, how gun measurements by the ATF are made and interpeted, and the cases where makers. went to prison for malfunctions or mismeasurements All this information is scattered accross the gun community and law offices and hidden in the ATF. But its not in one location for all to easily locate.… Read more »


That’s a great idea. John might be too busy, that’s a lot of work right there. But I do like the idea.

Last edited 2 years ago by SEMPAI

The ATF chases paper. Use only abbreviations they like, regardless of the rules. For example, for an address any abbreviation acceptable to the USPS is supposed to be approved. But I know of an instance wherein a store was required to change “Md” in their bound book to “MD” by an inspector. In 27 records. ATF is a useless redundancy.


In a first amendment case involving freedom of the press and religion, the Supreme Court ruled “The power to impose a license fee on a constitutional right amounts to prior restraint and the power to restrict or deny the right … a tax laid specifically on the exercise of these freedoms would be unconstitutional.”
Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 1943 319 US 105


And the First Amendment doesn’t even have infringed in it. WHAT, do they not understand English.

American Patriot

1st bump stocks
2nd Braces
3rd binary triggers
4th any magazine feed gun
5th any wheel gun
6th any gun
7th you disagree your dead!


Naaaa.. 1st was Full Autos, Silencers and Destructive Devices. Whatever we were allowed to bring back from war was once acceptable. Post Bonnie & Clyde, Dillinger, NRA, etc. now all heavily regulated.

Connor H

You forgot concealable assault-style firearms…

Big Daddy

OK, so I’m about to commit a terrible crime! So I look up NFA and decide to use an ordinary pistol because it is cheaper and easier to put in my jacket pocket and I can carry an extra one so I can seem extra creepy because I saw it on TV? Do you think That guy In Virginia Tech Thought About That? Or That s What ANTIFA Or A Criminal Is Thinking?


Anyone who tries to push asinine rule ideas like this needs to be held accountable and then sterilized. Crap like this obviously does NOT make anything “safer”. Why is nobody in DC interested in ending this obvious waste of resources? Come on, man!


In my view rules and laws made by non-elected persons and/or administrators that control private property of U.S. citizens that the constitution states shall not be infringed are unconstitutional. The founding fathers made no statement(s), that I have seen, about barrel lengths or concealability or accessories..

Last edited 2 years ago by Grumpy
Courageous Lion - Hear Me Roar - Jus Meum Tuebor

Simple solution…dear psychopathic control freaks in congress….REPEAL THE NFA. PERIOD. It is in direct violation of SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. Like DUH????
Has anyone ever tried to USE a pistol brace as “designed”? It is a joke. It makes for a very innacurate Robo Cop appendage. Ever try to line up the sights with a pistol brace strapped to your arm? Unless you’re double jointed it is near IMPOSSIBLE. Like I said in my first sentence…REPEAL THE NFA. PERIOD.

Last edited 2 years ago by Courageous Lion - Hear Me Roar - Jus Meum Tuebor

I know a few handicapped Veterans that don’t seem to agree with your findings.

Braces that are designed with intent to be used as advertised can actually be quite comfortable. Maxims, tailhooks, and the original sb brace both come to mind.

I’d argue both a3&a4 appear designed to be shouldered, cause you’re right, they’re kinda shit at bracing.


How about we just get rid of this Over paid Unconstitutional Bureaucracy ? You know defund police & all that. 2A = politicians achievment card. Which other right has people had to fight so hard, to constantly be defined by these so called law makers to get approval each & every day you wish to exercise this right. I wonder what these clowns would do if 2A was protected as well as 14th amendment ? Or if all the people of these United States just told them to pound sand. The amount of resources wasted to keep a Constitutional right… Read more »

Courageous Lion - Hear Me Roar - Jus Meum Tuebor

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote in the Gulag Archipelago how the government made crimes against the people of no effect but any crime against the government was considered heinous. By letting these criminals back out on the street to prey on the innocent, they create clamor for more laws. SAVE US FROM THE PROBLEM YOU CREATED!

crazy joe

What it comes down to is get rid of our rights. they at any rate want all firearms done away with so as to turn this nation into a communist style country and dictatorship.

Courageous Lion - Hear Me Roar - Jus Meum Tuebor

EXACTLY!!! Read Lew Rockwell today and his article about the Presidency. It is SO true.




Why are you beating-up on the full-autos? They didn’t do anything wrong, just like a little .22 caliber pistol, sitting on a shelf never did anyone any harm?

Ansel Hazen

Krouse mentions companies successfully marketing AR and AK-type pistols #ad since the sunsetting of the Clinton era “assault weapons” ban. He notes that many of the guns that companies are selling would have been illegal under the expired law. However, AmmoLand News is unsure as to why he stated that fact in this document.”

Ummm, pretty easy for me to understand. Krouse is trying to suggest reinstating the AWB.


@Ansel – Data can also be seen as demonstrating for the firearms “they” designate “assault weapons”. Clearly they are in common usage for lawful purposes.
I though the number of suppressors held under NFA classifies them as “in common use” Anyone arguing that arm braces make an SBR, is arguing to remove barrel length from NFA. If 10-30 million in the few years they’ve been available is not “common”, than person making the determination is nuts.

Connor H

That report is actually a relatively neutral examination of pistol braces as a whole. I read it in full, and nothing jumped out as revisionist or patently untrue, and they did explicitly point out (a few of) ATFs numerous instances of shifting positions and inconsistent, non-transparent public communication. I understand everyone’s bent over any new gun control attempts, but this document isn’t particularly slanted. We knew this was coming, be ready for the comment period and keep manchin on speed dial. Dems&lib media are floundering trying to come up with a mechanism to implement their aggressive gun control policy; hold… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Connor H

when are y’all gonna wake up and stop falling for this BS. ANYONE with two brain cells knows only law abiding citizens will abide by the law, criminals don’t give a crap. while you wrap yourselves in the 2nd Amendment and the anti gunners try to strip your guns from your silly little paws, they keep ALL OF US divided and THEY remain in power.


…hmmm…let’s say there are 100 voters. most people if given the opportunity would vote pretty generically, less taxes, better schools, roads, etc. all of that stuff is in the interest of everyone, you with me so far? the problem there is one candidate is pretty much the same as any other, odds of getting elected fall. so let’s inject some hot button issues, god, abortion, guns, who can marry whom type stuff, etc. now those 100 people will split into silly factions that will proclaim their way is the correct way and the “other side” is wrong. so now I… Read more »


Its not about what’s right or wrong with the gov’t. Its all about them missing money for these. They want to reclassify them to bring in more money. Thats all the gov’t wants, MONEY. Lets say 20 million braces sold total. There’s a $50 charge for the brace stamp thru the gov’t. Half of the people wont do anything. A quarter of the people are thinking about it and the other quarter jump because they don’t want to get caught. So 5 million pay the extra $50. That’s 250 million extra money to the gov’t. They’re only looking out for… Read more »

Courageous Lion - Hear Me Roar - Jus Meum Tuebor

Well, that is if they NEEDED the money. THEY DON’T.


It has nothing to do with the government wanting money.


Finally!! SOMEONE sees through the murk to the bottom of the business.


@Dead – Your calculation proves that you are wrong. At federal level you would have to add two zeroes together to a level where they even notice. Quarter billion is a rounding by error.

Yes our government really is that big.


When is it going to be publicly labeled and acknowledged that deluding, eliminating the 2nd Am is communists objective.


Is there a link to that document, I can’t access it.
Thank you.

John Dow

It’s up there in the article.

For a change.


Those that refuse to stand…