The Top 5 Pistol Caliber Guns to SBR

Top 5 Pistol SBR Header Image
Ever wondered what $1,000 in BS taxes looks like? Wonder no more! IMG Jim Grant

U.S.A.-( Registering a firearm as an SBR is a pain in the ass. Between the $200 tax stamp and waiting months just to install a stock, many shooters opt for a stabilizing brace instead. But some guns either don’t have a stabilizing brace available for them or simply don’t look right with a brace installed.

And given the lengthy wait times, deciding on which gun to SBR is no small decision. And with so many guns available on the market today, we’ve narrowed down our list to just those chambered in pistol calibers.

So with that in mind, here are my top 5 pistols to SBR.

Uzi Carbine 9mm

Uzi Carbine 9mm IMG Jim Grant

By modern standards, the original Uzi is somewhat obsolete. It is heavy, lacks modularity and it doesn’t even use Glock magazines! (Can you imagine?) But in its heyday, the Uzi was the gold standard for submachine guns.

Durable, reasonably accurate and incredibly reliable, the Uzi saw great success in service with the IDF. That’s because the gun itself is built like a tank. With the majority of it being built from steel, the Uzi is as strong as it is heavy.

But what makes the Uzi such an excellent candidate for conversion into an SBR, is how easy it is to convert. Basically, there are two ways to convert a firearm to an SBR. Either you reduce the barrel length to under 16 inches, or add a stock to a gun that already has a sufficiently short barrel.

With many designs, this means having a gunsmith cut your firearm’s barrel and thread it. This is both costly and time-consuming. With the Uzi, replacing the barrel is so easy it doesn’t even require tools.

Simply depress the barrel ring retainer, unscrew the barrel nut and pull the barrel free. That’s it. So in essence, shooters only need to buy a spare barrel once their tax stamp comes back. Easy. Plus, the gun fires inexpensive 9mm ammo and feeds from very reliable, reasonably affordable 32-round steel magazines. And if nothing else, anytime someone asks you what it is, you can reply, “Uzi, 9mm” and that’s worth the cost of admission alone.


The MPX is the author’s favorite SBR on the list. The gun shown has over 10,000 rounds fired through it. IMG Jim Grant

When SIG first announced they were producing a new submachine gun design back in 2013, more than a few people were caught totally off guard. After all, it was the age of the compact carbine. Pistol caliber carbines were being phased out for ultra-compact rifle caliber weapons because of their increased ballistic efficacy.

But the traditional, pistol-caliber automatic weapon still had value. With their reduced felt recoil, inexpensive ammo and lightweight construction, these guns are plenty effective within the confines of a building.

At that time, nearly every prolific submachine gun in existence utilized a simple, direct blow-back action to reduce cost and increase reliability. And while this method of operation does accomplish these goals, it does so at the cost of extra weight and disproportionate felt recoil.

SIG decided on another approach: short-stroke piston operation. By utilizing a separate bolt carrier and piston, the MPX has a light reciprocating mass which translates into less recoil. Additionally, since the action features a locked breech, the gun won’t unlock until internal pressures have dropped sufficiently. This makes it both soft-shooting and better suited to use with a suppressor.

Add to that the fact the MPX borrows heavily from the AR-15 in the ergonomics and modularity department, and you’ve got a recipe for the perfect SBR candidate.

What makes the MPX particularly well-suited as an SBR is its combination of a compact receiver and collapsible stock that makes the entire package a perfectly balanced pseudo sub gun. Plus, like the Uzi above, the MPX can readily swap out barrels. Though unlike the Uzi, the MPX requires an Allen key to remove from the receiver.

The only downside to the MPX is cost. Both the gun itself, and the magazines are a little pricey. Though thankfully, shooters can find the previous generation MPX magazines for cheap if they shop around. For more information, check out

HK MP5 9mm

The MP5 just looks correct with a stock and foregrip. The one shown was built by Turner Fabrications. IMG Jim Grant

From the SAS siege on the Iranian Embassy to the fictional gunfight at Nakatomi Plaza, the MP5 is the defacto, “good guy” gun of the 1980s. And while Hollywood may have chosen the MP5 for its stellar looks, the SAS chose the stamped steel subgun for its peerless reliability and excellent accuracy.

Based on the G3 rifle, the MP5 is a roller-delayed 9mm submachine gun. The gun’s use of rollers to delay the action makes for a very soft-shooting little gun whose excess weight further soaks up what little recoil its 9mm rounds produce.

For those of us not drowning in disposable income, semi-automatic versions are available from a number of manufacturers. Some are crazy expensive, others are only somewhat expensive, but unfortunately, none of them are cheap.

What makes the MP5 a good candidate for SBR conversion? Out of all the furniture options available for the MP5, none of them are as comfortable as the original polymer fixed stock. Yes, the Navy-style collapsible models are excellent for transportation, and the Choate style MP5k stocks are neat too, but the original is just about perfect.  And at this moment, no company makes a brace that perfectly recreates the ergonomics of that stock. Plus, shooters who own an MP5k clone will probably want the iconic vertical grip installed on it. (Which is a big no-no that runs afoul of the NFA.)

As far as downsides, the only real shortcomings on the MP5 deal with cost. Both initial cost, and cost of ownership. The latter not being terribly unexpected given that the MP5 is made by HK. A company known for its pricey pieces. But, if you can spare the extra dough, the MP5 makes an excellent SBR.

10mm KRISS Vector

10mm Vector SBR
Everything is better in 10mm! Especially when that something is an SBR Vector with a 33-round magazine! IMG Jim Grant

The first gun on our list not chambered in 9mm parabellum is the 10mm KRISS Vector. For the uninitiated, the Vector is a blow-back operated firearm that utilizes the Super-V recoil mitigation system to achieve insane rates of fire without becoming uncontrollable.

In essence, this recoil mitigation system redirects the reward recoil impulse downward, dramatically reducing it. I’ve had the chance to run the 9mm and .45 ACP versions in fully-automatic modes and was able to easily keep the gun on target even during long bursts of automatic fire.

In fact, the biggest reason I recommend this gun in 10mm is that it takes the normally stout recoil of 10mm auto and tames it 9mm levels. Essentially giving shooters an ultra-controllable SBR with ballistic efficacy nearly on par with some .44 Magnum loads!

In fact, the only reason I would have suggested shooters not invest in the 10mm Vector was recently solved by the engineers at KRISS-USA with their Mag Ex2. Previously, the largest magazine available for the 10mm Vector held a scant 15 rounds of ammo. But now, KRISS offers an extended 33-round magazine that gives shooters enough firepower to stop any threat.

But why should shooters make their Vector an SBR? For starters, when in rifle configuration, the Vector becomes unwieldy and overly long. And when configured as a pistol with a brace it lacks the ergonomic adjustability of an M4 style stock and the compact design of the side folding fixed Vector stock.

The biggest downside of the 10mm Vector is the price of keeping it fed. 10mm Auto ammo is not cheap. But the cost if the round can be mitigated by investing in a reloading setup. Still, if a shooter’s goal is a cheap plinker, the 10mm Vector (and any 10mm gun) isn’t the answer. But if they’re looking for a low recoil, high power compact weapon with outstanding reliability and capacious magazines, the Vector is ideal.

9mm AR-15

AR15 SBR 9mm
This old Olympic Arms 9mm conversion was converted into an SBR with a registered lightning link for full-auto fun. IMG Jim Grant

Admittedly, the inclusion of the AR-15 is a bit of a cop-out. That’s because it is the most accurate, most modular and most affordable firearm on the market today.

Combine these benefits with the linear layout and direct impingement operation gives the AR-15 unbelievably low recoil and exceptional accuracy.

But until somewhat recently, I didn’t consider pistol caliber AR-15 pistols and carbines as ideal SBR candidates. That’s because unlike their rifle caliber brethren, pistol caliber AR-15s tend to be direct blow-back. This method of operation negates two of the biggest advantages of the Armalite: low recoil and lightweight.

But thankfully, the engineers at CMMG decided to take the path less traveled, and develop their rotary delayed Banshee series of AR-15s.

Available in 9mm, .45 ACP and 10mm Auto, the Banshee takes all the best features of the AR-15 and combines them with common, affordable magazines and a recoil-reducing method of operation.

What makes the AR a great SBR candidate is the same thing that lead to its ascension as America’s favorite rifle. Namely, modularity, affordability and top tier ergonomics. Plus, changing a pistol into an SBR is as easy as installing a buffer extension and stock (once you have your tax stamp).

Honorable Mention

Given the massive number of pistol caliber carbines and large format pistols on the market, there’s no way to cover every single firearm that would make a great SBR.

A few that I would have liked to include, but had to omit for the sake of brevity include the CZ Scorpion EVO, the PSA AKV and the MAC series of handguns.

About Jim Grant

Jim is a freelance writer, editor and videographer for dozens of publications who loves anything and everything guns. While partial to modern military firearms and their civilian counterparts, he holds a special place in his heart for the greatest battle implement ever devised and other WW2 rifles. When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Jim Grant

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Although I can concur with most of these choices, why in the world would one even have a Kriss Vector, let alone SBR it?
What rational is there for purchasing a design specifically intended to increase full auto controllability, and at great cost I might add, but in a semi auto version? Isn’t that sort of like buying a Porsche 911 with a VW bug engine? Because one wants to be both slow AND expensive?


@Knute Knute, you forgot the part about being one of the ugliest guns ever made.


Yup. Ugly and overpriced. The Striborg is ugly and cheap. At least the Kriss looks somewhat refined, while still ugly. LOL

Roland T. Gunner

Hey, I thought it looked great, the first 3 or 4 times I saw it; but yeah, after that, pretty darned ugly. One of those designs that just lose too much functionality in the switch to semi auto. Sort of like the Ingram models 10 and 11; but at least they look good.


@Knute Knute – Too much money and not enough sense?

Perhaps they intend to surreptitiously release the beast? In which case I would think one would rather keep the whole thing hidden rather than paying tax and registering the legal characteristic an a totally illegal weapon – which I’d love a chance to shoot sometime.


or maybe its a case of “I have one and YOU don’t”?


You forgot about the AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION option?


Why do an SBR when you can do a AR pistol & brace without the wait and cost of a tax stamp?


He said this was created in pre-brace days.


My bad. Disregard.


For now-a-days, EXACTLY but wasn’t this pre-brace days he was talking about!

Last edited 1 year ago by USMC0351Grunt
Roland T. Gunner

Several of my SBR’s are fairly painstaking clones of Vietnam-era Colts, a couple of 607’s, a nice XM177 variant I built from a 6933; or other visually specific classic submachine guns, Uzi, PPs43, etc. But once that type of historical builds were finished, I just started building parts AR’s, in modern configurations, and vowed to use braces in lieu of tax stamps, and never build or buy another gun I had to register.


Why SBR?
Allow me to state that I have a legal SBR that I most recently hunted whitetail with. However, I believe the AR pistol to be much more versatile. In my home state I can legally carry my fully loaded AR pistol in my car or on my person (slightly difficult) ready for action. I can walk down the street with it in a tennis racket or other case and be legal. I can’t do that in my home state with an SBR.


Exactly! An MPX with a Mod1 tailhook from Gear Head Works or an MP5 with the same is perfectly legal to conceal or open carry, and both fit in a book bag or messenger bag or nap sack or sling bag or whatever Bag/Case you want!


That brown foregrip on the MP5 is flaming, not in a good way. Could he pick a worse looking grip?


After all, gun quality is all about appearance.


Roland T. Gunner

No, but have you ever bought a gun just because it was particularly ugly?


If you’re going to spend the money to get an H&K MP5 buy a matching grip.

Roland T. Gunner

Yes, the mismatched color is off-putting, and I forget who makes it, but it is a very functional bit of kit. Also, observe, it is NOT a vertical grip.


I’ve never seen a 10mm “nearly on par with some .44 magnum loads” before. I’d like to know more about that. I’ve seen 10mm “nearly on par with some” .357 magnum loads but even that is a stretch. The 10mm is a fantastic caliber but any comparison in almost equivalency to the .44 magnum is purely fantastical. I suspect the brace days are severely limited. You can already see a huge increase in the number of used braces and braced pistols going up for sale. The ridiculousness of the arbitrary ATF laws is mind boggling. Braced pistols never created any… Read more »

Last edited 3 years ago by Beobear

What, slavery?


I have a Uzi Baby Eagle with a 4 inch barrel that I have killed P-dogs with at 200 yards, does that make it a rifle? Once I walked in on the first dog the rest were easy.

Ej harbet

Love my nak9 takes the 17rd mag out of my 34 and give me excellent accuracy to 50 yards and minute of bg at 100


and no mention of the Stribog? SERIOUSLY?

AZ Lefty

Probably because it is not in widespread use; If I do not SBR one of my AR PCCs i an probably going to go with a stribog


Stribog doesn’t need to be registered as an SBR. It’s just a pistol. But yeah, I’d pick Stribog over any of the choices mentioned above.

Unlicensed Bozo

Brownells BRN-180s. 10 inch 300 Blk. Piston, No buffer tube. Get the matching lower, or a Picatinny adapter for an AR15 lower.

Now you have a Sig rattler like pistol.

AZ Lefty

I did not realizer that 300 blk aw a “pistol caliber”


There are a LOT (And I mean a HELL of A LOT) of things that YOU do not realize!

Last edited 1 year ago by USMC0351Grunt

Understatement of the year award!

Roland T. Gunner

I am currently building a 180; and my upper should be here this afternoon. I would rather a more traditional looking barreled upper was available, though.


No ’73 Winchester short rifle or carbine in .44 WCF?


Didn’t those have a 20″ barrel? Making them a rifle?


Might at some point early on want to say what an SBR is.

My Name Is

I was going to take the SBR plunge on MPX K but I’ve decided to start with my rifle instead. If I’m going to use something with the stability of 4 points of contact then I’d rather have something in an actual rifle caliber. Matter of fact, I’m having a hard time justifying keeping my MPX.


A few years ago before the “brace” letter and all the waffling about I decided to SBR a hand gun with the proper paperwork. The long wait, all the BS paperwork was worth every penny for me.
I have an SBR with a foldable stock, vertical foregrip, and a co-witness red dot. This rifle weighs just around 2 lbs and is laser accurate with fast follow ups, and in a few seconds it becomes a concealed carry hand gun.


Sounds awful good—tell us more? What model is it, and any specific accessories you want to call out?


Nope. If it is a tax stamped “SBR” it is a rifle. “Rifles” are not legally concealable.

moe mensale

“Nope. If it is a tax stamped “SBR” it is a rifle.” Not necessarily. I don’t know what handgun pollock is referring to but if he removes the foldable stock and the vertical foregrip it’s no longer in NFA configuration and no longer meets the definition of “rifle.” 18 US Code 921 (a)(7) and (8). ““Rifles” are not legally concealable.” Again not necessarily. State definitions may differ from federal definitions. Georgia defines a “handgun” as having a barrel under 12 inches among other things. My federally registered 10.3″ barreled SBR falls under Georgia’s “handgun” definition. I can carry it concealed… Read more »

Last edited 3 years ago by moe mensale

If you “made” a rifle you cannot un-make it. Pistols can be made into rifles but rifles cannot be made into pistols. Once the stamp is authorised you own a rifle.


The pitfalls of the alphabet “regulations” abound…

From my understanding it’s all about configuration. For instance, if a 16″ barrel is replaced, it is no longer in SBR configuration…

The treacherous waters we wade…


Wading waters…in the swamp? Let’s drain that Sh!t!


It remains a SBR unless it is officially de-listed.

moe mensale

It remains an SBR only when it’s in SBR configuration. If I swap a 20″ barreled upper for my 10.3″ barreled upper I no longer have an SBR even though the lower receiver is still listed in the NFRTR. I now have a Title 1 firearm. It has nothing to do with being listed or not listed. Don’t make up your own facts if you don’t know what the law actually is.


UH? July 7, 2010What if I want to install a long barrel on my SBR or SBS?by David M. Goldman
comment image comment image comment image comment image

If you want to make a permanent change to the SBR or SBS, it should be removed from the NFA and will not then be regulated under the NFA. If the owner maintains possession or control over the short barrel riffle or shotgun they should be careful about constructive possession of an SBR or SBS. While there is no requirement to notify the ATF of the transfer of an item which has been removed from the NFA, the ATF does recommend that you notify the NFA branch of such changes in writing so that the possessor is not mistakenly identified as the owner if the firearm is later used in a crime.
Until the firearms is removed from the NFA registry, it will have the same restrictions regardless of the current barrel length. You can not put a longer barrel on to bring to a state where a short barrel is permitted or avoid the necessity of a 5320.20 to cross state lines. Once a SBR or SBS it will always be a SBR or SBS until the item configuration is changed and the gun is removed from the registry. If removed, you can not the original Form 1 to change it back to an SBR or SBS at a later date

Posted in: FAQ’s, Short-Barreled Rifles (SBRs) and Short-Barreled Shotguns (SBSs)
Updated: March 9, 2015 3:34 pm
Comments are closed.


Looks like there are typos (or spell checker “corrections”) in what you wrote. Mind checking as bits appear contradictory…



If you have a 16″ barrel it is NOT an SBR, it is a standard style rifle. If the RIFLE BARREL is SHORTER THAN 16″ and has a RIFLE STOCK, then it is an SBR. Then again if the barrel is SHORTER THAN 16″ and has a PISTOL STOCK, it is a legal, AR-15 style PISTOL not subject to NFA regulations.


You mean if you filed NFA paperwork to MAKE a rifle you cannot turn it into a pistol and vice versa. AMERICANS can make any damn thing they want under law as long as it follows the law. Now, if it’s an SBR, then it has to be filed as an SBR and left alone. If you make a short barreled AR pistol, then you have a SHORT AR-15 caliber PISTOL. Still totally legal in FREE AMERICA.

Last edited 1 year ago by USMC0351Grunt

If one has a braced AR pistol and swaps on a 16” upper – is it temporarily a rifle? If it is a rifle with longer upper installed, is it now a rifle and illegal to convert back?

btw – dear aft, I tested my 15” upper on different lower. It has never even assembled on my pistol lower.

Roland T. Gunner

I use a similar system with a braced 11.5″ pistol and a long CAR-15 style flash hider. Without the flash hider, its an 11.5″ pistol under fed law. With the flash hider it is also a 16″ rifle under Tx. law. Fed law says a brace is not a stock for fed purposes, but nothing in state law says a brace CAN’T be a stock. This becomes relevent if you need to remove the gun from the tennis racket case in public, where a handgun must be concealed or holstered (in Tx.).

Roland T. Gunner

I think there is some confusion here. ATF tries to claim, once a pistol, always a pistol; but the courts have said hunh unh. That was struck down in the courts, first with the TC Contender, and later with modular AR platforms. Also, there is no minimum size limit for an SBR, though ATF would prefer you to inform them of barrel and overall length changes. An SBR’d pistol can change barrel lengths, it can loose it’s stock and be fired like a handgun. Its still registered as an SBR under federal law, but can in fact be transferred without… Read more »


And they have the added frustrations of requiring permission for out of state travel. A braced pistol has neither, and is perfect in a nap sack as a truck gun,


How in hell can you, “SBR a HANDGUN”?

AZ Lefty

The top ones are those in my safe