If you’ve been scouring the web looking at pictures of 300 Blackout rifles, you’ve likely come across those “tier 1” pieces that make you drool: Those SBRs with cool suppressors, fancy collapsible stocks, and some sort of wicked optic setup. We know, you want one, we all do. But there’s one problem: The ATF. They like to charge us $200 for any rifle that’s shorter than 26” in total length, or even if it simply has a barrel that’s shorter than 16”.
But there’s hope. We can now almost build an SBR without having to pay that nasty fee and waiting 6 or more months for the paperwork to clear. To be sure, this setup was recently made legal by federal law, and while it’s not an SBR by legal definition, by many other measures, an AR pistol with this certain configuration we’re about to talk about is surely the next best thing.
We’re talking about pistol braces!
Chambered in 300 Blackout and equipped with a stabilizing pistol brace, your AR pistol can be something cool, something that resembles an SBR in every aesthetic and nearly every functional way. But how is this legal?
No, a 300 Blackout Pistol is Not an SBR
If you’re reading this, you might have missed out some pretty exciting news related to black rifles and the ATF. In April of this year, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reconsidered an Obama-era policy concerning AR 15 pistol stabilizing braces. The ATF clarified it’s position that placing a pistol brace against the shoulder does not, in and of itself, alter the classification of the weapon in question from being called a pistol to being called a short-barreled rifle, or SBR.
The original ruling stated that merely affixing a brace to a pistol didn’t constitute the “making of” an NFA firearm, like an SBR – but they left out some critical opinion on whether shouldering a pistol brace – like it was not intended – constituted the making of an NFA item. For a while, we all thought the answer was, “yes”, that shouldering and firing a pistol equipped with a pistol brace would cause it to be reclassified as an SBR.
But What About Pistol Braces?
Thankfully, they got more specific. On March 21, 2017, The ATF officially stated, “firing a pistol from the shoulder would not cause the pistol to be reclassified as an SBR.” They also stated that using a stability brace “improperly” (like how one might use a proper shoulder stock) would also not change the classification of the subject weapon, per federal law.
Keep it “Stock”
Here’s where it can get tricky, though. The ATF also says this:
“takes affirmative steps to configure the device for use as a shoulder stock— for example, configuring the brace so as to permanently affix it to the end of a buffer tube, (thereby creating a length that has no other purpose than to facilitate its use as a stock), removing the arm-strap, or otherwise undermining its ability to be used as a brace – and then in fact shoots the firearm from the shoulder using the accessory as a shoulder stock, that person has objectively ‘redesigned’ the firearm for purposes of the NFA.”
That’s a mouthful. Basically, if you buy an arm brace, like the KAK Shockwave, and stick on your AR pistol, don’t do anything else to it. Don’t even use Loctite to secure it to your pistol. Any sort of modification, even a minor “improvement”, if you will, could result in a visit from the ATF.