The Brewing Legal Battle Over The Sig Brace For AR Pistols

Posted by spswriter on December 26, 2014

NFA weapons from Old Glory Guns and AmmoThe Sig brace for AR pistols has been a center of attention almost from the moment it first became available for the public to purchase, and it should come as no surprise. The device first gained notoriety because of its intended purpose: making the AR pistol firearms easier and more accurate to shoot. This goal was accomplished because the brace, designed to slide onto the rear buffer tube of the pistol, is essentially a way to strap the weapon to your forearm and bring unwanted movement of the firearm to a minimum.

Such movements, both from side to side as well as from the barrel dipping down and away from the point of aim, are due to the fact that these AR pistols are heavy – and much of that weight lies forward of the grip, making balance difficult. Seems like an easy solution – just strap it to your forearm! It won’t dip forward, and you can prevent most of the side to side motion as well. All is well and good here except for one unintended consequence of the unit, one that has to do with improper usage rather than an intentional attempt to sidestep the law: the sig brace happens to look like, and pretty much function like, a shoulder stock for the weapon if one were to decide to use it as such.

You might be asking yourself what’s the big deal with that? The answer is simple, and very serious. Putting a shoulder stock on an AR pistol legally stands as converting it to a Short Barreled Rifle, or SBR, which is one of the categories of NFA weapons. This is not a minor legal violation, either – it is a felony. Now, when the brace was first introduced to the ATF for approval, their decision was ultimately that the brace itself did not constitute a conversion of the pistol into a Short Barreled Rifle firearm, and therefore was not a violation of NFA weapons laws. The ATF spelled this out in plain writing in their approval letter to the manufacturer for the sale of the brace to the public.

Now, however, things seem to be changing. Possibly. Maybe. We can’t be sure yet, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on it. Here is where things currently stand. In November of this year, a small firearms manufacturer making guns for home defense submitted approval paperwork to the ATF for a Short Barreled Shotgun, or SBS, design that used the Sig AR pistol brace in it’s design. The response he received from the ATF was that as long as the brace was used as intended, to strap the weapon to the shooter’s arm, then all was legally fine with the weapon. The potential trouble came with a continuing statement from the ATF, which said that should the brace be used improperly to act as a type of shoulder stock, than the resulting weapon WOULD be considered a SBS firearm, which is one of the NFA weapons, just like SBR’s.

Now, the owner of the SBS design that the ATF seemed to have conditionally approved has stressed to the concerned public that their response was only applicable to his SBS design and its potential use as an NFA weapon. However, there is a very real possibility that the ATF might be poised to reverse it’s previous decision upon the Sig AR pistol brace, in light of how easily it could be used as a shoulder stock. We will just have to wait and see while hoping for the best.

If you have any questions about NFA weapons laws, or firearms and guns in general, we would love to help you. Just call your premier source for guns in NH at 603-878-2854 and tell us what you want to know!