Gear Review: SIGTac SB15 Pistol Stabilizing Brace

sb tactical

The concept of an AR-15 pistol is pretty cool. The practicality of using one, not so much. For one thing, an AR-15 pistol is heavy; a lot of the pistol’s weight lies forward of the pistol grip.Stabilizing the side-to-side motion is a challenge as well. It is, to put it mildly, awkward to shoot. Enter the SIGTac’s SB15 Pistol Stabilization Brace for the AR15, invented and manufactured by Alex Bosco of SB Tactical. As the name implies, it’s designed to help shooters support and stabilize an AR15 pistol. Which is just as well. Other than the brace, options for taming the AR-15 pistol without the brace include . . .

1) Holding the AR-15 one-handed like a regular pistol. Weight remains an issue. The gun’s long length causes the weapons to twist in the hand during recoil.

2) Using the support hand on the handguard to stabilize the front in a modified Weaver stance. While this grip helps with the weight each hand puts pressure on the pistol in a different direction, negatively affecting accuracy.

3) Deploying a short sling over the head and across the shooter’s back with both hands on the pistol, pushing the gun forward to create tension against the sling.

Bottom line: none of those options are particularly effective for adding accuracy to a fundamentally inaccurate platform. So . . .

brace 1

The SB15 Pistol Stabilization Brace

As you can see in the image at the top of the post, Alex designed the Brace to cyborg the AR pistol. The brace is a rubber attachment that slides over the pistol’s buffer tube. An open-ended cuff below the tube fits around the shooter’s primary arm, just beyond the wrist. The user tightens the web strap to secure the cuff around the arm.

Installation

Like a kid getting up early on Chanukah morn, I unpacked the brace and started the installation process as soon as UPS dropped the package off at my door. I sifted through the installation instructions quickly just to get an idea of what was needed to install it. Basically, just push.

I fed the open end of the brace onto the pistol tube and pushed. Nada. Deciding that now might be a good time to actually read the instructions I saw a notation stating that it helps to use a dry lubricant such as talcum powder to help slip the brace forward. I powdered the tube and tried again. Still nada.

I re-powdered tube and sprinkled some inside of the brace, too. Nada. Best I could get was three inches short of my goal. Frustrated, I gave a buddy a call. He reminded me that the instructions stated that the brace fits on tubes that measure between 1.1 and 1.2 inches wide. Did I mention that I particularly hate reading instructions?

My tube, of course, measured 1.25 inches. I assumed my tube was milspec and that the brace would fit milspec tubes. Assumption, once again, turned into the mother of all screw-ups. Since there is no such thing as milspec for an AR pistol, there is tremendous variation in tube sizes. Alex says he was amazed to find so many different length and diameter tubes. So off with one buffer tube, and on with another and I was off to the races.

The solution actually came in two parts. Changing the tube was one, pigheadedness was the second.

Being the stubborn bastard that I am, I was convinced that if I could get the brace half way on, all it would take was more elbow grease to get it the rest of the way.  Undeterred, I tried again to mount the brace on my 1.25-inch pistol tube. With some pounding, sweating and swearing, I succeeded to the point of getting the brace on, save ½-inch just shy of the receiver. As it turned out, being a bit distanced from the receiver was a perfect fit. The brace can fit on a 1.25-inch tube, but it’s not recommended as that is really stretching its limits.

One nice feature to note: the brace extends beyond the castle nut and fits directly into the indent in receiver end plate. This keeps the brace from rotating. Depending on personal taste, you don’t need to fully engage the brace against the endplate. Even with it not being tight against the endplate, I found that the brace is firm and doesn’t rotate.

I have had a 11-inch, piston upper in 6.8SPC, made by Primary Weapons System, fitted onto a Spike’s Tactical pistol lower sitting in my safe, collecting dust for a few years. I really wanted the upper, but since Rhode Island doesn’t allow short-barreled rifles, configuring it as a pistol was my only option. As you might imagine, shooting it was not a stellar experience, so it sat in my safe, lonely as can be. This was the perfect test platform for the brace.

6.8-brace

How Well Does it Work?

Finally to the meat of the subject. Is this a great benefit to disabled people who shoot the AR-15 pistol? Yes. Is this a great benefit to anyone who wants to shoot an AR-15 pistol? Again, yes. Does it solve all of the problems shooting the pistol? Pretty much.

By adding the second point of contact, the Pistol Brace spreads the weight out over a larger number of muscles and eliminates the tendency for the muzzle to drop down because of the forward weight. It also eliminates the side-to-side wiggle within the hand.  However, shooting for a few minutes will quickly remind you that an AR pistol is still heavy.

That said, you’ve got to adapt your grip and stance. Because the brace binds the shooter’s forearm to the firearm, the pistol can no longer be moved towards the chest to center the pistol in front of the dominant eye. This is somewhat difficult to understand until you experience it. But it requires some serious operational familiarity to master.

shooting brace

Legal Stuff

As the cuff portion of the brace is made of somewhat firm rubber, a shooter can use the Pistol Brace as a shoulder stock when braced against the body. The concern: doing so would turn the pistol into an illegal short-barreled rifle. According to ATF’s logic, conclusion and ultimately its Approval Letter – no. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) sent inventor Bosco a definitive missive, downloadable here, stating that . . .

the submitted forearm brace, when attached to a firearm does not convert that weapon to be fired from the shoulder and would not alter the classification of a pistol or other firearm. While a firearm so equipped would still be regulated by the Gun Control Act, such a firearm would NOT BE subject to NFA controls.

The aforementioned paragraph allows the brace to be used on a firearm (pistol or rifle) without converting it to a weapon that would be subject to NFA rules. This also opens a  can of worms, but more on that later.

Shouldering the pistol brace would be a misuse of the brace. By that, I mean it would be used in a manner not consistent with its intended purpose. Using a device in a manner that’s different from its intended purpose does not necessarily make its use, or the device itself, illegal.

Shouldering a pistol buffer tube does not turn an AR pistol into a short-barreled rifle. Use of a bipod mounted on a pistol as a forward vertical grip (see Ruger 10/22 Charger pistol with bipod) does not convert the pistol into an illegal AOW. Likewise, firing a pistol using two hands does not convert it into a rifle even though the definition of a pistol is a firearm designed to be fired with one hand.

The ATF approved the use of the product as a brace for shooting a pistol one-handed.  Using it differently than intended does not change the classification of the device or the firearm. Case closed.

Range Stuff

Getting the pistol and SB15 out to the range, I shot it both with and without the brace. As expected, stability was greatly enhanced and recoil was far easier to control.

There are two steps for increasing comfort and accuracy. First, keep the firearm to the side of your dominant eye, angling the gun slightly inward. Don’t snug the strap tight against your forearm. The tighter the brace, the less forgiving it is. Next, tip your head towards the gun to bring the eye in line with the sights.

While this method puts you in a different position than you would be when shooting without the brace, it works well. Another option: shoot in the traditional target shooting stance, completely bladed to the target.

Getting back home from the range, I noticed that the brace had migrated itself forward the rest of the way to the receiver. I didn’t feel it while shooting, but apparently the 6.8 SPC recoil was strong enough to push it the rest of the way.

Success Story

The brace is a godsend to the disabled and a great benefit for anyone who hunts or plinks with an AR-15 pistol. I am pleased to report that SIGTac will be selling these through their retail channels and through their website. When I asked Alex how many he’s sold, he simply replied that he wasn’t at liberty to say. Suffice to say, score!

As previously mentioned, I am in awe of the story of the development of the brace.  Alex found a need, developed a product and found tremendous success in the marketplace.  The fact that the product was conceived to help wounded U.S. veterans and is completely manufactured here in the U.S.A. only sweetens the story. The SB15 Pistol Stabilization Brace is not only a great product; it is an American entrepreneurial dream come true.

MSRP: $139

53 Responses to Gear Review: SIGTac SB15 Pistol Stabilizing Brace

  1. avatarjwm says:

    It’s strapped to your arm? Does that make a quick transition to a pistol a little difficult? I know the AR pistol is a pistol, but what about your backup handgun?

  2. avatarrabbi says:

    Yes, it is strapped to the arm. Depending on how tight you make the straps, removal is not that fast. The pistol brace is not for tactical use.

  3. avatarschizuki says:

    I love the free-market system. People are free to devise ingenious ways to make inherently dumb ideas work slightly better, providing a thin veneer of feasibility to layer over a foundation of pointlessness.

    I’m only being partially sarcastic. I really do love living in a country where “Why not?” is a perfectly acceptable answer to my head-scratching “Why?”

    • avatarDaveL says:

      Pretty much my feelings exactly.

    • avatarpwrserge says:

      Because we don’t live in a country were we have unlimited access to SBRs.

      • avatarJustice06rr says:

        I would agree that I love the free market/economy where you can design and sell any legal product, whether its usefulness is feasable or not.

        If its a dumb idea, then it will fail as a product and not sell. If it provides some usefulness, then it might work and people will buy it.

  4. avatarJeff says:

    awfully close to being something that the ATF might consider a stock, making it an SBR. I’m surprised they approved it. It looks shoulderable.

    • avatarfull.tang.halo says:

      The ATF can only make determinations on intended use. This is an instance of gov. non-interference. The way that some people talk they sound like they want big brother telling them well you could use this in a different way and that’d be bad so we won’t let you use it in a legal way either…

      • avatarOHgunner says:

        “…they want big brother telling them well you could use this in a different way and that’d be bad so we won’t let you use it in a legal way either…”

        Hmmm. Exactly like the anti-gun crowd does with all guns?

      • avatarGrege says:

        I think people are just worried about a possible ban after they buy it. If you look at past history some things that were legal ams approved for use have been banned. For instance open bolt semi autos used to be kosher and their intended used was to be semi auto but it was readily modifiable to a non approved configuration and that is what got them banned.

        Applying that logic to something like this new stock it is easy to see why people are schepticle that the atf won’t come out and ban it after the fact.

        • avatarfull.tang.halo says:

          Pre-82 Open bolt guns are completely legal to own and have a premium value, an open bolt mac can fetch over double of the same vintage closed bolt gun. They are in one of the amazing ATF black holes of a gun if you look at it a certain way. It is by “their” definition a machine gun, because it can be easily converted, but isn’t regulated as such.

  5. avatarIke says:

    So, since using the Brace as a shoulder stock is NOT illegal and doesn’t make your weapon a SBR, and since it CAN be used as such and functions (I’m guessing) well enough as a stock…

    What’s to keep a guy from buying an AR pistol and putting one of these on it and treating it like an SBR? Could this accessory replace the need to get a $200 stamp for your SBR? I can see this making a great PDW/Home defense gun, or trunk gun…

    • avatarfull.tang.halo says:

      Only if you are poor/lazy/tinfoil behatted. If you want a SBR, buck up and pay your $200, wait 10 months and have one. This, much like the MPX “muzzle break” rifle, only make sense if you live in a state that bans SBR’s.

      • Well, I AM poor enough that the idea of saving $200 is appealing. And impatient enough that I don’t want to wait 6 or more months so my ideal home defense rifle can be cleared and ready to go.

        • avatarfull.tang.halo says:

          The brace costs $139.00 MSRP. So +/- street price you are at best gonna save $100. For something more than $100 worse than a SBR.

        • avatarBova says:

          I simply prefer the idea of not having to pay an extortion fee to exercise my rights. I wouldn’t care if it were more expensive than the tax stamp. I would rather my money go to a real person who did something innovative and not pay a corrupt government for violating my rights. That is my simple reasoning.

        • avatarmbrd says:

          bova’s arithmetic is unsound and fiscally irresponsible. so is mine – that’s probably (partly?) why i am not rich.

          i’d rather pay a premium to a guy, than a tariff to “the man”.

          i could do without the potential microscope up my doo, as well…

      • avatarJeremyJ says:

        Well it is useful in states like Indiana with caliber restrictions for deer hunting. Some calibers are allowed in pistols and not rifles. For example a 30-06 pistol is legal to use and a 30-06 rifle is not. Or a 6.8mm AR pistol is legal and a 6.8mm SBR cannot be used.

    • avatarrabbi says:

      The only practical difference is that you don’t have an adjustable stock when using the brace (since it is not a stock) like you would be able to have on an SBR

      • avatarIke says:

        …I think I could live without an adjustable stock on an SBR (considering I want it to be short anyways) if it saves me $200 bucks.

        • avatarOHgunner says:

          Don’t forget 6-12 months of waiting for a piece of paper

        • avatarJSIII says:

          I live in Illinois where you need a C&R FFL to own a SBR. I would rather not be “on their radar” by getting one.

          I think this would be a perfect addition to a SIG-516 Pistol.

        • avatarB says:

          … and from being on top of the confiscation list in the ATF computer. Though I wouldn’t worry too much, they’ve got all our info already.

        • avatarmbrd says:

          yeah, we’re probably all post-it notes, but once you go nfa, your red flag never goes back.

  6. avatarTodd says:

    I have one on my AR pistol. Its been on my wrist once, because I was curious. It works great in a manner “outside” of the manufacturers design.

  7. avatarPeter says:

    Did you ever see a new 4 x 4 driving down the street with over sized wheels and low profile tires? When you live in a free country you get to follow your own path.
    Even if a lot of us are cocking out heads sideways in puzzlement.
    I have always looked at AR pistols in much the same way.

  8. avatarSaul Feldstein says:

    Mexican carry must be a bitch with that setup.

  9. avatardom says:

    Correct me if I am wrong here please:
    1. I should ignore the goofy arm strap.
    2. It incidentally can be used as an actual stock. That is the purpose of this thing.
    3. Using it as a stock has been determined to be ok by the ATF.
    4. This company figured out how to skip the SBR hassles and they will sell me a product that could be strapped to my wrist, but I may choose to use it incorrectly, thus getting the product I really want.

    Brilliant.

    • avatarrabbi says:

      1. Arm strap is only needed when the brace is used as intended
      2. It is NOT the purpose of the brace to be used as a stock. Its purpose is to stabilize a firearm when used as a pistol
      3. ATF has NOT determined that the brace is OK to be used as a stock. They determined that its intended use would not include it being used as a stock so the pistol would not be converted to a rifle with its use. Not every product is used as intended.
      4. The company has created a device to stabilize a pistol. Your mileage may vary with uses other than that :)

    • avatarCentralIL says:

      …until the ATF changes their mind and pulls the same crap they did with the Akins Accelerator.

      In other words, don’t rub it in their faces.

      • avatarrabbi says:

        Please correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t Akins change the design from what was approved?

    • avatarCory says:

      The SBR restriction is silly anyway. I think the ATF is well aware of the silliness, and many agents probably wouldn’t normally care, but rules force them to crack down on it.

      Same way with marijuana laws- many cops I know personally don’t have feelings for/against cannabis, but they either use possession as a means to search a suspicious person/vehicle or have to arrest/charge because they they’re bound to enforce the law.

      While I see marijuana decriminalization/legalization happening in legislatures, I doubt that Congress will ever have the balls to gut the NFA within my lifetime. Our only hope is that someone like the SAF takes up an NFA violation case and tries to fight it all the way to the SCOTUS. I think the current makeup of the SCOTUS might reasonably conclude that the NFA violates the “common use” argument, something that United States vs Miller completely flubbed due an incompetent defense.

      • avatarmbrd says:

        miller was kind of a disaster… the whole military weapon misinterpretation/trenchgun thing has possibly really messed up my sbs desires.

        yeah, sbr regulation is silly; as far as i can tell, it’s what we’re stuck with.

        can you really imagine nfa being challenged, and then blazing the path to the scotus? even with the plausible 5/4 outcome of the current supremes, i wonder if they would deign to hear the case, for any of a variety of possible misgivings.

        i am not being flip here, i actually wonder if such a scenario is even remotely plausible. i would love to think so, but…. i just can’t see it…

  10. avatarJeh says:

    Am I the only one who sees this as impractical? The fact its referred to as a pistol is amazing, its like taking an actual AR and taping the stock to your arm.

    • avatarrabbi says:

      The Brace was designed to help disabled people shoot an AR15 pistol. Nothing impractical about that.

  11. avatarTEMPLETON says:

    I am just going to say it…this will only be used as a butt stock with no legal backlash. In fact, I am going to get one and put it on my AR pistol to make an awesome little short-barreled rifle. HaHaHa, Suckas!

  12. avatarsmackit says:

    Ok, any hints for the upper/lowers for an ultralight polymer .223/556 in a 8-12″ range? With prices falling, seems like the right time to augment.

    Not interested in pricing to support putting multi 10K’s rounds through it and be multi-purpose, rather priced just to be a reliable single-purpose close quarter tool.

  13. avatarspacecoaster says:

    There are two steps for increasing comfort and accuracy. First, keep the rifle to the side of your dominant eye, angling the gun slightly inward.

    Your Freudian slip is showing?

  14. I have to say that this whole 5.56 “Pistol” thing baffles me. Is there any actual practical use for it other than having fun? Not that having fun is bad, all for it, but….just seems like a huge waste to me.

    And how they got around the SBR regulations with this is equally baffling.

    • avatarAlex says:

      If the whole pistol AR thing baffles you then I guess the whole Short Barrel Rifle thing baffles you too? There is a reason why every Elite Special Operations Unit uses the M4 with the 10 inch barrel in 9mm. I could get into the whole CQB thing…but you could just google it.

      • avatarBMWTwisty says:

        An important consideration of the AR pistol is that in many concealed carry jurisdictions this pistol is classified/categorized the same way, legally, as the 1911 pistol you carry IWB.

        The AR pistol is legally concealable and you can also transport the firearm loaded in your car (unike a rifle) or, if it’s in a case, it can have be loaded and have a magazine inserted.

        I have one of the SIG 556 pistols and it’s a great little item (it came with the brace, too). OK, mebbe not so little, but it’s great! For “carrying” an AR pistol, not having the brace is more appropriate, but the brace is a bonus. I’m considering one of the Blackhawk “Diversion” bags to tote the 556 around.

        I used to look askance at these critters as well, but when I re-considerd the “concealability” of it I took a second look.

        YMMV ;-)

    • avatarmbrd says:

      if “this whole 5.56 ‘pistol’ thing baffles” you, why are you posting? was there a question you meant to imply?

      it baffles me too, but i am here because i am building one anyway. i can change it later.

      “practical” and “fun” are not (always) mutually exclusive, but i think that if you read the entirety of the review and the subsequent responses, you will see that there is a lively community interested in this product and its possibilities for a variety of reasons/applications. most reasons are probably “fun”, some minority of them are likely pretty practical interests – some for those having lost a limb in the service (not to get maudlin about it).

      i see ar pistols as generally too loud, too heavy, and basically messed up antitheses to sub-guns. that said, sometimes the gauge of entertaining reason (and fun) isn’t whether something is a bad idea, but whether it is a BAD ENOUGH idea.

      this might just be a bad enough idea… if it’s not the train wreck you were looking for, well, “move along sir, nothing to see here”.

      no offense intended, by the way…

  15. avatarCavScout says:

    I’m recognizing this product for what it is, and not with a loud tone. I wish everyone would do the same.

    If this specific capability isn’t something you care to add to your collection, that’s cool but it’s still hard to understand what it is you claim to not understand about it. For those of us that do, this product and ATF ruling is a gift from above.

    Legality; there’s an argument that claims NFA regs are only applied to items, not to their use, and that ignoring ‘intended use’ cannot change that item’s classification.

  16. avatarfrank says:

    Hey guys what’s all the fuss? Sometimes you’ve got to think out of the box as I did by surgically having a shoulder implant accommodating a stock Hence ( shoulder stock). The only downfall is that woman run from me. Oh well…..gives me more time on the range.

  17. avatarAlex says:

    I’m sure the vet in the photo above thinks your hilarious.

  18. avatarshooter6 says:

    As a correction, on the tier 1 m4-k’s, none in use now are chambered in 9mm. They are chambered in 5.56 & loaded with 69-77 grain ammo.

  19. avatarAndrew Milam says:

    Let’s not forget the other benefit of this weapon that I haven’t seen anyone comment about yet! The brace allows one to easily shoulder the pistol as if it were an SBR, right! In many areas carrying a loaded long gun is unlawful but carrying a loaded and gun is, with or without a permit, depending on where you live, right?

  20. avatarMr stone says:

    I’m happy I have always collected ar pistols in a state that doesn’t allow sbr’s,….now my dream has come true. When are the going to come up with an alternative design??? That’s is still an SB15?

  21. avatarWolfsbane says:

    Any plans by Sig to make a version of this that fits on an AK pistol? Or someone making a bolt on dummy buffer tube for the AK?

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of you company name or keyword spam.