Gear Review: SB Tactical SBPDW Pistol Stabilizing Brace

SB Tactical SBPDW Pistol Stabilizing Brace

A lifetime of my misunderstanding the nature of gravity and its effects on human physiology, as well as a few adventure vacations sponsored by the U.S. Army, have resulted in a total of 26 broken bones (and the day aint over yet). Fortunately, despite all of that, most of my parts still function pretty much as designed. Unfortunately, I have a lot of brothers-in-arms Who are missing limbs or have their hands otherwise disabled due to injuries they sustained in combat.

These experiences have left me with a particular appreciation for technologies that assist either temporarily or permanently disabled people in navigating their daily lives. Note that “temporarily” part.  Disease, injury or age are almost certain to rob each of us of full functionality sooner or later.

That’s where the SB Tactical brace really shines. And what it was originally conceived to do. It allows someone to shoot an AR pistol with one hand with a greater level of accuracy and safety than they could without the brace. This new version, the  alphabet soup-named SBPDW is the best SB brace yet.

Unlike the original model, the SBPDW brace includes a mil-spec buffer tube. You’ll need an AR wrench to pull your old commercial tube and replace it. It’s a simple process that shouldn’t take more than five minutes. The SBPDW tube fits mil-spec AR-15 lower receivers with mil-spec bolt carrier groups and carbine buffers.

Unfortunately, the T&E sample brace I got included only the old instructions for the original version of the brace. Those instructions are basically “push this thing on the buffer tube.” That’s not applicable here.

If you get those instructions in the off-the-shelf SBPDW you buy and need help, just go to their website, or search the multitude of videos for how to accomplish the simple switch.

The most obvious change over the original version of the SB Tactical brace is the adjustable length of pull. The original brace was fixed at 6.8 inches from the back of the lower receiver on a mil-spec buffer tube. Completely collapsed, the new SBPDW brace extends 6.75 inches from the back of the lower receiver when collapsed. And it extends fully to a length of 9.375 inches.

Fully collapsed, a SBPDW-equipped AR pistol is compact and easy to store or transport. Unless you’re very small, though, if you choose to shoulder it in the collapsed position, it’s uncomfortable to shoot. In this position, I have to turn my face out to keep my nose from pressing hard against the charging handle. Then again, I’m 6’1″, so lesser shorter humans may have an easier time of it.

Fully extended, though, it’s an entirely different story. Those few extra inches make a world of difference in comfort and shootability. The fully extended brace functions much better as a stock,  albeit from a still relatively tight and compact position.

I always felt like the original brace was a kind of a big, floppy, hot rubber thingy. This isn’t that at all. The SBPDW brace is smaller on the arm, while locking in place much better.

The adjustable length of pull makes a big difference in how well the actual brace works. The farther I can get the brace attached up my forearm, the better.

That high position on the arm also allows me to loosen the brace just a bit on my forearm, which gets me a better wrist position on the pistol grip of the gun. That combination of a slightly looser brace positioned higher up on my arm made a big difference when shooting an AR pistol single-handed, as the SB Tactical brace was intended.

I’ve spent a good amount of time shooting the original SB15 brace single-handed and had a hard time with it. That hasn’t been the case with the SBPDW.

When I first started shooting this new version, my shoulder had gone out. I’ve had a pretty severe AC joint separation, and have broken my left clavicle twice and left humorous once, high on the bone. So occasionally my left arm just stops working for a while. That gave me the opportunity to spend a long day on the range with my let arm in a sling, getting used to the SBPDW brace on a Quarter Circle 10 Nighthawk .45ACP pistol.

Once I realized that I needed to square up on the target and slightly cant the gun to see through the red dot optic, I was really surprised at how easy silhouette shots at 100 yards became. Using my upper body as a turret from my hips made transitioning horizontally simple as well.

In short, the SBPDW isn’t just a much better “stock” than the original version, it’s a much better brace for the temporarily or permanently disabled shooter, too.

The only thing I’d like to see improved on the SBPDW is a more aggressively textured rear end. The soft rubber on the back of the brace does a fine job against the arm or the shoulder. It also does fairly well against a webbed vest. But it slips around a bit if shot off a slick plate carrier. A cross-hatched or otherwise textured rear would help with that.

The SBPDW brace is about twice the cost of the original SB15, but the increase isn’t just from hype. The whole thing is more durable, well made, and well thought out. The buffer tube fits tight and solid. The three-position stock releases easily with a large and easy-to-find lever, and locks solidly in place. The steel bars of the brace further add stability and durability.

Of course, this still isn’t a great stock. Don’t expect a comfortable cheek-stock-weld. At least not for me. There’s obviously no adjustment in comb height or drop. And while the length of pull is adjustable, it’s still much shorter than a proper rifle stock.

SB Tactical SBPDW Brace extended (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

I still contend that if the original SB Tactical brace is a stock — and it wasn’t designed as one — it’s a poor one, at best. The SBPDW is still not a quality rifle stock, but it’s a much better one-handed brace and can serve as a better “stock” if the need arises. It even includes (finally) a QD sling mount.

Happily, most of you aren’t disabled. More accurately, most of you aren’t disabled right now. For those of you who are, the SB Tactical SBPDW brace far outclasses the competition. For those of you who one day will be, it’s a great piece of gear that gives you options now and for when the times comes down the road.

Specifications: SB Tactical SBPDW Brace

Fit: Mil-spec AR-15 receivers
Width: 2.25 inches
Length: 6.75 inches (collapsed), 9.375 inches (extended)
Strap Width: 1 inch
Weight: 18.14 oz
Color: Black or FDE
MSRP: $299.99

Rating (out of five stars):

Overall * * * * *
The original was the best option for the disabled shooter when it was invented. This version is the best out there yet again. The SBPDW is a big leap forward in comfort for the permanently or temporarily disabled shooter, and it’s the first brace I’ve seen that makes an acceptable stock as well.

comments

  1. avatar Geoff PR says:

    ” There’s obviously no adjustment in comb height or drop.”

    Since ‘to the shoulder’ is currently legal, could something be added to the brace to address check weld and comb height?

    Might be something for a future competitor to consider adding, or designing into a brace…

    1. avatar Anon in Ct says:

      Might be a good way to thumb your nose at the ATF and have them “reconsider” their prior rulings.

      Don’t be stupid and ruin it for everyone.

      1. avatar TruthTellers says:

        What are you talking about? It’s not for a better cheek weld, it’s for… “precision weights and balance improvement.”

        Yeah…

  2. avatar JR says:

    I’m sorry are we still pretending that 99.9% of customers AREN’T using this exclusively as a stock?

  3. avatar Ed says:

    $300 is pretty steep seems how you can pick up a complete rifle for $99 more. At $100 or so I’d be a player.

    1. avatar Fin&Feather says:

      Find me a PDW stock at 100 bucks ed….

  4. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I think they’re missing the price point. That seems a bit steep.

  5. avatar tfunk says:

    When you say “includes a mil-spec buffer tube” I assume you mean a pistol buffer tube that is the same diameter as a mil-spec carbine buffer tube? Because from what I understand putting an actual mil-spec buffer tube on a pistol turns it into a rifle…a big no-no if you have not filed a form 1 and received your stamp

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Buffer tube that fits a mil spec receiver.

  6. avatar MojoRonin says:

    Hey, cool MHI hat.

  7. avatar IdahoBoy says:

    I could see myself with two of these, marching against an army of milk jugs.

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