Gear Review: SB Tactical SBA3 Pistol Stabilizing Brace

SBA3

We all remember when “The SIG Brace” hit the market in 2013, forever revolutionizing what it meant to controllably wield a large pistol. Free of exclusivity restrictions, SB Tactical, creator of that original pistol stabilizing brace, has spent the last couple years innovating sleeker, lighter, cooler new designs.

Their newest for the AR-15 platform: the SBA3.

Much to my surprise, the SBA3 ships complete with a receiver extension (buffer tube). It’s a 7075 aluminum, five-position adjustable, standard mil-spec job.

Yes, you read that right, it’s an actual carbine receiver extension rather than some weird “pistol” thing. Realizing that, I then understood why it’s included in the box: your pistol doesn’t have a carbine receiver extension on it.

The best part? It’s adjustable! No longer are you and your range buddies stuck with a brace that’s too short or too long for your…forearm. Or wherever you like to brace it.

That’s as short as it goes, seen in the photo above.

And here it is fully extended. Simply squeeze the front of the release lever upwards to unlock the brace and move it between the five positions. This is similar to many AR-15 stocks so it will be familiar to most users.

Most of the brace is hard plastic. Notable exceptions include the steel QD socket insert on each side, the flexible rubber arms, and the nylon strap. Overall it looks and feels good. A lot nicer in quality, finish, and feel than a standard mil-spec M4 stock, for instance.

For those who like to brace against their cheek, the SBA3 is awesome. Its shape makes for a fantastic cheek weld.

For those who like to brace a brace against the inside of their arm, the SBA3 works well there, too. Its relatively skinny profile, slightly curved-in sides, and flexible rubber are comfortable and provide good control.

For those who stick an arm through an SB Tactical brace and strap it on, you’ll find the SBA3 is really tight. And the strap is short. Though the rubber arms are flexible enough to properly accommodate my forearm, the strap is far too short to get around and hold the brace on. It only fits on my wrist. Which is great, except I can’t reach the pistol grip like that. (EDIT: SB Tactical reached out to inform us that this was a production mistake and other than a small batch, SBA3s do come with a sufficiently long strap.)

For those who may incidentally brace their pistol brace against their shoulder, the flat-ish rear and the excellent cheek rest make the SBA2 about as good as it gets in pistol brace land.

Out on the range, the SBA3 was awesome. Having that length adjustment is great. Extremely convenient. I was able to collapse it down for transport then quickly move it between positions for bracing inside of my forearm, on my cheek, and on my shoulder.

Well-designed and well-made, the SBA3 fits precisely on the receiver extension and locks securely into each adjustment hole. It’s simple, comfortable, adds QD sockets where I like ’em, and just flat-out works for the ways I prefer to use a pistol stabilizing brace.

This thing is pretty much perfect.

Specifications: SB Tactical SBA3 Pistol Stabilizing Brace

5-position adjustable
Includes 7075 mil-spec carbine receiver extension
Two integrated QD sling sockets
Fits: any firearm that accepts an AR-15 receiver extension
Weight: 6.75 oz
Max Width: 1.8 in
Color: Black or FDE
MSRP: $169.99

Ratings (out of five stars):

Function * * * * *
I’ll primarily brace a brace on my cheek or on my shoulder. In those cases the SBA3 is a full-on, five-star product. Braced inside of the forearm it’s more like a weak four-star performer, and for arm-through-the-brace use, it basically sucks. But I don’t care. For how I use this — and for how most of us use a pistol stabilizing brace — it earns top marks. And it’s length-adjustable!

Quality * * * * *
As plastic and rubber go, the SBA3 brings ’em together in the nicest way. Fit and finish are great. For aesthetic purposes, the only thing I would change would be shaving down the little mold line along the top and bottom.

Aesthetics * * * *
Cool factor is here. This brace gives the shoulder stock look, which gives your pistol the SBR look. Which is another reason many of us add a pistol stabilizing brace in the first place. It balances out the aesthetic of the firearm, and the SBA3 does it in grand fashion.

Overall * * * * *
SB Tactical’s new SBA3 pistol stabilizing brace is quite possibly the best AR-15 style brace on the market. It flawlessly combines form and function in a lightweight package.

comments

  1. avatar D says:

    Now that pistol braces are adjustable, there is absolutely no reason to SBR ever again.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Yup!

      1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

        Until the next Leftist administration unilaterally declares them illegal without the stamp.

        There is a danger to SCOTUS declaring ARs and magazines expressly protected under the 2A, that will motivate them to do whatever they can to make us as miserable as possible…

        1. avatar Serpent_Vision says:

          Good reason for as many people as possible to buy and use these now, so they’ll be in common use (for anyone who defines “common” by numbers, unlike Feinstein) when the Supreme Court reviews the case.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Yes, there is. I got to use this brace extensively recently and if you’re going to use it as a stock, it makes a great stock on light recoiling firearms. I don’t mean it makes a good one I mean it makes a great one.
      But step up past 9mm and start shooting quickly and you’ll see a big advantage in full footprint stocks.

      1. avatar Mr Lizard says:

        Seems like there would be a market for ‘brace accessories’ by a third party vendor. Maybe a detachable buttplate setup

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          That would turn it into a stock. You cannot modify a brace. Especially to add something on the rear that’s obviously for grip against a shoulder. That would be clear re-manufacturing to turn it into a stock. Don’t change a pistol stabilizing brace at all.

      2. avatar D says:

        I respectfully disagree. I have pistol braces on 5.56, 300BLK and a 308 pistol w/12″ barrel. Perfectly happy shouldering the brace.

      3. avatar Charlie says:

        If you need a “full footprint” size stock for shooting 223 then you should rethink about this whole gun as form of defense business.

  2. avatar Jeffrey says:

    Not mentioned – it was not submitted to the ATF in which they could opine their “approval.” Or, if they did (which they clearly didn’t), they won’t release the ATF’s response. Not sure I want to be the first person to find out how legal this is.

    1. avatar Arc says:

      2A says its legal. The question is which jack boot thug wants to be first to try and say its not?

    2. avatar Baldwin says:

      Please…putting a purpose built arm brace on a pistol and then putting said brace on your shoulder is NOT a chargeable crime. You can stop hiding in your room with the blinds closed and lights turned down while you secretly see how your arm brace looks in the mirror while you shoulder it. You (me too) won’t be arrested by lurking ATF agents with absolutely nothing better to do. You won’t be the first one to find out how legal it is. Law abiding citizens want to obey the laws. Even the stupid ones (referring to laws, not citizens). But, will everyone just please stop the insanity about shouldering braces. We have enough stupid crap to deal with regarding firearms infringements without fretting over shouldering braces.

      1. avatar Marc T says:

        Best response possible in regards to the pistol brace controversy. Although, I would’ve used several swear words.

        1. avatar Binder says:

          The honest best thing to do would be to get the SBS and SBRs off the NFA. How about that?

      2. avatar nixgr8 says:

        By that logic you might as well just put a regular shoulder stock on your “pistol”.

        This has nothing to do with shouldering anyways. Google around, there is no letter in existence for the SBA3. For all we know, it is a shoulder stock in the eyes of ATF. 10 years in prison isnt the kind of thing you want to risk assuming things with.

        1. avatar Baldwin says:

          Spilled milk. It ain’t going back into the milk carton. It’s akin to “confiscating” 300+ million firearms. The braces are out there and there is no going back. A “can’t stop the signal” sort of thing. Would I prefer a real shoulder stock? Of course! But, until the stupid goes away…modern day SBR’s wear braces.

      3. avatar maynard says:

        Couldn’t we all get tossed in the clink for 2 handed handgun shooting too?

        Such a weapon would not be a “pistol” because the weapon was not originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile by one hand.

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          These are legally defined as handguns. It’s only a violation of that definition if you add a vertical forward grip to it. That’s the second hand spot. As-is, according to the law, it’s designed for one hand.

    3. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      With apologies to the armchair internet lawyers claiming a letter is needed for every model of pistol stabilizing brace due to aesthetic tweaks, that is not what the ATF or the industry states.

      The ATF already approved pistol stabilizing braces using a flexible material with flaps for your arm and a strap. They also approved that recipe on a brace that adjusts for length. SB Tactical does not have to re-submit for specific approval on varying brace models that still meet this recipe, which the SBA3 does. The ATF has made this clear. SB Tactical is regularly in meetings with the ATF top brass and head counsel and knows more about the legalities and technicalities of this stuff than any other firearms-related company.

      We all have different levels of risk tolerance so if this is outside of yours that’s just fine. We’ve seen the ATF change their mind about a few things in the past so there’s that, too. But as it stands today, they’ve made it abundantly clear that they don’t want to be harassed by people submitting letters for freaking technical branch rulings over and over for things that are functionally identical.

      1. avatar Rob N says:

        “SB Tactical is regularly in meetings with the ATF top brass and head counsel”

        So if this really is the case why dont they just get a letter? If it’s so legal and they’re meeting with the ATF all the time, they wouldn’t get a letter even for the sake of their customers?

        Something doesn’t add up here.

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          That’s just not how this works. These letters from the technical branch aren’t law. The ATF doesn’t make law. This is just asking them how they plan to enforce existing law. Asking them for their *opinion*. The most the letters ever provided was a high-level idea (not a promise, not legal, not law, not binding…near zero protection from them enforcing the law however they dang please whenever they please) of whether or not the ATF was likely to treat these braces as if they were stocks or agree with the manufacturers that they aren’t designed for shouldering. The ATF said yeah, we understand, it’s designed to brace on your arm and that’s the intent and therefore we won’t act like these are stocks. Done. SB Tactical created a telescoping version that was also a lot smaller than the original and sent another letter and said, “it’s cool if it’s length adjustable, right?” and the ATF said “Yeah bruh, you’ve still got the flaps and the strap and the intent is an arm brace so you’re still GTG” and they went. And in many D.C. policy meetings since, the head counsel for the ATF had reaffirmed this. Stick to the formula and we’re good here. Don’t spam us with letters asking if an FDE version and a more sculpted version and a version that’s molded onto rods, etc etc etc are also okay. They’re okay.

          It was thousands of people sending thousands of letters to the ATF Technical Branch asking if they could shoulder their arm braces that caused the ATF to re-think the whole thing and go back on their previous comments. Then SB Tactical and others lobbied like mad men to get them to reverse their opinion back to a favorable one. The ATF has *repeatedly* answered the dang question of what qualifies as an arm brace already, so let’s leave it be this time.

  3. avatar Jack says:

    Tried it. I still think the kak shockwave is the best bang for buck. It feels more solid and it’s significantly cheaper. The qd and the adjustability are nice but I’m not sure it’s worth the cost.

    1. avatar Baldwin says:

      Try the Shockwave 2.0. Adjustable length of pull and a smaller brace overall. Much easier to conceal in a small backpack or sling bag.

      1. avatar Jack says:

        If they’d worked in a qd, I’d make the switch but as it stands, quick adjust isn’t game changer for me.

      2. avatar Biff says:

        I’m going to have to check the Shockwave 2.0 out. I originally had a Shockwave on my pistol before swapping to the SBA3. Mine would come loose on the tube and I had to use thread locker on the set screw. It was comfortable to shoot and solid, I was just never happy with the set screw and dimpled tube since it wasn’t easily collapsed for storage and transport. It also made clearing a hard jam impossible without either breaking or removing the stock, since I can’t see it surviving mortaring the pistol if the bolt won’t open.

    2. avatar Neth says:

      I can’t disagree more. I tolerated the Shockwave for 3-4 months before recently changing to the SBA3. The Shockwave bundle from KAK is ~$90 and includes everything, true. The SBA3 can be found for ~$130 and you still need buffer, spring, end plate, and castle nut … and it is worth EVERY penny worth of difference and then some. The adjustable length is nice, but the comfort and quality is simply superior in every way.

      1. avatar Jack says:

        That’s why we’ve got both. I was excited about the A3 but after using it, I didn’t see the need to swap out my KAKs.

  4. avatar David says:

    Where’s the ATF letter?

    1. avatar arc says:

      Why are you asking the ATF for approval peasant?

      1. avatar yishan says:

        People want to know if this thing is legally considered a shoulder stock or not by ATF… that’s kind of expected when you sell something that you claim is only a “pistol brace”…

  5. avatar Jeremy D. says:

    The strap is too short and it still gets a perfect 5 stars?

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Absolutely. I don’t strap braces to my arm. You don’t either.

      1. avatar nixgr8 says:

        This thing is terrible as a legit arm brace, serves a better use as a freaking tourniquet if you can even manage to get it around your wrist. Couple that with the fact that there isnt an atf letter apparently, really brings the legality into question.

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          You don’t put tourniquets on wrists.

      2. avatar jwtaylor says:

        I don’t, but I have a few friends that are burn victims and amputees that do.
        They actually use these as braces as originally intended, and when adjusted properly, they work really well.

  6. avatar Corey C. says:

    I think you meant “which gives your pistol the SBR look.” Instead of “which gives your rifle the SBR look”. Right? Probably some ATF creeping that caught that too!

  7. avatar Biff says:

    There is only thing about this brace I don’t like. If you collapse the brace quickly to it’s closed position, you can cause the cover plate on the back end to go flying off. It’s possible to miss the last detent and have the back of the receiver extension hit the cover plate and push it loose. It is easy to pop it back on, but a little attention to detail when designing the brace would have made it impossible.

  8. avatar ‘liljoe says:

    How close are we getting to constructive intent? If we put a carbine buffer on a pistol and have a magpul stock sitting around? I think I’ll stick to the older generations and not ponder that.

    1. avatar PRK543 says:

      If you are overly concerned about constructive intent, then just have a spare complete upper on hand. You can convert pistols to rifles and back with out legal issue. Then you can even have a spare stock lying around with out legal comcern. Just don’t put the rifle stock on the gun with the pistol upper attached.

  9. avatar Starfreak74 says:

    I believe when this was first announced it was said that it could be put on a SBR and make it a pistol. Therefore, allowing it to cross state lines. Now I know once a SBR always a rifle but that’s what I remember reading somewhere.

  10. avatar Mike says:

    What is stopping the ATF/Government getting rid if minimum length of barrel for rifle or shotguns?
    Or reducing rifle lengths to 7inch minimum.

    1. avatar Salty Bear says:

      There is nothing stopping Trump from telling the ATF to stop enforcing unconstitutional laws. He’s just a lying coward.

      Keep voting Republican though. Don’t waste your vote on someone who believes in real freedom.

  11. avatar Mike says:

    I have one a 7 I/2 5.56 pistol. I like it

  12. avatar Texheim says:

    I paid $129 for mine and the guy installed it for me at no cost.

  13. avatar RL says:

    SBA3 all the things!

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email