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Nick tests out the latest pistol brace, courtesy David Crane at Defense Review

The National Firearms Act is one of the worst pieces of legislation in the history of the world ever. And I don’t just mean that in terms of infringing on our Second Amendment rights, I mean that grammatically as well. The law is as clear as mud, sometimes when it comes to relatively straightforward questions. Once again we seem to have run headlong into an issue that the NFA doesn’t clearly spell out. In this case, the ATF appears to have told someone that using the pistol brace “improperly” makes it an SBR. And while that is 100 percent true for that person, the ATF isn’t “reversing their decision.” The letter makes perfect sense, and it’s fully consistent with past communications. Here’s why . . .

I have had the benefit of spending some time with legal counsel, experts in this matter, as well as a Cuban Missile Crisis style conversation that…didn’t…happen with an ATF agent in the last few hours. As a result, things have been clearing up for me. The difference here, and why Alex Bosco’s letter doesn’t jibe with this latest one, is intent.

When Alex originally submitted his letter asking for approval of the pistol brace, he intended it to be used as just that: a brace for attaching AR-style pistols to an arm. The device is intended to allow someone to fire an AR pistol with one hand, a definition that is just peachy keen and in no way falls under the National Firearms Act. The important thing to remember here is that intent matters — Alex intended to make a brace specifically designed to allow people to fire a pistol with one hand.

Under the National Firearms Act (NFA), 27 C.F.R. § 479.11, “pistol” is defined as:

… a weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile (bullet) from one or more barrels when held in one hand, and having (a) a chamber(s) as an integral part(s) of, or permanently aligned with, the bore(s); and (b) a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand and at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore(s).

Intent plays a huge part in that definition, too, which is the problem — both for us and the ATF. The NFA talks about design details in this definition, but the biggest part of that statement is about intent. Since there is no way to factually determine intent in most cases, they default to a generally permissive status. If you say you intend to make a pistol, we believe you. Which is what they said in their next letter.

A little later, a letter came out from a police officer asking what they should do if they see someone using the pistol brace in a manner other than the way it was intended — if a firearm that is designed and intended to be used with one hand changes classification when used improperly. The answer was from the ATF was no, since the firearm was intended to be used as a pistol it is indeed a pistol no matter how the end user actually uses it. The same goes for individual manufacturers (those building an AR in their basement from parts). If they intend to build a pistol then a pistol they have built.

The issue apparently with this most recent letter is that the person writing it didn’t understand this nuanced point of law and basically outed himself to the ATF. It appears that he tipped his hand, telling them what he really wanted was a short barreled rifle, and was intending to build the firearm for that purpose.

Since he would be the manufacturer of that firearm, it would be what he intended it to be. In this case, a short barreled rifle. The issue is that the ATF’s tech branch aren’t exactly wordsmiths, and they produced a letter that contained all of the relevant facts and responses, but wasn’t exactly reader friendly. The following is a paraphrased version of the letter that might make a little more sense to the lay person, and including the previous letters’ rulings:

You asked if building an AR pistol with a SB-15 brace required a Form 1 as a Short Barreled Rifle. If you build the pistol as described and intend to use it as a pistol, then it does not require a From 1 and is just a pistol. If you intend to build a pistol and it is improperly used from time to time, that’s OK. If you intend to build the firearm to be a Short Barreled Rifle and use the pistol brace as a stock, then you intend to build an SBR and that requires a Form 1 and a tax stamp. If you intend to build a small gun designed to be fired from the shoulder, that is an SBR no matter what parts you use.

Robert’s article said that the ATF has “reversed” itself, and that’s not really true. This latest ruling is 100% consistent and in-line with everything else that has come before it. The entire reason we have the pistol brace and can use it in the manner to which we are accustomed is this idea of intent, and so long as the intent is to build a pistol when installing the brace there is no problem.

The moral of the story, once again, is that intent matters when “manufacturing” your firearm (which, in NFA speak, means assembling or altering the gun ). If you intend to make a SB-15-based pistol as a pistol, you are in the clear. But if you telegraph your intention to make an SBR by informing the ATF in writing that you plan to build it and not file any paperwork, expect the ATF to object no matter what parts you use.

In short, this guy basically sent a love note to the ATF letting them know that he was about to build an unregistered SBR. As long as you intend to make a pistol and don’t go sending superfluous letters, you should be just fine.

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  1. Now that 1,000’s of the things have been sold, largely because of the ATF’s originally ruling that there is no wrong way to legally use the brace, it’s really too late for the ATF to change their tune. The horse has left the barn and jumped the fence. Closing the barn door is a useless gesture.

    • That’s absolutely untrue. The federal government banned alcohol in the past when it was perfectly legal and sold to millions of people before that time. In more recent times and on guns, Canada has shown the gun owners up there that it doesn’t matter if it used to be legal, when the government says it is now illegal you have to give it up or go to jail. You think that couldn’t happen in the US?

      • Yeah, they banned booze but then realized no one was following the stupid law and it gave birth to a the mob, they changed their mind but by then it was too late.

      • Hey Dev,
        Alcohol was banned and then re-legalized by Constitutional Amendment meaning that the states and by extension, the people banned and then re-legalized it. It wasn’t a unilateral action of the Feds. Any of the edicts passed by agencies like ATF can be overturned by Congress or the courts. Different animal than Prohibition.

        • True, but the actual legislation effectuating prohbition was the Volstead act. The amendment itself does not defeining intoxicating liquor. Indeed, do you call beer and wine liquor? I don’t. Liquor generally means spirits. And many people believed that regular beer, and at least unfortified wine would still be allowed. The Volstead Act went a lot further than what was sold to the American people.

          Despite of that, the law was largely a success in what it intended. Drinking did go down, a lot. And never regained its former measure (though by the 1970’s it came close). Deathes and problems from drinking also went down significantly. The execerbation of organized crime, etc. is sometimes exagerrated. The real reason prohibition was repealed was

          1. Loss of tax revenues. Before the 18th amendment, taxes on alcohol amounted to some 40% of federal revenue

          2. The majority support were not tee totalers. They were people and groups that thought the abuse of drink was very bad, but of course THEIR use of it was fine. Hence ban the hard stuff, not my beer though.

          3. The repeal passes via state ratifying conventions, rather than legislatures where it wouldhave been harder. Remember the last state to cease prohibition was actually in the late 1960’s, and that same state didn’t allow home brewing until the last couple of years! (Mississippi)

        • Parnell, but that’s the bad thing about the ATF. They make a “ruling” about the current gun laws that makes people instant criminals- and it takes a court or congress to overturn.

          The Akins Accelerator, for example, was one such ruling…obviously the ATF is all about “intent”. But that intent can go both ways…

          Own an AR pistol Upper wih no pistol lower and you place it next to your rifle lower in your safe? You were going to do something with that, weren’t you?!

          The ATF is one animal that has way too much power and minimal oversight over what it rules illegal/legal.

      • No CONGRESS and the STATES amended the CONSTITUTION. Some guy sitting in his office did not just write a letter…. get the difference?

    • If you want to stay out of jail, and you’re building one of these, remember you intend to make a pistol. (wink wink)

    • You can’t ban things that thousands of people legally own? I wish someone would have let Andrew Cuomo know about that…

      • Cigarettes come to mind. Legally owned, but fewer and fewer places where the product may be used. Not a ban, but a prohibition of use. Wonder where that’s going to end..?

      • Ok guys calm down… it seems the ATF is trying very hard to trick everyone into thinking it is against the law to fire a Pistol while holding it against your shoulder. They are using a lot of meaningless legalese to further the confusion, but in reality nothing has changed. The key passage in the statement you linked is still this; “Any person who intends to use a handgun stabilizing brace as a shoulder stock on a pistol (having a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a smooth bore firearm with a barrel under 18 inches in length) must first file an ATF Form 1 and pay the applicable tax because the resulting firearm will be subject to all provisions of the NFA.” The only thing that matters is one word in the entire letter “INTENDS” As long as you make it clear that you INTEND to build a pistol you are fine, and using a pistol in a novel way does not change its classification. It will only be an SBR if when you built it you INTENDED to fire it from the shoulder. So if you build one and a judge asks you what you were intending when you built it, what do you think you should say?

        • I disagree respectfully. If you read the entire open letter, you will find a second word equally important as “intent”, namely “design”. Here is the relevant passage:

          The pistol stabilizing brace was neither “designed” nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock,
          and therefore use as a shoulder stock constitutes a “redesign” of the device because a possessor
          has changed the very function of the item. Any individual letters stating otherwise are contrary
          to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal law, and are hereby revoked.
          Any person who intends to use a handgun stabilizing brace as a shoulder stock on a pistol
          (having a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a smooth bore firearm with a barrel under 18
          inches in length) must first file an ATF Form 1 and pay the applicable tax because the resulting
          firearm will be subject to all provisions of the NFA.

          With this opinion letter superseding previous letters, I will refrain from using a SIG brace until further notice.

          • By my reading of the letter, as long as you use it as a brace and not as a shoulder stock you will be fine. Nothing in the letter says the brace is illegal or makes the fun it’s attached to an NFA item, unless you intend to use it as a stock.

        • No you can still “miss use it” against your shoulder. Legal language is a funny thing, words and phrase have meaning, its not like common people use language. What matters is the “INTENT” when you made the build of the firearm, if you intended to build a pistol then its a pistol. If you read the orginal letter to the ATF it is not clear what the builders intent was, so the AFT told him yada, yada, yada… Really just a long winded response that said nothing more than the first letter the ATF put out saying it was legal. Let me put it this way: Lets say you build a device out of wood with four legs and a bench on both sides, and you call this device a “picnic table”. Then a month after you build it a hurricane is coming and you need to board up a large window, so you take the table and turn it on end and nail it over the window. That device you built is not a “window shudder” it is a table being used in an un-“INTENDED” manner. The use of an object does not change the definition of the object. If I use my cell phone to scrape frost off of my car windows, my phone is still just a phone being used in an un-“INTENDED” manner. So if you build a pistol, and then later you use it in an un-“INTENDED” manner you are still OK. Unless the brace is made illegal or congress passes a new law this is simply unenforceable… there is no possible way to determine someones intent unless that person states it someway.

          The only thing you need to know is that Sig is still selling them. the best ting for people to do is buy a bunch of them and build lots of pistols. The horse is already out of the barn.

  2. I hope they don’t ban it…. I’m planning on (eventually) building a project gun using one of those…

    • You still don’t get it. How are they going to ban it? The only way to do that is to go to the manufacturer and tell them that their brace is now a stock…and that would never hold in a court of law…in that the ATF can’t determine intent…unless one were to clearly state that intent.

      • Then how have they determined that a barrel under 18″ makes you a mobster and a device that quiets your gun makes you an assassin?

        • Because the US Congress passed a bill saying those things were illegal and the President signed it into law.

      • Well they honestly can’t ban the use of a brace like that, at least practically speaking. However I imagine that they’ll probably end up just banning out right, eventually. That’s assuming we don’t have any good court cases that damage the ATF’s ability to just arbitrarily ban things like this.

  3. Who cares? The ATF knows the first time this goes to court with publicity the NFA is done for. These opinion letters with the weight of law are bs.

    • Keep dreaming. Maybe they raise the tax stamp, but I doubt that any Pro-Gun laws are going to be made Federally anytime soon.

      • Well never say never my friend. Not to long ago we said we’d never see CCW in IL or DC. Not to mention we’re seeing other restrictions come apart in the courts across the nation. Hell I personally thing the recent unanimous decision in the 6th court is a way bigger ruling for us than people are recognizing as it makes it harder for the feds to just rule against rights. This may even eventually start to pull apart the ATFs strangle hold on regulating more exotic weapons.

      • The last midterms were the largest conservative victory in a long time. Maybe the NFA won’t be repealed but there is certainly an opportunity for the restoration of rights.

      • He didn’t say laws, he said court.
        The guidelines from the supreme court victories of the last several years prohibit the banning of anything in common use. It’s entirely possible a judge might decide a 16″ AR-15 and a 15″ AR-15 are the same thing, and the NFA restriction on them is therefore unconstitutional. The restriction on suppressors could go away as well, since those things are everywhere now.

      • Yeah any major publicity given to the NFA is likely to cause people to realize that $200 isn’t as financially prohibitive as it was decades ago, I don’t see how that can turn out well for us.

        • $200 was decided by Congress, no? Try getting an increase through this next congress, they may be treacherous as usual, but they know which side their bread is buttered on.

  4. if you are a disabled person who requires the brace to shoot your AR pistol you are ok.

    If you are a non-disabled person who enjoys the brace while shooting your AR pistol you are ok.

    If you are one of the galactically stupid Tier 1 operator wannabes that bought the brace for the clear purpose and intent (as stated in all of the YouTube videos) of building and/or possessing a SBR without filing a Form 1 and paying the tax, you are fucked. And you deserve it.

    • Why do we deserve it?
      I have a 300 BLK AR-15 pistol with an 8-inch barrel. AAC designed the round with a short barrel in mind, so it doesn’t get much benefit out of those extra eight NFA-compliant inches. When I put my suppressor on the end of it, it’s about as heavy as a typical AR. When I put the suppressor on my 16-inch barreled AR-15, it’s cumbersome and bulky.
      Up until Summer 2014, possession of an SBR, without a SOT FFL, was a felony in Washington. So those of us who wanted short barrel AR-15s, had to go the pistol route to avoid uncomfortable legal issues.

      There are people in states where SBRs are still illegal. There are people who don’t want to have to deal with the hassle of a trust and the NFA registry. There are people who consider $200 for a tax stamp (plus $100 for the trust) a significant cost. Do they have less of a right to own firearms than you and I?

      It’s a stupid law and the only people who deserve any sort of suffering from this situation are the ones who enforce the NFA or prevent its much needed repeal.

      My Form-1 to convert my pistol into an SBR is in process. Until then, I expect my SB-15 brace will “slip” off my forearm and land against my shoulder every time I go shoot it.

      • I think Todd meant that if you want to build a SBR out of legal pistol parts don’t go broadcasting that information to the world.

      • Jason,

        Sorry bud you unfortunately right in this letter clearly stated your “intent”: “So those of us who wanted short barrel AR-15s, had to go the pistol route to avoid uncomfortable legal issues.” Congratulations you have just publicly pleaded guilty to a felony. You just told the ATF that you built a SBR using a brace with the INTENTION of breaking the law. Do yourself a favor close this email account and claim you were hacked… it probably wont hold up in court, but its your best shot.

        • Haha. “With all due respect” is right up there with ” I support …. But”. If someone combines the two you can be assured that they not only don’t support …. They also have a seen disrespect for you and probably your mother too.

  5. So, you keep using the word “intent”.

    And you are telling people that if they want to use the sig brace to make an SBR, it’s cool, as long as they claim their original intent was to use it as a pistol.

    What bothers me about it, is that it is skirting the law. By the logic of intent, one could say “Well, I originally wanted an over/under for bird hunting, but then decided to use it for clearing my home of invaders, so I chopped the barrel down to 12 inches.” And be totally correct in their actions, due to original intent. Except for that whole thing about not doing exactly that, because it is manufacturing a short barreled shotgun without a tax stamp… I simply do not see how using a pistol brace as a stock is any different.

    Now, I think the NFA is stupid, arbitrary, and ultimately useless as it only hinders those who obey the law. I just feel that the best way to deal with unjust laws, is to work within the law to change it. Not to build products that are “Totally not a stock, really.” or “So not a baffle stack, simply a 10 inch long, completely useless muzzle brake.”

    After all, aren’t we sick of the antis taking our constitution and “using it wrong”?

    • I don’t see how “using a pistol brace as a stock is any different”

      It IS different for two reasons; 1. no modifications were made to the firearm or components in order to shoulder the pistol brace. 2. The AFT states that original intent matters.

    • It’s actually worse than that. If push comes to shove, you won’t be proving said intent to the ATF. You will be proving it to the judge. And judges are notoriously not amused by such mental gymnastics. They are not telepaths, nor does the law expect them to be, so they’ll decide what your intent was based on the facts of the case (e.g. how you and other people are actually using them), as opposed to what your telling of what the intent was.

      So no, it doesn’t make anything clearer or better. Quite the opposite, it means that SB-15 is a minefield for any legal owner.

      • You Still don’t get it either and there is no legal mine field. And legally speaking a judge cannot rule intent in a negative manner. There is something called the rule of lenity in common jurisprudence. The Rule of Lenity: in construing an ambiguous criminal statute, a court should resolve the ambiguity in favor of the defendant. It’s one thing if you don’t want to buy the brace…but don’t go stating things that aren’t true…ie the brace is a minefield. The opinion letters are absolutely clear….and if you buy a brace without stating your intent you are clear to use it as you please.

        • There’s nothing ambiguous in the law about intent, so why would rule of leniency be applicable here? Just don’t expect the judge to rule whether you had intent based solely on your word for it.

          The opinion letters are completely irrelevant once it comes to the court, as well. They’re ATF’s interpretation of the law – i.e. how they think they should enforce it. But they’re not the final arbiters of what the law says – the court is. And courts have ruled contrary to long-standing ATF opinions before.

      • Bingo. Since you can’t open a defendant’s brain to see what the intent was, and any claim of the intent after the fact would be self-serving (at best), courts look at a defendant’s actions (in the broadest possible sense) to see what that intent may have been.

        • So, if I build a pistol, use it as a pistol (with no SigBrace), have pictures of that, and later add a SigBrace and use it as designed (forearm through the tunnel) with pictures, and I have witnesses who saw my use as such, but then, one time, to see what all the hub-bub is about, I shoulder it and the ATF drone happens to snap my picture that 1 time, when I go to Court, and the Judge weighs my testimony, my witnesses testimony, my prior photos and the ATF photo, how does he rule?

          • We don’t know.

            (Also note that it may involve a jury trial, in which case the question will be how the jury will rule. Though it would still be the judge explaining them what intent is and how to determine whether it was there.)

            Any volunteers to be the test case?

        • The rule of lenity says just that. A judge would have to rule in your favor…that’s the point. He cannot determine your Mens Rea in ambiguous laws and rulings. That’s why you don’t go asking if you really need to fill out a form 1. Because if you do, you’re basically telling the ATF that your intent is to build an sbr.

    • Ahhhhh NO… you just said you “so I chopped the barrel down to 12 inches”. You just redesigned the gun and made it a short barreled shotgun. that has nothing to do with the intent portion of your argument. You said you bought a double barrel shotgun and intended to use it for hunting, then you decided to use it for home defense. Ok everything is legal so far, you INTENDED one thing and did another… fine and dandy. But then you somehow swerve off and start modifying the gun. That analogy has nothing to do with the INTENT portion of your argument. No the same at all.

    • ATF Firearms: Open Letter on the Redesign of “Stabilizing Braces”

      The Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has received inquiries from the public concerning the proper use of devices recently marketed as “stabilizing braces.” These devices are described as “a shooter’s aid that is designed to improve the single-handed shooting performance of buffer tube equipped pistols.” The device claims to enhance accuracy and reduce felt recoil when using an AR-style pistol.

      These items are intended to improve accuracy by using the operator’s forearm to provide stable support for the AR-type pistol. ATF has previously determined that attaching the brace to a firearm does not alter the classification of the firearm or subject the firearm to National Firearms Act (NFA) control. However, this classification is based upon the use of the device as designed. When the device is redesigned for use as a shoulder stock on a handgun with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length, the firearm is properly classified as a firearm under the NFA.

      The NFA, 26 USCS § 5845, defines “firearm,” in relevant part, as “a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length” and “a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length.” That section defines both “rifle” and “shotgun” as “a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder….” (Emphasis added).

      Pursuant to the plain language of the statute, ATF and its predecessor agency have long held that a pistol with a barrel less than 16 inches in length and an attached shoulder stock is a NFA “firearm.” For example, inRevenue Ruling 61-45, Luger and Mauser pistols “having a barrel of less than 16 inches in length with an attachable shoulder stock affixed” were each classified as a “short barrel rifle…within the purview of the National Firearms Act.”

      In classifying the originally submitted design, ATF considered the objective design of the item as well as the stated purpose of the item. In submitting this device for classification, the designer noted that

      The intent of the buffer tube forearm brace is to facilitate one handed firing of the AR15 pistol for those with limited strength or mobility due to a handicap. It also performs the function of sufficiently padding the buffer tube in order to reduce bruising to the forearm while firing with one hand. Sliding and securing the brace onto ones forearm and latching the Velcro straps, distributes the weight of the weapon evenly and assures a snug fit. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to dangerously “muscle” this large pistol during the one handed aiming process, and recoil is dispersed significantly, resulting in more accurate shooting without compromising safety or comfort.
      In the classification letter of November 26, 2012, ATF noted that a “shooter would insert his or her forearm into the device while gripping the pistol’s handgrip-then tighten the Velcro straps for additional support and retention. Thus configured, the device provides the shooter with additional support of a firearm while it is still held and operated with one hand.” When strapped to the wrist and used as designed, it is clear the device does not allow the firearm to be fired from the shoulder. Therefore, ATF concluded that, pursuant to the information provided, “the device is not designed or intended to fire a weapon from the shoulder.” In making the classification ATF determined that the objective design characteristics of the stabilizing brace supported the stated intent.

      ATF hereby confirms that if used as designed—to assist shooters in stabilizing a handgun while shooting with a single hand—the device is not considered a shoulder stock and therefore may be attached to a handgun without making a NFA firearm. However, ATF has received numerous inquiries regarding alternate uses for this device, including use as a shoulder stock. Because the NFA defines both rifle and shotgun to include any “weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder,” any person who redesigns a stabilizing brace for use as a shoulder stock makes a NFA firearm when attached to a pistol with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a handgun with a smooth bore under 18 inches in length.

      The GCA does not define the term “redesign” and therefore ATF applies the common meaning. “Redesign” is defined as “to alter the appearance or function of.” See e.g. Webster’s II New College Dictionary, Third Ed. (2005). This is not a novel interpretation. For example ATF has previously advised that an individual possesses a destructive device when possessing anti-personnel ammunition with an otherwise unregulated 37/38mm flare launcher. See ATF Ruling 95-3. Further, ATF has advised that even use of an unregulated flare and flare launcher as a weapon results in the making of a NFA weapon. Similarly, ATF has advised that, although otherwise unregulated, the use of certain nail guns as weapons may result in classification as an “any other weapon.”

      The pistol stabilizing brace was neither “designed” nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock, and therefore use as a shoulder stock constitutes a “redesign” of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item. Any individual letters stating otherwise are contrary to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal law, and are hereby revoked.

      Any person who intends to use a handgun stabilizing brace as a shoulder stock on a pistol (having a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a smooth bore firearm with a barrel under 18 inches in length) must first file an ATF Form 1 and pay the applicable tax because the resulting firearm will be subject to all provisions of the NFA.

      If you have any questions about the issues addressed in this letter, you may contact the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division at [email protected] or by phone at (304) 616-4300.

      Max M. Kingery
      Acting Chief
      Firearms Technology Criminal Branch
      Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division

      *This letter can also be found on under the “News” tab.

  6. Toe-may-toe

    In the immortal words of El Presidente Bill Clinton, “it depends on what the definition of “is” is”.

    I just hope this “clarified intent” (like clarified butter), is passed down to all Fed, Local, and State LEO’s,
    as encounters at ranges, and other shooting areas might include an over anxious Officer Safety who didint get the memo, and makes an otherwise legal owner facing Federal time.

    Thanks ATF.
    Where’s the chips?

    • I spoke to the NFA rep at SHOT last year about this question. He said the since the lower was never registered as either a pistol nor a rifle, it can be either. When a manufacture makes an AR lower it must be entered into the books and registered as a rifle or a pistol. Not so with 80%

      • Well you CAN make your own AR lower… if you have the tools and skill. Kind of wonder how that’s supposed to work in that case.

      • Not true.
        An AR lower is “receiver”. At least that’s what every 4473 I’ve ever filled out for a stripped lower has said.

      • OK. But I built my pistol on an 80%. I put a set of unique identifiers – including name of manufacturer, a logo, where made, model, cal, sn and the word “Pistol”. How is a firearm with those markings and a <<16" bbl and a Sig Brace viewed?

        • “Caliber” on a lower? Does that make using my .300 lower (registered SBR) with one of my several 5.56 uppers (16+”), or a 6.8, should I choose to purchase one, somehow illegal or something? What if I use my 9″ .300 upper with somebody else’s pistol lower? Honestly, all this is so stupid it makes my brain ache.

        • A firearm must be marked with a caliber.
          “Multi” is acceptable.
          In CA, only centerfire semiautos need the “bullet button”. So, marking the lower with “Cal.: .22LR” allows one to skip this part and run a standard mag release.
          Of course, it’s a good idea for the rig to be, in fact, a .22LR gun….

  7. Many years ago when I was an enforcer of stupid laws, I would tell people that folks go to jail on the difference between NADA and NADA MUCHO. So let’s get it right. Laws are composed of words. Words in sentences. Sentences is great big bunches. They have little to do with what is right or wrong.

    I would really really really like to see a push for a re-codification of the Federal gun laws. The mess we have now has ruined too many lives.

    • And that is the point of all laws not based on the common or natural law (or rather one of a few points, all negative). To ruin lives, make the population afraid of government in order to easily control them or to generate revenue. Most, if not all courts in most western countries, all (who just happen to have a private central bank) have totally abandoned the common law & are upholding maritime/commercial law.

  8. Nick addressed the issue without coming right out and calling someone a dumbass, but he clearly drove home the fact that if you’re eat up with dumbass to the extent where you write a letter to ATF confessing that your AR build was never intended to be utilized as a pistol and instead you’re fishing for the blessing of ATF (that aint gonna happen) to use a Sig Brace on an AR build that you intended to be a short barrel rifle with no NFA tax stamp, then your dumbass has provided specific documentation that applies to you alone as to the intent when shoulder firing your AR build.

  9. Intent, so sayeth the ATF.

    Ok, cool.

    I intend to intemperate the 2A as it was written.

    Wow! Cool!

    Glad we cleared that up!

  10. Kinda makes me want to buy one of them Sig Braces’, just for the hell of it,,,,even though I don’t own an AR or plan to..

      • You could probably build one with a two piece buffer tube similar to the mechanism on the top of a retractable ballpoint pen. As the gun recoils the outer tube would slide against the inner tube producing a bump fire. Attach the Sig brace to the outer tube and voila. Used as intended with the added benefit of a happy switch.

    • So that “Bumpfire Brace” intended market is for people whose off-hand arm is disabled in its ability to help hold the gun but enabled enough to push forward. Sounds good to me.

      • Exactly…and here we are discussing weather or not ATF is going to ban a device specifically made to assist in shooting a pistol the way it was designed. Don’t get me wrong…I love my slidefire…but don’t tell me a rifle was designed to shoot that way. If ATF were ever to ban anything it would be the slidefire. Also important: if the ATF actually changes their ruling and says that they can determine how people shoot (because this is what this ruling means to those who read it incorrectly) then they can also decide that bump firing a rifle makes it a machine gun.

      • Not when intent is the sole factor. It is not possession or assembly of an AR with a w/arm brace that is illegal, dangerous, or in any way bad. It’s only when you do it with the intent to circumvent the law. I struggle to think of any other act where the law as applied as such. In this case it is explicitly the thought, the idea, when coupled with the action, that is illegal. It seems impossible to prosecute as well.

        This is way different from having to shoot someone vs criminally shooting someone.

        • Again…and always…this is only how some people are interpreting this latest opinion letter written and valid only for Anthony Crawford. The rule of law and legal interpretations of said law are done by a judge in a court of law. As an FYI for those that don’t know; the ruling that a VFG makes a pistol an AOW did not hold up in a recent court ruling.

  11. That sorta makes sense. I’m pretty sure taking the stock off of your rifle doesn’t change it into an AOW, so in the same manner if you ‘intend’ to build an SBR and just happen to put an arm brace on it, it’s not a pistol.

    It would make sense to me to have your serialized pistol lowers engraved ‘AR15 Pistol’ or something to that extent that way you can prove that the weapon was not intended to be an SBR.

    • Sorry, but that crap has been stupid since day one. One lower is precisely the same as another, except for engraved letters on the exterior. I own both, but can only assemble one with this upper, and the other with this other upper. If I switch them, deliberately or otherwise, one of the resulting firearms makes me a felon, the other not so much? Mix a registered SBR lower into the mix and it gets WORSE? WTF FOR? Absolutely idiotic, not “sorta makes sense”.

  12. So basically do not post or say anything at anytime or anywhere that you intent to make a poor man’s SBR with the Sig brace. Got it!

  13. I get what the ATF is saying.
    Here’s my issue. If I own a AR configured as a pistol with an arm brace, built by the manufacturer to function as a pistol, I’m fine, even if I shoulder it like a rifle. In this case it’s the manufacturer’s “intent” that matters.
    If I own this new fangled pistol stabilizing blade deal and I shoulder it, I’m in trouble because my intent at the time of use is to use it as a stock.
    If I own a threaded .22 barrel, oil filter, and compadible adapter, even if I never use them as a suppressor but to drain excess solvent and such, I’m in trouble because I might use them in an impermissible way, even if the manufacturers of the products and I have no intent to use the components in the prohibited manner. So it doesn’t matter what my intent or the intent of the manufacturer is.

    To me, these three examples highlight huge inconsistencies. This sort of situation is exactly why I don’t want to get into the AR and AK pistol game, let alone the suppressor market.

    • The adapter is the problem. Invent a car part that is the same threaded dimmensions as a 22 barrel and needs a filter and you would have a legal “intent” for that adapter. Then everything is all good.

    • So suppose I am a raging gun-owning environmentalist that is concerned about the release of firearm gases that may contain lead residue. If my clear intent is to help the environment then I don’t understand the reason why someone cant invent a screw on adapter that traps some of the lead particulates. True it may not capture all lead particulates but it’s a start towards a cleaner environment!

      In the end though is anybody surprised that monstrous inconsistency is the order of the day for a leviathan government?

      • Thanks, that was my point.
        I get the logic in all three of the examples I gave. The issue for me isn’t why the government likes some things and doesn’t like others. Everybody knows it doesn’t make sense, that’s the nature of the beast. . The issue for me is that the ATF seems to pick and choose who’s intent they consider. Some times it’s the manufacturer, some times it’s the end user, and some times it’s none f the above. As someone who tries to obey the law, even the ones I don’t agree with, I find that standard intimidating as all hell.

  14. asking what they should do if they see someone using the pistol brace in a manner other than the way it was intended

    “Go fight crime rather than fishing for one more BS change with which to abuse the public”. That is a useless cop.

  15. Heh, intent. Anyone who has any faith or trust in these letters of the ATF or the DOJ and their jack boot prosecutors is a fool.

    Just ask David Olofson about “intent”. Intent is whatever they want it to be and whatever they can convince a judge of or a jury who’s been brainwashed to hate guns.

  16. Whew! I’m glad you explained this! Otherwise I would have thought the ATF was another govt agency making things up as they go along. Oh, wait…

  17. As a disabled shooter, the SIG brace would not help me. Holding a 5lb “pistol” out at arms length – necessary to use the sights – will cause me much pain and having it strapped to my arm will not help at all.

    A bigger benefit would be to shoulder a 5lb rifle, though such a rifle is unobtainium because of the 16″ barrel rule.

    If the ATF really wants to help Americans with disabilities, then they need to scrap the stupid SBR ruling. …Besides, a longer barrel makes a rifle more deadly than a shorter one. Concealability is a moot point, because handguns are X times more concealable than rifles with shorter barrels.

    • The problem is… The ATF doesn’t want to help anyone.

      They’re bureaucrats. They live to deny people fun.

      • They’re bureaucrats. They live to deny people fun.

        More like ……. their unwritten primary job is to perpetuate their jobs.

    • There are different kinds of disabilities. Think of someone in a wheelchair, they could stow it and fire it from a seated position pretty well with the brace. A full size rifle is not practical under those circumstances. A smaller handgun will be the better option for self defense, sure, but the brace is a novel concept for people with a range of limitations.

  18. I had been doing some reading on a forum. And thought of I purchased some stripped lowers when I picked them up at the ffl a as long as I said they were for pistols on the paperwork I would be good. I have only seen a FEW lowers marked pistol.

    • Well depending on what state you live in, if you are just doing a 4473 transfer with no other state paperwork you don’t need to establish intent.

      When the dealer does the NICS check there are only three options which are long gun (rifles and shotguns), handgun, and other. Receivers fall under other. Therefore it does not matter what you do with them once you get them as long as you follow federal, state, and local laws on legal configuration.

      • Almost 100% correct. Once that person buys their “other” lower receiver they become the manufacturer of that weapon and the ATF has been clear as to what happens from here. If it’s made with a stock first, then you’ve created rifle and you can never go back to a pistol configuration. If you place a pistol buffer tube or brace first then you’ve made a pistol and can go back and forth so long as you don’t place the short barrel on the pistol at the same moment that you have a stock on the gun. But you see…its and honor system of sorts, so if you have a brace on the gun and you had originally made a rifle nobody will ever know and the ATF would be non the wiser. They also can’t accuse you unless without hard core written documentation. Something called the “rule of lenity” always goes in your favor.

    • As far as I know a stripped lower will have been either a rifle or pistol at some point. If the lower you bought was from a rifle you can not put a barrel shorter than 16″ without. A stamp regardless of your intent. It is and always will be a rifle.

      • Exactly as I have read it, except the opposite is magically not true. If you first assemble it as a pistol, you can thereafter assemble it as a rifle, back to a pistol, back and forth as many times and as often as you wish. See how much sense that makes? The manufacturers should have a pistol brace in the middle of the assembly line, to install on every lower as it goes through, so that EVERY lower can be used as either, switched at will, etc. Except that might be “interpreted” to show improper intent, or inadequate fear, either of which is, of course, punishable by some silly law.

    • There are people here who know the law pretty well. One of the challenges with some government agencies – such as the ATF – is that they make up rules and interpretations as they go. Courts change and interpret things in a pretty weird manner. Heck, we have a POTUS doing all sorts of things that are clearly unconstitutional. One can understand the law quite well and still run afoul of bureaucrats. Ares Armor is a great example.

      Few people outside of these pages understand the importance of less laws, less bureaucracy, and less government a the recipe for more freedom.

    • Mind reading has nothing to do with it. Putting aside the idiocy of the laws to begin with this IS a good thing for us. Unless you admit openly to your intent you are all but immune to prosecution.

  19. “I just hope this “clarified intent” (like clarified butter), is passed down to all Fed, Local, and
    State LEO’s, as encounters at ranges, and other shooting areas might include an over anxious
    Officer Safety who didint get the memo, and
    makes an otherwise legal owner facing Federal

    Range masters at my range are smart enough
    not to commit that error in judgement…..

  20. I don’t know Nick, what’s going to stand up in court, your paraphrased words or the ATFs words: “if this device [the SIG SB-15 brace ], unmodified or modified [italics theirs], is assembled to a pistol and used as a shoulder stock, thus designing or redesigning or making or remaking, of a weapon designed to be fired from the shoulder this assembly would constitute the making of a ‘rifle’ as defined in 18 U.S.C. Section 921”
    Them words are pretty clear to me. Sounds like a reversal.

    • They are clear, the problem is you aren’t reading them correctly. The only reason that he has made or remade anything is that the writer of the letter is considered a manufacturer of firearms by the ATF. He’s also stated that his intent is to make a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches. He states this intent the moment he asked the ATF if he really needed to fill out a form 1. The ATF is telling this person that if you’re intent is to circumvent the form 1, then you are making an unregistered sbr. The previous letter to the Colorado police office clearly states that the ATF and police cannot dictate how you use your pistol.

  21. This is interesting. What if you built your own braced pistol and then proceeded to shoot someone with it while shouldering it? Assuming it was deemed a bad shoot, would you need to produce evidence you had previously fired it with one hand?

    Basically what I’m asking is if these pistols are a potential liability if used for self defense? It seems pretty Kafkaesque, intent is one of those things they will have a jury deliberate on. Bottom line is that if they allow the thing to be sold they must allow it to be used.

    • Getting a little off track, Fug. Unless you are manufacturing, no need to stress. Design intent is the fundamental basis for their “logic”. Without that, things like firing a handgun with two hands, a rifle with one hand, bump-firing, etc – all become in question and the whole NFA universe flips on it’s head and becomes completely ungovernable. If you buy a pistol with a brace, your intent is to use it as such, as was the intent of the design. If you so happen to use it in a way it wasn’t designed for, it does not then change the classification of the item, just as shooting a pistol with two hands – which by definition is designed to be shot with one hand – does not then turn it into a rifle (that you just has loaded and concealed on your person). Or bump-firing a rifle does not turn it into a full-auto. Or firing a rifle with one hand does not turn it into a handgun, etc, etc.

      • Seems clearly stupid. Who is going to volunteer when you have produced the evil “firearm”, or “rifle”?

    • In other words, you have as much to worry about if you (God forbid) have to defend yourself with your AR Pistol and you happen to shoulder your SB, as you do by using two hands on your Glock 17 (which is also by definition not what it’s design intent was).

  22. This whole thing reminds of nothing so much as two kids who have figured out how to get around Mom’s rule and then are stupid enough to go bragging to everyone about their loophole- so that they then get in trouble and the loophole gets closed (and applied ex post facto).

    Probably would have been fine- even if they got caught because of the loophole- but because they had to go broadcasting the thing causes a whole family incident.

    • What incident? Nothing has changed and there are no indications that anything will change. The entire point of this post is that this decision is entirely inline with prior decisions. It’s not finding a loophole in moms rules its misinterpreting moms rules and then breaking them.

  23. Yes the NFA of 1934 is one of the worst laws ever created, and we have the NRA to thank for it. So let us not forget that when they aske for memberships and donations at the gun stores,gun shows, and online. The NRA has assisted in the creation of every feder and many of the local gun laws on the books.

    • Yup, let’s consider the actions of men long since dead who did not have the hind sight we do then use that against men born a generation or two after the fact.

  24. Calm now. Thanks, Nick. Appreciate your effort on this.

    Also kudos to ARluv (and some others) who got this right from the start.

    Robert… Are you trying to make me go grey bud? Seriously though, that sure wasn’t worded well. But all makes sense. It is, and always has been, about design intent. Otherwise, things get really wacky…

    Thanks gents.

  25. A bureaucracy’s efficiency is rated by its inefficiency to its users, don’t get your expectations up for any bureaucracy…..

  26. One question: Do all the folks who believe shouldering an SB is somehow cheating or nefarious or on shaky legal footing, also feel the same way about shooting their Glock with 2 hands?

    It’s the exact same thing. By definition, a handgun is designed to be fired with one hand. An SB is designed to be wrapped around your forearm. Just as firing a handgun with two hands is not illegal, neither is shouldering an SB.

    The basis of NFA law is ‘design intent’. This is why they couldn’t have decided any other way on this. They didn’t do it as a gift or to be nice. They didn’t make a mistake. They had to, or else the basis for their entire NFA universe would be flipped on it’s ear and become completely ungovernable.

    • Short of having a suppressor, or third position on the weapon. The NFA is ungovernable. They still need probable cause to get a warrant. Shooting a gun at a range in theory would provide that if a Leo pushes the issue.
      I wonder if I can force law enforcement to use only the certain range? Then file trespassing charges if they even talk to my customers. I may add that to my range rules.

  27. Am I the only one who thinks that the picture of Nick in this post would’ve been a really cool “Caption This Picture” feature?

  28. Endless beaurecratic red tape that does nothing against criminals, everything against law abiding gun owners, and a means of employment for the ATF. Welcome to statist America.

    • Been like this from the beginning, now are you going to keep wallowing in you imaginary past or help make this the country it was supposed to be?

  29. There are VERY GOOD REASONS why so many of us are not
    pleased… Many of us have spend hundreds of dollars trying
    to abide by this legal insanity. You bet we are complaining.
    Spent nearly $300 in parts on one firearm alone this last
    month. You may have limitless $$$….many of us work for
    a living….

  30. Magic beans and Nebulae!

    Now we are talking about a ‘Thought Crime’ regarding one’s INTENT during a build?!?

    Preposterous! (or not, since a shoestring can be a machine-gun according to the same department…. and in light of that, I’ll shout out in public “ALL MY STABILIZING BRACE EQUIPPED FIREARMS WERE INTENDED TO BE FIRED WITH ONE HAND WHEN BUILT!!! ”

    • If he bought this gun from spikes tactical, his publicizing the brace as something it’s not does not show intent. It would be like slidefire advertising itself as a full auto. Slide fires original request was intended to allow people with limited mobility to bump fire a rifle. If he had worded his intent to atf in his original letter as trying to circumvent the NFA, how do you think they would have responded?

  31. Well the worm has turned. I predicted this from day one. Not surprised. Use it as a brace you are legal. shoulder the brace equipped firearm violation.

  32. The date of the letter on the ATF website is Feb. 2013. Was it just reissued? If so there does not appear to be a change of Rule at all.

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