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It’s a pistol! It’s a rifle! No, it’s a firearm. One of the reasons I like dealing with CZ-USA is their willingness to embrace the aftermarket, which has helped their products resonate with enthusiasts. At their NRA show booth, CZ-USA showed off at least three Scorpions outfitted with a range of aftermarket accessories, including the “firearm” seen above. What makes it a “firearm” and not a pistol — despite beginning life as a Scorpion pistol — rifle, SBR, or AOW? . . .


A rifle has a shoulder stock, but this Thordsen Customs Cheek Rest ain’t one. It’s designed to brace against your cheek, and is legal to put on any pistol since it isn’t a stock. Without a shoulder stock, this isn’t a rifle. Since it isn’t a rifle, it also can’t be a short barreled rifle (SBR).dsc05238

A pistol or handgun is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand, but this CZ has a vertical forward grip, meaning it’s made to be shot with two hands. So it isn’t a pistol/handgun, either.


Normally, slapping a vertical forward grip on a pistol is a big no-no. Once done, the gun can no longer be defined as a pistol and it falls into the category of AOW, or “any other weapon,” which is regulated under the NFA. Creating one without ATF approval is a serious Federal felony. On the bright side, to classify as an AOW it must be under 26″ in overall length*. If it’s longer than 26 inches, as this Scorp pistol became with the addition of the cheek rest, carbine forend, and faux suppressor, then it isn’t an AOW either. The law then simply categorizes it as a “firearm,” and it’s perfectly legal to own and use and doesn’t fall under the purview of the NFA.

The one seen above also sports aftermarket QD sockets, magazine release, and safety levers. A couple other Scorps at the booth were equipped with aftermarket triggers, charging handles, grips, forends, and other brands of QD sockets, mag releases, and safety levers. In fact, I think all of the parts covered in my CZ Scorpion Aftermarket Roundup #1 were on guns in the booth. Pretty cool to see modified guns in a manufacturer’s booth!


A factory unmodified Scorp in FDE was also on display.

* As crazy as it sounds, if you conceal a “firearm” on your person, it becomes an AOW. The definition says it’s an AOW if it’s under 26″ only because sub-26″ is the length the law has determined makes a gun “capable of being concealed on the person.” If you build a gun like the Scorpion “firearm” seen here and then impress the ATF by managing to conceal carry it despite its length, you’ve also just violated NFA law by making an AOW without approval (it’s a $5 tax stamp to Form 4 an AOW, BTW, and $200 to Form 1 one).

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    • I think it’s more that people are selling a “slap a stock on this “pistol” so you can have an SBR/AOW.”

    • That’s just a by-product of being made almost entirely of polymer. It’s a good gun. I have one, and it’s the best way to dump 9mm at the range.

    • Yeah, like Andrew said, the idea for most people is that you’re going to file a Form 1 and turn it into an SBR, or you’re going to run a pistol brace. Sub-machine guns and PDWs have been popular for many decades and this is a way to bring them to the commercial market… or at least as close as possible.

      • And sex with my wife is as close as I can get to having sex with Bella Hadid.
        My point is, I love my wife just the way she is. She doesn’t have to pretend to be Bella and I don’t have to imagine her as Bella.
        Give me a real pistol or give me a real rifle. These faux guns are useless.

        • Respectfully, that’s simply untrue.
          Most Americans only think in terms of “Pistol or Rifle” because our laws have made the PDW/Sub-Gun category practically illegal until recently.

          There is a reason why the MP5 has been wildly popular with people wanting to bring a higher level of accuracy and firepower into confined spaces for several decades. It is these same characteristics that make brace-pistols and SBRs an excellent choice for home/vehicle defense.

          These devices navigate the unjust and arbitrary web of laws designed to keep PDWs out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, empowering us with a more effective tool.

        • Yeah, you’re really missing out on the whole “give me a pistol with a stock” thing. A gun that’s compact like a pistol but has a stock for bracing against your shoulder, rails for optics and such, and runs 30-round mags is a heck of a thing. I’m a pretty decent pistol shooter, but that doesn’t hold a candle to what I can do with my Scorpion SBR.

        • I’d agree that without a stock guns in the Scorpion category seem pointless to me. (And yes, I did fire a stockless Scorpion “pistol” and found it too cumbersome to be fired one handed or even a two-handed standard grip. I could put a second hand under the barrel, but then I wanted a way to shoulder it.) It badly needs a stock. However, everyone’s mileage varies, and one should be able to get them with or without a stock without unconstitutional hassle.

    • This design is a direct effect of NFA rules. We wouldn’t have to deal with this nonsense if it weren’t for the ATF, freedom hating politicians, and the people that voted for them.

    • They fill a very useful role in many people’s protection plan.

      If we had rational firearms laws in this country, most people’s “truck gun” would be an SBR. Sadly even if you don’t mind the arbitrary and capacious fees and registration process to get an SBR, it is still a rifle and has the same restrictions on transportation and storage as a rifle in most states.

      Carrying a loaded SBR (or any rifle) in your vehicle will land you in prison in many states, but carrying a conspicuously large pistol still falls under most concealed carry provisions.

      • That’s an important thing to remember.

        In Colorado the law is a little less strict–you merely need an empty chamber to comply–but you’d still have to chamber a round in a hurry, possibly. And LE is authorized by law to check the chamber.

      • It’s different here. In PA, an SBR is no longer considered a ‘long gun’, but a ‘firearm’ instead – and therefore (technically) covered under your License To Carry Firearm, so you can carry it concealed and loaded. But that doesn’t mean the Police know that.

        • We all know you need a permit for those big bore revolvers, and that your glocks go click click click when empty. We saw that in recent Ahnuld movie!

  1. “On the bright side, to classify as an AOW it must be under 26″ in overall length*. If it’s longer than 26 inches, as this Scorp pistol became with the addition of the cheek rest, carbine forend, and faux suppressor, then it isn’t an AOW either”

    Gun laws written by idiots for the win!

      • Ignorant legislation and enforcement by bureaucrats, and this is the nonsense regulatory crap that plops out the tail end.

        That said, I think it looks pretty cool.

    • Yeah the truth of the matter is even worse than that, which is suggested by the asterisk information at the bottom. The AOW law doesn’t actually stipulate a length. It simply says that it’s an AOW if it’s capable of being concealed on the person. That’s pretty freaking vague, though, so later they separately defined what that means and they came up with the sub-26″ OAL thing and that’s the metric that’s used to determine legality in most cases here (AOW or not AOW). BUT…since the AOW legal definition still simply says “capable of being concealed on the person,” that’s why, even if your “firearm” is 26″ long or longer, actually concealing it immediately makes it an AOW.

      • The ATF rules the commercial market by FEAR. The prosecution rate for individuals violating the NFA is so statistically small that it is effectively ZERO. It happens, and when it does it almost always makes the papers, but its been years since I’ve heard of someone investigated soley for an NFA violation, as opposed to having NFA charges tacked on after arrest for an unrelated crime.

        Like the SIG brace ordeal, I doubt the ATF would ever take it to court, as the “opinion letter” would not survive the ruling. If they never charge anyone though, the status quo they have established can never be challenged, and they are free to rule via the mere threat of prosecution alone.

        Essentially, arbitrary BS like this is the ATF’s boogeyman – but they’d never let the boogeyman out from under the bed because it would never survive the exposure to daylight.

    • My guess is that the ATF would say no. Their current opinion is that shouldering a pistol brace ‘re-manufactures’ it into a shoulder stock. If this gun had a shoulder stock on it, it would be an SBR because the barrel length is less than 16″. You could easily make an extremely similar gun to the one in the photos though that’s just a normal rifle with the normal CZ stock on it. In fact, CZ already sells the Scorpion as a carbine with a 16″ barrel. If you wanted to get crazy, you could do a shorter barrel and pin & weld a suppressor on to bring the effective barrel length up to at least 16″.

      • Has anyone “ever” been arrested for shouldering one?

        Has anyone ever been arrested for shouldering any pistol and firing it? That is simply an intimidation statement by the ATF.

        The ATF has legally declared it a pistol. It doesn’t matter how you hold it or shoot it. It doesn’t change that it is a pistol.

      • I think there will be a legal challenge to the ATF on that Open Letter.

        They cite the dictionary but forget that the dictionary defines ALTER as “change or cause to change in character or composition”. Clearly, holding something one way and then another does not cause a change in the item in any practical / non-metaphysical sense.

        The best drama-court style approach I could see is, after asking the ATF witness questions about the open letter (so that they’ve stated how shouldering re-manufactures something on the record), to then hold up a brace-equipped pistol in court room and asking the ATF witness “Is this a pistol or has it been remanufactured into a SBR?” When they are unsure, tack and go in: “So there is no way to tell, there is physical difference; how is that not capricious?”

        Oh I know all the “don’t poke the dragon” comments, worried that the ATF will just say “fine, we’ve decided the braces are stocks” but seriously, I can’t see how the Dept of Justice could pen that letter and then talk to a law class (let alone a judge) with a straight face.

        • The Sig brace letter would never survive a challenge in court – that’s why they’ve never prosecuted anyone over it.

          Rule by fear – intimidation is the ATF’s best weapon. They can’t let the boogeyman out from under the bed however, because it would never survive the light of day.

          Seriously, can you imagine the field-day FOX news or any of the gun blogs would have if they tried to prosecute someone over shouldering a Sig Brace? It would hit national news in hours, the NRA and congressmen like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz would crawl so far up the ATFs ass in a matter of days that they would back down – in fact that might be the impetus that leads to abolition of the NFA act..

      • That’s what I figured. I was asking more because I have an AR “firearm” set up similarly, but have never seen and clarification between shouldering a brace equipped pistol and a brace equipped firearm. Thanks for the replies

        • Yeah it really isn’t about the gun at all. It’s about the brace. ATF says shouldering the brace turns it into a stock. Now that your gun has a stock, what is it? That’s the question. If it’s now a normal rifle then no worries. If it turns into an NFA item, that’s where the trouble is.

          Again it isn’t necessarily the law, but it’s the ATF’s interpretation of the law.

    • So the law’s exact wording is “designed to be fired from the shoulder”. Any competent judge should look at that and hear the defendant’s appeal that it was not designed to be, therefore it is not.

      But, if you’re asking what everyone thinks the ATF’s opinion will be… well, you don’t really need to ask, do you.

  2. A cheek rest but no stock and a faux suppressor – why would one want this? This is a sincere rather than rhetorical question.

    • As a way to spit in the eye, metaphorically speaking, of the ATF after eating hot wings with a Tabasco chaser?

      • Take that, ATF! I just circumvented your rules, and it only cost me $1500!

        What’s that? You don’t care at all? Oh, well, at least I have this gun that isn’t a very good rifle or pistol, that I’ll probably smack myself hard in the mouth with if I ever have to use it under stress.

    • Because you get to use it while you wait for the tax stamp. Also, it is more readily transportable across state lines as there is no letter to send to the ATF.

    • My understanding is it’s only a faux suppressor because it’s on the show floor, and CZ-USA chooses not to have real suppressors sitting around. They also had a few of their suppressor-ready pistols sporting cans, but they were faux as well. Obviously as a silencer can simply be unscrewed from the barrel, there’s a security issue with putting real ones out on the floor where tens of thousands of people are handling the goods.

      I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned that it was a faux can, since it really isn’t relevant here. All that matters is the 26″ or longer length and that could have been achieved with a long flash hider or a long barrel, etc.

      Now, the only advantage to doing it this way rather than making a pistol with a pistol brace and keeping it under 26″ is that if it exceeds 26″ then you can legally put a vertical forward grip on it. You can’t do that on a pistol. The only advantage to doing it this way vs. making it a rifle is that you can remove the silencer. If you wanted this exact gun as a legal rifle you’d either have to SBR it or pin & weld the silencer on, or just go with a 16″ barrel (which CZ sells). As mentioned above, there are some downsides to registering it as an SBR like complications moving it across state lines and such. As a “firearm” there’s none of that (and suppressors aren’t subject to that).

    • I don’t believe CZ-USA has any plans to sell the Scorp in this configuration. You’d have to buy a pistol and then outfit it with the parts of your choosing to hit 26″ or more in OAL. Or just buy the carbine version and have a legal rifle. Or do the pistol and a pistol brace and don’t put a vertical forward grip on it and have a legal pistol.

  3. Minor clarification: it’s $5 to TRANSFER an AOW, but it’s still $200 to make one (unless you have a SOT stamp).

    So you, could get a Form 4 Transfer for $5, if you find someone to make it first (remember, SOT doesn’t pay the $200, they pay for their SOT stamp)

    • Came here to say just this. Form 1’s cost $200 to a non SOT no matter what you are making.

    • Good catch, thanks. I actually do know this but I also don’t think it’s the first time I’ve brain farted on that little factoid haha

  4. I built a “firearm”, similar to the XO-26, when I was waiting for the Tax Stamp to comeback on my AR. 12″ barrel (not including the muzzle device) with a regular carbine receiver extension (yes, it’s legal, don’t bother with the constructive intent crap. It’s a functional part of the firearm and nowhere does it say you HAVE use pistol tube), brought it just over the 26″ mark.

  5. The more people and manufactures push the limits with the “arm brace”, and skirting definitions the more likely that the BATFE is going to outlaw certain firearms and attachments altogether. The more popular they become the more attention you draw to the issue that people are using them to get around a tax stamp. I don’t agree with NFA but the more popular these products become the more likely they will raise attention with liberals and be brought to a vote or just straight outlawed by the BATFE. Man-up and get the stamp so you don’t have to look around before shouldering that arm brace like you know you are, skirting federal laws is not a good idea.

    • While poking the bear has risks, your logic leads only to loss. Be prepared to “man-up” and bend over for whatever infringement the feds choose next.

    • Or… if the ATF does that and thousands of people have bought these then maybe there will be enough people willing to let their legiscritters know that the NFA should be repealed. At the very least, silencers, SBRs, SBSs, AOWS could be removed from the NFA. I always loved the look on people’s faces when they wanted to buy a gun and a silencer or cut their rifle barrel less than 16 inches and I explained all the hoops they had to jump thru to achieve that when I worked at a gun store. You could see the thoughts going thru their head. “I’m an American, I’ve got money, why can’t I buy what I want without having to psy $200 and wait 6-12 months for permission?”

    • @ AHofa

      ATF examined and specifically approved the Thordsen brace. Beyond that, it’s a 100% legal gun built to the specifications outlined by the law. There’s nothing weird going on here and it isn’t in some sort of legal gray zone or anything. The law says “don’t do X” and they haven’t. Period. If you’d rather live in a country where you aren’t allowed to do anything unless the government gives you specific permission to do so, those countries exist. But the US ain’t one of them.

      Also, the not shouldering a pistol brace thing isn’t actually law. It’s the ATF’s current interpretation of the law (a 180* switch from their original interpretation, too). They don’t make the law, though. There’s a very real possibility that the ATF’s interpretation would be rejected in court. That said, the ATF does enforce the law, and if they say they’re going to enforce it based on their own interpretation then I suppose they will. Nobody wants to be the test case here, so nobody is shouldering these sorts of pistol braces. At least not in public.

    • So your logic is that we shouldn’t use a legal product so that the ATF won’t ban it? At that point, what’s the difference between the ATF outlawing it, and not being able to use it because you are afraid it will be outlawed?

    • Manning up and getting the stamp was previously not possible for some people, I know I couldn’t get the CLEO to sign my paperwork so I had to pony up and get a trust.

      There are other reasons besides uncompletable paperwork one would want to go pistol over SBR, and had it been possible I would have preferred to go pistol myself. These include: easy interstate transport (no permission slip needed), no state based restrictions, BS, or ambiguity, avoiding the additional costs for paperwork (be it trust or F1/F4), no wait time for approval, and not having to be in complete control of the NFA item at all times so you can do things like lend it or let you wife have access to it for example.

  6. Captain Obvious observation here….

    It doth seem that these sorts of laws are not designed to actually decrease crime but to increase the number of people that can be considered criminals (even while harming no one).

  7. Yet another item designed to beat a set of stupid government rules that were necessitated by the passage of an ill conceived law by an ignorant group of legislators, as a solution that had no hope of resolving the original problem that didn’t really exist, and was actually intended to solve the problem of out of work government agents when a previous attack on liberty was overturned. You can thank Temperance Movement statists for Prohibition which resulted in the National Firearms Act of 1934!

  8. And here I am simply waiting for CZ to replace my mags since the feed lips crack when you leave them loaded.

    • I know this happens to people as I’ve seen it mentioned a bunch of times, but I have like 10 Scorp mags and they’ve been fully loaded for a year or more now and I’ve had zero issues. I have a couple 10-rounders, a few 20-rounders, and a bunch of 30-rounders. No cracks. A bunch of them have been dropped repeatedly, too, including on the concrete floor of the indoor range I go to. Not sure if I’m just lucky, or if the people who have had issues are particularly unlucky.

      It’s continuing to prove itself as an extremely popular firearm, though, so maybe the aftermarket will respond. As much as I’d like to see a Lancer mag I’m kind of guessing that’s out of the question since they make the OEM Sig MPX ones. Maybe Magpul will take a swing at it. I do like their GLOCK mags.

  9. I like CZ. If they had owned up when I asked them about a long barrel I would now have a Scorpion carbine instead of a Sig MPX carbine. But I’m very happy with the MPX, so all is well that ends well.


    • The long barrel “rifle” versions of the Scorpion and Bren 805 were only released in the US this year (or at least, that’s when they showed up in the catalog). Of course both guns are available in full auto for LE and Military.

      I’m looking at getting the 805 as a rifle. But given that it shoots 223, it’s even sillier as a “pistol” than the Scorpion…unless you want to SBR it, and I simply don’t want to dick with the ATF.

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