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Short Barreled AR-15s are all the rage these days. They’re light, easy to maneuver, and the recoil from a 5.56mm NATO round is still negligible even with the reduction in weight. The only problem is that in order to get one you need to jump through the ATF’s hoops, pay a $200 tax, and tell them every time you travel with it. In short, it’s a pain. Franklin Armory recently announced a new gun that lets you have all the fun of an SBR without any of the paperwork by exploiting an interesting loophole in the law in a frankly genius way.

A rifle, legally speaking, is designed to be fired using a stock. This doesn’t have a stock and so doesn’t meet the definition. A pistol, legally speaking, is a weapon designed to be fired using one hand. Because this gun has a forward grip it was designed to be fired using two hands and doesn’t meet the definition. That allows it to be classified as an AOW or “Any Other Weapon,” but AOWs have to be less than 23 inches in overall length. This weapon is just a hair over 23 inches, and so falls out of that definition as well. Therefore it’s still a firearm, but not subject to the NFA. As long as you don’t carry it concealed, that is.

The ATF, in a letter to Franklin Armory, confirmed all of this legal stuff was true. That paved the way for them to start selling a gun specifically designed to meet those exact criteria, the XO-26b, and you too can own one for the low price of $1,149.99! Each one comes with a copy of the ATF’s letter, just in case your FFL starts giving you that quizzical look.

Or you could build one, I suppose.

Anyone want to take bets on how long it takes the ATF to reverse their decision?

[UPDATE:] We’ve since reviewed the firearm in question. Click here for the full review.


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  1. Interesting concept. I’ve forwarded this information to my local gun dealer and a couple of friends who might be interested. Franklin has posted youtube videos on this gun.

  2. i don’t have any experience with ARs, but wouldn’t it be kinda uncomfortable to shoot it with no stock?

  3. I don’t get it – AR-15 pistols have been around for ages. Is the magic here the forward grip?

    Regardless, I had a RRA with a 10.5 barrel for about a week. Sold it off pretty quick – not much fun to shoot. You could hold against shoulder, but the most common way is to put the padded recoil tube up against your cheek. Accuracy suffered . . . and I think standing next to a jet at takeoff is a little quieter.

    Bottom line is it’s just not worth it.

    • Between the forward grip (no longer a one handed weapon, so not a pistol) and the overall length (over 23″, so not an “any other weapon) it doesn’t quite fit into and of the NFA categories and so doesn’t need a $200 permission slip to own or use.

  4. ATF’s ETA for a new opinion letter: three months.

    By the way, what’s the prize for the closest guess?

    • The ATF is rather busy these days burning the paperwork and burying the bodies from the Fast & Furious fiasco. I give them five months. I’m assuming that the prize is the new XO-26B along with 1,000 rounds of ammo.

  5. It is my understanding that the 5.56 requires at least 16 inches of barrel, and preferably more to stabilize and cause the bullet to reach fragmentation speed. If so, I wonder about the efficacy of these AR “pistols.”

    • I’ve wondered the same thing. That’s why I think I’d stick with pistol chamberings in a SBR.

      • 5.56mm out of a 10.5″ barrel is still a lot more lethal than 9mm or .45 ACP out of a sub machine gun. Which is exactly why units like Delta and DEVGRU traded out their MP5s for Colt 733s and then Mk 18 CQBRs.

    • Gerard beat me to it below.While a gross oversimplification: more bullet mass = more required stabilization (higher twist rate/longer barrel). Performance & accuracy suffers to an extent in SBRs at greater distance, but that falls outside the weapon’s intended purpose of short range engagement.

      I’d wager a properly designed 1:9 above 10″ will stabilize 55gr as a minimum. Beyond 100m though… all bets are off in terms of accuracy.

    • It has nothing to do with ‘stabilizing’ the projectile. It only has to do with velocity and it depends greatly upon the ammunition used. 2700fps is what is generally accepted as the minimum velocity to cause fragmentation of traditional 55gr and 62gr projectiles.

      Something like a Mk 18 CQBR, with a 10.3″ barrel, you’ll get reliable fragmentation from M855 out to 20m or so. Of course, the guy using the Mk 18 aren’t going to be shooting M855 out of it, they’re going to be using rounds like the Mk 262, the Mk 318, and the yet to be type classified 70gr Barnes round. They’re also not going to be using it for over land patrols in Afghanistan. It’s a CQB weapon.

      As for accuracy, these things can be used to engage targets out to 300m. You just won’t be getting very good terminal effects due to the drastically reduced velocities. Barrel length really doesn’t have much of an effect on accuracy.

      • Respectfully disagree on the subject of stabilization. Specifically referencing the “keyholing” issues of 70gr+ out of any number of 1:9 twist rifles (of varying bbl lengths).

        Accuracy will suffer regardless; increasingly apparent as range increases. While velocity is a factor, getting the appropriate ‘spin’ on the heavier rounds is key.

      • Barrel length really doesn’t have much of an effect on accuracy.”

        In the context of hitting the broad side of a barn at point blank? Ok. Otherwise that’s just a wholly uninformed bunch of nonsense. Velocity and accuracy are highly dependent on barrel length.

        Smoothbore black powder can be hunting accurate to fair distance given enough barrel length.

    • Uhh oh. Someone might want to tell the military. Thier 5.56mm M4’s only have 14.5″ barrels. How will they ever kill terrorists?

    • my friends Keltec pl-16… 5.56 pistol is extremely accurate at pistol ranges. same with ar15 pistols.

      now expecting rifle accuracy out of 10″ barrel lol no. will not be accurate.

      upto 50 yrds 2-3″ inch groupings easy beyond that you can hit beer size targets upto 75-100yrds beyond that…. it’s luck.

  6. Hmmm. How novel,
    A Sport Utility Prifle.

    “Evil is an absence of Conscience, Hell a place devoid of all Reason.

  7. All of the rules involving short barreled rifles and shotguns have been obsolete and stupid since 1934. They make no sense. The only scenario that I have come up with that justified their existance is this:

    The orignal 1934 bill called for the registration and licensing of all pistols in the nation. This provision failed in the House of Representatives by one vote. Why the restriction on short barreled rifles and shotguns? Because it makes no sense to restrict pistols, but not rifles and shotguns, if to obtain a short, concealable firearm, all one has to do is obtain a shotgun and cut the barrel down to 10 inches, making, essentialy, an easily concealed “pistol”.

    So we are now in the situation where a 15 shot 10mm Glock is recognized by the Supreme Court as constitutionally protected, but owning a .22 single shot rifle with a 15 inch barrel is a federal felony that will get you up to 10 years in jail! This is insane. The restrictions on short barreled rifles and shotguns should simply be eliminated.

  8. Good points all, Dean. However, one must remember that we are dealing with the fed gov. Common sense does not factor into the equation.

  9. Other than serving a role in a law enforcement, what is the purpose of this, other than look cool on some mall ninja’s two-point sling on weekends? The American gun market is amazing, they make weapons with no useful purpose.

    • Actually, the purpose of this gun is the same as any other gun as far as the Accounting Department of the manufacturing company is concerned – to be sold at a profit so that bills can be paid, payroll met, and more raw material/parts can be bought to keep doing it again and again(with hopefully a little extra to save for a rainy day or plow back into the company for new/better equipment).

      To help ensure the order-manufacture-sale cycle keeps cycling, the Marketing Department will be trying to persuade you that this gun serves a purpose sufficiently important for you to reach for your wallet.

      Once you have purchased the gun, it then falls to you to figure out the purpose it serves, and why that purpose justifies sleeping on the couch or eating ramen noodles for the next (X) weeks…

      That’s how Conspicuous Consumption works, folks – keeping the economy strong through keeping up with the Joneses…

      • Only I am not so gullible to purchase something like this. And who purchases a gun first then decides what to do with it later? Yes, I know…..the used-gun market is evidence of such.

        • A lot of people will use a setup like this until they get the tax stamp back for a short barreled rifle lower receiver. That way, they can buy and use a short barreled upper receiver group as a pistol while waiting the 6+ months it takes to get the stamp.

  10. Why not just get something with a folding stock, like a Sig 556? With the stock folded the sig is only 4″ longer and when you’re done playing mall ninja for the day you can unfold the stock and actually have something useful.

  11. Keep in mind that while a non-categorized “firearm” can be legal without the NFA restrictions, if it is carried as a pistol or concealed on the person, it meets the definition of AOW.

  12. I know this is an old thread…but I noticed something that no one else seemed to comment on (unless I missed it).

    Based on my “noob” reading of the law (i.e., that letter from the ATF), the magic overall length is 26″ inches…NOT 23 inches as stated in this article.

    In particular, in the second to last paragraph, that letter clearly states that a AOW is less than 26 inches in overall length…and it seems as though this Franklin AR pistol has an overall length of 26.5 inches…so it is not an AOW.

    Note that this is an important distinction because many AR-15 pistols with c. 7 inch barrels come out to around 23 inches in overall length. Based on my understanding of what the ATF is saying in that letter, if a forward/vertical grip were to be added to such a weapon, it would become an AOW.

    Am I missing something? or am I just stating the obvious?

  13. can some one who has been declarided incompataint by the VA or a oh say a convicted felon buy one of these?

  14. Just because someone who has been labeled a felon does not make them a bad or violent person, and I know that does not go for all of us. I myself was caught with a little to much pot and now I’m conciderd a felon and have no violent past at all but yet I’m no longer able to vote or purchase a gun or protect my family, house or myself, the stigma of the word felon needs to be reconsidered because not all of us are bad people that would go around and do something stupid with a gun, I for one would like to be able to go deer hunting again and be able to protect me and my family if someone was to try and break into my home ect,ect,ext. A person that kills someone while driving doesn’t get labeled for life do they, no they pay a fine and do some time and their deipt is paid then they are reissued their license and able to drive again, so why is it that a non violent person should have to suffer the rest of their life,what about my rights being infringed.

  15. Will not fly in the state of NJ. NJ law indicates the firearm is not considered a pistol if you can hold the barrel with your off hand, and not be burned. As such, the firearm is indeed considered a short barrel rifle which needs an ATF tax stamp. The only way the firearm could be sold if the state and/or dealer selling them ignored the laws and attempted to consider the firearm a pistol, but good luck with that.

    • How do you hold the barrel of an AR and not get burned? How can NJ force you to get a tax stamp for something that the ATF doesn’t issue tax stamps for? Glad I don’t live in NJ…

  16. The important thing here is that the weapon is Originally Manufactured in this configuration. If it started out as a rifle and ended up like this it would be an SBR. If it started as a pistol and ended up like this it would be an AOW.

    Being “originally manufactured” this way places it outside either definition and therefore outside the regulations of the NFA.

  17. Am I missing something what’s the point of this why don’t we just call it a pistol are there special privileges that go along with this being a non classified firearm

  18. I don’t know what you people are so darned afraid of in the BATFE and getting their $200 tax stamp. First of all, I got myself a simple firearms trust. Believe it or not, I bought a trust template from a seller on eBay! It was so simple, even a caveman could do it. And… any questions I had, the seller bent over backwards to help me and understand what the answers were to my questions. It cost me the dirt cheap sum of only $35.00 to get the trust template. I took the finished product to my bank, had them notarize it, opened a checking account in the name of the trust and deposited $210.00 into the account. I then filled out the e-file form one which allows me to manufacture my own SBR (Short Barreled Rifle), gave them the debit card number to pay for the $200 stamp, and exactly only 2 months and 1 week later, I had a digital image of my cancelled stamp. What can be more simple than that? All this CRAP about jumping through hoops is exactly what it is, CRAP! it couldn’t have been more easy. You can build a silencer with a form 1 too. Not so with an automatic weapon. Give it a try and quit being a “fraidy cat”.

  19. You might want to double check your information. The reason that AR pistols are not considered SBRs is because there is no forward pistol grip…only a finger foregrip. If the overall length is less than 26 inches and you add a full forward pistol grip you have created an SBR…If your overall length is less than 26 inches, the only way to legally call it a pistol is to only add an angled forward finger grip..Even if you technically have a pistol, the ATF gets to make the final decision…

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  30. I can reliably hit a 7″ steel plate at 200 meters off of a rest with my 11.5″ pistol brace equipped Troy with a Vortex Venom red dot. That’s plenty accurate enough for me. It’s not a precision rifle like my Sig SSG3000. With an overall length of 26.5″, that’s a great combo.

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