SB Tactical is the brace that started race, and keeps on winning it. The SBA4 is the newest version of the AR-15 pistol stabilizing brace that gave all sorts of shooters options they never had before. Unsurprisingly, this newest version, which is based on SB Tactical’s popular SBM4 brace, is feature packed and top notch quality.
For this review, I chose to install the SBA4 (made in the USA) on a new Quarter Circle 10 GLOCK Small Frame 9mm AR. The pistol caliber with a pistol length barrel seemed like a natural fit for the brace.
Along with the brace itself, the package includes a mil-spec carbine extension (buffer tube). I took a good look at the threads and the 7075 tube itself. They are machined well and just as good, if not better, than many I’ve seen.
The brace itself fits tightly on the tube. The adjustment lever is a little stiff, but it locks down very well. In fact, the fit is much better than most of the “mil-spec” buttstocks I see ship with AR-15 rifles. The tight fit, along with the adjustable feature of the brace allows the user to get a solid hold on the gun, increasing precision and decreasing fatigue.
With this latest brace design version, SB Tactical has included quick detach slots on both sides of the brace in order to attach a sling. Note that the slots are at the front of the brace, instead of the back or bottom like a traditional stock. There’s just not enough material in the back of the brace to put solid slots.
For single-point carry, the integral ambidextrous QD sling sockets at the front work great, but you’re going to have to adjust the slack in your sling to allow the butt to ride lower if you intend to use it as a two point and still shoulder the brace quickly.
The rear of the SBA4 is wide, with enough rubbery give to get a grip on clothing. Obviously, the lower portion of the butt end of the brace ends not in a proper stock, but in the flexible tabs designed to wrap around the shooter’s forearm.
When it comes to using them as a stock, this is where the brace shows it’s inferiority to most common collapsible stocks. There’s just not as much surface area on the brace to absorb recoil or simply to keep it locked in place during firing and movement.
That said, there are many AR-15 platform calibers where recoil is so light that it doesn’t make much of a difference. On this Quarter Circle 10 GSF AR pistol, the little 9mm just doesn’t produce much recoil in the first place. The same goes for my .45ACP version of the same gun. Even in 5.56×45, with anything other than a short pencil barrel, recoil isn’t a real concern.
I’ve used the brace with ARs in all of those calibers pressed against my shoulder as a stock, and I’ve never noticed any discomfort.
I have, however, noticed that it’s a little harder to keep the smaller footprint of the brace locked into the shoulder than a real stock with its solid toe. You’ll lose a teeny tiny bit of recoil management, but it’s that weaker weld to the shoulder and to the cheek that I find is much more noticeable, as compared to a stock.
The ability to place a forearm under and into the brace for one hand shooting necessitates a thicker flexible material. That leaves the brace a little wider than many stocks. At 2.173″ it’s a bit wider than most AR15 receivers. The rest of the dimensions are a little more familiar.
It collapses to 7.5″ in length and extends to a full 10.25″. That adjustable length of pull changes everything when it comes to using the brace as originally intended. Depending on the length of your forearm, the placement of the brace makes a huge difference in controllability.
The adjustable nylon strap that holds the brace to your forearm is a full inch wide, which provides a near-custom fit as well as plenty of long term shooting comfort and stability. I find it very simple to pull the tabbed end free to slip my arm in the brace, or to tighten it all the way over the top of the brace to keep it locked down.
If you are using the brace as a stock there’s not much of a learning curve. Because of its reduced footprint at the butt, you’ll have to be a little more picky about exactly where it lies on your shoulder/chest. Using the brace as originally intended takes a bit of getting used to.
You can stand with the gun in a vertical position fully to the side, or with the firearm more in front of you, but cocked at an angle. The front position works best for most folks. Shooting like this is made for a red dot optic, but you can make do with iron sights as long as you remember that your sight height over the bore has now changed as you cant the gun.
I had to re-zero the sights for the new bore sight-height-to-bore-axis, and use the wide aperture on the rear iron sight. Once I did that, standing and hitting silhouettes from the 25 to 50 yards wasn’t particularly difficult. I was only about 50% with the 19″ silhouettes at 100 yards.
If you are a disabled shooter, or someone with limited mobility or strength in your hands, the SBA4 adjustable brace is an absolute God-send. It totally changes what you are able to do with the gun. For everyone else, it provides you with some great flexibility and legal options for your shorter barreled ARs. The SB Tactical SBA4 is the current cream of the crop, with solid components and a great build quality.
Specifications: SB Tactical SBA4 Pistol Brace
Buffer tube extension: Mil spec carbine buffer
Cavity depth: 6.75″
Length: 7.5″, 8.25″, 8.8″, 9.5″, 10.25″
Strap Width: 1″
Weight: 10 oz
Colors: Available in black or FDE
MSRP: $169.99 (currently $105 at Brownells)
Overall * * * * *
Fit and finish are great. The SB Tactical SBA4 brace locks in tight at every position. Every part of the brace is well thought-out and executed.