Gear Review: SB Tactical SBA4 Pistol Brace

SBA4 Brace (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.,com)

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.

The SBA4 fits on a mil-spec carbine receiver extension (JWT for TTAG)

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.

JWT for TTAG

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.

JWT for TTAG

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.

SB Tactical SBA4 pistol stabilizing brace (JWT for TTAG)

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.

JWT for TTAG

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.

JWT for TTAG

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.

JWT for TTAG

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.

comments

  1. avatar Texheim says:

    Just shoulder the dang thing.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I do. And as I’ve noted, depending on the platform and caliber, it works well like that.

      But it is also important to review the brace as it was originally intended. I have several disabled friends who either have limited mobility in their hands or are missing a hand all together. They deserve a review that includes the things that are important to them and make the device work for their needs.

  2. avatar "keep yur paws off my dead guy" possum says:

    I’m still trying to figure out how “they” get away with it .Glad they do but some of these pistul braces just look like sawed off stocks to me. I certainly would like to own one of them Luger Artillery models with a. snail drum and shoulder stock. Well if I could afford one of them though I’d probably get my DL back and ride a Chopper Harley.

    1. avatar Mike. says:

      A brace for the Luger, nice, how about a High Power? Or this new KelTec CP33 which keeps coming up in ads while I am reading Truth about Guns

      1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

        There are two that I have seen for a pistol, non-stock concept. Others might have seen them in their travels, I can’t seem to find a image.

        One was a half-grip that was placed on side of pistol grip. Since it didn’t attach, didn’t snap in, was not a NFA. Basically your hands provided the connection to the stock.

        Other was an arm brace that resembled a wrist rocket(sling shot) grip. Used on Glock with the channel behind the mag well. Basically eliminated wrist movement..

        Found one, although this is not one I originally saw.
        https://www.recoilweb.com/usa-1shot-non-nfa-butt-stock-for-your-handgun-69131.html

  3. avatar Ned says:

    I have one on an Adams Arms 11.5″ and I love it.

  4. avatar Shire-man says:

    I got one to replace the KAK Blade on a .300 pistol. Going to blade to this is a drastic improvement in handling comfort.

    1. avatar pg2 says:

      .300 blackout is a worthless round. If your going to go bigger then 5.56, you may as well get a real .308 AR10. Your pistol is a waste because the ammo is too expensive.

      1. avatar "keep yur paws off my dead guy" possum says:

        I’d bet inside of fifty yards you couldn’t tell a difference between the two, maybe even a hunert. Are you a bot or something? Seems like to different people sometimes

        1. avatar pg2 says:

          Now your sounding like Goeff aka Guesty aka Chris aka you. Maybe your the bot.

          I have lots of ammo, so suck it. A 308 puts 300 to shame.

          Let’s talk aboutz da gunz…

        2. avatar "keep yur paws if my dead guy" possum says:

          Inside 50 yards I’d doubt you could tell the difference. Is the 308 better then an ought six for grizzly bear is the question. I’m going with the ought six because it can push 220’s faster.

        3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Possum, if you’re talking less than 100 yards, and sub-sonic, why not just shoot a pistol caliber? We don’t need new calibers. We need better bullet launchers. Unfortunately, we’re getting too many of the former and not enough of the latter.

        4. avatar possum says:

          To GF. I don’t own a shooter of 300 black out and never will, just saying inside of fifty yards there’s not that much difference. A 30-30 looks pretty mean at 50 yards

      2. avatar Baldwin says:

        Reload, reload, reload…

      3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        pg2, got to agree with you about .300 BO, but I prefer my HK 91 or the FN FAL, Beretta BM-62, I used to own to any AR. Even my M-1 rifle to an AR. An AR is a poor design. It’s just the only thing that’s affordable and available.

      4. avatar Shire-man says:

        It’s small, quiet when suppressed and puts holes in things. Expense is entirely subjective.
        It’s cool if you think it’s worthless.
        Two thumbs up and a smile.

        1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Shire, I don’t think an AR is worthless. It’s just that I think there are a lot better weapons platforms out there. And it’s not because I read it in a magazine. My experience with the M-16 began in 1979 and continued, professionally until 2014. It continues today through friends and relatives today. Even they admit that what I bring to the range, while heavier, is better. They just complain that my rifles are too expensive. That puzzles me. Most of them own at least three ARs. They could have bought one good rifle for that. Go figure.

      5. avatar ozzallos says:

        Somebody doesn’t comprehend .300blk basics. Comparing .308 to 300blk is like comparing 7.62×39 to 9mm– They’re not even remotely the same and don’t share the same role. 300blk is a 7.62 alternative for the AR platform, optimized for short barrel suppression, something that .308 isn’t. 300blk is also AR parts compatible to the mags, lower and bcg. Again, something .308 can’t do. Of course 308 is the more powerful of the two, but saying its better is like saying 50bmg is better than 308– You look dumb for doing so. They have different jobs.

      6. avatar D Y says:

        “.300 blackout is a worthless round.”
        Yeah, no.

        Supersonic, in an 8.5″ barrel, the 110gr load is equivalent in power (a factual number useful as comparison) to common .44 mag loads. With 30rds.

        As a pistol, in my state, its legal to carry loaded in a vehicle, where rifles are not. The advantage here is that it is also a legal caliber for hunting…so short enough to be easily handled in a vehicle, and put into action quickly.

        There isnt a caliber out there that is as common, that gets that amount of performance, with that short of a barrel. Somewhere I have my spreadsheet with the FPS/inch of a couple comparative rounds, and the 300BO *in a 16″ barrel* is pretty well a waste. But at the shorter barrel lengths, it’s near impossible to beat in the ar15 platform.

  5. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    JW, never had much use for a pistol caliber carbine. SMG? Sure, I get it. Used/issued more than one. Then I read your reply to Tex about the handicapped. My dad had polio when he was 6 y.o.a. He’s 90 now and in the hospital as I write this. He’s not going to be with us much longer. He was a shooter when he was young and always kept a couple of handguns, well, handy. Don’t know why I never saw it before, but a pistol caliber carbine would have been perfect for him.

  6. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    The SB SBA3 brace for the win,lighter weight and looks better.

    1. avatar Squiggy81 says:

      I don’t see any advantage to going with the SBA4. I have a couple of the previous model and like them. Would have been nice to see a comparison in the review. My guess is they just wanted the publicity that comes with releasing a new model.

  7. avatar B.D. says:

    I love it. In your face ATF. We need more. I’d love to see a 5.7 type being reviewed. Something in between the handgun calibers and rifle calibers is optimal for these magnificent middle fingers to government agencies.

  8. avatar Ozzallos says:

    This 9mm-in-an-AR trend just needs to stop. Its probably the most inefficient platform to chamber the cartridge in. You might as well just load up a shorty 5.56 and take the velocity loss that will still have better pen values than 9mm. Or hell, .300blk for suppressable subsonic .45acp ballistic profiles while retaining the ability to keep 5.56 compatible parts. And the prices. WTF?

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      See your own comment above as a response to this comment.

      1. avatar Just Some Air Force Dude says:

        Awesome response JWT! I love all calibers. Some are better than others depending on the task and requirements of the mission. PCCs are cheaper to shoot, quiet and just too damn fun.

    2. avatar Chadwick says:

      Cheap ammo and works great with a suppressor. If you don’t own a 45acp handgun and you have a 9mm then why not a 9mm are? Sometimes good enough and cheap enough is fun.

  9. avatar bill says:

    Wheres the atf letter? Why do these guys keep putting out products without atf letters?

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      All ATF correspondence has it’s own section on their website, clear for anyone to see. Even the box the brace comes in lists it.
      Try doing even the tiniest amount of work before you mouth off.
      https://www.sb-tactical.com/resource-category/atf-letter/

      1. avatar bill says:

        Where is the letter specific to this brace? Or the SBA3? Or any of their other braces that arent the SB15 or SB PDW?? You realize ATF requires a new letter for every brace if the design changes, right? This is why shockwave and other companies had to go get letters for their new braces.

        Also “mouth off”, what?? Since when was asking questions mouthing off? You are peculiarly on the defensive here.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Click the link that says “ATF letters.” Look to the right. There is even a form for them to email the letters to you.

  10. avatar Paul says:

    Great Review. Thanks for taking the time to write it and review the Brace.

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