SB Tactical is to be one of my favorite companies in the firearms industry. They invented the pistol stabilizing brace and continue to improve and refine the design for a ton of different firearms. Their products are extremely well made and continue to chap the hide of the anti-civil rights crowd.
One of their latest is the SBPDW. PDW, of course, stands for Personal Defense Weapon, and PDW stocks have become quite popular with the short-barreled rifle crowd.
Maxim Defense famously produces one of the better models on the market for their SBR line. SB Tactical and Maxim teamed up to bring the Maxim design to the pistol brace world. What’s resulted is a mix of the die-hard durability of the Maxim stock with the soft rubber brace from SB Tactical.
The SBPDW brace offers shooters a three-position PDW brace designed to function with a standard AR-15 bolt carrier group and buffer combination. It works with most ARs (but not all). It doesn’t work with FX-9 lowers, or the SIG M400/516 lowers with the integral QD socket. Other than that, it’s the wild west (pimp style).
Installing the SPPDW
Installation is simple, but this brace does things a little differently for those of you who have used others. The castle nut setup is much different with this setup than most. Instead of the castle nut being flush with the lower, it’s pushed rearward on the buffer tube. Locking everything in place is easy, and the endplate is entirely replaced by the rear of the brace.
Once installed, the SBPDW offers a rear QD point for a sling centered in front of the brace. A lever on the left side makes it easy to adjust the brace between the three different positions. The lock itself provides a good robust lock-up with just a little wiggle room.
I installed the SBPDW on my .22LR AR-15 pistol. Initially, I wanted to install it on my CMMG Banshee Mk17, but man, does CMMG put that castle nut on tight. I didn’t want to break things, so I went a different route used the CMMG 22LR AR 15 kit.
SBPDW vs. SBA3
The SB Tactical SBA3 has long been my favorite brace for AR pistols. It looks the best, functions like a dream, and adorns more than one of my firearms. As such, I wanted to take some measurements and see if SBPDW offered some space savings.
To me, the most important setting would be the fully closed position. A shorter brace would make the pistol easier to carry in a bag or gun case.
When you think PDW, you think short. I was a little disappointed to find out both the SBA3 and SBPDW measure 6.75 inches fully collapsed.
Beyond the closed position, the brace’s second point is 8.125 inches, and the last position is 9.375 inches in length overall. The SBPDW is made almost entirely of metal versus the SBA3, which is primarily a polymer design. Metal is good, but metal is heavy, and the SBPDW weighs two ounces more than the SBA3.
To The Range
Adjustable braces are great because people come in all sorts of sizes. I’m a big guy but prefer to run the brace closer to my wrist rather than out on my forearm. As such, the second position fits my style of large format shooting well. The soft rubber brace and the stretchy elastic band keep things comfortable.
The brace wraps around my forearm, and the heavy metal rods hold it very steady. Using a two-handed shooting style, I could easily ring steel at 15, 25, and even 50 yards. The little .22LRs stung like bees against a wide variety of steel gongs.
While the ATF insists that handguns are made for shooting with one hand, I will say it’s much easier with two hands. The SBPDW can be “misused” in various ways, and if you chose to do so, you might find the rear portion lacks much padding for those kinds of unsanctioned endeavors.
Length of pull is also quite short, and you might pop yourself in the nose if you misuse the brace and try to commit a fast AR-style reload. The charging handle action tends to throw your hand rearward and towards your nose. Caveat charger.
At its most collapsed position, the rods of the SBPDW (extended forward in the photo below) interfere with the safety switch manipulation a hair. It can be manipulated, but the rod feels like an annoying little brother.
Overall the SBPDW performs exactly as you’d expect. It braces and helps stabilize the firearm for one-handed shooting. I like a good two-handed grip, and even then, it tends to work well. Like all products from SB Tactical, the SBPDW is made in America and made to last.
Bait and Switch
Aha! You made it this far, and guess what? It’s a bait and switch! I’ve gotten you this far to remind you to go to the Federal Register and comment on the tyrannical and rogue ATF’s attempted regulation of pistol braces.
If you think commenting doesn’t matter or is a waste of your time, think again and read this.
Do so professionally and politely, and make sure your points are cognizant and based on the reality of the situation. Use the fact the regulation contradicts itself, isn’t clear, and does set out to establish effective criteria for regulating pistol braces. Oh and the ATF discards comments that use profanity, so keep in clean.
Specifications – SB Tactical SBPDW Pistol Stabilizing Brace
Length: 6.75 inches to 9.375 inches
Weight: 18.14 ounces
Width: 2.25 inches
Fit: Most MilSpec AR 15s
Strap Width: 1 inch
MSRP: $299.99 (about $239 street)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Ergonomics * * * *
The brace is easy to expand and get into action. The addition of a QD slot makes it easy to attach a sling. The only real downside is the lever will be tough to activate for lefties on the fly. The extra weight of the mostly metal brace turns out to be beneficial in making the weapon more balanced when correctly using the brace.
Comfort * * * * *
The soft rubber and stretchy arm band make wearing the brace around your forearm or wrist comfy. It doesn’t dig in or hurt, even when tightened down to the max.
Overall * * * *
The only real downside is the SBPDW brace doesn’t make the firearm any shorter than a standard brace. Even shaving off an inch or so would make it more appealing for carry and storage.