Only a few years ago I was happily scoffing at those who owned pistol versions of “proper” rifles. Their clunky form factor made for an awkward shooting position and a generally strange experience on the range. It was only with the introduction of SB Tactical’s SB-15 pistol arm brace that these guns finally became both usable and somewhat attractive looking. Naturally, other companies saw the sales success of the SB-15 and wanted in on the action. One of the more popular entries is Shockwave Technologies’ Pistol Stabilizer, and they were nice enough to send us one for review . . .
First, a note. Some may have recognized the name “Shockwave Technologies” from their legal dispute with SB Tactical, and with the exception of this note of its existence, we’re not going to be discussing the lawsuit in this review. We will be comparing the functionality of this pistol arm brace, but make no judgement as to whether the design infringes on SB Tactical’s patent. I say this because I know damn well their lawyers read this site and I really hate wearing suits so I’d like to avoid being called as an expert witness anytime soon.
The concept behind the pistol arm brace is simple: instead of having a raw buffer tube protruding from the back of your gun, you slap one of these devices on which rests against your extended forearm. The added stability is intended to make firing the gun from that position easier.
In theory it makes a lot of sense, and when done right, other products using the same basic concept have helped disabled veterans and others fire their pistols more accurately and more comfortably. The question at hand is whether Shockwave Technologies’ version meets the standard set forth by the competition.
Unlike other new gadget manufacturers, Shockwave Technologies proactively asked the ATF to rule on whether their device is a stock or not. According to the ATF, blade stabilizer isn’t a stock so long as its use is consistent with the intent of the manufacturer. The ATF even even went so far as to add a warning in the approval letter to that effect.
The problem is they’ve been known to go back and reverse their position on these rulings so that approval is worth less than the paper it is printed on, but for the most part their position (so far) is consistent with the letter of the law. The brace can only become a stock when the gun is “redesigned” to become a rifle, so as long as the manufacturer and the end user agree on how the gun will be used (as a pistol, not shouldered) everything should be A-OK.
The pistol stabilizing blade is made from a rigid polymer material (i.e. plastic), which is a departure from the soft rubbery construction of SB Tactical’s versions. The brace still mounts to a standard pistol buffer tube, but because the brace is a hard plastic instead of soft rubber you can’t rely on the inherent friction of the material to hold it in place. There’s a hex screw on the underside of the brace that you need to tighten against the tube to keep it in place.
Rather than wrapping around the arm of the shooter as SB’s models do, Shockwave’s Blade is designed to rest against the inside forearm stabilizing the pistol that way. There’s some documentation that the brace might work best when strapped onto the arm of the shooter somehow, but the package for the brace didn’t come with any such material. Since we review products “as-is” here at TTAG none of the testing we did involved the use of a strap. There are some cutouts in the brace that appear to be designed for a strap (or a sling) though.
Aesthetically, the brace does the job. The pistol (an MPX in this case) looks much more like a complete gun with the Blade in place as opposed to something Snake Plissken might tote around in the ruins of New York City. The gun appears much more balanced, and the hex screw on the brace can be used to adjust it for the desired length of pull and center of gravity on the gun. In fact, that adjustment for weight might be the only genuinely useful thing about this item.
On the range, the pistol arm brace doesn’t live up to its name. At full extension it doesn’t even come into contact with my forearm, meaning that their claim of stabilizing the pistol are pretty much bunk. Adjusting my grip and stance to bring the brace into contact with my forearm is possible, but far less useful than the SB Tactical design.
SB’s brace locks onto your forearm and provides real support for the gun. It physically straps onto your forearm and transfers the weight of the firearm out of your hand, allowing your fingers to focus on proper grip and trigger pull instead of worrying about dropping the firearm. With the Shockwave brace there’s none of that weight transfer — in fact, it just adds more weight to the gun. The thing isn’t comfortable at all to hold one-handed, and even two-handed it it’s a bit unwieldy.
In short, it’s not a very good brace. What it is good at is being a stock.
Calm down, ATF — I’ve got a stamp for that gun. Two, in fact.
The Shockwave Blade’s rigid form factor means it feels solid and allows for excellent transfer of recoil to your shoulder. The slim profile of the single blade contributes to the great stock-like ergonomics and means the rifle shoulders very comfortably. In short, it makes for a pretty good stock.
From where I’m sitting this is the only reason this thing exists. It isn’t better at being a pistol arm brace than the competition — in fact, it’s terrible at it — but it serves as a much better stock for those who don’t really care about conforming to the National Firearms Act. It allows the owner to have a firearm in their possession that is 100% legal as a pistol, but can be “converted” to use as a rifle in the blink of an eye just by shouldering it. It’s perfect for a trunk gun or “bail out” gun. You know, a situation in which violating the National Firearms Act is slightly less important than your immediate survival.
In reality, that’s why you’d buy the Shockwave Blade over the competition. Not because it’s a better product when used as directed, but because of the “fringe benefits.” That’s okay by me, but by the same token I’m not going to go out of my way to cover it up. The SB tactical pistol arm brace was originally designed and intended to help one specific person hold their AR-15 pistol better. It legitimately works in that capacity, better than anything else on the market. The Shockwave Technologies brace appears to have been designed to be a stock, using that same exemption that SB Tactical pioneered for cover while not actually providing any benefit to people firing their guns as a pistol. It’s a pistol arm brace just like Rachel Dolezal is black.
Specifications: Shockwave Technologies Blade Pistol Stabilizer
Ratings (out of five stars):
Build Quality: * * * *
Build quality is pretty good. There are some residual lines form the molding process, but overall a very nice job.
As marketed, this thing might actually be worse than leaving your pistol buffer tube bare. There’s some marginal utility if you cant your firearm to the side, but overall I’m not feeling it.
Overall: * *
Compared to the competition this falls way short in terms of the stated design goals. However, the unstated benefits are definitely superior. If you’re looking for a sneaky way to get a stock on your pistol, this is the thing to buy. But if you’re actually looking for a pistol arm brace, you’re going to be disappointed.
Can’t wait for the ATF to read this post and then issue another correction of their corrected correction.
Haters gonna hate. Don’t see how this article helps the cause. I for one use my blade as a brace!!! Irresponsible journalism!
Yeah, they’re not doing any of us a favor with this article. Except Sig and SB.
I was going to say the same thing. This review is pretty much a dick move. We all know what it’s for. We just don’t talk about it.
If you use it as a cheek brace and don’t shoulder it it would work as well
Am I incorrect in my belief that the ATF’s opinion* on the matter is still untested in courts, and has yet to be used in a single arrest?
*The opinion being that a pistol is “redesigned” when held in a different fashion.
I have one. Being here in California, it is (was) the only way to go to and make my AR15 PISTOL look like a rifle (not being one). Do I shoulder it? I don’t. But at least, it looks cool on my Mk18-wannabe-SBR.
It looks like that’s exactly what this is for, and it works great in that capacity. But as a brace in and of itself, as advertised, it doesn’t cut the mustard.
Howdy, fellow (ex, in my case) San Diegan. Not really surprised by the lack of effectiveness of this as an arm brace. If you head to a surf shop or your local Dicks, Big 5 or whatever and get a couple of strips of velcro, you can thread it through those slots and secure it to your forearm and it’d work just fine in it’s advertised role.
As I see it, it isn’t a violation of the National Firearms Act but a violation of the ATF’s opinion of the NFA. Whether that opinion is correct or not would be up to the courts to decide. All I know for sure is that I’m not interested in being the named defendant.
Nick just stepped up a few rungs on the integrity ladder. Well done.
At worst he’s opening up legal weapon owners to legal troubles. NFA rules are ridiculous and Stamps aren’t convenient or feasible to some people. I generally like his reviews and articles but this seems like he’s playing for the wrong team.
Really? You think nobody at the ATF has looked at this thing and seen that this is just a mini-stock in an arm-brace disguise? The only thing about this product that says “arm brace” is the manufacturer’s packaging.
The ATF knows what’s up with this thing. They’re bureaucrats, but they’re not completely brain dead. They don’t need Nick to tell them that people are using this thing as a stock to make “almost-SBRs”. And they can change their opinion on the thing at any time, regardless of whether TTAG publishes an article about it or now.
I have a roll of Velcro that’ll make it work just fine. Now if only they’ll send out the Scorpion adapter that was supposed to have come with it and the tube….
FWIW, the buffer tube adapter has never been included in the box w/ the Scorpion. It’s a sold separately kind of a thing…
I bought a bundle from Shockwave specifically including the Scorpion adapter, tube, and blade. The company acknowledged that the wrong package was sent out and are sending the correct one out.
Hmm sorry. Right after posting that I re-read your comment and realized you didn’t mean it was supposed to come with the Scorpion but with the SW. I actually deleted my comment, then refreshed the page and confirmed it was gone. But… apparently it didn’t stick and it rose from the dead haha
So I was cheeking a friend’s pistol with the shockwave brace, and the lower end of the brace contacts my right pectoral(I’m built + barrel chested)
Am I a criminal? 🙁
Does boobing a pistol brace count as an illegal action? Should I just specifically run a buffer tube+ cover to avoid any boob to brace contact?
Nope. The law and the ATF specifically say “shoulder.” I’ve braced these against my sternum plenty of times. Obviously the law was created for good reason and putting it on a shoulder, as stated, is dangerous and instantly turns a pistol into a rifle, but putting it on a boob or a sternum or a cheek or a butt cheek or a groin is a-okay and it remains a pistol. Clearly.
Exactly. Holding a pistol to your shoulder instantly makes it into an illegal short barreled rifle – 10 years prison time for you.
And I’ve heard that no less than 11 kittens die every time someone shoulders a pistol. That’s a fact. That is the only reason we would allow such an unconstitutional series of “laws” or “determinations” to exist right?
Hah, I’m totally diggin’ how cynical this entire post is. The Shot of Reality (TM)… it warms the heart.
Certainly prices better than SIGs offering. Imo, get an SBR. In the meantime, you can slap one of these your HD rifle. Push comes to shove, things go boom in the middle of the night, who the hell is gonna know if you shouldered the damn thing while defending your life?
One witness one story (cops’ words not mine).
$48.95! Liking it.
Who cares about a brace really? Except disabled people. Buy this as a stock and put it on your “pistol.” Making a pistol into a rifle does what for crime? Nothing at all. It’s legislation purely to annoy gun owners, who have no ill intent, to the tune of the gov’s pied piper authority. They blow a whistle, you do what they say – right ATF??
Don’t worry i’m not going to shoulder this thing. I’m going to sternum it. Sternum brace. Or Belly it – Belly button brace. Knee cap brace. Folded under leg brace. Firing it from a the shoulder magically makes it a rifle somehow – so we aren’t going to do that – we’ll do everything but that. But this isn’t really about how it is used is it? Come on. It’s about the money. The ATF wants their $200 bucks. Well. No money for you ATF. Nobody is passing “go.” Nobody is collecting $200 dollars.
I’m firing this pinched between my chin and my chest – no money for you.
Folded under leg brace! That should be in the instructions!
These are on Amazon Prime for a little bit more with 2 day shipping.
I was wondering what would happen if one were to thread their arm around it the other way? Instead of having the brace inside your forearm you have it outside so as to lock the weapon into a stable position… sort of thing. Would it be unpossible (to quote Ralph Wiggum) to aim the thing in that position? I’m just trying to finger out a way to make the thing useful for what it is supposed to be used.
Having said all of that, I’m a bullpup guy so SBRs do little to nothing for me.
Having said THAT, I do kind of want an Extar EXP!
The NFA seriously needs to be repealed, but until then…
I agree, but between now and getting the battlespace prepped to do away with the ATF/NFA entirely, we can see if Harry Reid keeps on his high horse and tries to ram some new gun legislation through, and gut/amend whatever tripe issues from his pie-hole thusly:
amend ATFs charter explicitly removing their power to arbitrarily define what is and isn’t under their purview. They can submit a list of things they think they should be able to regulate, but it’s up to the, wait for it… Legislative branch of government to write laws, not the agencies that enforce the law.
Any items that get kept under their purview become subject to a $5, one-size-fits-everything stamp, that shall be issued electronically and physically, no fingerprints required, subject to a NICS check at point of purchase, and shall have no federal requirements for use/transportation reporting across state lines. Explosives and other destructive devices included. Barrel length restrictions can be done away with entirely, and suppressors completely unregulated.
Add language that explicitly states “the manufacture, sale and registration of new fully automatic firearms shall be allowed, and any existing federal law to the contrary is superseded”.
Add language that explicitly amends the Gun Control act of 1968 to add any lawful usage purposes to firearms being considered for importation into the US.
Add language that specifically removes “constructive possession” as a legal theory.
Add language that imposes a maximum first time penalty of a $5 infraction, maximum fine if $20 and a penalty of whatever the lowest order misdemeanor is, and explicitly does not cost you your 2A rights.
If you travel with firearms a lot or sometimes need to travel interstate suddenly, an SBR/SBS can be impractical due to the requirement to beg permission from an apathetic, overworked, often lazy ATF that can take months to get back to you. If you know where you’re going, you can get a broad permissions slip “I’m going in and out of the next state over from January 1st to December 31st.”, but I don’t believe you can get a nationwide permission slip like “I’m traveling across the USA all year with my SBR/SBS, please rubber stamp this.” These pistol braces are good for rifles you expect to carry but rarely use. Pest control would be good, you don’t need to shoulder it for that and it’s very compact. If there’s an emergency, you might throw yourself on the mercy of the court if you’re charged with accidentally shouldering it in a life-and-death situation. It’s kind of like using a suppressor for a defensive gun use: you ought to be damn sure you’re clearly in the legal right. Home defense with castle doctrine, you’ll be OK if you identify your target. I think you can plan for a defensive gun use to use a braced pistol, accepting the possibility you may accidentally or otherwise shoulder it in the heat of the moment when your life is on the line, for certain scenarios where you almost certainly will never be charged with an NFA violation. A registered SBR/SBS removes the worry, but SBRs and SBSs have additional restrictions and responsibilities to them that can make them impractical for some roles.
” It was only with the introduction of SB Tactical’s SB-15 pistol arm brace that these guns finally became both usable and somewhat attractive looking”
Well, that’s just one opinion. I just finished my pistol build – and never considered using the Brace. The cramped and awkward position that shooters use trying to shoulder the buffer tube is what causes the problem – don’t.
Hold it up to your line of sight instead of cranking your head down to it. Brace it against your chest with your wrist and off elbow down against your chest – it’s a 10.5″ barrel, no way to extend it out 3Gun style. Use a sling to help if that’s what you need.
Shoot it like what it is – instead of making it a faux SBR. With the low recoil it’s just a challenge to control the sighting plane – at what distances? it’s not a sniper rifle, maybe out to 125m. Even the military understands the role of the MK18, it’s shipboarding and urban townhouse use. Yes, some can reach out to 400m, but that;s really the role of the M4 and M16. They don’t work well where the 10.5″ barrel does.
It’s not about the ATF, it’s about not taking the easy way out and just learning how to shoot it for what it is. it’s still a 2MOA weapon, most of the intended targets are 18MOA – which is exactly what I’m going to use it for, Missouri Deer Season, and Antlerless, and Alternate. About 45 days. I should be able to some time off and carrying a 5.5 pound AR pistol in the woods is going to be a hoot, especially working thru the dense brush where I flagged three last year.
Nope, a lot of us don’t need a brace. We intend to use it as a pistol, not a controversy.
OH! The “Fudd” card.
Agreed, tirod. It starts to feel like people are pushing the envelope on the legalities. I don’t agree with the SBR laws but they are the law. I’m not going to whine about it nor challenge the idiosyncrasies of the law and risk losing my right to own ANY gun. I do like the compactness of an SBR so I’ve gotten 6 stamps. I’m not real keen on trying to learn shooting from my cheek or my sternum. Unless you are actually disabled, I find it hard not to see braces as a gimmick to force a square peg into a round hole. If they work for you, great. For me, I’ll pass.
So when do you draw the line? Some laws merit respect. Others merit none. Some even merit “negative” respect. At what point do you man up with some civil dissent?? Also… if a tree falls in a forest and no one sees it or hears it – did the tree really fall? Haha.
“When law and morality contradict each other,
the citizen has the cruel alternative
of either losing his moral sense
or losing his respect for the law.”
— Frederic Bastiat
I shouldered Glock, just ’cause. Does that make it a rifle, now? No? Why not? Oh yeah. Because it’s not a freaking rifle.
I’m sick of ATF’s chest puffing, personally.
A screw, huh. I’m eagerly waiting for the next iteration that’ll feature a built-in friction lock, like the usual AR collapsible stocks.
I mean, it’s still a brace, right? It’s just that there’s considerable variation in arm length among the population.
WHAT’S THE FIRST RULE OF FIGHT CLUB, NICK?
Why don’t we simplify this crap and repeal the NFA? It’s not like we are asking to abort babies in the womb and sell their body parts.
Oh like this is any better than SB / SIG advertising an “arm brace” and using “handicap people” as smoke and mirrors to sell tens of thousands of their brace to non-handicap people. Sometimes gun manufacturers and gun blog writers are just as bad as left wing crackpots.
Cliff Notes: SB and Shockwave and any other company making an “arm brace” are all equally full of shit.
Are the handicapped people any worse off from being “used”?
Because the rest of us certainly get something out of it, that is not otherwise possible due to moronic laws.
So what’s the problem?
Have a brace on an M-92 and it was right handy up till the ATF ruined the experience, who knew my shoulder had such impressive manufacturing expertise? Now if my right knee could just come up with a way to make that thing less noisy, cause a 10 inch AK is louder than the Seventh Circle of Hell!
The private range I prefer is inhabited mostly by LEO…and they stand in line to shoot ‘Arm Brace’ equipped pistols!
….wanna guess just how they are used?
The ATF walks a fine line and are just trying not to make things legal and commonplace amongst the criminal elements…..and if YOU behave responsibly there is little to fear. They KNOW how these are used….and on many quite popular Youtube vids and the authors would not be hard to find.
Holy crap, delete this article immediately. Unless your goal of writing this was to get the ATF to reverse their statement…
Would love to see a review on the Thordsen Cheek weld kit
I agree that the article isn’t helping anyone by pointing out that this thing is better at being a stock than an arm brace but at the end of the day, does anyone really think the ATF doesn’t already know this?
Shockwave, if you’re listening: at least include a Velcro strap that feeds through the sling loops.
Can anybody tell me where to get the folding part in the picture
It’s always puzzled me is that it has the appropriate holes cast into it for a strap but does not include any form of one. .99 cents worth of velcro would go a long way to ‘brace’ marketing.