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ATF Response on Firing AR-15 Pistols from the Shoulder with SIG Sauer Pistol Brace

by G&A Online Editors   |  April 4th, 2014 47

The SIG Sauer SB15 Pistol Stabilizing Brace has become a popular accessory for AR-15 pistols in the past year. The removable buffer tube attachment was originally developed for a disabled veteran to improve the ergonomics of the AR-15 platform.

Since the introduction of the pistol brace, many folks have questioned the legality and advisability of shouldering an AR-15 pistol with the brace attached. A recent letter from the Firearms Technology Branch of the ATF dated Mar. 5, 2014, may answer some of the questions floating around the firearms community.

The letter (below) addresses specific reasons why “[the ATF] have determined that firing a pistol from the shoulder would not cause the pistol to be reclassified as an SBR”.

G&A wants to know from our readers: Does this letter give you the confidence to legally shoulder an AR-15 pistol?

G&A always emphasizes safe handling of firearms and advises that users follow federal, state and local laws and all manufacturer directions when using the pistol brace.


  • WhiskeyPunisher

    The feds may not consider it an sbr but I wouldn’t want to be the test case here in CA.

    • Mi

      Then why live there?

  • Ron

    Don’t have an AR15 pistol and don’t plan to get one let alone the SB15 attachment, but for those who already have that rig or plan to get one, I think I would always have a copy of that letter in my possession while carrying it or shooting it.

    • Michael


      You are absolutely correct about this. Very, very few law enforcement officers ( or the guy next to you on the range for that matter) will know or believe that this set up is not a SBR if fired from the shoulder (or simply in your possession.) If not discreet or if used in public you can bet the setup will likely result in person being questioned and possibly inconveinced for days!!!!!!!!

  • M

    With letter in hand I would try it. But I live in one of the free states.

  • Chimookman

    If I had the pistol I would carry the letter with me.

  • corey

    Most people fire a pistol with two hands, even though it is designed to be fired with one hand. It’s still a pistol because it was designed to be fired with one hand. You could fire any pistol from the shoulder if you wanted to (not that it would be advisable, or that many would want to), but by doing so it wouldn’t become a SBR because it was still designed to be fired with one had. The BATFE is full
    of subtle contradictions regarding the NFA. However I actually believe they got this one right and in a logical fashion. What you have to be aware and careful of, is not all states define weapons the same way the Feds do. What may be considered a non-NFA weapon on a Federal level, may still not be legal in your state. If your state would happen to decide the brace was in fact a stock, then it could still be considered a SBR by that state.

  • Jake

    The NFA needs to be repealed. It is an affront to the second amendment and it’s ridiculous that we actually have to worry about this kind of stuff.

    • Wuz nt Me

      Amen to that! Why isn’t any major pro-2nd Amendment group even saying that? Why the hell isn’t the NRA working towards that? I’m a member but, I think they are pansies for not taking that stance.

      • Mitchell Gray

        If you become a Life Member you can vote in NRA elections. Get enough life members together that agree that the NFA should be repealed and we can make the NRA start pushing that.

        • Wuz nt Me

          I am a life member and I had no idea I could vote… All I ever get from them is spam mail to get me to upgrade my membership.
          Thanks for the tip. I’m going to be looking into that.

          • Wes

            Dude! The NRA helped write the NFA of 1934 and the GCA of 1968. Why would they want to change it? If we got what “we” wanted, the NRA would be relegated to a training organization (where it started) and lose the cash cow it has going now. I say this as a Patron member (#1421034780) of the NRA. Join the GOA or JPFO (although JPFO may now be gutted since being taken over by the Second Ammendment org).

          • Wuz nt Me

            Dewd!!!! White people used to own slaves. Is that really relevant to today?
            The NRA is a powerful tool. It would be short-sighted to just ignore it. Use tools for what they are useful for. When they’re no longer of use then get rid of them.

          • Wes

            Really? Is that your argument? Of course it’s relevant. One does not make a best friend of the person that killed your grandparents. The NRA is a political organization using gun rights to gain power and wealth. The abolition of all gun laws is NOT in their charter. Today the NRA is an extremely powerful lobby that speaks a good game but if one looks closely, you can see that power was achieved by making sure the gun control establishment was a powerful enough force to entice people to join them (NRA) and donate MONEY! Look at the true Gun Rights Org’s and you will not see “Ivory Towers”. Giving money to the NRA is like giving money to the Democrat Party. They “say” they are for the little people, yet their policies create more harm than good. The restriction of our “rights” (it’s not a right if it can be taken away or regulated) pertaining to the Second Amendment all came from compromises made by the NRA for political gain.

          • Wuz nt Me

            Really? Is that the logic you tie your shoes with?
            Using your example…you’re not making friends with the person that killed your grandparents. You’re making friends with the grandchild of the person that killed your grandparents. They’re the same family but not the same person. Unless of course you’re a banjo-playing hayseed that can’t get over a family feud….
            If you think GoA and JFPO can handle the ENTIRE volume of gun-grabbing crap constantly coming down the pipeline without the help of the NRA then you are kidding yourself.
            Like I said before, use them for what they are useful for and then toss them aside.
            If you’re one of those people that has to have perfect heroes then you’re going to be really disappointed when you discover there are none.

          • Wes

            I hope someday you may finally open your eyes. BTW, I never said grandchild. That was you, missing the point.

            Keep on feeding the beast…

            Mark Twain says “I should never argue…”

          • Wuz nt Me

            I didn’t say that YOU said grandchild. That was you lacking basic reading skills.
            Keep on being an internet badass.
            Mark Twain was correct. I should not have argued with a stupid person like you. Thank you for reminding me.

          • Wes

            Well I guess I’m scared now. Someday when you are ready to open your eyes check out Hopefully you will have matured enough to understand what true liberty is all about.

            Don’t bother responding, I will not be continuing this thread.

          • Wuz nt Me

            You’ve already demonstrated a lack of reasoning skills, reading comprehension, understanding of a simple analogy, and your own lack of self esteem (that you need to insert yourself into an already-concluded polite conversation so that you can give someone a piece of your mind (which you obviously can’t spare)).
            Your statements have already destroyed any chance you had at appearing to be mature. Save your pathetic attempts at insulting me. You’re beginning to look pretty pathetic.
            You guess you’re scared…? WTF is your problem? I’m the one that needs to mature but you sound as if your in an argument on a school bus….
            You’re not continuing this thread? Why did you even start it?
            I’m not going to reciprocate with any one particular link. You need to just read some books so you can strengthen your reading comprehension. Perhaps google “analogy” so you can see how those work.

          • BLR

            Wuznt Me,

            You appear to be truly and dysfunctionally retarded. Wes has incredibly valid points but instead of taking a step back and putting things into perspective, you take an entirely emotional stance. A stance that is defensive of an organization you see as infallible. People like you are what’s wrong with this country.

          • Wuz nt Me

            Well, that was loaded with irony….

            An organization, or anything for that matter, must be infallible before you can defend it? You must not be able to defend anything then. How can you even defend Wes because he clearly demonstrated that his reasoning skills are fallible? By your logic that would make him indefensible.

            I need to step back and put things into perspective?
            Since you’re assuming I haven’t done that, tell me what it would look like if I had? If I “stood back” and considered two sides of a debate and found one to be wrong how would I have proceeded differently? Are you implying that no one is wrong and that I alone should not disagree while you and Wes are allowed to declare that I’m wrong? That’s awfully convenient for you, isn’t it?

            If people like me are what is wrong with this country then thank god that other people like me are here because this country really needs them.

            Are you his mommy? Did he run and get his mommy to help him out?

          • Ethan

            Stop posting under guest names Wes. Pathetic.

  • Wuz nt Me

    Um…. this makes no sense. As I understand it, if I put a buttstock on an AR15 pistol I would go to jail BUT, in this letter they say it really doesn’t matter. How is a buttstock any different than a “receiver extension” if either of them allow you to shoulder the weapon?
    However, I really could care less what the ATF thinks. If I had an AR15 pistol with a buttstock on it that would not make me a murderer or a ninja assassin or a rapist or a thief or a terrorist.. That doesn’t mean I’m going to put one on. If I thought my safety and personal self defense required a buttstock on an AR15 pistol then I wouldn’t be asking permission from the ATF or anyone else…. Luckily, I can get along fine with what I have so there’s no need for me to risk the wrath of the overlords.

    • Ryan

      The Sig brace is not a butt stock.

      • Wuz nt Me

        riiiight *wink*
        My question was, how is it any different than a buttstock?

        • Ken Brooks

          shhhh… it’s a Shoulder brace…. stop ASKING questions you really don’t want answers to

        • Stephen

          Its designed to go around your forarm

          • Wuz nt Me


    • Jesse Foust

      The receiver extension IS the buffer tube, not the arm brace. The tube is essential for function of an AR, pistol or no. After that, it really becomes up to the mood of the agent typing out the letter, and has no significant bearing in the real world. ATF may change their mind in a year, and everyone will just have to go back to shouldering the receiver extension directly.

  • howler1968

    If one of these is used in high-profile crime and the anti-gun crowd sniffs it out,the ATF will get a WTF phone call from the WH and a countermand letter will be forthcoming.

  • Jev Adiah

    Playing with fire.

  • Tim Niedert

    If I’m not a criminal and I can afford a Dillion mini gun or a 155mm self propelled it should be my choice not the Federal Governments. I get tired of people saying “Gun Rights” it’s not a Right if another man can take it away!

    • Wes

      Amen Brother!

    • loupgarous

      If you could afford a 155mm SP, you could afford the BATFE paperwork and billable lawyer time to legally own and fire it.

      And there’s an outfit just south of Denver,, which could set you up with a low-mileage, probably low-rounds SP in the bore diameter of your choice if you present them with the BATFE paperwork, end-use certificate, etc.

  • Bill

    I hate to be a party pooper here, but those who constantly bang the drum to the tune of repealing the NFA sound a lot like the crowd who continually call for the forfeiture of congressional salaries in light of their utter failure as a governing body. Neither of these things are ever, ever, EVER going to happen, and it’s a waste of energy believing and/or advocating otherwise. What we need (and possibly stand a chance of getting) are some original and workable ideas for modifying the NFA to reflect the fact that we no longer live in the 1930s.

    • GStandforth

      “modifying the NFA to reflect the fact that we no longer live in the 1930s.”

      Let’s just hope that they don’t modify the price schedule on the tax stamps to reflect the inflation-adjusted rates during that modification, OK? That would bring the adjusted price of that tax stamp to about $2700. That would make the freer availability of NFA weapons a moot point for most of us.

      • Bill

        Not what I meant, but I’m guessing you know that…

    • Ethan

      A defeatist attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
      YOU may not be able to, but WE have spent the last two decades making things happen that people like you said were impossible. Discontinuation of the Federal AWB, Concealed carry in more than 45 states, Castle doctrine laws in more than 35 states, record sweeps in elections dealing with gun rights, record gun sales, record NRA membership, etc, etc, etc.

      You are the past. We are the future. Join us or continue on your way to ideological extinction.

      • Bill

        Thanks for the shot (pun intended), but you need a dictionary as well as a primer on federal vs. state law much more than an attitude. People like me? Let me tell you about people like me. I see the world as it is, you see it as you’d like it to be. As for all the gains you describe, so what? Every single one but the first, which expired without any help from you, are irrelevant in the face of federal law both current and potential in much the same way as the state level legalization of pot means anything at all. When you get the NFA repealed or accomplish anything on the federal level I’ll eat your hat. Until then, stop calling me a defeatist. I prefer the word realist, and realistically, your post validates the existence of the bloviation hall of fame and little else. If I’m the past, call me proud, because in the past it was more important to know what you were talking about than it was to have an opinion. Your post is proof that the opposite mindset prevails today.
        By the way, heard last Friday’s news about the SB15? How did you let that happen? Let me know when you put a post 1/16 video on YouTube of you firing an AR pistol from the shoulder using the SB15. Rubber, meet road.
        “He died screaming in agony, but he kept his moral principles.”

        • Bill

          Hi Ethan,

          Been a day since I wrote my reply, and I’m still waiting for you to clobber me with righteous fury. What’s the holdup-doesn’t the future know how to go big or go home? As for me, I’m just getting warmed up, and as for your original rebuttal to my post, you neglected to list the Brady Bill (and law), the magazine bans, the de facto registration of AR-type weapons in New York, the culling of FFL dealers, the deaths at Waco or the wholesale media demonization of gun owners that took place when the Clintstones were running the show. Guess you were just a kid back then…either that or you were just too busy calling me names.

          I guess that people like you make me so mad because I used to be one (except that I didn’t feel the self-righteous tent revival look at me need to lecture others about it). At the far end of a very long story, I quietly went to bat for what was right and legal and it nearly cost me everything I owned and was, from my federal career to my health, sanity, and marriage. I know what it’s like to stand up and be counted, and I know what happens in the real world when you do just that. I’ve just recently crawled out from under that boot and I don’t need a civics lesson from you, sir.

          And yeah, it’s personal. That’s what people get when they’re more snot than thought and decide to prove it in the course of their feeble attempts to make a so-called point. Come back and see me when you grow up (and grow some manners).

  • Tommy Wade

    hell I dont bring cops with me to the woods to shoot, so how the hell would they know if I shouldered the brace or not?

  • Rob

    Shall not be infringed.

    Shall not = absolutely forbidden

    be infringed = to violate

    Absolutely forbidden to violate.

  • loupgarous

    The National Firearms Act assumed that SBRs and sawed-off shotguns were the tools of the bank-robber’s trade, and that outlawing them would magically end the problem of bank robberies. Now, we have a President who was introduced to Chicago politics by two Weather Underground bomb-throwers. Today’s gun law scofflaw is tomorrow’s political kingmaker. Maybe BATFE is just making sure they’re on the right side of tomorrow’s politics.

    Seriously, though, there’s nothing magic about a stocked firearm with a short barrel. We’ve seen since the passage of NFA and GCA ’68 that bank robbers aren’t worried about having a few weapons charges tacked onto their bank robbery beef. Those three guys who walked into a California bank branch loaded for bear and wearing body armor sure didn’t care about the length of the barrels on their sidearms.

    I wish we had the Swiss attitude toward gun control, which is much more in line with our own Constitution – EVERYBODY of militia age (18-45 years old) gets basic training, and EVERYBODY’S in the Reserves, and EVERYBODY (within reason) gets to buy an SMG. It’d give that zhopnik Vladimir Putin something to think about – a nation with an armed ready reserve of 150 million men. The Chinese might even have to back off some.

  • Mark

    So back to the original discussion. I live in South Eastern California (upper Mojave Desert) I have an AR 15 Pistol I built from an 80% lower that I milled out myself, I followed all the rules in producing this pistol. I keep a copy of the GCA, a copy of the rules for building my pistol along with a copy of the sequenced pictures of this pistol being built into a Single Shot then being converted to “fixed “10 round magazine, I recently put one of the Sig Braces on it and now carry copies of the letters for that as well in the gun case. while I have never been confronted by police, I have been confronted on the range by other shooters asking “what the Hell”, After I explain the procedures and show them the paper work they usually scratch their head and say Huh I didn’t know that, Its legal though? I did educate a cop while at the gun store who left a sore loser in an argument about the legalities though. I feel fairly confident with the possession of my AR 15 Pistol and shouldering the SigTac Brace.


    The “badge lickers” rushing to please anyone passing by and obsessed
    with trying to follow laws that violate the Constitution on its face (let me
    know when the Constitution is repealed) is a great showpiece for why we
    find ourselves in this mess. Reduced now to fighting over how to get
    “permission”. This get’s old….

  • Tom Larsen

    …so, if someone has an AR pistol and puts the tube against their shoulder, have they just converted the pistol to an illegal SBR? What an absurd statement from the ATF…

  • Kyllein MacKellerann

    Sadly, the BATFE has changed their minds (such as they possess).

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