Skip to main content

Fully Braced With AR-15 Pistols

Fully Braced With AR-15 Pistols
Five companies stabilizing the AR pistol.

For most of their existence, AR-15 pistols were a niche item, which is a polite way of saying they weren't popular. Those bare buffer tubes sticking out the backend like ugly and awkward vestigial tails didn't look good, and when you tried to shoulder them while shooting, things didn't work out so well. In fact, AR pistols were so looked down upon by serious people that when Hollywood stuck an AR-­15 pistol (with no sights) into the hands of veteran CIA operative John Clark (Willem Dafoe) in 1994's "Clear and Present Danger," it probably took 10 years off author Tom "King of the Technically Accurate" Clancy's life.

Things have changed. In 2013, SIG Sauer brought to market the SB15 PSB (pistol stabilizing brace). Since then, an ever-­increasing number of companies have been introducing braces, and companies as conservative as FN and LWRCI are offering pistols equipped with arm braces from the factory.

Despite the doom-­and-­gloomers predicting the demise of the AR pistol brace, the opposite has happened: more and more braces of increasingly interesting design have entered the marketplace.

Let's take a look at some of the pistol braces currently on the market, separated by manufacturer.


FullyBraced1
The original SB15 brace was marketed by SIG Sauer but made by SB Tactical. People liked the functionality, not the heft or bulk.

SB Tactical


SIG Sauer didn't make or design the original brace, they just sold it. SB Tactical continues to license/sell their braces to SIG and other companies as the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and they have the largest selection of products. Each one gets approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) before being offered for sale.

The SB15 is the first brace, and it is also the biggest and bulkiest. For strapping to your forearm as a shooting brace, it works better than any other design. If you have the use of only one arm, this brace will allow you to shoot a "long-­gun handgun" much safer and with greater accuracy. The rubber wings that go around the shooter's forearm are curved for comfort, but the brace is one of the widest ones as a result.

FullyBraced2
SB Tactical's SBPDW on a CMMG MkG Guard .45 ACP AR.

Once the basic design was established, SB Tactical began introducing smaller, lighter and more stylish arm braces. First came the SBX, originally intended for use on the SIG Sauer MPX pistol-­caliber pseudo-­AR. While it has a reduced, streamlined profile, the SBX still slips over the buffer tube, is made of rubber and has a strap to tighten the brace over the shooter's forearm. The SOB (Son of Brace, meant to mimic the lines of an AK stock) and the SBM4 (meant to mimic the style of an M4 stock) are two more.

SB Tactical makes braces to fit all sorts of non-­AR-­pattern guns including the CZ Scorpion EVO and MP5 clones, but as this is Guns & Ammo AR-­15, let's limit our roundup to those designs. However, several braces meant for other guns work and have been found to look great on ARs, such as the SBV brace, designed for the KRISS Vector.


FullyBraced3
The SOB (Son of Brace) from SB Tactical is mounted on a Daniel Defense DDM4V7P. The brace comes on the pistol from the factory.

After making a number of single-­piece static braces, the big news about two years ago was the PSB for the SIG Sauer MPX. This had SB Tactical's traditional rubber cuff with the strap at the end of a three-­position collapsible arm, and this brace also fits the SIG MCX. It was the first adjustable-­length brace offered by a manufacturer.

Last year, SB Tactical introduced a new brace, the SBPDW. It is a two-­position collapsible brace made of aluminum, steel and rubber, designed to mimic the looks of personal defense weapon (PDW) stocks. It is manufactured in conjunction with Maxim Defense and is the priciest of the SB Tactical offerings at $300.

At the 2018 SHOT Show, SB Tactical introduced a new brace that got a lot of attention. The SBA3 is polymer with a rubber cuff and nylon strap, but what surprised many people was that the SBA3 comes mounted on a standard Mil-­Spec five-­position carbine receiver extension. It is also one of their most affordable braces at $170.


FullyBraced4
A prototype of SB Tactical's newest brace, the SBA3, at full extension. It is five-­position adjustable and comes with a carbine receiver extension, which is ATF legal.

Many people (myself included) thought putting a carbine receiver extension on a pistol was illegal, but the ATF ruled in 2004 that it is legal. You just need to make sure you're not demonstrating "constructive intent" to illegally manufacture a short-­barreled rifle (such as only owning one AR, a pistol equipped with a carbine receiver extension and having an AR stock lying nearby).

sb-­tactical.com

Maxim Defense

PDW stocks feature shorter than usual buffer tubes and collapsible buttstocks; they take the AR-­15 envelope and make it even more compact. Maxim Defense is well-­known for their CQB stock. This is a nicely made PDW-­style stock with a short buffer tube and multiple sling swivel attachment points. They are now offering two pistol brace versions of this stock.

FullyBraced5
The short-­buffer-tube model of the Maxim Defense PDW Brace on the bottom compares to SB Tactical's SBPDW on the top. The SB Tactical unit has a full-­length buffer tube and fewer features, but it is nearly $100 cheaper.

The first has been made in partnership with SB Tactical, the CQB Pistol PDW Brace. After testing this brace for several weeks, I'm convinced it is the best pistol brace on the market — and with a starting price of $395, it is definitely the most expensive.

The Maxim Defense CQB Pistol PDW Brace features a shorter-­than-­Mil-­Spec fluted buffer tube that extends 5.375 inches from the receiver and has quick-­detach (QD) sling sockets on either side. Because the buffer tube is shorter than standard, it comes with a special shorter/lighter buffer and stronger buffer spring but works with a standard bolt carrier. If you want to upgrade this brace, Maxim Defense offers it in FDE for an additional $40 or with a silent-­captured spring system with variable weights, but the MSRP can rise as high as $550.

maximdefense.com

Shockwave Technologies

People love the functionality of pistol arm braces, but many balk at either the size, weight or price. Shockwave Technologies' Blade attempts to address all of those complaints.

From the side, the glass-­reinforced-­polymer Blade has a profile similar to an AR stock — in fact, it resembles the Magpul SL. Viewed from the rear, it is clear where the name Blade originated.

FullyBraced6
The Shockwave Technologies Blade is made entirely of reinforced polymer and is offered in various colors. It is the smallest, lightest and least expensive of all the pistol arm braces.

Below the buffer tube, this brace is a flat, quarter-­inch-­thick piece of polymer that extends 33/4 inches from the bottom of the tube and weighs 5 ounces. This flat piece of polymer is referred to as a vertical fin. It is designed to press against the inside of the shooter's forearm during operation, providing more stability. The top of the unit can also be pressed against the shooter's cheek.

The Blade has several slots for mounting slings. It is designed to fit standard buffer tubes up to 1¼ inches in diameter and is offered in numerous colors — black, FDE, OD green and gray. The Blade has a setscrew to keep it from sliding on the buffer tube. It is often sold with the KAK Industry Shockwave buffer tube, which features multiple dimples for the setscrew. The dimples allow the user to adjust the distance between the Blade and the receiver.

One reason for the Shockwave Blade's popularity is price — $43. I've seen them mounted on AR-­15s, MP5 clones and everything in between.

shockwavetechnologies.com

Gear Head Works

Gear Head Works (GHW) is one of those small companies that has been chugging along making great firearm accessories in relative obscurity until they introduced the one product that gets them all sorts of attention. For GHW, that product was the Tailhook.

Anyone who has ever tried to shoot a long-­gun-­based handgun with one hand knows that they can get very heavy, especially at the muzzle. The Tailhook was designed to address that problem.

FullyBraced7
The Tailhook Mod 1 from Gear Head Works is machined from aluminum and clamps onto the end of a buffer tube.

There are two versions of the Tailhook, the original Mod 1 and the new Mod 2. Both have a similar appearance — a simple oval — but on the Mod 1, that oval is machined from billet aluminum and can be mounted on standard pistol buffer tubes. The Mod 2 is an injection-­molded polymer unit adjustable for length and sold with its own proprietary five-­position receiver extension.

Pushing the button at the top of the oval allows one arm of the oval to swing down. That arm supports the shooter's firing arm to counterbalance the weight of the pistol.

I like that the different versions of the Tailhook give you different options. The Mod 1 Tailhook is reversible, so the arm can swing down either to the right or the left. It also features a limited rotation QD socket for mounting a sling. The Mod 2 doesn't have a sling socket and is not reversible, but it is five-­position adjustable for length and available in black, FDE or OD green.

As a brace, the Mod 1 Tailhook is an even more streamlined design than the Shockwave Blade and, at 4½ ounces, weighs less. Suggested retail is $119, but that does not include a buffer tube. The Mod 2 package, including the proprietary receiver extension, sells for $199.

gearheadworks.com

Doublestar Strongarm

The newest company to enter the pistol arm brace market is DoubleStar. DoubleStar has been making AR-­15 parts for a long time, and they've also started producing complete firearms in the past few years. The Strongarm is their entry into the pistol brace lineup.

FullyBraced8
The Strongarm from DoubleStar is one of the newest braces on the market. It is a machined aluminum piece that clamps onto a pistol buffer tube. It also features a nylon strap for forearm attachment.

The Strongarm is machined from billet aluminum and was designed to slip over pistol buffer tubes. Two hex screws tighten it down. At first glance, the DoubleStar Strongarm looks a bit like the Mod 1 Tailhook from Gear Head Works, but it functions differently.

Unlike the Tailhook, the Strongarm has an integral nylon strap with Velcro on it. Both sides of the Strongarm are scalloped and designed to fit against a shooter's forearm for more stability when shooting one-­handed. If you want the pistol locked to your arm even tighter, the strap allows you to lash the Strongarm to your forearm.

The Strongarm weighs 4.8 ounces and is designed to fit buffer tubes with a diameter between 1.11 and 1.2 inches. It has QD sling swivel sockets on what would be the toe of the unit if it was a stock. There are sockets on all four sides, and the Strongarm comes with a QD sling swivel. The unit itself has a suggested retail of $100, not including a buffer tube.

star15.com

 
 

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Trijicon

Trijicon's New Specialized Reflex Optics (SRO)

The Trijicon SRO is specifically designed for pistol use. The wide field of view and clean, crisp dot makes it easy for users to find and track the dot in both target and competitive shooting applications.

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Cameras Don

Cameras Don't Lie: Subsonic 9mm vs. .300 Blackout

In this segment of "Cameras Don't Lie," a subsonic-ammo showdown, 9mm vs. .300 Blackout fired from AR rifles.

Guns & Ammo TV: Shooting 1,270 Yards with the 5.56 NATO

Guns & Ammo TV: Shooting 1,270 Yards with the 5.56 NATO

Guns & Ammo Rifles & Optics Editor Tom Beckstrand was on location in Idaho where he pushed the limits of the 5.56 NATO cartridge in this segment of “Long Range Tech” for Guns & Ammo TV. Pairing a SIG Sauer MCX Virtus rifle loaded with Hornady's 73-grain ELD-M ammunition, Beckstrand attempted to ring steel set at 1,270 yards, an incredible distance for any 5.56-chambered rifle and beyond the typical range for an AR-15.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review Reviews

Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review

Eric Poole - May 23, 2019

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick Sweeney compare the visibility of red and green lasers in outdoor, sunny conditions. Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light Accessories

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 24, 2020

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick...

In this segment of Air Gun Reviews: Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle Rifles

Air Gun Reviews: Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle

Guns & Ammo Staff - September 02, 2020

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr...

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight ready.14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See Handguns

14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See

James Tarr - December 20, 2018

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight...

See More Trending Articles

More Handguns

Nighthawk Custom and Korth have introduced two new offerings, the Korth NXS and NXA 8-shot .357 Magnum revolvers.Nighthawk Custom Korth NXS and NXA – First Look Handguns

Nighthawk Custom Korth NXS and NXA – First Look

Guns & Ammo Staff - July 23, 2020

Nighthawk Custom and Korth have introduced two new offerings, the Korth NXS and NXA 8-shot...

Competition shooter and author James Tarr joins Guns & Ammo Editor Eric Poole for some fun and to discuss Smith & Wesson's K-Frame Classics.Guns & Ammo TV: Smith & Wesson Performance Center Classics Handguns

Guns & Ammo TV: Smith & Wesson Performance Center Classics

Guns & Ammo Staff - July 17, 2020

Competition shooter and author James Tarr joins Guns & Ammo Editor Eric Poole for some fun and...

Competitive shooter James Tarr joins retired police chief and current Firearm Instructor Jeff Chudwin to review Walther's new variant of the PPK.Guns & Ammo TV: Walther PPK/S .380 ACP Handguns

Guns & Ammo TV: Walther PPK/S .380 ACP

Guns & Ammo Staff - July 24, 2020

Competitive shooter James Tarr joins retired police chief and current Firearm Instructor Jeff...

Concealed carry is on the rise, and the demand for variety has never been greater. Competitive shooter Jim Tarr joins Guns & Ammo Editor Eric Poole in this segment of “At The Range” to review the Kimber EVO SP, which is currently available in four unique models to meet Kimber's market demands.Guns & Ammo TV: Kimber EVO SP Handguns

Guns & Ammo TV: Kimber EVO SP

Guns & Ammo Staff - July 31, 2020

Concealed carry is on the rise, and the demand for variety has never been greater. Competitive...

See More Handguns

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now