ATF: No, seriously, you can’t shoulder a Sig brace


The Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has received inquiries from the public concerning the proper use of devices recently marketed as “stabilizing braces.” These devices are described as “a shooter’s aid that is designed to improve the single-handed shooting performance of buffer tube equipped pistols.” The device claims to enhance accuracy and reduce felt recoil when using an AR-style pistol.

These items are intended to improve accuracy by using the operator’s forearm to provide stable support for the AR-type pistol. ATF has previously determined that attaching the brace to a firearm does not alter the classification of the firearm or subject the firearm to National Firearms Act (NFA) control. However, this classification is based upon the use of the device as designed. When the device is redesigned for use as a shoulder stock on a handgun with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length, the firearm is properly classified as a firearm under the NFA.

The NFA, 26 USCS § 5845, defines “firearm,” in relevant part, as “a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length” and “a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length.” That section defines both “rifle” and “shotgun” as “a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder….” (Emphasis added).

Pursuant to the plain language of the statute, ATF and its predecessor agency have long held that a pistol with a barrel less than 16 inches in length and an attached shoulder stock is a NFA “firearm.” For example, inRevenue Ruling 61-45, Luger and Mauser pistols “having a barrel of less than 16 inches in length with an attachable shoulder stock affixed” were each classified as a “short barrel rifle…within the purview of the National Firearms Act.”

In classifying the originally submitted design, ATF considered the objective design of the item as well as the stated purpose of the item. In submitting this device for classification, the designer noted that

The intent of the buffer tube forearm brace is to facilitate one handed firing of the AR15 pistol for those with limited strength or mobility due to a handicap. It also performs the function of sufficiently padding the buffer tube in order to reduce bruising to the forearm while firing with one hand. Sliding and securing the brace onto ones forearm and latching the Velcro straps, distributes the weight of the weapon evenly and assures a snug fit. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to dangerously “muscle” this large pistol during the one handed aiming process, and recoil is dispersed significantly, resulting in more accurate shooting without compromising safety or comfort.

In the classification letter of November 26, 2012, ATF noted that a “shooter would insert his or her forearm into the device while gripping the pistol’s handgrip-then tighten the Velcro straps for additional support and retention. Thus configured, the device provides the shooter with additional support of a firearm while it is still held and operated with one hand.” When strapped to the wrist and used as designed, it is clear the device does not allow the firearm to be fired from the shoulder. Therefore, ATF concluded that, pursuant to the information provided, “the device is not designed or intended to fire a weapon from the shoulder.” In making the classification ATF determined that the objective design characteristics of the stabilizing brace supported the stated intent.

ATF hereby confirms that if used as designed—to assist shooters in stabilizing a handgun while shooting with a single hand—the device is not considered a shoulder stock and therefore may be attached to a handgun without making a NFA firearm. However, ATF has received numerous inquiries regarding alternate uses for this device, including use as a shoulder stock. Because the NFA defines both rifle and shotgun to include any “weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder,” any person who redesigns a stabilizing brace for use as a shoulder stock makes a NFA firearm when attached to a pistol with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a handgun with a smooth bore under 18 inches in length.

The GCA does not define the term “redesign” and therefore ATF applies the common meaning. “Redesign” is defined as “to alter the appearance or function of.” See e.g. Webster’s II New College Dictionary, Third Ed. (2005). This is not a novel interpretation. For example ATF has previously advised that an individual possesses a destructive device when possessing anti-personnel ammunition with an otherwise unregulated 37/38mm flare launcher. See ATF Ruling 95-3. Further, ATF has advised that even use of an unregulated flare and flare launcher as a weapon results in the making of a NFA weapon. Similarly, ATF has advised that, although otherwise unregulated, the use of certain nail guns as weapons may result in classification as an “any other weapon.”

The pistol stabilizing brace was neither “designed” nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock, and therefore use as a shoulder stock constitutes a “redesign” of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item. Any individual letters stating otherwise are contrary to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal law, and are hereby revoked.

Any person who intends to use a handgun stabilizing brace as a shoulder stock on a pistol (having a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a smooth bore firearm with a barrel under 18 inches in length) must first file an ATF Form 1 and pay the applicable tax because the resulting firearm will be subject to all provisions of the NFA.

If you have any questions about the issues addressed in this letter, you may contact the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division at or by phone at (304) 616-4300.

Max M. Kingery
Acting Chief
Firearms Technology Criminal Branch
Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division

*This letter can also be found on under the “News” tab.

So… assault weapon laws aren’t new

In case you guys didn’t know, I’m a pretty big fan of knives, swords, and other weapons that predate the gun.  As such, one of the Youtube folks I watch is Lindybeige, and came across this video on the Messer:

The part I found interesting is right at the beginning of the video.  Apparently, it was illegal in Germany for most people to wander the streets with a sword.  Not terribly surprising.  What was surprising to me was that apparently the Germans had defined a sword in such a way that the messer was, legally speaking, not a sword.  The reason?  It hand a knife handle on it instead of a sword hilt.

Anyone else instantly make the connection to the modern assault weapons bans where one rifle is ok because it has a traditional rifle grip on it, but another is evil because it has a pistol grip?  Or better yet, my Beretta Cx4 that has a “thumb hole grip” that I can stick my entire hand through, and isn’t a pistol grip because of a thin piece of plastic?

Yep… making things illegal because they’re scary looking/designed for the military has been going on for centuries.

Smittybilt Cherokee XJ Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier: Initial Thoughts and Installation

A few months ago I posted my writeup on the Front Bumper. If you want to know why I picked up this bumper, go read the first section of that post. I’ll follow roughly the same format here.

Please note that there are literally hundreds of hi-res photos on this post. It will take a while to fully load
Continue reading Smittybilt Cherokee XJ Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier: Initial Thoughts and Installation

Time to go hug your family and friends

I’m hoping that your family and friends are having a better Christmas season than mine are.

Just got news that one of my friends had a stroke last night.  He’s in the hospital, and the doctors are saying that he probably has 3 or 4 days to live.

A friend of a friend is in the beginning stages of a divorce with an abusive husband.  She’s taken out an order of protection on him, and had to call the cops on him a couple times in the past couple months.  Oh, and that includes when he kicked the driver’s side door hard enough to leave damage while she was in the car and then take off with their 3 year old kid a couple days ago.  I’ll be meeting with her in the morning to go over some hand-to-hand self defense stuff, and maybe get her going on buying a gun (the gun thing *will* happen, it’s just a question of when).

Hope you’re having a less eventful.  Excuse while I go hug my wife.

’tis the Season

Well… since it seems like all the cool people (ok… maybe just Borepatch) is posting Christmas music, so here’s mine:

I was going to post “Christmas at Ground Zero,” but I think someone beat me to that one.

Daniel Pantaleo is not the only one responsible for the death of Eric Garner

People like Sheelah A. Feinberg, who think that high taxes are totes awesome, are also responsible.


Because it always ends in puppy-killing SWAT teams.

Sometimes it’s the little things.

This past Tuesday night, I saw a post on a buddy’s FaceBook page that his computer’s CPU fan had died, and he was wondering if anyone knew where he could get a new one locally for cheap.  It was an older chipset (AMD socket 939), so he was thinking he might have serious issues finding one.  I replied that I might have one that he can have, made a not to look for one the next morning, and called it a night.

The next morning (ok, closer to noon), I was checking FaceBook, and he had posted that he had check several places nearby for a new fan with no luck.  He was rather upset that ordering one would mean (at best) no fan until Monday afternoon (due to it being Thanksgiving evening).  I quickly found the part in my computer graveyard, shot him a message, and went over to his place to install it for him.  That’s when I found out why it was such a big deal.

I knew that he had been put on disability a few years back, and had to move out of his own apartment, and back in with his parent’s place.  Obviously, that’s not a great situation to begin with, and adding serious clinical depression into the mix just makes it worse.  I didn’t know about the situation with his brother.

Apparently, his brother had also struggled with depression.  Unfortunately, he turned to illicit drugs to deal with it.  Later, he apparently started throwing alcohol into the mix.  My buddy’s brother ended up OD’ing and dying in his old room at his parent’s place on Thanksgiving two years ago.

So… you can imagine that he wasn’t exactly looking forward to this holiday weekend.

My buddy’s particular escape/coping mechanism of choice is video games.  While having his computer capable of playing games taken away for a few days would normally be a “well, damned.  That sucks,” it was a devastating notion this particular week.  Me coming over with the needed part was a small miracle in his eyes.

Just thought I’d share this story.  Sometimes doing something nice that means little to you can mean the world to someone else.

Slightly unnerving

As you may know, I bought a Kahr CM9 a couple of months ago and it came with an extra magazine. Since the CM9 is a 6+1 9mm, I pocket carry the spare mag.

Well yesterday I went to the range and when I pulled out the magazine, I was greeted with this:


Yeah so that would NOT have been good if I’d needed it. But there was something else slightly more disturbing:


That’s the five rounds that were in my six round magazine. So I lost one somewhere.

So I just ordered this. Now I know why they make them.

Gun Porn: Thanksgiving Edition

Turkey day? How bout a Turkey Gun*?



Browning Auto-5. And you know who designed that, right?

*I’m not a hunter, so that could be a deer gun for all I know. Or duck. Or whatever.

Yeah… we’re that kind of household

Summery of call from wife: Help.  Need to get into car.  Bring swords.