Are you feeling a bit bewildered by the recent showdown between the ATF and one of their most hated enemies pistol braces? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with updates on the latest rulings.
It’s been a long and tumultuous battle between these two sides, leaving many of us firearms enthusiasts scratching our heads in confusion. But fear not, I’m here to guide you through the twists and turns of this ongoing feud.
As of January 13th, the ATF changed their rule on pistol braces, effectively criminalizing all owners of ARs equipped with a brace and publishing a 300 page document on it.
If you’re not in the mood to read through all 300 pages of that bureaucratic B S, which you probably aren’t, let me spare you the pain and provide the most important bits and pieces for you.
And the latest news as of January 31st the Final Rule for Stabilizing Braces has been published. This means that anyone who possesses a rifle or pistol with one of these devices has 120 days to register them. So if you’ve been rocking a brace on your gun, well, you really should watch this article to the very end.
Before we get down to brass tacks, let’s take a gander at braces and get a firm grasp on what they are and how they differ from a buttstock.
A pistol brace, also known as a stabilizing brace, is a groovy accessory that attaches to the rear of the gun and allows you to shoot it one handed like a boss. Essentially, it wraps around your forearm and sticks on with some trusty Velcro to steady your aim while firing.
These nifty little gadgets gained popularity, especially among the disabled, because they made it possible to handle AR and AK carbines safely and with ease.
In fact, the inventor of the brace, SB Tactical’s Alex Bosco, came up with the idea in 2012 after shooting at a range with a disabled combat veteran and seeing firsthand the challenges that disabled shooters face.
Despite being cooler than a cucumber, braces are actually designed to help gun owners who have difficulty using full length, shouldered rifles enjoy AR style firearms comfortably. So, what sets a brace apart from a buttstock?
The key difference lies in how a brace and a buttstock are used. A buttstock fits against your shoulder, providing better control of the rifle’s recoil. But it isn’t attached to you in any way.
As I mentioned earlier, a pistol brace uses Velcro to attach to your forearm and keep your firearm stable while firing.
Pistol braces have opened up a whole new world of accessories and options for gun owners who need a way to stabilize their AR pistol without adding a buttstock (or shelling out two hundred smackers for the SBR classification)
So now that we’re all on the same page — and hopefully, we are — let’s get to the meat of this article.
The ATF has really done it this time. On January 13, 2023, the ATF made an official announcement regarding their stance on braces, and they even went ahead and published a whopping 300 page document about it. If you’ve got nothing better to do with your life and you want to read through it, be my guest.
But, the real kicker is that on January 31, 2023, the Final Rule for Stabilizing Braces was finally released. And let me tell you, it’s caused quite a stir in the gun community. People are confused, anxious, and scratching their heads trying to figure out what this new ruling means for them and their beloved firearms.
So, to ease your worries, we’ve compiled a list of FAQs that will hopefully help you navigate through this murky new rule. Now, let’s get down to business.
First things first, if you have an SBR, do you need to register it under this new rule? The answer is, it depends. If your firearm has a barrel over 16 inches and an overall length of at least 26 inches, then it does not fall under the NFA and therefore, doesn’t need to be registered. However, if you have a braced AR pistol with a barrel under 16 inches and an overall length less than 26 inches, then it now qualifies as an SBR under the new ruling.
Now, don’t panic just yet. You do have a few options at your disposal. You can either remove or alter the brace so that it can’t be reattached, add a barrel longer than 16 inches, or use an e Form 1 or paper Form 1 to register it as an SBR. And if all else fails, you can turn it in to your local ATF office or, for the grand finale, destroy it.
The ATF has also made it clear that they do not regulate accessories, so braces can still be sold separately. However, braces cannot be sold on a firearm with a barrel under 16 inches without the proper NFA paperwork and transfer process.
If you do decide to register, you may be wondering how much time you have to pay the $200 tax and whether your gun needs to be marked. Well, the Final Rule was published on Jan. 31, 2023, so you have 120 days to register your firearm, meaning the deadline is May 31, 2023.
And here’s a little nugget of good news. The ATF is waiving the $200 tax for pistols and rifles with braces for applications received between Jan. 31 and May 31. But, if you register after May 31, you’ll be subject to the $200 tax. And in case you were wondering, there’s no limit to the number of firearms you can register.
Also, if you own a lower receiver with a factory installed brace, you will have to pay the $200, as the exemption is only applicable to already completed firearms.
Traditionally, if you make an SBR, you must mark it, but the ATF says that no additional marking is required so long as the gun is already stamped with the manufacturer’s information.
Now, in case you’re convinced that you’ll need to register, What’s the process time? The ATF said it’s adding “additional internal resources” to handle the in of e forms and that forms that fall under the Final Rule will be processed separately from suppressors and other e forms. That said, the Bureau was not able to give any estimate on how long the wait for approval will be. So, you’re guess is as good as ours.
Another frequently asked question is, what if you just ordered a braced firearm, and it’s in transit, what do you do? Well, you can’t do anything. FFLs expecting a braced firearm have been advised to refuse the package or call their local ATF agent and turn the package in.
Consumers will not be able to take possession of a braced firearm as of Jan. 31, 2023. The ATF has advised that FFLs can remove the brace and transfer firearms without those. Alternatively, the customer can file an e Form 1 or paper Form 1 in order to get the braced firearm.
What if you’re disabled, can you own a braced firearm without registering? Short answer, no. The ATF says there are no exceptions for disabilities in the NFA. So disabled shooters will have to bring the firearm into compliance just like everyone else.
What if you live in a state where SBRs are banned, what can you do? Well, the ATF takes the safest route by refusing to comment on state laws. They suggest you speak to the attorney general of your state for next steps. That said, if you submit any Form 1 in a state with an SBR ban, the application will be denied by the ATF.
Oh, something that gets asked a lot is, Does a buffer tube count as a brace? No, the ATF clarified that since the AR won’t work without the buffer tube, it is a necessary part of the firearm; therefore, it doesn’t count as a brace.
What if you’re a gunsmith, can you work on braced firearms? Firearms that are braced and meet the ATF regulations as an SBR cannot be transferred to a gunsmith for work until the firearm is brought into compliance through the removal of the brace or approved registration with the ATF. Once it is brought into compliance, gunsmiths can work on the firearm.
The ATF has published a whole FAQ section on its website devoted to this ruling. Admittedly, everything they say about pistol braces is boring and we’ve covered most of the important ones so far, but just so we’re not ignorant of whatever they’re trying to pull, I’d still urge all of us Second Amendment advocates to just read through them little by little when we have time. After all, forewarned is forearmed.