ATF Being ATF On Pistol Braces


In the next 48 hours the DOJ will publish a letter for a rule change on the Federal Register that will possibly change the public perception of braces and place the ATF in a position to rule on any individual braced pistol to be an illegal SBR. Things like caliber, length of pull, accessories like scopes, forward hand grips, drum magazines and bipods may lead the ATF to deem your particular firearm to be an illegal SBR. However, the letter does not offer any detailed guidance as to the specifics such as the calibers that make it a SBR, the specific length of pull, the weight, etc. it only speaks in generalities. Because the letter does not clearly define what is a legal braced configuration vs. an illegal SBR, it leaves owners to guess for themselves what might be legal and what isn’t.

Owners will have the option of registering their braced pistol on the NFA but the tax will we waived as long as the gun was in said configuration prior to the publication of the DOJ letter. You will also be able to remove the brace, surrender the gun, change the barrel length to 16″ or destroy the firearm. The letter on the Federal Register will be open for comments for 2 weeks. The end of the letter states that the rule change does not carry the force of law. So what does it mean? Only the ATF and DOJ seem to know.

Welcome to the largest gun registration scheme in US history. I hope you’re as pissed off as I am. More to come.

Prince law blog post

In a 16 page draft copy of proposed rulemaking specifying “Objective Factors for Classifying Stablizing Braces”, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has proposed entering into rulemaking to delineate the objective factors considered when “evaluating firearms with an attached stabilizing brace to determine whether they are considered firearms under the National Firearms Act (‘NFA’) and/or the Gun Control Act (‘GCA)” and the Department of Justice’s plan to “subsequently implement a separate process for current possessors of stabilizer-equipped firearms to choose to register such firearms in compliance with the NFA.”

While the proposed rulemaking has not yet been published in the Federal Register, it is expected to be published in the upcoming weeks and interestingly  seemingly in violation of the law  ATF is only providing a 14 day comment period, at least, pursuant to the draft copy. “Written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments must be submitted on or before [INSERT DATE 14 DAYS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER].” It would not surprise me if the proposed rulemaking is published on December 24th, so that most interested individuals and businesses will be distracted by the holidays and unable to respond in the two week response period. To prevent against these types of shenanigans, the Gun Control Act mandates a 90 day comment period.
magic get your free tax stamp part

Consequently, following issuance of this notice, ATF and DOJ plan to implement a separate process by which current possessors of affected stabilizer-equipped firearms may choose to register such firearms to be compliant with the NFA. As part of that process, ATF plans to expedite processing of these applications, and ATF has been informed that the Attorney General plans retroactively to exempt such firearms from the collection of NFA taxes if they were made or acquired, prior to the publication of this notice, in good faith. This separate process may include the following options: registering the firearm in compliance with the NFA (described above), permanently AS SUBMITTED removing the stabilizing brace from the firearm and disposing of it, replacing the barrel  of the firearm (16″ or greater for a rifle, or 18″ or greater for a shotgun), surrendering the firearm to ATF, or destroying the firearm.
GOA response


  1. Does anyone else have the feeling that the whole “arm brace” thing was an entrapment scheme by the ATF from the start? ‘Cos, I sure do…

    First time I handled one of these weapons down at the shops, I was like “How the hell is this not an SBR…?”. The more I think about it, the more I suspect that they had this end-game in mind from the beginning, turning a bunch of law-abiding folks into felons with the stroke of a pen.

    Kinda like that whole Polymer80 deal, ya know…?

      • Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, posting that might not be the best idea, homie.

        I doubt it was an ATF scheme from the start because said items are not registered to individuals (although…………..they still might essentially kind of be, since FFLs have to maintain records of sale for some significant period of time, correct me if I am wrong, since I am not a lawyer and even lawyers can be wrong about these things).

        Since anything gun- and particularly ATF-related IS inherently a political matter, I have to ask, does anyone find it odd that Trump, who is still POTUS/Commander-in-Chief, doesn’t reign stuff like this in, and do so ASAP? My understanding is that POTUS is the executive law enforcement officer of the country, and can fire any and all DOJ, FBI, etc. federal LE personnel literally for any reason he chooses to.
        I am waiting for this to be inevitably blamed on Biden, the Dems, etc (who are all extremely horrible human beings, but my point is that the cancer has metastasized and spread far wider than just the “Left”).

    • No I don’t know. Literally, combat wounded veterans came up with this design and went through a manufacture to get it made and then taken to the ATF for approval to NOT be an NFA item. And the conjecture (an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information) your introducing to people is very damaging to the keeping the pistol brace from being an NFA item. Right now, this topic needs nothing but SUPPORT in the positive light.

        • I hope you take the time to read this in its entirety. Its good info you should be aware of and learn. You are an American citizen and more lethal when knowledgeable and willing to accept new info and think through it. That’s what keeps our AMENDMENTS intact.

          Actually quit a bit. This quote is directly from the letter that was posted.

          “In recent years, some manufacturers have produced and sold devices designed to be attached to large and/or heavy pistols which are marketed to help a shooter “stabilize” his or her arm to support single-handed fire (“braces”). ATF was advised by the first manufacturer to submit an arm brace for classification that the intent of the arm brace was to facilitate one-handed firing of the AR15 pistol for those with limited strength or mobility due to a handicap, and to reduce bruising to the forearm when firing with one hand. According to this manufacturer, the brace concept was inspired by the needs of disabled combat veterans who still enjoy recreational shooting but could not reliably control heavy pistols without assistance. Consequently, ATF agrees that there are legitimate uses for certain “stabilizing braces.””

          So now what if they actually do decide to BAN/regulate. That is forcing original intended users to comply or give up there firearms that have an accessory that literally helps them to enjoy shooting as much as ANYONE else does. Including you.

          The brace makes it so that it is possible to be able to have a better fitted rifle with a shorter barrel for ease of shooting and it directly translates into a safer firearm for them. And that idea extends to smaller stature people. Like, women and kids who ALSO enjoy shooting firearms. My wife and daughter LOVE to shoot AR’s. But they have a hard time with a 16″ AR rifle vs the easier to use AR pistol.

          I would hate to see ANYONE have to register their AR pistol or remove the brace and make it a 16″ gun or literally forfeit the firearm to the ATF and not be able to rightfully enjoy the firearm of THEIR choice.

          And what’s worse. The ATF tries to “sweeten” the deal and say this,

          “Finally, this notice previews ATF’s and the Department of Justice’s plan to subsequently implement a separate process for current possessors of stabilizer-equipped firearms to choose to register such firearms in compliance with the NFA, including an expedited application process and the retroactive exemption of such firearms from the collection of NFA taxes.”

          I have friends that have AR pistols. And like me, have wives and girlfriends that find it much easier to wield an AR pistol that allows the use of a shorter barrel. Placing them at a handicap. Its not the ATF/governments decision to determine who and what a handicap is. Its simple. Ban/regulate an accessory, you take away handicap peoples liberties from them. Including you. UNLESS you adhere to the governments regulations. Or, like you, ignore them and post it publicly.

          Try to support with positive comments on this subject. It only helps. Not hurts.

  2. Since the stated intent is to add all ARs and such to NFA methinks this is the test bed for that. It’ll raise too much ire to force a $200 tax from the start but the American mentality of “I got mine, I don’t care now” won’t readily begrudge the “reasonable” tax-free registration compromise. Especially seeing that if you have to pay the tax you might as well SBR that sucker. And, it foregoes the inconvenience of having to have Congress rewrite and pass a law that’ll get shredded in the SCOTUS before the ink is dry.

    It’s all going to come in rapid fire succession from here on. Quantity has a quality all its own and they know they’ll get something through.

  3. I’ve never been a big fan of the brace as a concept, though I’ve never used one.

    But when ATF pulled its “shouldering the brace redesigns the weapon” business back in ‘17, I knew it was just a matter of time before they came back around and made life very difficult for everyone.

    You couldn’t pay me to take one off your hands.

  4. The most important thing that can be done from our perspective is to make good positive comments HELPING the argument on pistol braces. Not arguing amongst each other. Its not good for the firearms community. Regardless of what you think or feel. Coming together is the only way to keep what we have intact.

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