Author’s Note: I penned the article below concerning the SB Tactical Pistol Stabilizing Brace for SIG full-body handguns. At the time the ATF opinion was that possessing this device was legal while running it off your shoulder was a felony. Hold the gun in your hands and you were a law-abiding citizen. Bring it to your shoulder and you were a felon. Citizen, felon, citizen, felon, repeat as necessary. It all seemed pretty silly to me.
Any organization is a reflection of its leadership, and, just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, there’s a new sheriff in town in DC. President Trump has made it clear that he wants to reduce governmental regulation and promote individual freedom. The reversal of this frankly ridiculous ruling is a great example. Now ATF acknowledges that the braces are legal no matter how you hold them. They naturally cannot be designed specifically for use off the shoulder, but you now need not worry about being arrested for the way you hold your handgun.
Law-abiding gun owners are a fairly put-upon lot. Every election cycle, some leftist blowhard declares us all to be a collective menace to society and drags out a new legislative abomination contrived to separate us from our beloved toys. After you brush the slime off of whatever fresh infringement they’ve conjured, you will find the devil resting comfortably within the details. The lamentable reality is that gun control via legislative fiat never works, and it’s mightily tough even to define.
Laws are formed with words. Words are imbued with meaning. English teachers devote their lives to divining the nuances of such diction. Lawyers artistically wield these words to control our lives by means of government or screw people out of their stuff. As it relates to gun control, the foundation is always built upon definitions.
Per American gun laws, a rifle can possess a shoulder stock but must also sport a barrel length of at least 16 inches. There are other parameters, but these suffice for this discussion. By contrast, a handgun can have any short barrel. However, tack a shoulder stock on that pistol and it’s an instant felony good for 10 years at Club Fed. We know it’s stupid, but these rules were crafted way back in 1934.
The gun world orbits around these arcane rubrics. You can bribe the government with a $200 transfer tax and a lot of paperwork and be immune to these rules one gun at a time. However, thanks to some really smart guys who did their homework, you can now have something similar and legally avoid the $200 tribute.
In a bold stroke, the pistol stabilizing brace established a new category of firearm in American gun jurisprudence. Originally designed by Alex Bosco to assist injured soldiers returning from combat zones in running lightweight tactical firearms with one hand, these inspired accessories affix to the near end of a firearm where the buttstock might typically be. They usually include a rubber component that wraps around the shooter’s forearm and a strip of Velcro to hold it in place.
- RELATED STORY: BREAKING – ATF Reverses Position on Pistol Stabilizing Brace
The interesting rub is that the Firearms & Ammunition Technology Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (BATFE) has ruled repeatedly that attaching one of these braces onto a handgun does not change its fundamental classification. This means short-barreled weapons that might otherwise require federal registration had they sported a conventional shoulder stock can retain their stubby barrels without incurring federal ire. With these devices as a foundation, SB Tactical has taken the concept to a new level.
The question of whether it’s legal to run the resulting gun off your shoulder opens up an interesting can of worms. The BATFE has been a bit schizophrenic in its rulings on this. Originally, it said that how you held a gun did not affect its classification. I’m seldom the smartest guy in the room, but that seemed pretty logical to me. Later rulings said the weapon was legal to hold in your hands but illegal to put to your shoulder. Whatever. I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself. However, the newest retractable forearm braces from SB Tactical are arguably the coolest bit of gun kit I have ever seen.
Sig Sauer Hosts
The new SB Tactical arm braces are about 95-percent pure awesome by weight. The rest of the devices are aluminum, steel, rubber, Velcro and various other inert materials. And you don’t just drop such rarefied accessories onto any old beater parts gun. This project deserved some proper iron—especially since I had two arm braces to test out.
Lots of gun companies make cool stuff. Sig Sauer makes guns for gun guys. The Sig P516 is a stubby little AR-platform pistol with all the bells and whistles. The barrel on my copy is 7.5 inches long, and the operating system is piston driven for supreme reliability. The tidy little pistol is festooned with railed real estate adequate for tactical bling. The muzzle blast will loosen your fillings, and the Mars Rover can probably register the muzzle flash if you fire this thing in dim light. The combination of state-of-the-art engineering and Sig’s magic pixie dust means this little gun will run reliably until you get tired of shooting it. Additionally, the stubby buffer tube is left slick as a baby’s butt, awaiting SB Tactical’s newest toys.
If parting your hair via 5.56mm muzzle blast isn’t your bag, the Sig MPX is the coolest tool to throw 9mm rounds downrange since Georg Luger dreamed up the P08 more than a century ago. Originally contrived as a sort of Information Age replacement for the HK MP5, the MPX is the top dog among modern 9mm carbines. The controls nicely mimic your favorite AR’s, and the gun sports ambidextrous everything. The recoil is an afterthought, the magazines are made of translucent polymer, and running the gun will make you weep about everything you had long been missing with your otherwise-pedestrian AR.
The M4-style charging handle has latches on both sides, and the magazine well is nicely beveled for fast reloads. Right-handed? Left-handed? The SIG MPX doesn’t care. The gun is available as a 16-inch-barreled carbine, but SB Tactical just rendered that gun obsolete.
Adding The SB Tactical Braces
SB Tactical’s SBM4 Pistol Stabilizing Brace is fairly conventional. Of course, that’s like saying the F-22 Raptor is a fairly conventional fighter jet, but it’s still conventional for its class. To run the SBM4, you simply slide the rig onto any appropriate AR buffer tube and go to town. The friction fit is loose enough to let the device be positioned to your liking yet adequately firm for proper tactical stability. The resulting gun is immensely powerful, shoots straight and could ride in the center console of your pickup. Add a handful of spare magazines and you can look forward to the zombie apocalypse with a sense of warm anticipation. I added the SBM4 to the Sig Sauer P516.
- RELATED STORY: Sweet Sig MPX – A Piston-Driven & Feature-Rich 9mm Carbine
The MPX Pistol Stabilizing Brace (PSB) that I added to the MPX is a different beast. A similar rubber brace is affixed to the near end of a pair of steel struts that slide alongside the MPX receiver in the same manner as the factory collapsible stock. This design lets the brace be optimally configured for various forearm anatomies. It also makes those of us who might have dumped two C-notes on the paper to register a short-barreled rifle look awfully stupid.
Limitations of language preclude my adequately describing how cool this thing is. With the brace collapsed, the overall package fills the same geometrical envelope as an MP5. The brace extends to a length adequate for proper close-quarters-battle use. You operate the device via a simple top-mounted push button that’s easy to manage with gloves or sweaty hands.
If you enjoy paying taxes, move to the next article. But if testosterone courses through your plumbing, these new rigs will add some hair to your chest.
I outfitted my MPX with a Sig red dot (yep, Sig makes those, too) along with a SureFire X400 white light/green laser unit. I topped the package off with a Gemtech GM9 sound suppressor. The MPX uses weird metric reverse threads on its muzzle to keep apes like me from screwing on some .22-caliber muzzle accessory by mistake and transforming their cool new gun into a bomb. Adapters are also currently available at reasonable cost online.
The result is a pair of high-speed tactical guns that are as effective as they are sexy. Aside from the GM9, both heaters can still be transferred like standard handguns, too. The tricked-out P516 is half the size of your conventional M4 while retaining the same tactical capabilities. The brace-equipped Sig MPX is the new king of my gun room. It sits alongside a half-dozen spare magazines quietly waiting to be called upon to defend the Dabbs house against whatever unpleasantness might come knocking. It beat out some kick-ass iron to earn that coveted spot, too.
Consider inventions such as the wheel, the light bulb, the integrated circuit, pressurized cheese in a can and the SB Tactical Pistol Stabilizing Brace. Each contrivance incontrovertibly changed the world. In the case of the latter, it has all but made the NFA transfer tax obsolete. If local regulations prevent you from owning guns like these, you should move. Because this, my friends, is what freedom looks like.
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This article was originally published in ‘Ballistic’ Summer 2017. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.