The Draco Pistol: Another NFA Hack?

Center Balanced Systems have updated their AK-style Draco Pistol from a conventional pistol design (in this case a stockless short barreled rifle) to a bullpup design. According to them the BATFE have stated that the new design is a pistol, not a short barreled rifle, and therefor does not fall under the NFA.

Just looking at it I cannot believe how the BATFE came to that conclusion. If it does not have a stock then I obviously do not know what a stock is. Center Balanced Systems have hacked the NFA to a greater degree than Franklin Armory with their Franklin Armory XO-26b.

If you buy this gun make sure you get a copy of the BATFE letter approving the design.

[ Many thanks to Jeff for emailing us the link. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Matt in AZ

    Not a hack, just some fine legal work, amiright?

  • Lon

    What’s the NFA’s definition on what a “stock” is I wonder?

    • Other Steve

      Shoulder thing that goes up?

    • Jim in Detroit

      The ATF doesn’t define “stock.” What makes something a rifle is if it is designed to be fired from the shoulder.

      Also remember that “designed to be fired from the shoulder” and “capable of being fired from the shoulder” are two different things.

      With no padding between you and the steel of the “pistol” i can’t say how this could possibly fit the description of a rifle. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • peter

    I thought about an idea like this before, im glad someone made it reality. functionally this is definitely a way better loophole than the XO-26, but legally its still a pistol. Franklin armories weapon lies completely outside of classification. thats just awesome.

    keltec should do a similar design with their plr 16.

  • Koop

    Put a longer barrel on that pistol, and I might find myself interested in owning such an item.

  • Vhyrus

    If you look at their website you’ll notice the primary difference between the pistol and the bullpup rifle is the lack of the plastic ‘stock’ (Buttplate) on the rear of the pistol. My assumption is that the BATF considers that to be the actual stock of the weapon, while the rear section is considered the receiver (technically true). Since the gun isn’t designed to shoulder onto the receiver, that would make it a 1 point primary hold, which is in fact a pistol. I would be very careful about modding this gun once purchased, though, since even adding a recoil pad to the back of it could be considered adding a stock and would get you in a world of shit. It appears that after years of arbitrary and draconian rulings against civilian firearms, the BATF seems to be swinging the other way now.

    As far as the weapons themselves go, they look absolutely stunning, and I am truly saddened to be unable to properly use them due to my left handedness.

    • Brian P.

      If you’re interested, one of their models for the Mosin-Nagant can be equipped with something they call the “speed bolt”, which they claim can be operated by left-handed shooters too.

  • Chucky

    I suppose those NFA guys have never seen an OC-14 “Groza”.

  • Nice idea against an illogical law.

  • JD

    Just because its approved today, doesn’t mean ATF won’t change their mind later…

  • Coolhand77

    Originally, when they submitted the design it had an integral fore grip and got rejected [fell under the nebulous AOW catagory]. They were going to scrap the whole thing till I, and others suggested to them to just pull the foregrip from the design and resubmit. One of the above commenters is correct, the shroud around the receiver is NOT considered a stock as its only purpose is to protect the back end of the receiver. Kinda the same argument that lets AR pistols have full length receiver extensions as long as there is no stock attached. Don’t bitch too much about it or the BATFE might change their minds again…after all, they DID classify shoelaces as machine gun parts, and recently, pot scrubbers as suppressor building materials because someone wrote them a letter and asked them a question.

  • Jon Mac

    Early bullpup designs were often referred to as ‘stockless’. Useful precedent perhaps.

  • Sian

    I have a Center Balance Spike kit for my Saiga12. It’s good stuff. 19″ barrel S12 in an overall 31 inches? Nice.

    Since this doesn’t have a buttplate/recoil pad, what you’re looking at at the back is just the shroud for the receiver/trigger group. Put one of Bernie’s buttplates on the back, and you have yourself a SBR.

    Personally I don’t think it’s as big a hack as Franklin Armory’s. This started out as a draco pistol, and is still a draco pistol, and you’re still in trouble if you add a foregrip.

    • Remy

      “and youโ€™re still in trouble if you add a foregrip.”

      Are you? I don’t know quite enough about the law to be sure. I noticed someone below mentioned a “one point grip”, but I own a mare’s leg and it clearly is a two handed weapon. I’ve looked at the Kel-Tec PLR-16 and thought it would be incredibly easy to aim if you bought the quad rail and added a grip.

      • Sian

        BATFE has made it pretty clear in the past that adding a vertical grip to any pistol without paperwork makes it an illegal SBR or AOW, I don’t know how Franklin got away with it. Everyone is confused right now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Specifically though ATF rejected Bernie’s draco pistol design until he removed the integrated 3-finger foregrip like you see on his other Spike series rifles.

      • Remy

        Thanks for the info – I was planning on getting a PLR-16 at some point and throwing on a grip. I don’t get why it’s OK to use your hand to grip the front like a rifle, but not OK to put a vertical grip….it’s still using two hands. But then again, we all know the ATF is a bunch of idiots, so that explains a lot. If they threw a rail on top of the new Draco I’d be interested….I’m not even slightly interested in the current model.

      • anon

        “I donโ€™t know how Franklin got away with it. ”

        Franklin got away with it because the XO-26 falls outside all of the definitions: (1) Too long to be considered an AOW, (2) designed to be fired with two hands, so not a pistol, (3) no stock, so not a rifle. The OX-26 falls outside all of the definitions. Franklin truly found a loophole. This thing has just been designated a pistol.

      • Cymond

        Remy, about the PLR with grip: The difference is in the design intent. A handgun with a forward rifle-like handguard can be fired 2 handed, but it is not explicitly designed or intended for a 2-hand hold. Adding any kind of 2nd grip (even a tiny hand-stop bump) means that is is explicitly designed to be shot with 2 hands. I know, it seems like splitting hairs, but that’s how laws work.

      • Remy


        I understand that, but they’re not consistent. As I said earlier, I own a mare’s leg ( ) and it is clearly designed to be held with two hands (especially since mine is a .44 magnum), yet this is legally a pistol. That is why I don’t understand how changing it from a horizontal front grip to a vertical front grip somehow makes it “evil”. Just another great example of why the ATF needs to be disbanded.

    • Remy

      What’s the quality like on your Saiga 12 stock? I’m curious about getting one of these stocks for a Mosin Nagant and maybe an AK.

      • Brian P.

        I’m curious about that too. I’ll be getting a Mosin-Nagant 91/30 soon too, and I want one of Center Balanced Systems’ stocks for mine. They look pretty nice. I’m thinking about the SKS and Saiga-12 too.

      • Remy

        After watching a review on Youtube and seeing it up close, I’m going to pass on the centerfire. The 91/30 is a great gun and cheap to shoot if you buy the surplus ammo.

      • Sian

        The Saiga12 Spike is quite nice. Mounts up solid, is as lightweight as you can expect for machined and stamped aluminum. There’s a few small things that I would change on it (cut-out on the barrel shroud to allow for aftermarket gas plugs being the biggest, also profiling the trigger a bit, and adding a little more contour to the grip, scallop the back of the grip so it interferes less with loading some magazines) but they’d be nitpicking. It’s a very good kit.

      • Brian P.

        @Sian: Please excuse my ignorance, but what are “gas plugs”?

  • Tommy

    I was surprised by the tone of this article. I little 2″x2″ square does not constitute a stock. Just like a buffer tube with foam on an AR pistol is no stock, nor is the truncated wood on a mare’s leg, nor is the larger back end on the Bushmaster bullpup pistol.

  • Jim

    No different in concept to the Gwinn Firearms Bushmaster pistol. It was classified as a pistol because it didn’t have a stock either.

  • John

    so… just welcro the “receiver” and a piece of rubber pad


    instant buttpad!!

    • Woodroez

      That would make it a short-barreled rifle. Unless you stick a 16″ barrel on it, doing that would be unwise.

      • John

        on off 0.5 second~

    • Beaumont

      Grammar Nerd Alert:

      Actually, what you wrote as “wala” is a French term, “Voila”, which can be translated roughly as “See there!” Misspellings of this word are common now, which points to the failure of the American government school system.

      • Brian P.

        Considering he also said “welcro” instead of “velcro”, I imagine he spelled it that way on purpose.

  • Sian

    Just noticed this thing doesn’t have useable sights, unless you actually hold it out in front of you like a pistol.

    Y U NO add toprail, Bernie?

  • Tahoe

    Well, I thought the government’s definition of a stock is a “shoulder thing that goes up”, right? This doesn’t have one of those. I think.

    • Brian in Seattle

      Hah! A Carolyn McCarthy quote. Man, I hate her!

      • Matt G.

        She was talking about a barrel shroud not a stock.

  • Needz moar toprail!

  • Sam

    Is it actually possible to fire this weapon from the shoulder? It seems to me that the sights are too low to use unless the weapon is held out in front of the shooter like a pistol.

    The BATFE may have just decided that it’s a pistol for that very reason. A toprail would allow for higher sights, but that would basically turn it into a rifle.

    Still, I find it to be further confirmation that the BATFE has completely gone off their rocker. A rifle with poor ergonomics does not a pistol make.

    • Cymond

      Go to their Products page and scroll down to the end for the Draco pistol. There’s a picture with the caption “This CBRPS Draco pistol is set up as an SBR with a Scoutscope read sight base. 10″ groups at 200 yards – better than the standard AK.” The only difference that I can see is the addition of the scope mount & scope. Maybe there’s a thin buttpad we can’t see.

      As an aside, many AK fans will take offense at the statement that their rifles aren’t capable of 5 MOA. Many decent quality AKs are capable of 2 MOA (or better?) with good ammo.

  • KTBabs

    Just to note the “stock” i actually a thin piece of polymer over the rear tang of the Draco receiver. In this case, there is no stock because there is no external shouldering device attached to the receiver like the Century Arms AK bullpup. Therefore, coupled with the short barrel, it is considered a pistol.

    • Sian

      The receiver shroud is actually all metal with a nice textured finish on it.

  • GunSlut

    I’d just register it as an SBR, avoid any legal issue, and also be able to put a forward grip on it. My two cents.

    • Bill

      Doesn’t work if you live in a state that doesn’t allow SBR’s, but does allow pistols!

  • Lance

    Ugly looking thing. a Century AK-74 Bullpup is a better alternative to this thing.

    • Matt G.

      Of course it’s ugly, It involves an ak-47.

      • Brian P.

        Hey, AK-47s may not be the prettiest guns, but they’re no uglier/prettier than typical AR-15s.

      • Matt G.

        I must disagree. The AR is not a beauty queen but the finish on my ar is better than any AK I have ever seen. That’s just talking about quality of production and finish, not even going into the aesthetics of the design which are somewhat subjective. Plus due to its popularity the accessories for the ar are much better finished than most AK accessories. There are exceptions of course.

      • Brian P.

        Ah, I was speaking in terms of the design, not necessarily the finish of the two, although I suppose that is a factor to consider too. However, if you factor in the finish, I think the VEPR AKs look much better – aesthetically – than most ARs I’ve seen.

      • Matt G.

        As I say design is subjective, I personally like the ar design asthetics better and the finish simply tops the cake but I can understand that all people are different and like different things. I certainly don’t dispose the AK and hope to own one soon but I definitely prefer the ar.

      • Matt G.

        For instance I’ve always liked the straight line design shape of the AR. Kinda like a samurai sword I guess. While the “bent” look of the Ak stock setup always threw me off. Kinda like a…well, bent samurai sword I guess. Maybe I just have OCD.

      • Brian P.

        That’s perfectly understandable. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like the looks of AR-15s too. In fact, I’d love to own a HK MR556 someday (personally, I’d prefer their gas piston system over the original gas impingement system of the AR-15). I just happen to really like the aesthetics of a nice AK-47 more, myself.

        As for the katana metaphor…I’m not really understanding what you’re getting at. Katanas normally are curved, and their curvature (or “sori”) is often a major factor in both their cutting ability and their aesthetics. If you’re thinking of a straight-bladed “katana”, I think what you may be referring to is a ninjato, which is essentially a typical “ninja sword”, which were regarded as being of lower quality than a traditional Japanese katana.

      • John Doe

        In my opinion, the AR-15 design is gorgeous, clean simple lines. The AK-47, aesthetically, looks like a mess, with the messy handguard, the chunky receiver and the bent stock.

      • Brian P.

        @John Doe: Hey, to each his own, right? ๐Ÿ˜€

        By the way, this is the AK-47 I was referencing. I think it is aesthetically superior to just about any other AK-47, and they’re built pretty nice too.

    • Lance

      Im jealous Brian P you got a MR 556 form HK. Unfair.

      • Brian P.

        What are you talking about? I didn’t say I have one. I just said I’d love to own one someday. There’s no way I could afford one right now. They really are awesome rifles, though. It’s probably one of the most well-designed modern rifles I’ve ever seen.

  • Brian P.

    Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I believe the reasoning behind this being considered a pistol is because the overall length and barrel length are short enough, and there is no foregrip/handguard in front of the grip and trigger guard, as you would see on a rifle.

    • Matt G.

      No. The reason it is not a rifle is because a rifle is “designed to be fire from the shoulder”. Rifles are still rifles (or SBRs) regardless of barrel length, “designed to be fired with two hands” such as a foregrip on a pistol falls under AOW. Pistols that can be fired with two hands, like the Rossi ranchhand or any ar or ak pistol, still count as pistols till you add a foregrip. As you can tell, this law was written by a stupid person.

      • Brian P.

        Ah, sorry then. Thank you for correcting me. But if pistols are designed to be fired with one hand, then why do most people use two hands when shooting one?

      • Matt G.

        Two handed firing of pistols is a recent development, relatively. Back in the 60s-70s revolver days it was considered…let’s say “noob”ish… To use two hands to fire the gun. If you couldn’t hit the target with one hand you needed more practice. Keep in mind this was revolvers so getting a two handed grip ran the risk of blasting the end of your thumb off if you weren’t careful.

        It wasn’t until the weaver position that two hands became the norm.

      • Brian P.

        Really? I didn’t know that. I mean, I remember seeing an old instructional/training video on how to draw and shoot a revolver, from back in the days when revolvers were still pretty standard, and I did see that they only used one hand to fire. However, it does not seem very difficult to hold a revolver with two hands without risk of injury.

      • Matt G.

        Yep, if you watch some old movies most everybody is shooting one handed. I dont really know WHY not very many people shot two handed when it is such a superior grip, but people have been doing stupid things since the first one stood up on two feet and promptly ran into a tree. I may be wrong but i think even the dirty Harry movies consisted mostly of one handed firing, it wasn’t just Hollywood who was stupid about gun handling back then.

        When I say risky two handed grip i mean mostly for us weaver and isocoles(sp?) folks. For instance my pistol grip is VERY thumbs forward and would definitely result In thumb injury if I tried to shoot a revolver and forgot to adjust it. (that’s why I don’t own a revolver currently) I suppose if you weren’t trained In The thumbs forward grip it wouldn’t be much of a problem.

      • Brian P.

        Ah, I see…. Well, I’d like to be proficient in both one-hand and two-hand firing, once I get my first handgun. I finally got a job recently, and I’m planning on buying my first handgun in the next couple months. So far, I’m planning on getting a Ruger GP100 and starting out using .38 Specials, and then trying out .357 Magnum. It’s been a while since I’ve shot anything, but I think after I get some practice with the .38’s, the .357 shouldn’t be a problem.

        Oh, I see what you mean, then. I’ve seen how the thumbs forward grip style with a semi-auto can be risky with a revolver, but it doesn’t seem to me like it’d be a problem adjusting myself between the two. Then again, I’m not used to any one particular gripping style yet.

      • RH

        If you don’t check where your thumb is when you fire a revolver, you can get powder burns from the cylinder gap. This has happened to me a couple of times, but it was no worse than being scalded.

      • Brian P.

        @RH: Yes, I understand that. The thing is, I don’t place either of my thumbs that far forward when holding a revolver, and I only just recently learned about the “thumbs forward” being the proper gripping method for a semi-auto, so it’s not ingrained into my muscle memory or anything yet.

  • Billy Bones

    What is differnt from this firearm tan the Bushmaster “arm pistol”?
    Ergo…. It’s a handgun.

    • Chucky

      In the eyes of the ATF, obviously none. But remember these are the same eyes that, upon seeing a rubber band/shoelace/potato scream “MACHINEGUN!”

  • RickH

    Ehh, who cares what it’s classified as. IMHO just another useless firearm.

    • Tinkerer

      Let me fix that for you.

      “Ehh, who cares what itโ€™s classified as. IMHO just another FUN firearm.”

      • RickH

        No, that can be YOUR opinion. Just because someone builds something that can fire a cartridge doesn’t mean it’s always fun. I can make a zip gun, but it’s not fun, and pretty useless.

    • roger

      I like the design. IT Would be a greatfun gun at the range.

    • projectiledysfunction

      Really? Did you just dismiss his opinion because it’s just an opinion, then hold your opinion up as some sort of factual statement? Hint: all opinions are opinions.

  • Jake

    I was actually kinda excited when I read the title, thought it might be a fun range toy… then I saw the pictures.
    Sweet Jesus that is an ugly gun. I normally am a big fan of AKs… but this is an abomination.

    • Brian P.

      Have you looked at Center Balanced Systems’ other models? I don’t know about you, but I like most of them. Their stocks are designed for a number of purposes, one of which is to place the balance of the whole firearm right where the pistol grip is, so that it may be comfortably held in one hand. They also help shorten the overall length by turning virtually everything into a bullpup type gun. My personal favorites are the Mosin-Nagant standard, Saiga-12 standard and spike, and SKS standard and spike models. Their stuff also seems pretty darn rugged.

      • Jake

        Those SKSes and Saigas look real nice. The Mosin though.. that’s just ridiculous in my opinion.
        Not sure if I’m a fan of the white stocks. Looks very space age, at any rate.

      • Brian P.

        I actually kinda like the white/plain aluminum finish on some of the models, but you can have them give it a black anodized finish, so it’s not like white is the only choice.

  • Andy in West Haven

    Didn’t read all the comments so my apologies if I parrot someone who said, “I’ll take one in .300 BLK”

    • JMD

      Why? 7.62x39mm and .300BLK have identical ballistic performance, and you’d be giving up the ability to use cheap, plentiful, and reliable AKM magazines. You’d be losing a lot, and gaining nothing.

      That just makes no sense at all…

      • Brian P.

        If that’s the case, then what’s with all the hype over .300 BLK? It seems to be rising in popularity a lot lately.

      • WoodenPlank

        Brian, it’s because you get AK type ballistics (with the added benefit of being able to go suppressed with subsonic, heavy weight ammo) in an AR package, all without needing unusual, hard to find or poor-functioning magazines. Same bolt, carrier and magazine as a 5.56 AR, just needs a barrel change.

      • Brian P.

        @WoodenPlank Really? Huh…that sounds pretty nifty then. I don’t really care for the subsonic/suppressed capability myself, because suppressors aren’t really practical for me. The other benefits seem pretty nice, though. I hope it catches on even more soon, and I hope the price of the ammo comes down a bit more, at least. Then, I’ll consider getting something chambered for it.

  • Nicks87

    Why use the term “hacked” ??

    It makes it sound like they are doing something illegal.

    I think it’s awesome that these firearm manufacturers are finding creative ways to get around these nonsense NFA laws. Not to mention that they are unconstitutional anyway.

    We dont have to just sit back and take it from these Govt cowards. We can let them know that their regulations are not wanted/needed.

    Sorry politics… but you get my point.


    Bakunin, an interesting man for his time preached a philosophy of nihilism which fascinated many people and lead to revolutions in Europe against the camp King Ludwig, a flamboyant fellow. Marx on the other hand preached a doctrine of utopian idealism. We on the other hand preach humanism like the French “La Resistance”. Which means that we are not afraid to act against the corrupt and inhumane!

    WHAT IS รง&* A.K.

    The steps to the enclosure of human life have been many. We are no longer free to practise anything whatsoever, rather we are made to practise that which the most corrupt wish us to imitate. Why? Who can accept a state of affairs where a person is not even entitled to their daily bread without slaving for one who is worthless and sits in an office eating caviar?

    Who is this system enforced by?

    The answer is obvious to anyone with any sense of what illusions we are under which for clarity’s sake we will say needs to be exposed like a book of Ken A, to show that this fabric of lies when torn apart really is nothing but the dream of wickedness.

    Battalions line up to beat…

    Endlessly we are surrounded by feudal moats and terraces…

    What is human within us perishes. Therefore in order to save it what is reinforcing it must perish, that is to say those with little humanity left within them who repeatedly batter protestors, arrests innocent orphans and prostitutes and generally keep the humanity enslaved. Catholics? No.


    Our motto is “All who serve what is no more than a wall, by their own hand die and fall”. Therefore we have no qualm with hastening an already occuring process. We are blessed to know that the river of life returns to death like a river to the sea, that the mountains and the appearances of happiness are but a fleeting illusion. We have no problem with knocking bricks out of the foundations.


    We are formed of the following three organisations;

    A.Kettle Armed Front
    The Worldwide Autonomous Community Network, Linking Hands

    Any person willing to deal with one of the green-suited or black hatted enforcers of false laws is welcome to join. We worry not if you have no previous experience, so long as you are willing to train yourself well.

    Listen carefully.

    This is the process, we have various ‘caches’ of weapons stored in forests around England. These weapons are not designed to kill, but they can certainly stun! There is a ridiculous idea that we are simply murderers, yet this is not the case for we only enforce justice.

    Simply, you have to email and we will give you a location and meeting point.

    It is very simple.

    We demand nothing more than your willingness to cause a stir. England is heading for burning.


    We have various bases around the world and possess hidden properties with the Australian Aboriginals allowing easy distribution of our propoganda etc. This is the first you have heard of us but not the first time we acted.

    For example, the recent riots in Greece? In part orchestrated by us. The victories of the FARC in Colombia against vastly superior numbers? We supplied the arms. Do not freak out, we are together a network which has organised more protests and dangerous ontheedge communities than we can count. Just now we have decided to give ourselves a name, because we are quite convinced by secrecy we are invulnerable.


    Don’t worry, all hosted on our secure server in Panama and if you wish use TrueCrypt or 256 encryption of Swordfish. ENGLAND, SOUTH WEST ENGLAND, NORTH WEST FRANCE, OLD FRENCH TERRITORIES SUCH AS SCOTLAND


    Joking. Revolution is neccessary to stop corrupt feaudal kings from ruling humanity. Down with America! Down with Israel!

    • John Doe

      Whatever you’re smoking, can I have two?

      Die spammer!

    • Rusty Ray

      No, surely that should be Das Spammer?

      Couldn’t resist, sorry ๐Ÿ˜‰


  • Sid

    Is the listed price for an actual firing weapon? It seems low.

    • Brian P.

      No, it’s for the stock/chassis, whatever they call it. You need the gun already if you want to install it.

  • mosinman

    these dracos are fun little guns, i think they’d be good for home defense , that is if you live somewhere were over penetration wont injure anyone

  • Bryan S.

    I hope centerfire systems got their quality up. Interesting designs, that unfortunately have the fit and finish of a mediocre garage hack.

    • Sian

      That was probably true of the nylon-ish polymer stocks, but the new aluminum line is well made.

  • James Fry

    Are these people kidding? I’ve been doing this bull-pup stuff since the ’60s. It was ugly then and it’s uglier now with the man-made material. At least back then I had to use a regular gunstock blank, so I could at least put a nice finish on it.
    Anything that shortens the barrel and reduces your sigt radius is not a good idea. If my toys can’t hit a man sized target at 500yds, I don’t need it. And my M/N cand do a 10″ plate at 800yds until your elbows get tired. No way these things even come close.

  • David Johnson

    Hey duh, you couldn’t even shoot that as a rifle,… look how low the sights are … i fyou have a cheek weld then you can’t see down the sights. you’d have to hold it out like a pistol