PSA: Critical Analysis Of Shouldering A Brace

Just before the NRA Annual Meeting, SB Tactical released the amazing reversal letter from the ATF about shouldering “Stabilizing Braces”. The community rejoiced. All across social media, gun groups were overjoyed. However, some were a little too eager and jumping to the wrong conclusions.

The letter that was released was directed to SB Tactical and for their line of products. However, some people believe that this letter applies to all braces. It is my opinion that this is further from the truth. Let us look at the evidence.

In 2015 ATF publicly released their “OPEN LETTER ON THE REDESIGN OF STABILIZING BRACES”. Go ahead and Google it. That letter is not addressed to anyone in particular, whereas this recent letter is addressed to Mark Barnes Esq. Outside Counsel to SB Tactical.

So what does that actually mean? That letter is for SB Tactical and their products. What about the other stabilizing braces out there? The only two that have any real possibility are the Gearhead Works and the Shockwave Blade.

Marty of Shockwave Technologies posted on his website that shouldering the Blade is ok. However critical thinking gives me cause for concern.

I just got off the phone with a very nice gentleman at ATF Tech Branch—who was fielding these calls today. (He was, understandably, very well versed on the subject—and very nice about it even though he’s been on the phone all day, repeating himself ad nauseam.) I identified myself and asked him specifically if the letter that’s making the rounds is limited to one company’s products–or if it applies to all pistol stabilizing braces. He said: “The letter covers all pistol stabilizing braces, including the Shockwave Blade.” So that settles that.

He then gave me a bit of further guidance for our customers:

  1. By “permanent affixing,” ATF considers that to be adding permanent Loctite to the large set screw that secures the Blade into the dimples in the KAK tube. As long as you don’t red Loctite the set screw in place, ATF considers it to be “temporarily placed” and “perfectly okay to shoulder.” (He didn’t beat around the bush on this topic.)
  2. “Length of pull”—for lack of a better word regarding pistol braces—begins to enter a “gray area” above 13.5″. Above 13.5″ begins “to enter shoulder stock area.” (His words. I believe this has to do with the “comfortableness” aspect.) On an AR-15, the “length of pull” for the Blade is approximately 13.13″, so no issues there. But if you use the Blade on a firearm that requires a large adapter of some sort, please make sure that you only use the dimples up to the point that you remain below the 13.5″ length. Stay below 13.5″ and according to ATF, it’s okay to shoulder a Shockwave Blade.

So there you have it. Anything you read to the contrary on a web forum, social media site or industry blog is simple misinformation by people who are not being completely honest.

Marty reached out to me privately on Facebook when I was asking questions about this mystery ATF Agent that was able to give an opinion over the phone. Marty claims that the ATF Agent in question desires to remain anonymous but Marty provided his name and phone number so I could verify what Marty claimed. I did my best in contacting said Agent but unfortunately was never able to get in touch with him. I was able to ascertain the Agent’s title and role in the ATF. He is a “Firearms Enforcement Officer” in the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) of the ATF. They are the people who draft technical opinions. When I called the number for this Agent, it went to a busy tone every time. So I called FATD directly to try and talk to someone. Their answering system clearly states that the Firearms Technology Branch does not respond to inquiries regarding technical, policy or legal questions over the phone or email. Questions must be submitted in writing. Go ahead and try calling them (304) 616-4300. Press 3 for private citizen and you get the same response as I did.

So how did Shockwave get an agent over the phone? There is an option for FFL holders over the phone. But is that really important? Not really. Marty of Shockwave probably did talk to someone. I’m not debating the validity of the conversation but the authority this person has to make determinations over the phone. I talked to my local ATF office and the Agent I spoke to expressed his opinion on the matter as well. But that is all it is. Just someone’s opinion. Even though the Firearms Enforcement Officer gave his opinion over the phone what weight does that carry? Look back at the SB Tactical letter. It is written by Marvin G Richardson, he is the third highest person in the ATF. Not some nameless Firearms Enforcement Officer who wishes to remain anonymous.

There are other things you should be critically analyzing and that is Shockwave’s response. As I pointed out, the ATF reversal letter is addressed to SB Tactical. And yet Marty claims “The letter covers all pistol stabilizing braces, including the Shockwave Blade.”

I find it interesting that this “letter” applies to Shockwave when they distanced themselves when the Open Letter was released. Here is a screen cap of Shockwave’s response to the Open Letter.

So which is it? An Open Letter that is meant for the public doesn’t apply but a private letter does apply sounds like double talk.

If we assume that the private SB Tactical letter does apply to other braces then shouldn’t the entire letter apply then?

In SB Tactical’s letter, it mentions steps one could take that undermine’s the stabilizing brace’s ability to function. Specifically, length, which Marty mentions in his public post but skipped the part about removing the arm strap. While the Blade has slots for a strap, the Blade does not come with straps. So doesn’t that undermine its ability to be used as a brace? I suppose you could add a simple strap and comply with the letter if it does apply to the blade.

But what about the Gearhead Works Tailhook?

We do have confirmation from the ATF that this announcement applies to ALL pistol braces despite what some sources are claiming.

Gear Head Works is pleased to announce that the ATF has reversed their prior ruling on “use” of a forearm brace for a pistol as a shoulder stock constituting a “redesign” or “remaking” of the pistol as a short barreled rifle subject to NFA restrictions.

Gear Head Works sells two models of stabilizing braces which have been approved by the ATF for sale and use on pistols in the United States. In a January 2017 letter, the ATF declared that Gear Head Works’ Tailhook MOD1 and Tailhook MOD2 were a “forearm brace” such that when a Tailhook is attached to an AR-type pistol, the classification of the weapon as a pistol is not altered. That is, the weapon remains a pistol when a Tailhook is attached and does not become a short barreled rifle subject to NFA restrictions.

In Gear Head Works’ January 2017 approval letter for the Tailhook, the ATF refers back to their “January 2015 Open Letter on the Redesign of Stabilizing Braces” for information on use of the Tailhook as a shoulder stock constituting a redesign or remaking of a weapon. According to the new ATF letter dated March 2017, the prior guidance on use of an approved forearm brace as a shoulder stock constituting a “remaking” or “redesign” of a firearm has been reversed. ATF has concluded that attaching a forearm brace doesn’t ‘make’ a short-barreled rifle because it is not intended to be and cannot comfortably be fired from the shoulder. Therefore, an NFA firearm has not been made when the forearm brace is not reconfigured for use as a shoulder stock – even if the attached firearm happens to be fired from the shoulder.

They make the same claim as Shockwave Technologies. But where is the proof? What confirmation is there? How come they don’t have their own letters? Tinfoil hat time, you shoulder a non-SB tactical brace and something bad happens. You get charged with making an NFA item. What do you say in court? “Gearhead Works and Shockwave said it was ok” won’t do well for you in court like a letter from the ATF.

But there are bigger issues at large as well with these two products. Look at their approval letters.


In that last page it specifically calls out “AR-Type Pistol” and goes on to say that the findings are only based upon what was submitted. They only submitted the Tailhook on an AR Type Pistol. And yet we have seen examples online of the Tailhook on the back of KRISS Vectors, MP5s, and CZ Scorprions.

If the design, dimensions, configuration, method of operation, or materials used were changed our determinations would be subject to review

So have they gotten approval for the use of the Tailhook on pistols other than AR-Type pistols? Not that I have seen. Also the same problem arises with the inclusion of the Tailhook into the SB Tactical letter. The Tailhook does not have an arm-strap. So by removing the Arm-strap doesnt that undermine its ability to be used as a brace?

Now take a closer look at Shockwave’s approval letter.

Look at the photo of the Blade that was submitted. Here are some photos I dug up of the original Blade.

That looks nothing like what is being sold now.

The old blade used two screws, one in front and one in back to clamp the blade onto a pistol buffer tube. The new one has a single set screw similar in position as a carbine stock. It is used in conjunction with the 12 position KAK buffer tube. This is a considerable change in functionality. The current blade is adjustable and nothing in the approval letter mentions adjustability but it does mention “flexible” The current Blade is not flexible at all.

If we look back at the GHW letter, it did mention that any changes would require a review of the ATF’s determination. Has Shockwave and KAK gotten a new letter approving their latest Blade? Marty claims that the length is 13.5″ and to stay compliant just keep the blade under that length. But isn’t there such a thing as constructive intent? That would be like attaching a folding stock to a pistol and advising people to keep it folded and you are good to go. That doesn’t work so why should this apply as well?

So what does all this mean? SB Tactical did some serious work to get a letter from some high ranking officials in the ATF. That is hard evidence you can take to court. Gearhead Works and Shockwave are only claiming their products are good to go. Doesn’t that make them liable for any issues? Doesn’t that put their consumers at risk? If their products are good to go then why don’t they have letters from the ATF saying the same thing? It’s not that hard to get a letter. According to the ATF’s Firearms Technical Branch phone system, anyone can submit an inquiry in writing. If you have a brace that is not made by SB Tactical I would be skeptical about shouldering it until something more concrete is seen rather than said.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at


  • RSG

    What stands out to me the most on the tailhook is the position on the buffer tube. It sits 3 or 4 inches from the end in the pictures submitted to the ATF. Configured there would make it almost impossible to shoulder. It was approved for that configuration, and the ATF clearly states any changes of configuration would require further review. That’s my take. If I owned either company, tailhook or the shockwave, I’d hire my own attorney and get a product specific letter clarifying legality. I own an original SB brace on my go to home defense 300blk pistol. I wouldn’t feel comfortable using the other products right now. But that’s just me. Ymmv.

    • I agree 100%. I also think they are purposely NOT getting those letters, because it is extremely difficult to do. They can sell anything that is in the gray area, hope they don’t get sued, and profit. But if their product submission gets denied, then it is back to the drawing board.

    • Paul Reavis

      The Tailhook wasn’t mounted in that location on the tube when it was sent in and when it was received back form the ATF. They clearly adjusted it to several positions during their inspection.

  • That guy in the header needs a brace for his eyeballs.

    I don’t know why so many people are so desperate to plant a flag on a hill over this stuff that they run right past the guy holding a sign that says “Don’t commit any felonies while you have a pistol brace stuck to your shoulder and it will never be an issue”. Literally no one has ever been threatened with prosecution for shouldering a brace outside the context of already being charged with multiple other crimes like drug dealing or illegal firearm manufacturing/sales or mass murder or assaulting law enforcement officers, et cetera– it is, in actual real world practice, solely used as a stacking charge to make sure something sticks hard enough that a suspect/defendant either goes up the river for a good long time or is convinced to sign a plea bargain and save the Feds the effort of a trial.

    Don’t commit felony crimes, and you won’t be charged with felony crimes. It’s usually a pretty good plan.

    • DanGoodShot

      Seriously man. Why don’t people seem to get it? Do people really think the ATF is going to come knocking down their door because their brace touched their shoulder at their local range or in their backyard? Thats just retarded and I think people going back n fourth like this on the interweb pushing the atf for a definitive is going to poke the bear one too many times and their just going to ban the things outright. People need to just shut up about it. Enjoy what they have. Stop posting videos saying”look at me! Eff the ATF. Hahahah.” And stop writing about it too. Just shut up, be safe, smart, go shoot n have fun. Just let this whole “can we or can’t we” conversation die already.
      Edit: Just my opinion on it.

    • chedolf

      Literally no one has ever been threatened with prosecution for
      shouldering a brace outside the context of already being charged with
      multiple other crimes…

      Has anyone ever been charged even in that context? Would be news to me, but I haven’t followed the subject closely.

      The ATF isn’t the issue. No federal prosecutor will want to waste time on ambiguous garbage like this. They prefer sure bets and perfect conviction records.

    • chedolf
    • Ben Rogers

      An illegal SBR is a felony crime. Yes people go to prison for owning illegal SBRs.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        Proving someone contacted their brace on one part of their body and not a slightly different part of your body that is literally an inch away is *not* a sure bet.

      • No one has ever gone to prison because they shouldered a pistol brace, though, which was my point– I’m not even aware of anyone ever having been charged with this as part of a bust for [long list of other federal crimes], but that is the one and only context in which “shouldering a pistol brace” would even be considered by prosecutors as a charge. To my knowledge– and by all means, correct me with some sources if you know of any, I sincerely want to hear about them if they exist– all the people who’ve been charged with owning/manufacturing illegal SBRs were nailed because they just straight up manufactured an SBR, with an actual intended-as-such stock on a <16" barreled rifle.

  • Jeez Louise

    But, freedom! Murica!

  • DanGoodShot

    Ok… people really need to chill out over this. I highly doubt that the atf is going to waste resources on joe shmoe at the range with his brace that touched his shoulder. I believe the letter that was put out pertaining to the “redesign” in 2015 was more of a response to the videos popping up on youtube and given the political climate at the time, it was more of a show than anything else. Basically, shoulder the d@mn thing. Just shut up about it, don’t put out videos and posts “poking the bear”(atf) and all will be fine. Why can’t people seem to get that???

    • iksnilol

      Found the ATF agent!

      • DanGoodShot

        Shhhh. 😉

    • Phillip Cooper

      We are a country of the rule of law. That means that wording of the law has meaning. That’s the issue here.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        “If it is not expressly forbidden, it must be allowed”. If we keep poking the bear, again, then the ATF will leave the issue alone. If we keep calling/writing them and asking for clarification, again and again, then they will reverse their reversal of their reversal and make it illegal again, just like they did before.

        I’m not saying ‘bow down to your ATF overlords’, I’m saying that we have a good thing going and people trying to be too-specific will screw it up for all of us. AGAIN.

      • Wow!

        The issue of the rule of law says “shall not be infringed”. I mean, that is only if the rule of law is what we are going to adhere to.

        • Phillip Cooper

          Preaching to the choir. I completely agree.

    • Ark

      Couldn’t agree more. They do have actual criminals to chase after. I don’t think your average ATF agent wants to play Brace Police any more than I do.

      • you underestimate how petty the atf is. it is an agency designed to curtail constitutional rights.

        • DonDrapersAcidTrip

          Always with the drama

          • you trust the benevolent hand of government? remember ronald reagan told us that the scariest nine words are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”

          • DonDrapersAcidTrip

            I’m always baffled at people who think government in all forms is bad but capitalism is apparently some natural karmic balancing universal force

          • RickOAA .

            Gee, they have such a good reputation when over taking formerly private endeavors…

            Capitalism is at its core fundamentally by consent.

            Government by force and coercion.

            The most effective and prosperous economies and societies are those that are most free.

          • DonDrapersAcidTrip

            “Capitalism is at its core fundamentally by consent.”
            lmao in what world. work or starve is not a “choice”

            “effective and prosperous economies” is not = “effective and prosperous societies”

            “Government by force and coercion.”
            So when a billion dollar corporation dumps toxic waste in a river whats that? The free market innovating your tap water?

          • RickOAA .

            “Living wage” has been and continues to be political rhetoric. There is a formula to determine what percentage will be unemployed by such wages.

            Enabling people has not been productive. These are not new issues. There’s a relatively fixed ratio for rich/poor/middle class. The social policies of progressives in the past decade shrunk the middle class while increasing both the number of poor and the evil 1% boogeyman. These policies effectively do more harm than good.

            The big Flint water fiasco was a local government failure, not some evil corporation.

            The pipeline hysterics were just that. All treaties were made, routes and proper measures taken well before people threw a fit over it. That was just the usual useful idiots being useful idiots.

            The failure that is our increasingly influential and powerful federal government is more of it? I don’t think so.

            This rhetoric of big government savior and big business evil is your social authoritarian and economic fascist propaganda at work.

          • DonDrapersAcidTrip

            “The social policies of progressives in the past decade shrunk the middle class while increasing both the number of poor and the evil 1% boogeyman.”

            Yeah nothing says progressive like tax cuts for the rich and gutting unions.

          • iksnilol

            Somalia is technically the free-est economy, why isn’t it the most effective/prosperous?

          • RickOAA .

            What a stupid example, obtuse argument, and logical fallacy.

            Go argue with another idiot.

          • iksnilol

            It’s only a stupid argument because you’ve no other response to it.

          • Wow!

            Government is only good when it follows the law. The BATFE is a clear violation of the supreme law.

          • Wow!

            FBI chase criminals. BATFE tryst to make an example out of people in order to validate their own existance. The reality is all the forensic database that the BATFE holds really give us next to nothing for the cost, and on top of that the FBI could run the entire thing cheaper and more efficiently if given the chance.

    • yeah you say that until someone gets thrown in jail for 25 years on weapons charges just to set an example of him

    • Gabe Is Fat

      So basically “Dont shoulder your brace or they’ll take away our right to shoulder the brace!”

      Sometimes the highhorse gun community is worse than the ATF.

      • Wow!

        The real threat to 2A is not the BATFE or the gun grabbers, it is us the gun owners who police ourselves, attack others as “the reason” people want to violate 2A, and comply with illegal restrictions.

      • Rogertc1

        Agree with you Gabe is Fat. We are our own enemy.

    • lucusloc

      “Stupid crap” like wanting a small handy firearm without having to pony up a $200 stamp and a damn near year long wait? I honesty think we should poke that bear as much as possible, just to show people how onerous theses laws actually are. Get every average joe gun owner asking what the hell is up with all these arm braces, and bury them under and avalanche of (sometimes contradictory) letters telling them how they can and cannot use them. Start making the ATF defend their letters in court. Start generating sympathetic defendants; average joe gun owner who bought what he thought was a legal brace to install on his pistol, but is now somehow an SBR for reasons only known to the ATF. Make the ATF make the choice to either go after thousands of innocent people or declare the law unenforceable as written.

      Acquiescence is how laws like this last a hundred years. Enough is enough, so poke the bear a lot. Every last little thing. How angled is not enough angel, and the grip is now “vertical”? How much rifling is necessary to make a rifle, and not a smoothbore? Make them write a letter that explicitly defines where a brace ends and a stock begins. Don’t let them tiptoe around by using “judgment calls” and “advisory opinions” and all the other nonsense. Force them to define the meanings explicitly, so that anyone can design a product an know for sure if ti is legal or not without having to hire a dozen lawyers.

    • That Guy

      People are really overblowing this shoulder brace thing.

      1) ATF agents really dont have time to stake out gun ranges and see who’s shouldering a braced gun, believe it or not there are actual real bad guys (violent felons, drug dealers, traffickers, etc.) out there doing bad things that they would rather go after.

      2) Even if an ATF agent did put a case on someone for shouldering a brace, the US Attorneys office isn’t going to prosecute something that miniscule for the exact same reasons listed above. There are only so many AUSAs and they would rather pursue cases that are going to make a more significant impact and look good on a resume.

      The federal gov has only so much time and resources and I doubt any of either will be spent to go after someone shouldering a brace. It’s fine to be wary of the gov, but we also need to sprinkle a little reality in there.

  • Hellbilly

    As already stated by others: Who gives a f? I swear we gun owners are our own worst enemy sometimes. This whole brace thing has become ten times worse than 922(r) (“Oh no!!! I might be a part short on my parts count because I don’t know if this trigger is made in the USA or not! I better submit it to the ATF for analysis!”)

    “Oh no!!! I better not let this brace touch my shoulder while shooting on my own 200 acre property! There might be an ATF drone watching me from the sky!

    “Oh no!!! I’m not sure if I’m allowed to fire a gun while hanging upside-down from monkey bars and while holding a popsicle! I better ask the ATF for permission ten million times to see if I can do this!”

    • DanGoodShot

      Yesss. Atleast a few people get it. You are so right with regard to gun owners being our own worst enemy. Some people are so obsessed with being a good little Johnny following the rules they screw things up for the rest of us. Yes, absolutely follow the law. But man, stop bothering the atf and use some d@nm common sence. If you don’t contact them, put out stupid videos of stuipid crap and write stupid articles that over analyze and bring unwanted atention. Do we really need to keep spoon feeding anti gunners ammo against us??

      • Wow!

        The irony is where has being a good little Johnny and following illegal restrictions got us? Right, with even more restrictions and inane paperwork. The very essence of 2A is to not comply when someone is trying to violate it.

        • DanGoodShot

          Amen brother. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • Nicholas C

      By that same logic why not just make an SBR and forget the laws? It might not concern you, but having a product and using it might land me in jail is something I rather not have or use.

      • BrandonAKsALot

        Very different situations. One is a clear cut law and the other is vague statements and waffling from the ATF. If this had just been left alone in the first place, we’d all be better off.

        • Lol

          Lol, you mean it’s literally the exact same thing? Build an illegal SBR, why not! Maybe you should hack saw your shotgun down under 18″ too.

      • Hellbilly

        As BrandonAKsALot stated: The definition of an NFA item is clearly written out. It is clear and obvious that it is against the law to install a stock on an AR pistol with a 10.5″ barrel unless it is a registered SBR. Being that this is law, I abide by it.

        What is NOT clear and obvious is an ATF opinion (not law) on a firearm accessory that they previously acknowledged does not constitute as a stock and, therefore, does not turn a pistol into an SBR. Then all of a sudden they modify their stance on their previous opinion by saying that shouldering said accessory magically turns the AR pistol into an SBR, but the minute you remove it from your shoulder, it’s legal again.

        Ask yourself if that makes any sense. By stating that a pistol – with an accessory they acknowledged is not a stock – is now an SBR if shot from a certain position, they are defying a written law that describes in clear English what a short-barrel rifle is. What will stop them from editing their opinion to say that mere possession of a single, uninstalled brace turns all pistols in your possession into SBRs? What will stop them from publishing an opinion saying that all tan-colored firearms are now machineguns, even if they’re not as defined by written law?

        Therefore, the real-world question is this: Will they actually go out of their way to enforce an opinion (which is not law) and prosecute all individuals they deem are defying their opinion?

        We live in a Democratic Republic with a Constitution and a Bill of Rights, not a Monarchy or Dictatorship. It is a shame that we even have this debate due to a federal tax collection agency (ATF) overstepping boundaries and enforcing opinion as if it is law.

    • Zundfolge

      Well if F-Troop wasn’t so keen on burning down homes full of children and stomping kittens, we probably wouldn’t be so concerned about their silly little rules. The fact that we allow this pernicious agency to exist in the first place kinda makes one wonder if we deserve these rights.

  • Gregory

    Buy an IWI X95, problem solved.

    • SP mclaughlin

      X(9.5 MOA).

      • Bucho4Prez


  • it’s just Boris

    I appreciate TFB’s efforts to clarify, but this entire situation is both ridiculous and opaque still. And things like the following being in the same paragraph don’t help re inspiring confidence in the analysis:

    “SB Tactical did some serious work to get a letter from some high ranking officials in the ATF.” … “It’s not that hard to get a letter.”

    So which is it?

    • Zundfolge

      “Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

      ― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

    • Nicholas C

      It took some work to get the ATF to “clarify” their stance on braces. To basically reverse what they said in 2015.

      Getting approval for products in letter form is not difficult. I was talking about two different letters. The standard inquiry process is done in written form so it is not hard to get a letter from the ATF. And yet we have companies not bothering to get approval even though the ATF told them they need to be reviewed if things change.

  • Vet for Trump

    I built a 5.56 pistol with a 10.5″ barrel and a ShockWave Blade. PITA to use. Sold it. I see no use in an AR Pistol. If I build anything like that in the future it will be a Short Barrel Rifle with a 14.5″ barrel.

    • Zundfolge

      The problem with SBRs is that the rules are so onerous that they’re not worth the hassle. Its not just the $200 tax and multi month wait, its also a pain if you live in one state and have family in another state and you want to take your SBR across state lines every so often. You have to ask ATF for permission every time.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        Would it not be convenient to have an SBR lower and a pistol lower? You could keep your SBR at home and travel w/ your pistol lower. Might get expensive (with the tax and duplicates of triggers, etc.), but you get the best of both worlds.

        Then again, you could just get a folding stock adapter…

        • Zundfolge

          Might as well just have an SBR and a pistol at that point since the upper is really not that expensive.

          No, until the SBR rules are changed, if I want short I’ll get a bullpup and if I want light I’ll go with an ultralight rifle build. Its just not worth it to get into bed with an agency that while acting against my rights has reserved for itself the right to raid my home a oh-dark-thirty, shoot my dog and murder me in my sleep (even if the chances of that happening are tremendously slim).

      • Um, you do realize you can fill out the “state line permission slip” (Form 5320.20) to cover multiple journeys for a full year, right? You can submit a form for a period of “1 January 2017 through 31 December 2017”, and it covers multiple journeys to that destination address.

        And that, so long as you actually go to the destination address and (you MUST go to the destination you gave ATF during each trip covered by that form), you can then roam around that state freely, not needing to file a new 5320.20 for each further destination, so long as you don’t cross a state line? (The form is to get permission to *cross* a state line, because you need ATF approval for most NFA “firearms” to travel interstate. However, just as you don’t need to request permission from ATF for every trip to a location within your home state, you do not need to ask permission for ATF to move about within a state after getting permission to travel to that state. ATF has ZERO authority under the NFA and GCA to require you to ask permission to travel INTRAstate, once a gun has been approved to travel TO that state, and they know it.)

    • iksnilol

      Why bother paying the stamp for a 14.5″ barrel?

  • Stephen H

    Great now everyone and their mother is going to be calling the ATF. DONT RUIN IT FOR THE REST OF US.

  • Dan

    Y’all need to update your masthead. “Politics not firearms!”

    • RocketScientist

      Laws /= Politics

      • Gregory Markle

        /= != !=

        • RocketScientist

          Hate to break it to you, not every language is C or a derivative thereof. “/=” Is the inequality operator in many others, FORTRAN and ALGOL come to mind. You may have heard of them.

          • Gregory Markle

            Sorry, I was thinking in this century and not back when I was doing code in college punching WATFIV onto punchcards. LOL!

          • RocketScientist

            If you think FORTRAN is not used and not relevant in this day and age, then you still got some learnin’ to do.

          • Gregory Markle

            I actually don’t recall saying anything of the sort, not sure why you would interpret me talking about my personal experiences as having anything to do with FORTRAN usage in general. I thought the “LOL” made it clear that it wasn’t meant to be taken in such a manner.

          • RocketScientist

            “I was thinking in this century and not back when I was doing code in college punching WATFIV onto punchcards”

            This is quite possibly the dumbest argument I’ve gotten into on the interwebs… but if you honestly don’t see how the above comment would almost certainly be interpreted as implying that FORTRAN was last relevant in a previous century when programs were stored on punchcards, then you REALLY need to work on your social skills and communication.

          • Gregory Markle

            I’m not sure why you’re trying so hard to turn my comment into something it wasn’t when I am outright stating that I didn’t mean it that way. Nice way to devolve into an ad hominem attack at the end there though.

      • Cymond

        By that logic, an assault weapon ban isn’t political.

        • RocketScientist

          Agreed. And I think TFB could certainly have a post discussing a hypothetical new assault weapons ban, the technicalities of what it bans and what it doesn’t, the impact that would have on the marketplace and the consumer, etc. without delving at all into the politics of whether it’s right/wrong, what the motivations of it’s supporters and opponents are, and this would not violate it’s “firearms, not politics” mantra.

          It’s possible to talk merely about the interpretation, application and technicalities of a law that, bottom line, is part of the world we live in, without delving into the POLITICS of it.

  • Zundfolge

    Fundamentally this goes to show that the NFA has got to go, its a dumb set of regulations (and the SBR/SBS section should really have been removed when they removed handguns from the bill to assure its passage as SBR/SBS regulations were only intended to close a loophole that would allow people to cut down rifles to pistol size to avoid the $200 stamp).

  • Michael Bane

    As someone who has actually paid money to talk to a lawyer specializing in NFA issues to make absolutely sure that what we present on SHOOTING GALLERY and our Internet properties is legally correct, I strongly agree with the commenters who suggest that we LET THIS GO!

    If you want to know the legal implications of specific communications from the ATF, I strongly suggest that you hire knowledgeable counsel to explain it to you. A portion of what I “thought” I knew about these issues was wrong — and I would class myself as someone who is very knowledgeable on these issues.

    As noted in the original post, opinions do not count. That includes your own opinion.

    Michael B

    • mazkact

      Amen. Mr. Bane, I really enjoy your show.

      • John Ruhl

        + 1. Keep up the good work!!

    • So you are saying I need to hire an attorney to know if I can use a Shockwave or Tailhook pistol brace? Don’t you see how that is a serious problem.

      • lucusloc

        Well, considering that is the entire point of the NFA (to create a legal minefield for gun owners) I would say “working as intended”.

      • carlcasino

        We used to Play a Game in my youth called Mother May I. I guess the educated Derelicts thought running the Govt. that way was a good idea?

    • DanGoodShot

      Thank you sir.

    • CavScout

      Mums the word. Lets all just shut up and do things.
      I know people are going to demand clarification though. If not Shockwave themselves.

    • Tom Currie

      In the American legal system, one-half of all lawyers appearing in court on any given day are wrong.

  • Maladjusted

    More hand wringing by another defender of the average citizen gun blog legal expert. Holy hell the concern is getting old. The horse is dead, Fed LEOs aren’t coming for pistol brace shouldering gunowners. They have criminals to deal with and US Attorneys probably wouldn’t even take the case. For all the tough guy ” why do we allow this agency to exist?” types, do something about it. That type of posting in gun forums or in gun blogs is called an echo chamber. Go share your thoughts with elected leaders. Pulling keyboard commando duty is easy. Whining about the ATF on a gun related site is like talking the 2nd amendment at a gunshow. Pointless.

    • Seriously, if anyone is going to ~~Contact Their Representatives~~ about any firearm related legal issue, now is absolutely the time to do so. The Republican Party– as much as I loathe it on every single issue aside from the Second Amendment– is the only legislative and judicial chance that ten percent of The Bill Of Rights has of being strengthened in a way that will outlast the current administration, and expanding Second Amendment rights should be a slam dunk for Rs desperate to point to some success in a political climate where they currently appear to have stolen Page One from the Democrat Party playbook, namely “Make a lot of noise and run around like headless chickens without actually accomplishing anything”. Passing the HPA would be a freakin’ triumph for them right now.

      Write your dadgum Congressmen, y’all.

  • mazkact

    I don’t get all the legal gymnastics in order to save a little overall length and go to a less efficient barrel length. A sixteen inch barreled carbine with an M4 style stock is a mighty handy thing with no tax stamp or legal gymnastics. I know I am boringly practical.

  • TDog

    People get bent all out of shape over “useless” accessories weighing down or interfering with the practicality of a gun… yet seem to be going absolutely ga-ga over a brace that is strapped around your forearm with a large Velcro strip.

    Yeah, nothing could go wrong with that situation…

    • As originally designed and intended, arm braces were specifically a hell of an important adaptive aid for disabled shooters, who otherwise might not be able to fire anything built on an AR platform at all. There are a whole lotta heroes out there who literally gave part of themselves in service to their country, and they are expressly who the original pistol braces were designed for.

      • TDog

        And did I mention crippled heroes anywhere in my post? No, so the whole wounded warrior thing can go away now because they’re not the only ones buying these things, right?

  • Marty Ewer

    The forthcoming ATF Q&A will answer all your questions to your little heart’s content.

    • Nicholas C

      Thank you for clarifying. However it still does not address the issue at hand. A phone call is not the same as a letter from the ATF.

      If the ATF is onboard and it is all for one and one for all then why didn’t they make this an open letter like they did in 2015?

      If it does apply, why not simply write them a letter and get it cleared up in writing?

      What about the clear differences in your current product vs what was actually submitted? Has that been approved?

  • Mrninjatoes
    • Pete – TFB Writer


      • Thomas Gomez

        That James Reeves!

  • Nimrod

    If Nicolas C had bothered to check the facts with Shockwave instead of blowing smoke out his ass, he would have seen that ATF has already told Shockwave that the brace thing applies to them as well as all other braces. If you look at the white paper ATF sent to the Trump administration in January the requested to remove the prohibition against shouldering pistol braces, not just the SB brace. It’s pretty clear that ATF doesn’t want to have to deal with this petty BS anymore.

  • Pod

    It’s conjecture, but when the brace controversy started, some people apparently went to the ATF booth at SHOT, and asked them about the whole thing. An unnamed agent basically told them point-blank that they made a ruling because too many ‘idiots’ were sending in letters and emails for clarification on the legality of shouldering pistol braces.

    While again, this is just conjecture (like the ATF would acknowledge such things), it’s quite possible it did happen.

    With regards to braces, I think we got ourselves a small victory at this point, and it’s best just to leave the issue alone – don’t ask stupid questions of people who can make your life difficult. Keep the debates to yourselves.

    As far as people being charged with making illegal SBRs from braced pistols? I doubt anyone has, and if it were ever to happen, it’d be an add-on charge to something else, like a below poster said. It’s akin to magazine bans, i.e. in Colorado they don’t charge you specifically with owning a post-ban magazine, they drop it in there along with whatever else made them show up in the first place.

  • BryanS

    I think all of this is is more evidence that can be used to sway congress to remove SBR / SBS from the NFA.

    Long game and all… Yes, its redundant and even silly, but being able to prove that a law is foolish, nonsensical, and enforcement is all over the place, well that can sway the right people into removing that portion of the law.

    Suppressors would be like this, if it were not for groups like the ASA.

  • Timmybadshoes

    I am no lawyer but I feel the confusion and vagueness of all of this is enough to keep you from facing any serious legal ramification if you shoulder your brace while shooting paper targets. Maybe if you did in the prosecution of a crime it would come into play but unlike most I am of the mindset that ATF agents are not waiting in the bushes for me all day.

    • Wow!

      Spend any time in law enforcement and you will also know that no one gets busted for weapon violations alone. While narcotics increase the tendency for crime which leads to their capture, an “illegal” weapon holder is not necessarily more likely to commit crime. I would go so far as to guess that the majority of gun owners violate the BATFE’s orders, and the BATFE knows this which is why they try to make registration as easy as possible, and send guys out to try and scare people that they will be “made an example of” even though everyone knows that the BATFE’s enforcement arm is a limp wet noodle.

  • Paul Reavis

    If getting a letter with every redesign of the brace as submitted to the ATF was necessary, where is the individual letters for all the different SB models? I mean the SB SOB looks more different than the SB15 than the current Blade looks to the one submitted to the ATF .The only letter I have ever seen is for the very first Sig brace. You know, the one your arm actually could fit inside of? And what about how it attaches? Yes the Mod 1 Tailhook was designed so it would clamp onto something the size of a pistol buffer tube. So was the rubber braces. But what about the rubber braces being made lately that are overmolded onto a permanately pinned arm to a trunion? There is no buffer tube involved there. Did I just miss the letter? We (Gear Head Works) have letters for every model we have in production. We didn’t just get one letter and make it open season to redesign it to whatever size and shape we wanted.

    This is getting ridiculous and is going to F it up for everybody.

  • Kodi

    For me, the main takeaway from all of this, is why? Why use a brace? What real world practical purpose could I possibly have for subjecting myself to this potential legal liability?
    And the answer: None. For me, a brace is a useless piece of nonsense someone dreamed up generate sales, nothing more. Just the latest mall ninja stupidity on parade.

    • Wow!

      A rifle has no use if it is not with you when you need it.

  • Ian Bardoorian

    It seems to me if the ATF had an issue with what these companies are claiming, they would have already come down on them like a sledgehammer. And I doubt the ATF would let company presidents make these claims without there being truth behind it.

  • 7Art

    It appears to me the recent letter was addressed to SB because it was SB who contacted the ATF to ask for the clarification, and not because the opinion applies to SB only. If you actually read the ATF letter, it does not say anywhere that it applies only to SB.

    So I’ll bet it just irks SB no end that the favorable reversal that they paid for, also applies to their competition, especially because Gear Head Works just launched their Tail Hook, which is a vastly superior brace, and will very likely take most of SB’s market share.

    This is why SB and its allies are trying to spin the ATF letter to only apply to SB.

    The author of this post does not come across as doing unbiased reporting, but comes across as someone in bed with SB, trying to promote their products.

    Look at it: his issue with the tail hook is that it was only approved for AR style pistols. So where is his critical analysis to see if SB has letters for every model of pistol it is attached to?

  • Nonya Bidness

    This is all just further proof that this nonsense is way over-complicated, the ATF needs to be gutted and everything simplified. Repealing the NFA and GCA would just be icing on the cake.

  • l2a3

    I believe page 4 Para 5 in the Gear Head letter says it very clearly. IT ONLY PERTAINS TO THE PERSON IN THE ADDERSS. Also remember, ATF agents like the IRS agents, opinion do not hold any “official” weight, only the letter address to the individual has the official opinion, nothing else will get you out of trouble with the ATF.

  • Shayne

    Would you people stop bugging the ATF about any pistol brace because stupid people kept asking if they could shoulder it the first time is the reason it got that stupid redesign ruling. They only contact should be by the manufacturer when they submit it to the ATF, NO ONE ELSE. I am positive you people bugging the ATF are closet anti-gun because you kept asking until you got the answer you wanted.

  • iksnilol

    The BATFE agent would tell people to not worry so that they may unwittingly commit a crime.

    • Wow!

      And why would they want that? The BATFE is well known unofficially as “FBI rejects”. They have little to no enforcing power, partially due to funding, partially due to the impossible task of enforcing weapon contraband. Narcotics are pretty easy to enforce since drug users get out of control sooner or later, but an owner of an illegal weapon does not make a person inclined to commit crime. What happens is that someone processes a situation, finds contraband, then calls the BATFE up for records. The weapon “violator” without criminal tendencies is virtually blind in the BATFE’s field of view, which is why they depend so much on a chilling effect over enforcement. Every so often the BATFE will stir up trouble for a headline, then go quiet all over again. Its a pattern we have seen for years.

      • iksnilol

        So that they can arrest them?

        • Wow!

          What do you first need before you can arrest a suspect?

          • iksnilol

            Proof of a crime?

            Again, this joke goes waay back. Alleged ATF agent encourages people to do something illegal/or get complacent… so that they can later arrest them.

            Again, this is a joke. You’re killing me, Smalls.

          • Wow!

            A sting operation involves the ability to control the outcome. Just hoping you will catch criminals in the act (of which can be done 100% at home) is a retarded strategy and goes against decades of research and practical application of profiling. Key example: fast and furious. We have no idea where those guns are because we failed (intentionally or not) to control the situation. In contrast wide receiver was successful because we didn’t let things get chaotic and bite off more than we could chew.

          • iksnilol
  • Rogertc1

    Why make a big deal out of it. Legal to shoulder. Some people like me do not want to register with the FEDS and spend the money making a SBR when the brace is under $75.

  • CavScout

    On the Shockwave Blade:
    “That looks nothing like what is being sold now.”

    I don’t think it needs to since the function is 100% unchanged.

  • ReadyOrNot

    I can’t wait to sell my braced AK. People keep saying to stop talking about the brace and stop poking at the ATF and then I see an article like this that just makes me shake my head no. You people are going to force them to change their mind again simply because ‘politics’ and optics. Idiots.

  • PaC SGM (R)

    How about we all just do what we want and not narc each other out, some people ruin it for everyone ( Sgt. Joe Bradley of the Greenwood, Colorado, police department) with their micro analyzing of every letter or statement that comes out of an employee of the ATF.

  • BDub

    We are all talking about the same agency, right? The Agency that spends inordinate amounts of time and money entrapping and prosecuting actual retards,

    • Wow!

      Where is this inordinate time and money being spent? The BATFE ony has about 1 billion to work with and of that, 1/4 of that is non firearm related. The BATFE pokes their head every so often for a headline, but generally they don’t have the manpower or the funding to maintain a serious operation. Most of the BATFE’s exploits are simply the piggyback of other agencies cases when they provide services for courts such as recommendations. As an example, over 8 years, of the cases they recommended for prosecution less than 70,000 cases succeeded and of that, a very small minority were purely weapon offenses from possession. Weapon possession is always an afterthought tacked on. We find people because they are disruptive due to narcotics, or are caught in some criminal act (like theft, assault etc). Gun ownership on its own does not increase an individuals propensity to commit crime, and the BATFE knows this, which is why they rely on scare tactics to get gun owners to comply with illegal restrictions.

      • BDub

        I’m using “inordinate” here to mean lar much larger portion of there operating budget than should be used. And much of the criticism laid on them is for their habit o using intrapment and inducment schemes rather than investigating crime that have already been commited. Thats a huge waste of the resources allocated to them.

        • Wow!

          I agree with that. I always said that the legitimate functions of the BATFE could easily be rolled with another more professional agency such as the FBI where there is more accountability and at a lower cost. I just get sick and tired of gun owners warning each other to fear the boogeyman and restricting themselves “to be safe”, when the reality is that the history of the BATFE is a largely unsuccessful project.

  • carlcasino

    The ATF is to Gun Owners what the EPA is to land owners. Rule making bureaucrats ! Totally outside the Constitution. Someday Sanity may return to America.

  • survivor50

    An arm “BRACE”…
    It must just be me, but I’m trying to wrap my head around…”WHY?” Kind of reminds me of Pamela Anderson with an M-16 strapped to her stubbed leg…”WHY?”
    When I strap a gun to me, you bet you’ll find me with it on my dead body…I know I ain’t coming back.