ATF Reverses Stance! SB Tactical Gets Green Light to Shoot Braces from Shoulder

This is huge news for SB Tactical.

There are two main takeaways to this ATF reversal on SB Tactical stabilizing braces. I want to put these right out front so there is zero confusion.

  1. This ATF reversal only applies to SB Tactical products. All other manufacturers of arm braces are NOT covered in this private letter. This cannot be overstated. The letter only applies to SB Tactical and SB Tactical products!
  2. The ATF did, indeed, reverse its position with respect to SB Tactical’s proprietary pistol stabilizing braces. Shooting them from the shoulder no longer counts as a “redesign” of the products which previously made them subject to National Firearms Act regulations, i.e. short-barreled rifle. You can now fire an SB Tactical stabilizing brace from the shoulder and NOT be in violation of the law!

Yes, those are the two main takeaways from this story. How did this come about?

Lawyers for SB Tactical received a private letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that reads, “Re: Reversal of ATF Open Letter on the Redesign of ‘Stabilizing Braces.’” In this letter (see below) the ATF carefully explains in a not-so-easy-to-read manner the nature of the agency’s reversal and how it applies to SB Tactical and SB Tactical only.

After first saying that ATF “stand by those conclusions” in its 2015 Open Letter, the one that caused so much heartache and confusion (ATF can’t admit it was wrong for liability reasons), the agency goes on to eventually state the following:

To the extent the January 2015 Open Letter implied or has been construed to hold that incidental, sporadic, or situational “use” of an arm-brace (in its original approved configuration) equipped firearm from a firing position at or near the shoulder was sufficient to constitute “redesign,” such interpretations are incorrect and not consistent with ATF’s interpretation of the statute or the manner in which it has been historically enforced.

In other words, it’s not a redesign of the firearm if one has a SB Tactical stabilizing brace and one shoots it from the shoulder.

But the ATF goes on to say that “an item that functions as a stock if attached to a handgun in a manner that serves the objective purpose of allowing the firearm to be fired from the shoulder may result in ‘making’ a short-barreled rifle, even if the attachment is not permanent. See, Revenue Ruling 61-45.”

Again, if you have an SB Tactical product, you’re technically okay if you incidentally, sporadically or situationally fire it from the shoulder. But if you put on a device that you intend to use clearly as a stock or if you’re in possession of a product that isn’t made by SB Tactical and you attach it to the gun and fire it from the shoulder, you may find yourself in hot water with the ATF.

“It has always been our belief that the addition of our Pistol Stabilizing Brace benefits shooters, both disabled and able-bodied, and that neither strapping it to your arm nor shouldering a brace equipped pistol would constitute ‘redesign’ of a pistol to a NFA firearm”, said Alex Bosco, inventor, founder and CEO of SB Tactical in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica.

“We are strongly encouraged by the ATF’s reversal of opinion and commend their willingness to continually review policy, including their own opinions, to ensure public safety and the fulfillment of their mission,” he added.

Why does this letter only cover SB Tactical products? The answer is because it is a private letter sent to attorneys representing SB Tactical and the letter relates exclusively to the company’s stabilizing braces that were submitted for ATF review. Hence the language in the one paragraph, “in its original approved configuration.” Moreover, there are additional points in the letter where similar products on the market are alluded to in order to underscore the exclusivity of the determination.

“If, however, the shooter/possessor takes affirmative steps to configure the device for use as a shoulder-stock — for example, configuring the brace so as to permanently affix it to the end of the buffer tube, (thereby creating a length that has no there purpose than to facilitate its use as a stock), removing the arm strap, or otherwise undermining its ability to be used as a brace — and then in fact shoots the firearm from the shoulder using the accessory as a shoulder stock, that person objectively “redesigned” the firearm for the purposes of the NFA.”

The key line is “removing the arm strap.” Can you think of another “brace” on the market that does not have a strap? That’s basically what the agency is referring to. That’s not to say that the manufacturers of other similar products won’t petition the ATF in the future to get a similar determination on their products. But for right now, it only pertains to SB Tactical.

Anyways, that’s the skinny on this letter. You may also be wondering why this and why now? Why did the ATF suddenly reverse its position? Well, let’s just say that there’s a difference between the culture of an Obama ATF and that of a Trump ATF. Along these lines, one can only hope that this is the beginning of more good things to come from a Trump-era ATF.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

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  • Morgan Audetat August 5, 2018, 4:43 pm

    The only clear fact revealed in this document is the indisputable imperative that the Federal Firearms Act of 1938 be repealed, and replaced, as soon as practicable.

  • Stuart June 23, 2017, 5:49 pm

    So I read it. It makes no grammatical or logical sense.
    So, what if shooter is 6’8” and they put arm brace at end of buffer tube, bc their arm is freakin’ super large ? They say installing it there makes it an NFA….but there’s no guidance on where one can put it on a buffer tube, where is “at the end” ?? the screw is at the end, or the end of brace is at the end??
    What is the ‘reasoning’ behind not allowing a SBR to have a shoulder stock and a pistol can’t have a shoulder stock. (I assume….the SBR with shoulder stock makes it easier to that doesnt make sense, or the pistol is easier to hide with a long stock attached, no that doesn’t make sense either…) It can only be related to concealment right? but what if one has a CCDW? Is a SBR that shoots 9mm, more dangerous than a pistol that shoots 9mm ? Is there an assumption that rifles are easier to shoot or are more deadly than pistols? what makes one a pistol vs one being a ‘rifle’ ? honestly, idk. one has bigger shoes? they both fire bullets. what if someone made a 1911 that had a 18″ barrel on it, would it still be a pistol? Or is all based on the “looks” of it? i mean we all know what a pistol and a rifle looks like, but what is the definition? Im driving a full size Dodge 4 door pickup, my neighbor has a toyota that is 1/4 smaller, is his no longer a truck? or is my Truck now a Tank ?
    I’m a humble person of low- to average intelligence, but when i hear govt officials talk, i realize i must be a genius!

  • Stuart June 23, 2017, 5:27 pm

    What about ‘The blade’ ? it has no arm strap…and looks like, well exactly like a stock, it’s just thin, it serves no purpose to stabilize the gun, unless you have a whole in the middle of your lower arm.

    and i’ve never met nor seen an ATF person, so unless they show up in my back yard, i’m not concerned..and to be clear, i just got this, and have never shot it from shoulder or from holding it like a gun, but it is an AR which is pretty impossible, unless you have Popeye forearms to shoot it like a pistol.

    and i’m no lawyer, thank god, but one can’t change the law to only apply to who you want, unless your the FBI Director, Comey the Clown.

  • ejharb April 30, 2017, 9:34 pm

    Time to eliminate madatory long gun minimum demensions from federal gun laws! Past time!
    Then another apology to the weaver family for blowing moms head off over but stock demensions.

    • clinocio May 2, 2017, 3:58 pm

      In 1934 the Federal Government attempted to virtually eliminate full automatic and handguns from possession by ordinary citizens (NFA), but there were not enough votes to pass the handgun restriction. The restriction on short barrel rifles and shotguns was to prevent an end-around to prevent someone from making a handgun substitute. Silencers regulation had nothing to do with gangster activity, but was to make it more difficult to poach game during the heart of the great depression. Apparently poaching was more apprehensible than starving, As far as concealability, there are two restrictions on short barreled firearms; 1) barrel length (16″ for rifle and 18″ for shotgun) and overall length of 26″. Why not simplify and just look at 26″ overall length as the measure of concealability. There is no valid reason to restrict barrel length when there is also an overall length restriction. Silencers should also be unregulated because hearing loss to our society. By the way, the $200 tax implemented in 1934 was not just some trivial registration fee. It was the approximate cost of a Thompson sub-machinegun and about 1/3 the cost of a new car.

  • DaveGinOly April 28, 2017, 7:30 pm

    The whole idea that through use a person can “redesign” something, anything, is nonsense. Using the grip end of a screwdriver as a hammer does not make a hammer of a screwdriver. Can you take something like a vertical grip, attach it to a pistol rail (which is illegal), and then use it exclusively as a monopod (pistol supports are legal, and some vertical grips double as bipods) to “redesign” it into something legal? In a state in which the possession of a 30 round AR mags is illegal, can I plant flowers in one and “redesign” it into a legal flower pot? Or does “redesign” only work one-way, from legal to illegal? Even that question is stupid, but it can only be asked (and probably must be asked) when a government agency invents a novel legal concept and then attempts to enforce the law under it.

  • wrangler5 April 28, 2017, 6:14 pm

    ATF was moved from the IRS to Justice under the Patriot Act. But if the same rules apply to what tax practitioners refer to as “private letter rulings” from the IRS also apply to this sort of letter from ATF, then LEGALLY the letter ONLY relates to the person who asked for it. You may have identical facts, but you cannot pull out a letter ruling addressed to somebody else and insist that the ATF or the courts must apply it to you. This is decades-long settled law and practice, and it may strike you as stupid, but it is what it is.

    For those who wonder, the reason is grounded in the level of scrutiny and analysis that goes into a private letter ruling as compared to a “published ruling,” which all citizens DO have a legal right to rely on. The IRS issues dozens if not hundreds of private rulings for each one it publishes for general applicability, and the ATF is probably the same (at a much lower volume of output, of course.) A PUBLISHED ruling generally involves a more general statement of assumed facts, and goes through multiple, extensive reviews, to be sure that all imaginable contingencies are considered, so that there will be no gotcha’s because some detail wasn’t thought of. When you apply for a PRIVATE ruling, YOU have to disclose all the facts on which the ruling will be based, the ruling is issued on those specific facts, and if the agency later determines that you left out something significant then they can just declare the ruling void. Since the private ruling involves a single party under what is assumed to be a completely known set of facts, the agency can comfortably issue a ruling with less extensive review.

    At least that’s the way it used to work, back when I was a practicing tax lawyer. 😉

  • D Day Dog April 28, 2017, 1:53 pm

    ATF’s letter cited here was wrote in response to the letter from SB’s attorney’s for clarification of ATF’s previous open letter. Duh. The previous open letter was not unique to SB’s products – anyone who can read can determine that. Duh again. As such, there is no way this letter could or should be interpreted to relate solely to SB products. If other stabilizing brace manufacturer’s have concerns about their specific products (and want their own magic letter from ATF concerning the legality of their specific products as it relates to the open letter) then obviously they should write to them as well. Duh #3.. We all know that without (and even with) the magic piece of paper, there is always a possibility of an adverse reaction from ATF. However, I personally would feel confident that the letter to SB’s attorney adequately addresses the stabilizing brace issue as a whole for the industry. As I read it, it all really amounts to a matter of intent of the initial construction of a brace/stock and the application of permanently attaching it as (arguably) a stock vs. a brace.

    Lets be honest out there. How many users of these stabilizing braces will actually spend most of their time shooting their “pistols” strapped to their arm? I’m sure some will – especially those who truly need the brace due to a disability, which is awesome for them. But I would bet a dime to a dollar that the majority of users will simply shoulder it so the “pistol” can be used in the same capacity as an SBR. So… we have a loophole !!! where we get to have an “SBR” looking /functioning weapon without going through the hassle of approval. I say take what you can get and don’t bitch about it. As a matter of fact, add it the brace to a “pistol” that has a binary trigger and go do some drills. Woohoo !!!

    • tom May 2, 2017, 5:28 am

      Did you missed the part on the letter which states “An accessory that can be attached to a firearm in any one of several configurations must be evaluated to determine whether attaching it in those configurations constitude “making” an NFA firearm under boyh objective and subjective analyses”. This clearly means that every case must be evaluated on its own merits. The decision only opens the door for other to follo9w suit on their own products. The wording has not change from the initial ruling done in the initial letter from 2015.

  • Chuck M April 28, 2017, 12:03 pm

    Eliminate the ATF!

    • clinocio May 2, 2017, 4:20 pm

      The ATF serves a purpose, though it should be doing things that make sense instead of wasting our time and money. What is needed is to eliminate laws that give too much authority to bureaucrats in the ATF or even the Attorney General and to take away controls that were never intended for them to have in the first place. Approval of the Arm Brace was an official ruling while use from the shoulder was only an opinion, yet both letters are on the ATFs web site and to the general public and law enforcement, there is no distinction. ATF has no business rendering open letter opinions. The Attorney General has no business being given authority to decide what constitutes a firearm requiring restriction and the federal government has no business banning import of weapons that, in the opinion of the ATF, do not have a sporting purpose or arresting someone because they replaced an American made part with an over the counter part that was made in another country. There is no mention in the 2nd amendment of sporting purpose and ATF does not consider home defense as a sporting purpose.

  • some guy April 28, 2017, 10:38 am

    Read the entirety of thr ATF letter it doesn’t approve putting it to your shoulder for regular use it says “incidental occurences” ie: some cop can’t go when its on your cheek “IT’S TOO CLOSE TO HIS SHOULDER, HE’S SHOULDERING IT!” The same letter also said perm-attaching the brace to a buffer tube is altering it’s use and illegal as well as removing straps. This article is misleading as fuck.

  • Matt April 28, 2017, 10:34 am

    I have never found any legitimate reasoning for the laws regarding “short barreled” rifles and the class 3 type status. Seems like an illegitimate holdover regulation from times long past? All the effort and attention by the BATF that someone might shoulder a rifle or pistol with a short barrel to me diminishes other legitimate purposes the BATF might have to pursue?

  • Jimbo April 28, 2017, 9:48 am

    The #1 takeaway in this article is wrong, according to Marty at Shockwave.
    See this post

  • Eh April 28, 2017, 9:26 am

    I saw some correspondence with an ATF agent who was saying that it did apply to all braces as long as certain criteria was met. They specifically mentioned the shockwave brace saying that as long as you set it up to be less than 13.5″ and used red loctite on the bottom screw to make it “non-adjustable” then you could shoulder it. Whole bunch of nonsense to abide by in order to please the crown but he did say it wasn’t just SB braces.

    • mcFoo April 28, 2017, 10:09 am

      This is only useful if your referenced comments from the ATF exist in writing. Otherwise it’s internet hogwash

    • GJohnston April 28, 2017, 2:11 pm

      Actually its DON’T USE RED LOCTITE. That means that your intent is to PERMANENTLY (RED) atach the brace to the tube. The whole point is to not modify the brace in any way from what the ATF approved and is being sold.
      Dont add a pad on the end, dont attach to make LOP over 13.5″, dont expoxy (or loctite) it to the tube, dont record internet videos of how you got around the tax, dont send the ATF dumbass letters with dumbass pictures and questions,
      Mount your pistol brace just exactly how it came from the manufacturer onto your legal AR pistol and then go shoot it.

  • Jeffrey L. Frischkorn April 28, 2017, 9:05 am

    I seriously fear that this one is going to come back and bite the entire concept in the butt.. It’s almost as if some anti-gun bureaucrat came up with the ruling, willing to let some murderous incident occur just to set off a wave of pro-gun control hysteria …

  • Chris April 28, 2017, 8:52 am

    I really can’t fathom what the issue with a shoulder brace would be even if it did change the gun type. I have shotguns, rifles and handguns. If I changed a pistol to a rifle, why would it even matter? It’s still a legal weapon type.

    • Erick April 28, 2017, 12:17 pm

      I agree with you 100%. There is zero logic behind these types of regulations and laws.
      They (politicians & bureaucrats) create these (unConstitutional) hardships for several reasons: 1) Power – they want to show who’s boss and that they’re in control. 2) Money/Revenue – to become “legal”, it means WE have to pay THEM more money; and when laws/regulations are violated, they make even more money from fees, fines, etc. 3) Showing a Purpose – if they didn’t create new legalities, then they wouldn’t be relevant or have a purpose to exist. 4) Vague & Complicated on Purpose – the more complex laws/regulations are, the easier it is to break them (by accident), allowing them more power, money and self-created purpose over the people.
      It’s all a sham and does nothing to deter crime or increase safety.

  • John Hall April 28, 2017, 8:40 am

    Sounds to me like SB Tactical Products has a monopoly with its product being the only one approved by our great thinkers and assholes inWashington DC. I it is illegal to monopolize the sale on only one specific MFG product and be endorsed by The US Govt Great thinkers and assholes.
    There is no legitimate circumstance that should allow the Govt to be involved in Citizens right to purchase anything available on the free world market.

  • Rich K. April 28, 2017, 8:31 am

    The Bureau for the Absolute Termination of Freedom has more waffles than IHOP. Time to abolish this obsolete, criminal, and oppressive sucker off the taxpayer teat!

  • RB April 28, 2017, 8:03 am

    Just because it was written TO them doesn’t mean it only applies to them – as a matter of fact their own statement refers to the incorrect or inconsistent opinion offered previously: To the extent the January 2015 Open Letter implied or has been construed to hold that incidental, sporadic, or situational “use” of an arm-brace (in its original approved configuration) equipped firearm from a firing position at or near the shoulder was sufficient to constitute “redesign,” such interpretations are incorrect and not consistent with ATF’s interpretation of the statute or the manner in which it has been historically enforced.”

    As a matter of fact, the entire opinion is written as a clarification of the 1/15 Open Letter and doesn’t mention SB Tactical’s design anywhere. It’s almost impossible to understand how you came to the logical leaps required to make the assertion it only applies to SB.

    Someone is getting a kickback here, and methinks it’s GA getting one from SB to further this misinformation.

  • Mahatma Muhjesbude April 28, 2017, 7:56 am

    You’re a good dude, S,H., but your compliant, conciliatory compromise mentality is part of the problem, not the solution.

    Why can ‘we only hope for this to be the beginning of good things to come with the ATF’? In defiance of this so-called ‘good thing’, I can guarantee as this is written that they are still continuing with the ‘OBAMA ERA’ anti-2nd/A gestapo tactics. Because they’re quite sure that soon they’ll at least get back the Senate and enough Congress to kill the Conservative momentum that Trump might have now. So hope your ass off and shit on the floor and see what you step in. Not only is this ‘hopeful’ bone they just threw to the junkyard dogs not what it seems if it’s not all inclusive and absent the Fiat based double speak caveat, I know for a fact they are seriously ‘planning’ more abuses, particularly with ammo.

    And what about the recent SECOND shut down and swat style home invasion seizure of another solventtrap manufacturer in Florida where the owner, Chris Barnes(?), I believe, had a letter from the ATF approving his business and the sale of these traps as perfectly legal ??? With more raids on the rest of the manufacturers coming soon, to a flash bang theater near you!

    ALL I want to know is when is the ‘?Trump Era’ administration going to do a complete and permanent ‘REVERSAL’ …on the entire ATF itself.? As he promised to do with feckless useless, out of control and dangerous money wasting redundant agencies?


    Or maybe we should all just hope and pray that won’t happen? Like it didn’t already just happen and all guns and ownership are now banned and subject to confiscation and arrest in places like Venezuela?

    • Patriot January 31, 2018, 9:47 am

      I\’m pretty usre those laws are STILL there to protect SANE Americans for tin foil hat wearing conspiracy fearing anti Trump clueless people like you from getting their hands on too dangerous weapons for when the day you snap and go wipe out a theater or a school.and in any case,BUY A REAL HANDGUN,,not these abortions AR that are supposedly a pistol,if a law needs changed,,it should be that NO riffle based pistols should be even considered a pistol,they are ridiculous looking and nowhere near what a handgun was originally thought of,get rid of idiotic SBR laws,and those riffle based pistol will dissappear completly.

  • Jake h. April 28, 2017, 7:02 am

    I didn’t see anywhere in the letter that it was specific to SB tactical braces…this was to address the previously published “open letter”. Am I missing something? This letter appears to be a clarification regarding all pistol braces…

    • G Johnston April 28, 2017, 8:10 am

      Other than addressing the letter to Mark Barnes and noting that he is SBT’s lawyer . . . I also dont see anything in this letter that is specific to SB Tactical. It references the open letter and “stabilizing braces” not SBT braces.
      You should also visit Shockwave site and read their summary conversation as a manufacturer with ATF regarding this letter. The ATF agent says “all” braces in their approved form. So this would include ATF approved Sig and Shockwave. So go enjoy your pistol! This is a huge win for gun owners.

      • Jim Bohannon April 28, 2017, 8:36 am

        I heard that SBT makes the braces for SIG. So they should be covered by this letter.

  • MAS April 28, 2017, 6:18 am

    So, in other words, these ATF-Holes still need to be reined in.

  • Jay April 28, 2017, 5:34 am

    I am so impressed at the stupidity of each and every person in our illustrious government, who just can’t see how Damn full of the lowest form of stupidity involved, in that anyone holding a weapon other than it’s so called intended hold makes it another weapon somehow, redesigned by just holding it differently, The stupidity is beyond laughable! My God the insanity has to stop people let’s get this straight with a lot of signatures on a petition to Trump! The ATF needs to be disbanded they are so full of themselves they need to be sent packing!

  • Greasy gorilla April 28, 2017, 5:23 am

    The same people who were worried about shouldering their brace are probably the same people worried about pulling the tag off of their mattress. Newsflash, no atf agents are going to kick down your door just because the brace hits your shoulder. They have better things to do than follow you around and make sure you obey all proper shooting etiquette.

    • Mahatma Muhjesbude April 28, 2017, 8:16 am

      So Greasy, You mean better things to do like swat raiding 80% receiver makers, or legitimate business like solvent trap manufacturers which were previously ‘approved’? LOL!???

      People like you are probably the same people who worry about if the government will still bounce them off their bigdaddywoowoo government knee everytime there’s a potus election?

      Apparently you, and of course not ONLY you, so I’m not picking on you, don’t realize what the real purpose of the ATF always was, and always will be?

      And if anyone is really interested, at least when they take a break from the games this weekend, sand promises to contribute a donation to a pro-active liberty oriented website like the Rutherford Institute or some such, then I’ll take the time to inform them of the REAL reason for some of ATF’s specific target focus endeavors which are something they seem to have A LOT of time and tax payers resources for these days?

      Hint: It AIN’T about preventing Islamic terrorism.

  • Joe April 28, 2017, 5:23 am

    If it smells like a turd can a turd be far behind ?
    A catch 22 comes to mind.

  • Cameron White April 28, 2017, 3:32 am

    Does anyone else see the irony in this situation? This wasn’t so much of a reversal as it was a clarification for SB Tactical, on the heels of Sig Sauer landing one of the biggest military contracts in a long time. A boost for civilian sales of Sig products will certainly go a long way.

  • Dustin Eward April 28, 2017, 2:48 am

    “The letter only applies to SB Tactical and SB Tactical products!”

    So, kickback.

    I’ve dealt with that in the ATF myself…

    • Altoid April 28, 2017, 6:11 am

      Kickback – the first think that crossed when I read it also.

    • Felix April 30, 2017, 12:15 pm

      How so? Just because it was addressed to them does not mean it applies to there products? It clearly states on the second page, third paragraph “With respect to stabilizing braces, ATF has concluded……” No were in that letter does it even mention anything close to it pertaining to SB products and SB only. A stabilizing brace has to meet and be approved by the ATF to meet there standards. Why would one SB get approved and not the other? Sounds like your the one trying to get a kick with all the other retards trying to say it only pertains to SB products.

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