Q, LLC., makers of the famous-turned-infamous Honey Badger Rifle and Pistol, received a stay on the decision by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (or BATFE or just ATF) to reclassify their Honey Badger Pistol as a short-barreled rifle, or SBR. The stay will remain in place for 60 days.
The ATF issued its decision to reclassify the Honey Badger Pistol as an SBR recently, leaving gun owners and gun industry leaders angry and confused. The ruling came out of nowhere and didn’t come with an explanation further upsetting the community.
The Honey Badger Pistol, like many other “large format” or rifle-based pistols, comes equipped with an SB Tactical stabilizing brace. Just about all American gun companies today offer products furnished with braces and they have become widely accepted by gun owners.
Unlike SBRs these AR-based pistols are not regulated under the National Firearms Act, or NFA. For no clearly defined reason, the ATF issued a cease and desist letter to Q ordering the company to stop selling their Honey Badger Pistol as a non-NFA-regulated firearm, that the braced version of the Honey Badger was an SBR.
The public backlash was immediate and industry-wide. Major manufacturers including Q and SB Tactical along with gun-rights organizations and manufacturing associations alike demanded that the ATF reverse their decision and at the very least, explain their reasoning.
In what is hopefully part of a larger change of heart, the ATF put a pause on their cease and desist letter, issuing a 60-day stay on the decision to classify the Honey Badger Pistol as an SBR. It’s a pistol again for the next two months.
The ATF will use the time to better determine if and how the NFA applies to the Honey Badger Pistol. After the 60-day period the ATF will decide whether to withdraw or extend the suspension of their cease and desist letter.
The reasoning behind their decision to reclassify the Honey Badger Pistol was never officially clarified and it left a lot of gun owners and manufacturers wondering what the future was for braced pistols. Q published one photo that might explain the ATF’s decision.
In that photo they show that the Honey Badger Pistol measures just over 13.5 inches from the face of the trigger to the end of the brace with the brace fully extended. The ATF generally requires that braces measure no longer than 13.5 inches.
That photo also shows the brace measured incorrectly. In order to determine the length of the brace, the measurement needs to be taken parallel to the bore of the firearm. Other measurements are not accurate and can increase the reported length of the brace.
If that measurement was the reason why the ATF reclassified the Honey Badger Pistol, that photo shows how it was measured and why it shouldn’t disqualify the firearm’s pistol status. But it could also be a complete coincidence unrelated to the ATF’s stay on its other letter.
For now, Honey Badger owners can breathe a sigh of relief. They won’t have to register their pistols as SBRs, separate them, or sell them off for fear that they have an unregistered NFA item. But this could change shortly.
This also serves as a warning for anyone holding a braced pistol with a long or telescoping brace. The ATF may consider these firearms to be regulated under the NFA if the braces are too long in their extended position.
While there’s a lot more hassle making or buying short-barreled rifles, this is a reminder that with the NFA, not even pistols are hassle-free.