Category Archives: Second Amendment

The Pistol Brace Test is a Stone Cold Nightmare

With a 71-page proposed rule to clarify when attached stabilizing brace accessories convert pistols into illegal short-barreled rifles now open for public comment, we disastrously attempted to apply it.

In a test with a pair of unloaded large-format AR-style pistols, I sat down with my buddy Ben Philippi to honestly wade through the minefield of potential disqualifiers on proposed ATF Form 4999 to determine if a pistol/brace combos selected– which are legal now– would continue to be so should the rule goes into effect as-is.

And it didn’t work out very well.

The proposed rulemaking, “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached Stabilizing Braces” as of June 24, has 102,000 public comments.

The last day to file comments is Sept. 8.

Kafkaesque Pistol Brace Rules Released

There are between an estimated 3 and 7 million (that’s a big swing) stabilizing braces on the market right now, all of which got there after the SB15 brace was released just a decade ago. ATF has been notoriously squishy on the legality of braces, especially at the intersection of its use on a handgun to the point that it turns a pistol into an illegal short-barreled rifle or SBR. Unregistered SBRs can get you a dime in the federal hoosgow.

You sitting in the federal hoosgow, looking to trade a pack of mackerel fillet to make unwanted friends in the shower:

“What are you in for?” says the broker

“I added a plastic stock that is not a stock to my pistol and the ATF found out and, it turns out, they ruled it was a stock,” says you.

“That mack got soybean oil or water?”

“Water…”

Zipppppp

Anyway, to keep clear of just what is illegal or not, the DOJ today released a proposed rule that is so simple it has a 71-page explainer to it. It includes a new ATF form (#4999), a two-sheeter that walks you through if your pistol with a brace on it is legal, or an SBR in three easy-to-figure-out sections.

Heavier than 64 ounces and between 12 and 26 inches? Boom, just failed Section I on ATF 4999, head to Section II.

There, if you earn a maximum of three points, proceed to Section III. Have over four points, and you are out of compliance and have an extremely dangerous SBR. So dangerous it only magically becomes safe for the public to own after you pay a $200 tax and wait 10 months for the paperwork to clear. 

At Section III, you can earn a maximum of three more points to keep your brace/pistol combo legal. Four or more, which can be earned even by installing “peripheral accessories” that would show you “intend to shoulder” your pistol, such as a bipod and/or short eye relief optics, or BUIS sights and it’s an SBR even if you passed Section II.

Sounds “simple”, right?

Check out these three examples in the proposed rule. One is (barely) legal, with 3 points in both Sections II & III; the second is an SBR, with 8 and 5 points in each section, and the third is also hot with a combination of 23 points on the worksheet.

 

The thing is, the photos, to the average user, look almost identical.

It is almost as if the feds want to make it so complicated and sow so much confusion and angst over the legal use of braces that most gun owners won’t even bother in an abundance of caution.

HEYYYY-OH!

Worse, what about the average gun owner who bought one of these, legally, at their local gun store thinking it was neat or cool, then they take it to the range five years from now (the proposed rule has no grandfathering) and a picture from that trip makes it to social media and someone casually tags the ATF in it. 

Oof. 

If you are one of the 4+ million Stabilizing Brace Owners, now is your time

Federal regulators on Friday set off the starting pistol in the race to establish what stabilizing brace makers term the largest firearm registration scheme in American history. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives scheduled its proposed 15-page “Objective Factors for Classifying Stabilizer Braces” to publish Dec. 18 in the Federal Register, the official journal of the federal government, for public inspection. Americans have two weeks to provide feedback on the plan, which could be the last chance to make their voice heard on the issue before ATF moves forward.

Written comments on the ATF proposal must be postmarked by, and electronic comments must be submitted on or before Jan. 1, 2021, by midnight Eastern time. SB Tactical is also encouraging members of the public, who are concerned about the issue, to reach out to their lawmakers in Congress as well as the White House.

More background on the brace issue in my column at Guns.com here and here.

Go ahead, spitball how many guns are in circulation

Of course, this is a moving target and in most cases would be considered something of a wild ass guess in most cases, but the NSSF, working with industry and regulatory data for the past couple of decades, came up with some interesting figures when it comes to the number of guns in private circulation in the U.S.

The big numbers: 434 million firearms, 20 million “modern sporting rifles” such as AR-15s, and 150 million magazines which are considered in eight or nine states to be “high capacity.”

Oof.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Of braces and Honey Badgers

So, as a backgrounder, the Honey Badger, the gun that broke the internet in 2012 came originally from Georgia-based AAC, the byproduct of a proposed replacement for the HK MP5/MP7 for use by special operations groups.

Thus: The circa 2012 O.G. AAC Honey Badger, which was proposed as the Low Visibility Carbine for special ops about a decade ago, upping the ante on the MP5/MP7 with .300 Blackout. Of interest, I held this very gatt in Remington’s Gun Library in Hunstville a few years ago. 

Kevin Brittingham, whose team at AAC developed the Honey Badger initially, moved on and started Q in New Hampshire in 2017, with the current version of the HBP as its flagship firearm. Q, up until very recently, sold it both as an SBR which required a tax stamp, and as a no-stamp-required pistol using an SB Tactical stabilizing arm brace.

Boom: the current Q Honey Badger Pistol. No select-fire and an arm brace sans stock.

Well, the ATF has just come in and zapped them over the pistol version saying that, it too is an SBR, not because of the brace but because of the sub of its parts and how it was marketed.

A possible reason could be that Q formerly listed the HB Pistol version as having a “2-POSITION TELESCOPING STOCK” rather than a brace on their website once upon a time, which seems just like a copy/paste mistake when their e-comm person set up the page, using the same copy from the SBR page.

But, the minor mistake in advertising, which surely could be easily cleared up, has now gone nuclear and the ATF isn’t taking any prisoners in the effort to dub the HBP an SBR through some sort of arbitrary concept without showing their mental gymnastics. The end result could be upwards of 4 million legal gun owners who have braces on their AR/AK pistols becoming potential felons by default once the smoke clears.

Need some easy reading?

Rock Island Auction Company has, for the first time, just released high-rez digital copies of their upcoming premier auction catalog online (for free). If you aren’t aware, these catalogs are book-quality, running 300+ pages on average, and usually cost $170 a set.

They make a great piece of firearms history if nothing else and really are drool-quality.

An example of what you see in these…

Be aware, they are about 300mb each, in pdf format, so they may take a minute to DL.

Vol. I 
Vol. II 
Vol. III 

The Gun Writing World is Diminished

Jeff Quinn– the gun writer not the current and much younger Notre Dame coach of the same name– has reportedly passed. Every year, I enjoyed bumping into Jeff at SHOT Show and NRA Show. He was most certainly a character and his Gunblast site was unique in the firearms industry.

Jeff, with his brothers Boge and Gregg behind the camera, teamed up in January 2000 to become one of the very first in the online firearms review game back when a 56K dial-up connection was still considered fast in many parts of the country. Keep in mind, they predated Vimeo and YouTube which were founded a half-decade later!

The full-time firearms writer game only has about 100 active players. After all, when compared to other enterprises it is a smallish industry, despite what the left screams. Losing Mr. Quinn feels like we are diminished by far more than just one voice.

So long, Jeff.

An 8-pound pistol

So for the past few weeks, I have been fooling around with a T&E DB15 pistol. Featuring a 7-inch barrel, it is a fairly compact blaster and I have to admit that the KAK Flash Can and Gearhead Works Tailhook is growing on me.

While right out of the box, the 23-inch long 5.56 NATO handgun weighs just 4.53-pounds, I have added a Sig Sauer Romeo 5 red dot, a 600-lumen Streamlight and a Magpul D60 drum to it, bringing its loaded all-up weight with spare batteries (in the MOE grip) and boolits of 8.7-pounds.

Nice. For reference, the total cost as shown with all accessories is still under $1K. 

More in my column at Guns.com. 

BSA Getting it Done

Lots of people don’t know, but the Boy Scouts of America is, for many kids, their introduction to gun culture and safety. My son and I participated when he was in the program and I volunteered as a certified firearms instructor and range safety officer.

In 2015 alone, 43,196 Boy Scouts earned a Marksmanship Merit Badge, which is available in rifles and shotguns. Older Venture Scouts also can take smallbore pistol marksmanship as well.

As noted by Michael D. Faw in The Outdoor Wire:

Scouting holds title to more than 400 summer camps across America and every camp has a range that promotes various firearms shooting programs. For many Scouts, this can be the first introduction to the shooting sports. More than 300 of those camps have rifle ranges, and nearly 300 camps have shotgun ranges. Many have both.

Shooting venues are popular at Scout camps and those attendees shoot—and shoot often.

During 2019, Scouting shooting programs at those camp ordered more than 5,130,000 rounds of .22 ammunition, more than 850,000 20-gauge shotshells and more than 360,000 12-gauge shotshells from the national headquarters supply center. Ironically, not all camps order their ammunition supplies through the national headquarters supply program or those numbers would be significantly higher. Several camps have programs with local suppliers to secure ammunition and save shipping costs.

“The shooting programs offered in Scouting camps are one of our most popular programs,” reports Rob Kolb, Scouting Range Program Director. “Adding to those camps in 2019 was the World Scout Jamboree that came to The Summit (a Scout adventure camp) in West Virginia. There were more than 42,000 participants from more than 150 countries, and the shooting range was open and it was one of the top visited sites. For some of those Scouts, this was the first time they had shot any firearm—and for some it was the first time they had ever seen a firearm.” 2019 was the first time the World Scouting Jamboree had been in America in 50 years.

About those 3D guns…

In May 2013, Cody Wilson, through his Austin-based company Defense Distributed, created the Liberator, a nearly entirely 3-D printed, single-shot .380 ACP pistol for which he freely shared the plans for online. In the first two days, the files were downloaded nearly 100,000 times. Then the federal government, specifically the State Department under John Kerry, demanded the plans for the Liberator be pulled from the website until further notice under international arms regulations, citing “the United States government claims control of the information.”

Wilson, allied with the Second Amendment Foundation, challenged that logic in court and won the settlement announced this week that will see DefDist once again post 3-D gun files starting Aug. 1 via Defcad.com. “The age of the downloadable gun begins.”

And they aren’t just about the Liberator anymore:

More in my column at Guns.com.

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