Pistol Brace Rules: Latest News

Christensen Arms CA9 - The 9mm AR pistol with a carbon barrel.

In late 2021, the Biden administration announced that it would be cracking down on the use of pistol braces on AR pistols and effectively reclassifying that combo as a Short Barrel Rifle. Just like everything he touches, it has turned into an epic shit show.

But what are the rules now?

Court of Appeals on Our Side

Well, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has just handed the ATF its ass. In a majority ruling, the Fifth Circuit declared that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms massively exceeded its authority with crossed the line from enforcing the law to writing its own legislation.

Attempting to rewrite the rules to bring AR pistols under the same National Firearms Act umbrella as SBRs, machine guns and silencers was simply beyond its remit and its capability.

It’s not the first time that the ATF has invoked Chevron doctrine to reinterpret existing rules and change the law radically.

But this time the National Shooting Sports Foundation Inc that represents a number of retailers and suppliers has had enough, and challenged the ATF ruling. Succesfully, to this point.

I mean most of us could have called shenanigans on this without the court rigmarole and fancy clothes. But we’re glad that common sense seems to be prevailing and the actions of the ATF have been called out.

A Landmark Court Battle

This is an important ruling, because if the ATF managed to force through this new ruling, it would have been the first of many. This was the ATF simply deciding it could change the law, with the President’s backing, and circumvent the entire political process.

Of course that would be an inherent threat to the Second Amendment and the start of the slipperiest of slopes.

Now the Fifth Circuit, which also threw out Biden’s backdoor rule changes regarding unserialized parts, has decided that the ATF cannot simply reclassify an AR pistol with a brace as an SBR. That’s the TL;DR version of this whole song and dance.

Is an AR Pistol an SBR Now?

Pistol braces are devices that are attached to the rear of an AR pistol to help stabilize it when firing. The ATF had previously ruled that pistol braces did not make an AR pistol into an illegal short-barreled rifle (SBR), as long as they were used to stabilize the pistol, not to shoulder it.

However, the Biden administration argued that pistol braces were being used to circumvent the law, and that they should be regulated as SBRs. In April 2022, the ATF issued a new rule that would make it illegal to use a pistol brace on an AR pistol unless it is permanently affixed to the gun.

The new rule has been met with strong opposition from gun rights advocates, who argue that it is an infringement on their Second Amendment rights. They argue that pistol braces are a safe and effective way to stabilize AR pistols, and that the new rule will make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.

The ATF has defended the new rule, arguing that it is necessary to prevent criminals from using AR pistols as weapons of war. However, gun rights advocates argue that the rule is a solution in search of a problem, and that there is no evidence that pistol braces are being used by criminals.

The new rule is currently being challenged in court, and it is unclear how it will ultimately be resolved. However, the debate over pistol braces is likely to continue for some time.

What are the Implications of the New Rule?

The new rule has a number of implications for AR pistol owners. First, it will make it more difficult to acquire and use pistol braces. Second, it will make it more difficult to transport AR pistols across state lines. Third, it could make it more difficult to insure AR pistols.

The rule could also have a chilling effect on the development of new pistol brace designs. Many gun manufacturers have been developing new pistol braces that are more comfortable and easier to use. However, the new rule could make it more difficult for these manufacturers to bring their products to market.

What Can AR Pistol Owners Do Now?

AR pistol owners who are concerned about the new rule have a few options. They can contact their elected representatives and urge them to support legislation that would overturn the rule. They can also file a lawsuit challenging the rule.

In the meantime, AR pistol owners should be aware of the new rule and how it could affect them. But also be aware that very few gun owners complied with the ATF rules that gave a May 23rd deadline to register their braced pistols.

There were several reasons for this. Not only did gun owners not agree with the rules, they also had to supply photos of the gun, fill out the forms and effectively retroactively ask for permission to own what could be an illegal firearm.

There was the general feeling that the photos were providing evidence that could be used against perfectly law abiding gun owners.

Many States also have no provision for an SBR. They’re just illegal. So reclassifying an AR pistol like this would give the owner no choice but to hand over their firearm to the authorities, destroy it or take the easy route and take the brace off.

Faced with mass non compliance, the ATF waived the $200 license fee that goes with the NFA registration process. It still didn’t work and millions of Americans potentially became felons overnight if the new rules were allowed to stand.

So the Fifth Court of Appeals ruling is a victory for common sense and the common man.

The Future of Pistol Braces

It is unclear what the future holds for pistol braces. The new rule is currently being challenged in court, and it is going to be a long and tortuous process with appeals and counter appeals. However, even if the rule is upheld, it is possible that the ATF could issue new guidance that would make it easier for AR pistol owners to comply with the rule.

Only time will tell what the future holds for pistol braces. However, the debate over pistol braces is likely to continue for a long time.

The ATF looks weak right now, and will have to fight its corner. But for the Second Amendment supporters, it has become a vital battle that we simply cannot lose.

Because the ATF writing its own rules is the slipperiest of slopes and we just cannot let that happen.


  • Nick Hall

    Nick is a lifelong gun enthusiast who has a simple mission. He wants to find the best deals for guns online and help you make the best choices with weapons your life may depend on one day.Nick won a minor league shooting competition at the age of 11 and it all went from there. Now he runs one of the biggest firearms websites on the net and his work has featured in Playboy US, Tatler Asia, Forbes and a whole host of national magazines and websites.

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