If you've been out of the tactical neighborhood for a bit, you maybe scratching your head at all these short barreled AR15s with arm braces that are scattered around magazine spreads and internet blogs. You may be wondering if shooting one handed is the new tactical hat trick. Not quite, but they have become very popular with AR-15 owners who are very proud of their "pistols."
Let me back up a bit. The original purpose of this arm brace is to aid those who are unable to shoulder a rifle effectively, because over either an injury or medical disability. In fact this product was designed by a US Veteran who was looking for a way for disabled vets to still be able to control and shoot rifles safely. Mounting this on your AR-15 rifle (or AK47 as a different model) does not change its legal definition, and allows users to raise the firearm by anchoring the brace to your forearm. Needless to say, the weight of your rifle and your arm strength play a strong role in your success in using this product. However for those who are unable to fire a rifle for any number of physical obstacles, this stock is a game changer.
Now, I will get into why everyone else, myself included, are purchasing the Sig Sauer SB15 Pistol Stabilizing Brace. In short, the ATF has ruled that installing this "brace" onto an AR Pistol does not alter the firearm's classification as a "pistol," and thus avoiding the classification of an SBR (short barreled rifle). So basically if you have an AR Pistol and you install this arm brace, it lets you legally own something that is similar to an SBR in handling/shouldering terms, without filing a Form 4, paying for a tax stamp, waiting between 8-12 months for your stamp and approved paperwork, AND not being able to transport the firearm in between states without notification of LEO.
Now I'm not a lawyer, and NFA laws are not something you want to misunderstand due to every gunshop employee you could talk to have a varying explanation. Even as you are reading this, my understanding of whats correct and incorrect may no longer be the law of the land. So I will not go deep into the Do's and Don'ts of AR15s and AR Pistols. Just consult the ATF website and make sure your SB15-equipped firearm is in NFA compliance if you are thinking about a barrel shorter than 16 inches.
I actually found the brace difficult to use. The elasto-polymer is uncomfortable if you just shove your arm through the brace. I also found it impossible to straighten my arm enough to use sights. I believe this is a downside to installing the SB15 on an elongated pistol buffer tube, like the KAK industries Super Sig tube. It positions the brace farther back on your forearm, and decreases the angle at which you can align the pistol straight ahead. Also an optic like a red dot is required as you won't be able to use iron sights correctly with the appropriate eye relief.
However, this brace has an unintended benefit that probably makes up approx 90% of sales, being able to shoulder it like a stock, without it actually being a stock. With the official ruling and letter that comes with every SB15, the ATF has ruled that shouldering the arm brace does not magically make your pistol and rifle, and then back to a pistol when it is un-shouldered... that would be ridiculous and arbitrary! That is the reason why the brace is so popular. I have tried firing an AR Pistol using only a naked buffer tube, and it was awkward and uncomfortable. The SB15 isn't as ergonomic as an actual stock, but the increase accuracy from a more traditional shooting technique and the legal benefit of this item make it worth the investment for those who desire a short barreled version of an AR-15 without the red tape. The cheek weld isn't bad, nothing to write home about but its better than nothing. Those who often wear armor (plate carriers, or other bulky tactical garb) will also appreciate the shorter LOP.
My only other gripe is the color of the FDE model. It's nowhere close to the other "Flat Dark Earth" furniture I have of my firearms. Not even close to coyote brown. Why is it so difficult to nail down a consistent color for all manufacturers? OD Green wasn't the same across the board either, but there seems to be so many different shades and hues with the title of FDE that heavily contrast from each other. I would call this color "Flat Dark Baby Puke." Okay, graphic designer rant over!
Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame: Designed to improve the single-handed shooting performance of buffer tube equipped pistols.
Target Market: Disabled hunters or recreational shooters wishing to shoot one-handed (or AR15 owners trying to keep their short barrels legal)
FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product)
- Fits all pistols equipped with an AR-style buffer tube 1.0" - 1.2" in diameter.
- ATF compliant** ATF has reviewed this product and determined that attaching the SB15 to a firearm does not alter the classification of the firearm or subject the firearm to NFA control
- Veteran designed
- Made in USA
- Quick and easy to install
- Made from high-quality, elasto-polymer
- Uses the operator’s forearm to provide stable support, thereby minimizing accuracy-robbing spin and shift.
- A flexible cuff with two adjustable nylon straps allows the SB15 to be custom fit to any user.
What others are saying?: "As far as the intended purpose of the brace: it's completely moronic. you can't really look down the sights, can't manipulate the weapon, and can't really use the controls. Forget about scoring good hits on target. I guess I understand the idea, but it just doesn't work. We all know what the real value of this brace is, and it functions far better in that regard.
Pros: You can skip the ATF wait, tax, and NFA paperwork and have what I would consider maybe 80% of the functionality of an SBR. It actually offers a pretty good cheek weld, if you don't mind how close in you have to tuck your carbine. Rubber is solid enough to function in the "traditional" sense. The stock is on the tube very tight, it took me and another meathead friend of mine to pull it off. I haven't tried to mortar the gun yet but I think the brace would probably do just fine. I consider myself to be stronger than most and it took an enormous amount of force to push the stock as far down as I did.
Cons: It can turn on the buffer tube because it isn't locked in at all. Sig should find some way to lock this in so it can't turn. It wouldn't be any different functionally if it went on a traditional buffer tube, but I'm sure the ATF in all their wisdom would never go for that. It is sold feeling piece of gear, but it's still rubber. You'd probably be **** out of luck if you were trying to squash somebodies head with it as opposed to a normal stock. A QD swivel also would have been nice, but I don't really expect that type of thing from Sig, especially on a product like this. Maybe they'll release a second gen of these at some point, but I kinda doubt it. Another con is that the stupid thing costs $140, more than almost every buttstock on the market, and most of your NFA tax stamp cost. You also have to pony up cash for the pistol buffer tube. The most obvious con is that the brace comes in black and not tan, which makes it infinitely less tactical." Tzook user, M4Carbine.net Review
I need it now! Availability: Brownells
- Provides one armed shooting for disabled or special cases
- Includes ATF compliance letter
- Comes with extra velcro for additional support
- Invented by a veteran, partnered with SIG and $3 per stock proceeds go to HAVA foundation
- Extremely uncomfortable on bare forearm for use as intended (arm brace)
- FDE color is way off from Magpul FDE and other "Coyote Brown" colored products
- Price is too high for what it is/how it affects sight alignment
Score: 6.0 Okay