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Posted By FFL Dealer Network on 12/21/2020 in Firearm News

BATF Proposal on Stabilizing Braces

BATF Proposal on Stabilizing Braces

UPDATE: As of December 23, 2020 this proposal by BATF has been rescinded.

The BATF has opened a comment period on the use of pistol braces. Braces, as of right now, are not banned. 

The deadline for comments is Jan. 4, 2021. 

Read the entire BATF letter that is causing all the consternation. 

Here is a summary. 

The letter says it is an unofficial draft. Most likely, unless this is stopped through public outcry, a final draft will be nearly identical. Stopping it is possible. Look at the attempts to regulate Delta-8. The industry and users fought the attempt and so far, Delta-8 is legal. 


The letter opens with the statement that the BATF is looking at pistols with a brace to decide if they are an NFA item or not. More specifically, the BATF is asking for comments from the firearms industry and the public “on the proposed guidance, Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with ‘Stabilizing Braces,’ prior to issuing a final document." 

Here's how and where you send comments: 

  • On the web at 
  • Mail - ATTN: ATF 2020R-10 Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services BATF 99 New York Ave, NE Mail Stop GN-518 Washington DC 20226 
  • Fax (202) 648-9741. 

No matter how you send your comment, you must include: 

  • BATF and Docket number ATF 2020R-10 
  • Your name and full mailing address. You can send a separate letter with this information, asking your name and address not be published in the public commentary report. This is only good for faxes and mailed in comments, not Internet comments. 

Anonymous comments won’t be published. Comments without name and address won’t be considered. Comments with profanity won’t be considered. 

Make sure you write legibly. If ATF agents can’t read it, it won’t be considered. The BATF says printed letters must have a font size of at least 12 points or .17 inches. 

If you fax your comments, limit that to 5 pages. 


A lot of people are wondering why the BATF is looking braces now. The presidential election is certainly partly behind it. At the same time, the firearm industry marketing gurus poked a hornets' nest. The BATF says “manufacturers sometimes assert that a device is a ‘stabilizing brace’ when submitting a firearm for classification. The same manufacturers will then advertise their products as devices that permit customers to fire their 'pistols’ from the shoulder – that is making a ‘short-barreled rifle’ – without complying with the requirements of the NFA." 

When braces became popular, many people wondered if it was legal to put the brace to the shoulder. BATF initially said this was OK. As we now see, that decision is under review. 


The letter sets out some standards the BATF plans to use in making the decision. The letter is also clear more criteria may be added. The major points are: 

  • Type and caliber. Big handguns with heavy recoil, in other words. BATF reasons, if you can’t shoot it with one hand and no brace, it’s probably a short barrel shotgun or rifle. 
  • Weight and length. If it is too heavy to hold and shoot with one hand, again, likely a short-barreled gun. 
  • Pull. That’s the distance from the trigger to where the stock meets the shoulder. “If a brace is of a length that makes it impractical to attach to the shooter’s wrist or forearm, then that my demonstrate that it is not designed as a brace, but rather for shoulder fire. 
  • Brace features. How does it compare to a real stock? 
  • Second grip. At least part of this is in the current regulations. Putting a vertical forward grip under the barrel of an AR pistol sets it up for being an SBR. If it has the grip and a brace, definitely an SBR. 
  • Sights. Are the sights for a handgun or a rifle? If for a rifle, that is another point to making the gun an SBR. 
  • Mags. Like drum magazines? The letter says big mags could push it into NFA territory if “…the inclusion of a magazine or drum that accepts too many cartridges that it increases the overall weight of a firearm to a degree that it is impractical to fire the weapon with one hand even with the assistance of a stabilizing brace.” 


Can BATF regulate just the brace? Yes, see the bump stock issue. You can also look into the “fuel filters” being sold across the Internet as another example of BATF regulating parts that are not a gun. As the letter says, “when an accessory and a weapon’s objective design features, taken together, are not consistent with the use of an accessory such as an arm brace, that is, not to stabilize a handgun when being operated with one hand, such weapon, configured with the accessory may fall within the scope of the NFA, particularly where the accessory functions as a shoulder stock for the weapon.” 

The letter goes on to say the BATF will look at braces to see if they are used as stocks. If so, then the combination is subject to NFA regulation. 

The letter adds the BATF is taking this step because “requests for classification for this kind of firearm have also increased.” 


While the letter is just a draft, it does signal the BATF is looking at changing the designation of braces. Unless the BATF receives a significant outcry against declaring braces as NFA items, the agency will decide braces are nothing more than a stock, making a braced-pistol an SBR. 

Here is our short comment for consideration.  

Even with overwhelming opposition, the BATF may go ahead with the plan. Certainly, the Biden Administration wants this to happen.

Have you submitted a response yet?  at the time of this writing 48,354 patriots have responded to this proposal.  The 2A community needs YOU to make your voice known!

So, if this idea gets shot down, nothing changes. 

If the idea gets approval, things change

BATF promises to have a way for people with stabilizer-braced pistols to get them signed up under the NFA without the fee. Or, as the letter puts it, “an expedited application process and the retroactive exemption of such firearms from the collection of NFA taxes.” Once in the NFA registry, the gun can only be legally sold to someone who pays the $200 tax stamp and goes through the background check process. 

The letter provides other options for braced pistols. 

  • Removing and trashing the brace permanently 
  • Changing the barrel to meet the shotgun or rifle standard 
  • Handing the gun over to the BATF 
  • Destroying it.

What do you think about this post? Leave a comment below!

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