With the uproar made by pistol enthusiasts against the attack on the ATF on stabilizing pistol braces, one major question resurfaced: can you shoulder an AR pistol without breaking the law?
Well, our team set out an in-depth hunt about the truth to clear the air.
Table of Contents
Bringing an AR Pistol Brace Up To Your Shoulder - Is it Legal?
Yes, bringing an AR pistol brace up to your shoulder is still reasonably legal. It’s common knowledge that the ATF has gone back and forth over the rules and regulations about the legality of using an AR stabilizing pistol brace.
In 2014, it had been tagged by the ATF as illegal. However, after three years, the bureau had reversed its opinion about the matter. It stated that it should be considered legal as long as the shouldering of pistol support is incidental, sporadic, or situational. And as of this date, the ATF hasn’t changed its decision to legalize the use of a stabilizing pistol brace.
What is an AR Pistol Brace?
An AR pistol brace is a device attached to an arm strap that improves the weapon’s stability when fired from the shoulder, discovered by Sig Sauer. It braces against the wrist or forearm to improve accuracy and support when shooting any heavy AR pistol.
Stabilizing braces can alternatively be used as traditional shoulder stocks. It is primarily designed to help the shooter fire their firearm one-handed.
This forearm brace is fitted with adjustable straps to tighten it around the shooter’s forearm, helping increase accuracy and reduce recoil during single-handed firing. Short-barreled firearms equipped with braces are legally considered AR pistols. 
These AR braces also feature various designs. Some braces resemble a shoulder stock, while others mimic a padded buffer tube. However, it is essential to note that these arm braces are not designed to be used as a cheek rest. Permanently affixing it to the end of the receiver extension is also prohibited.
ATF Ruling Timeline For Shouldering a Pistol Brace
In 2014, the ATF did not classify an AR pistol as a short-barreled rifle. They further stated that weapons are classified based on their physical design characteristics, not their usage or functionality.
However, angry politicians started to cry foul over the Sig shoulder brace saga brought about by the Sig. Hence, the bureau released an official statement saying an AR stabilizing support becomes an SBR when brought up to the shoulder, making it ultimately illegal. In layman’s terms, the bureau allowed installing an unmodified arm brace, intact with its original approved configuration.
However, in 2015, the ATF recalled its first ruling about the shouldering of an AR pistol being perfectly legal without a Form 1 and a tax stamp. Although the bureau previously determined the resulting firearm, they soon declared that it was illegal in 2017.
Therefore, if you didn’t apply for a Form 1 and paid a tax stamp, you could be indicted on a serious federal charge for illegally shouldering a pistol arm brace, aggregating the creation of an NFA weapon/NFA firearm.
However, the new ATF rules didn’t make many firearm enthusiasts happy. They argued that simply shouldering an AR platform didn’t mean that they had redesigned it. They reiterated that stabilizing support was either designed, much more approved, to replace or work as a shoulder rifle stock in the gun range.
Thankfully, the ATF’s decision to make shouldering an AR pistol illegal didn’t stand long as long as the gun owners adhere to their ruling. As of the ATF’s final ruling, you are only allowed to put it on the shoulders or at a firing position during incidental, sporadic, or situational instances in the foreseeable future. Also, your pistol should have a rifled barrel under 16 inches.
Since the ATF rulings in 2017 hadn’t changed, you can still shoot an AR pistol from the shoulder. However, you are only allowed to do so as long as you use it as intended at a particular position. We also recommend researching whether the afore-mentioned brace legality is suited to your state or not.
You can carry an AR pistol with a barrel shorter than 16” barrel length, which is the required barrel’s overall length. It won’t be considered short-barreled rifles, which is considered illegal. Also, it is wise to consider that every state has varying rules and regulations regarding gun laws. Hence, we still recommend that you seek legal advice to adhere to your state’s federal law and regulations to avoid federal charges.
So, Is it Legal to Shoulder an AR Pistol Brace in 2021?
Based on in-depth research conducted by our team, it is still legal to shoulder an AR-15 pistol brace in 2021. Amidst the varying rules and regulations about the shouldering of a pistol stabilizing brace, the ATF’s interpretation of the legality of using a stabilizing pistol brace is still valid.
However, it would only be legal if you shoulder a pistol brace because of an incidental, sporadic, or situational instance. The ATF has never changed or recalled its ruling amidst the debate over the controversial topic, even after releasing the new ATF letter this 2021.
- 7 Best 9mm Muzzle Brakes: Reviews & Guide (2022 UPDATED) - January 7, 2022
- How to Buy a Gun in Virginia: State Control Laws (2022) - January 6, 2022
- Military Information: How to Join the US Army (2022 Updated) - December 29, 2021