The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)rule2021R-08F called “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces,’” is the latest ATF brace rule. This rule aimed to clarify if a firearm was made, designed, and intended to be fired from your shoulder, effectively classifying millions of braced pistols as short-barreled rifles which are subject to the regulations of the National Firearms Act (NFA). This 293-page rule uses vague language about what constitutes an SBR, including eye relief of the optic, the weight of the platform, and the general public's likely use of the weapon. The new ATF brace ruling has many citizens asking, will pistol braces be grandfathered in? No, the ATF will not be grandfathering in any braced weapon configurations that they deem to circumvent the NFA.
Are Pistol Braces Illegal Now?
The ATF clarifiedthat pistol braces themselves are not subject to any sort of ban or regulation, as the agencydoes not regulate accessories. The ATF pistol brace rule does specify that many braced weapons, IE: firearms with an attached stabilizing or pistol brace, may be subject to the NFA as they could be SBRs. 2021R-08F does not specify what exactly makes a braced weapon an SBR or not, giving the ATF discretion to apply the rule as they see fit to individual examples. On the ATF’s website is a list of examples and configurations deemed to be SBRs but there is no list of ATF-approved pistol braces.If you are curious if your specific configuration qualifies as an SBR, you can submit your firearm to ATF’s Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD)for classification. SPOILER: Your firearm is almost certainly an SBR according to this rule.
Pistol Brace Amnesty Period
Included in rule 2021R-08F is a 120-dayforbearance period, that started January 31, 2023, when the rule was added to the Federal Register. This ATF pistol brace amnesty period will serve as a window to give individuals time to comply with the new definition and rule by removing the brace, installing a barrel 16” or longer, registering the firearm as an SBR, or destroying the braced weapon.After the forbearance period concludes, firearms that are determined to be SBRs will be treated as unregistered NFA items, and penalties for possessing an unregistered SBR include fines of up to $250,000, up to 10 years in federal prison, and the loss of gun rights.
Do I Need a Tax Stamp for a Pistol Brace?
Yes, if your braced weapon meets the new criteria to be considered an SBR it will require a tax stamp to remain in that configuration. The new ruling does state that during the forbearance period, the ATF will waive the cost of an NFA tax stamp for those who choose to register their firearm as a short-barreled rifle. Registration can be done as an individual or a trust as long as the trust owned the firearm prior to the final rule being added to the register. This registration would be done via an ATF Form 1, which is the form required to manufacture an NFA item.
Login to your Silencer Shop account: if you don’t have an account you can quickly create one by selecting “Register as a “New User”. From the Dashboard, navigate to “eForm 1” on the top banner and click the “Start New Form 1” button. You’ll then be prompted to choose whether your submission will qualify for tax-exemption based on ATF pistol brace amnesty rule.
You will need to enter a few pieces of information: We request a photo of the original engravings, including the manufacturer, model, caliber, city, and state. You will also need to enter this info in the appropriate fields. Input the barrel length and overall length that the firearm will have in its SBR configuration.
Once your information is input:a member of our compliance team reviews your application packet and checks it for accuracy (Silencer Shop compliance has a 99.5% accuracy rate compared to the industry average of 60%).
Upon a successful compliance review: your eForm 1 will be prepped for submission. You will get an email from DocuSign, please verify the information is correct and accept it. Then just look out for a “Ready to Certify” email, be aware this sometimes gets filtered to Junk/Spam folders.
Certification can be done quickly andeasily: from your own computer or mobile device right at home, just make sure to have your ATF eForms login and password ready!
After you submit your Form 1 through Silencer Shop, the ATF will send you an email titled: "eForms Application Submission Notification for Permit/Control No: ######". This email has an attachment asking you to submit your fingerprints. Silencer Shop does this for you!
If you need any assistance, hovering over the “Need help” question mark (?) icons will provide useful information on how to fill out the indicated field.
Litigation and Lawsuits
Many law-abiding citizens are upset about the new pistol brace rule, calling it aregistration scheme or a bait and switch by the ATF, which previously approved the use of pistol braces and braced weapons. Organizations such as the Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition (FRAC),The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and National Rifle Association (NRA) are leading the charge to oppose this rule with litigation and lawsuits against the ATF. These groups and others are callingthe ruling an attack on the 2nd amendmentand citing that only Congress can establish laws, not regulatory bodies such as the DOJ or ATF. We encourage you to support the organizations that are battling to make sure our gun rights shall not be infringed.