ATF Ruling on Pistol Braces

Pistol Brace

Note – We are not attorney’s, this is our opinion and a summary of how we interpret the ATF ruling. If you have questions, you should contact the ATF directly and/or contact an attorney. ATF rulings can and do change, this writing is as of January 31, 2023.


On January 13, 2023, The ATF Final Rule 2021R-08F, “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces” was submitted to the Federal Registrar. ATF’s 2021R-08F Final Rule states that when a manufacturer, dealer, or individual uses a stabilizing brace to turn a pistol into a rifle with a barrel length of less than 16 inches, the modified rifle is considered an NFA item and not a pistol. The rule further clarifies that a rifle is an item that is equipped with an accessory, part, or attachment that allows it to be fired from the shoulder or is designed and intended to be used in that way.

ATF Final Rule 2021R-08F


The ATF’s Final Rule 2021R-08F states that when a pistol is modified with a stabilizing brace so that it has a barrel length of less than 16 inches, it must be classified as an NFA item instead of a pistol. The definition of “rifle” was changed to include any weapon that is fitted with an accessory, component, or attachment that can be used to shoot the weapon from the shoulder or is meant to be fired from the shoulder.

To comply with these new regulations, manufacturers, dealers, and individuals must do one of the following by no later than May 31, 2023:

  • Register tax-free any existing NFA short-barreled rifles (SBRs) covered by the rule via Form 1.
  • Remove the pistol or stabilizing brace so that it cannot be reattached, thus returning the firearm to a pistol configuration.
  • Replace the short barrel (anything under 16″ in length) with a barrel that is 16″ or longer.
  • Forfeit the firearm to your local ATF office.
  • Destroy the Firearm.

Nothing in this rule bans stabilizing braces or the use of stabilizing braces on pistols.

Want an infographic that makes it easy to see what you need to do? Check out this link created by the ATF.

Proposed Worksheet 4999

The regulation does not accept the Worksheet 4999 as it was initially proposed. However, it does embrace certain distinct characteristics that demonstrate a gun is designed, produced, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and integrate them into the definition of a “rifle”. These features comprise weight, length of pull, optics, rear connection, and producer advertising and information.

Effective Date

ATF Final Rule 2021R-08F will be published in the Federal Register on January 31, 2023. The rule allows for a 120-day period, ending May 31, 2023, for manufacturers, dealers, and individuals to register tax-free any existing NFA short-barreled rifles covered by the rule.

Will this Ruling be Overturned?

We fully expect this ruling to be challenged in the courts. As to whether or not it gets overturned is anyone’s guess. The issue at hand, is that it likely won’t be challenged until the law has gone into effect as you need a plaintiff who has been harmed and you have no plaintiff until it becomes law. This creates the issue of whether or not you should wait

Can I shoot my firearm while I’m waiting for the NFA Paperwork

Based off current NFA law, we would recommend not shooting your pistol braced firearm until you have received your tax stamp. To be on the safe side, it would be best to remove the pistol brace, convert the firearm back to a pistol and then add the brace or another stock once you receive your NFA Tax Stamp.

What do I do if I live in a State that has an SBR (Short Barrel Rifle) Ban?

If you live in a State with a ban on SBR’s, you may NOT register your pistol braced firearm as an SBR, which leaves you with the option of attaching a 16″ barrel or longer to your firearm, destroying the firearm or surrendering the firearm to the ATF. As of this writing, the following states do not allow you to own an SBR:

  • California (only allowed if the SBR is on the C&R (Curious & Relics) list and must be obtained with a C&R FFL)
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
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