BATFE Fires Warning Shot at Pistol Arm Braces

Honey Badger AR pistol
The Honey Badger AR pistol, seen with the arm brace collapsed and extended, should be legal to own again after last week's court ruling.

This is a prepping blog, not a gun blog, so even though I believe guns are an important part of any serious prepper’s tool chest, I try not to focus too much on firearms.

But something has made the news in the past few days that should alarm anyone who owns an AR-15 pistol or other weapon with an arm brace.  Since I own two AR pistols with arm braces, this is obviously a concern to me. More importantly, I believe it is an example of overstepping by a federal agency.

Specifically, the BATFE office in Massachusetts told a gun manufacturer in New Hampshire (Q, LLC) that its Honey Badger AR pistol was, in fact, a short barreled rifle and that the company is required to pay the $200 tax stamp on every gun it sold.  It also said thousands of buyers who owned those guns were suddenly in violation of the National Firearms Act, which is a felony and subject to a 10-year sentence and a $10,000 fine.

Just another example of how the stroke of a pen can turn thousands of innocent people into criminals.

Oh, by the way, if you think the name Honey Badger sounds familiar, yes, the original Honey Badger was in the Call of Duty video game.

If you are not familiar with the gun or the situation, here’s an article for you to review: Q Honey Badger Pistol Now an SBR According to ATF Letter.

I strongly recommend that you read the company’s response, which outlines all the ways in which the BATFE is going off the reservation with this decision.

BATFE Targets Arm Braces

One problem that the BATFE faces is that the gun laws are very specific in how they define a rifle, a short-barreled rifle, and a pistol.  The primary law, written in the 1930s and revised in 1968, was written before devices like arm braces were developed or even conceived.  So the BATFE has had to come up with interpretations to determine if new devices are legal.  And in this particular case, the BATFE is making a ruling that goes against its prior interpretations, without any warning.

I believe that there are two explanations for this recent BATFE action.  One, someone in Boston made a mistake and did not follow along with prior decisions from Washington, in which case this will be cleared up quickly.  Two, and more likely, this is a warning shot fired across the bow of all companies who sell AR Pistols that use an arm brace and all consumers who own one. 

For some reason, unelected bureaucrats in Boston and possibly Washington have become alarmed at how many pistols with arm braces are being sold and want to put a stop to it. It is also possible that because Q sells a pistol version and a SBR version of what appears to be the same gun, the ATF took offense at this and acted out of spite.

For more on this, read this story on rogue ATF leadership from

I also recommend this interview with the creator of the Honey Badger. 

Arm Braces and Shouldering Guns

The arm brace was designed to allow individuals to shoot heavy pistols with one hand in a safe, controllable manner.  Early uses included allowing disabled veterans who lost an arm or hand, to shoot AR-style pistols.  Braces include a strap or other device that allows the brace to be affixed to the forearm while the shooter holds the pistol grip.

Arm brace
This is how to use SB Tactical arm brace to fire a large pistol in one hand.

Once braces were approved by the BATFE, the question then became what happens if a shooter uses a brace-equipped gun with two hands and mounts it to their shoulder like they would a rifle?  Initially, the BATFE said this turn the pistol into a short barreled rifle, which is a regulated item and subject to a $200 tax stamp.  Then they reversed themselves in 2017 and said that occasional or incidental use of the arm brace to shoulder the weapon was allowed, as long as the shooter didn’t intend the brace to be used as a stock or the gun to be a short barreled rifle.

It all Comes Down to Intent

This raises the question of how did Q market their gun?  Did they market it as a pistol? (Yes.)  Did they have marketing materials showing the gun being shoulder mounted?  (I don’t know.) Is the arm brace of a design that encourages it to be used as a stock? (It looks to me like it would be difficult or uncomfortable to use their standard arm brace as a shoulder mounted stock.)  Also of concern is that the BATFE has refused to tell Q what they must do to legally render the gun a pistol in the eyes of the regulatory agency.

That’s kind of like the county electrical inspector coming out to inspect your new addition, failing you, but not telling you why, or the health inspector giving a restaurant a failing grade without any explanation.

I guess the details may all be argued out in some administrative court.  Until then, people who own pistols with arm braces should continue to ensure they do not mount them on their shoulder, but use them in the manner in which they were intended.  I would go so far as to say you should strap the brace to your arm and fire the gun one handed used the brace.  Maybe even have  video of yourself doing it so you can prove you used the brace as intended.

Here’s another video by the founder and CEO of SB Tactical in which he discusses working with the ATF regarding pistol braces. Interesting to note that the agency appears not to want to set any hard and fast rules on this subject.

I am a fan of Colion Noir. I recommend you subscribe to his channel.

Other Second Amendment Issues

In a move that will surprise many liberals who strongly endorse the “defund the police” movement and have been secretly cheering protesters and rioters, these very actions actually strengthen the Second Amendment.  For years, the liberals’ argument is that we do not need guns because the police are there to protect us.  Now that the police are being defunded and have been told to stand down, that argument no longer holds water.

Or, as the National Review puts it: “But whatever ‘defund the police’ ends up meaning in practice, it highlights a gaping disconnect between the Left’s anti-cop rhetoric and their anti-gun rhetoric about the Second Amendment.”

We’ve reported before that the spate of street violence has resulted in a huge uptick in the sale of guns and ammunition.  There have been more guns sold in the United States this year than any other year – and we still have a couple months to go.  Many of these new guns are being sold to first-time gun owners who suddenly feel the need to protect themselves in the face of new threats.

The revolutionary war started when British troops marched out of Boston to seize guns belonging to Americans.  Our right to own firearms is protected by the Second Amendment because the founders realized that weapons were the last resort when it comes to protecting the country from tyranny.  Let’s hope the politicians and their bureaucrats remember that.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like Concealed Carry Challenges in an Era of Protests or August 31: The Best Gun Combos for Car Carry.