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2023 ATF Pistol Brace Ruling


The ATF has finally published their "ruling" on pistol braces. Let us not forget that the ATF lacks law-making authority, yet is somehow able to get away with effectively creating laws that can result in fines and imprisonment of citizens.


The ATF's own summary is a bit confusing as it sounds like nothing has changed.

"This rule does not affect “stabilizing braces” that are objectively designed and intended as a “stabilizing brace” for use by individuals with disabilities, and not for shouldering the weapon as a rifle. Such stabilizing braces are designed to conform to the arm and not as a buttstock. However, if the firearm with the “stabilizing brace” is a short-barreled rifle, it needs to be registered within 120-days from the date of publication in the Federal Register."


Here are some important considerations before you think the above makes you exempt. The following was taken directly from the ATF's filing.


(1) whether the weapon has a weight or length consistent with the weight or length of similarly designed rifles;

(2) whether the weapon has a length of pull, measured from the center of the trigger to the center of the shoulder stock or other rearward accessory, component or attachment (including an adjustable or telescoping attachment with the ability to lock into various positions along a buffer tube, receiver extension, or other attachment method),that is consistent with similarly designed rifles;

(3) whether the weapon is equipped with sights or a scope with eye relief that require the weapon to be fired from the shoulder in order to be used as designed;

(4) whether the surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder is created by a buffer tube, receiver extension, or any other accessory, component, or other rearward attachment that is necessary for the cycle of operations; (5)the manufacturer’s direct and indirect marketing and promotional materials indicating the intended use of the weapon; and

(6)information demonstrating the likely use of the weapon in the general community.


The text below is brought to us credit of Orchid Advisors and references the final ruling found here.


"Today, the Department of Justice announced it has submitted ATF Final Rule 2021R-08F, "Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached 'Stabilizing Braces,'" to the Federal Register, amending ATF regulations to clarify when a rifle is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.


Final Rule Summary

The Final Rule makes clear when manufacturers, dealers, and individuals use stabilizing braces to convert pistols into rifles with a barrel of less than 16", they must comply with the laws that regulate those rifles, including those of the NFA. The amended definition of “rifle” shall include a weapon that is equipped with an accessory, component, or other rearward attachment (e.g., “stabilizing brace) that provides surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder or indicates that the weapon is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.


To comply with new regulations, manufacturers, dealers, and individuals must either (1) register tax-free any existing NFA short-barreled rifles covered by the rule, (2) remove the stabilizing brace to return the firearm to a pistol, (3) attach a 16" or longer rifled barrel to the firearm, or (4) turn in to ATF or destroy the firearm. Nothing in this rule bans stabilizing braces or the use of stabilizing braces on pistols.

Proposed Worksheet 4999

The rule also does not adopt Worksheet 4999 as previously proposed. The rule does, however, adopt several of the objective design features that indicate a firearm is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and incorporates those features into the definition of "rifle." These objective features include weight, length of pull, use of optics, existence of a rearward attachment, and manufacturer marketing and information.

Effectivity Date

ATF Final Rule 2021R-08F will go into effect the date the ruling is published in the Federal Register, anticipated next week. The rule allows for a 120-day period, from date of publishing, for manufacturers, dealers, and individuals to register tax-free any existing NFA short-barreled rifles covered by the rule."

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