Having a firm and tight grip on your weapon is paramount. SB Tactical understands this very well, much like many other accessory-producing companies – or anyone who has ever shot a weapon, really.
Your grip could be the factor which makes or breaks your initial aim. Without a proper grasp, there is nothing that will stop those shots from going all over the place and missing the mark. SB Tactical’s goal is to help shooters find greater stability and accuracy, and to that end they have created their extensive line of pistol braces.
SB Tactical are credited with innovating the first pistol stabilizing braces, though other companies have followed in their footsteps and come up with very popular alternatives.
SB Tactical was founded by Alex Bosco and Grant Shaw in 2013. Bosco, an Army veteran, was interested in helping wounded and/or disabled shooters regain some of the control they had lost. This is how SB Tactical – and its first pistol-stabilizing braces – was born.
Even though it was founded with the intention of helping those who are disabled (or differently abled), these braces have been embraced by many shooters, not the least of which are short-barreled rifle (SBR) enthusiasts.
Bosco was unsure of the legal implications of adding such an accessory to an AR pistol. Therefore, he created the first prototype in his garage, submitted it to the ATF, and gained their approval before going into production.
The ATF wrote Bosco a letter, stating that adding such a device to an AR pistol will not render it a short-barreled rifle. Bosco had a vision, a prototype, and now he had government approval – everything he needed to get into business, with Shaw running the managerial aspect of the company.
The first braces were designed and shipped in the Spring of 2013, after SB had met and signed an agreement with SIG Sauer and later with Century Arms. The deal – first formulated at SHOT Show – was that SIG would sell the AR brace, and Century would sell the AK brace.
Both of those companies had exclusive rights to these first models, titled SB15 and SB47 (in accordance with the receiving weapons’ ubiquitous model numbers). I love it when SHOT Show and similar firearms-related conferences manage to bring small businesses and major manufacturers together to achieve a common goal.
In 2015, the exclusive sales agreements with SIG Sauer and Century Arms came to an end, and SB went full steam ahead designing, manufacturing, and distributing newer braces for use with other brands and models.
These pistol braces provide the shooter with better control over the firearm. This is their primary purpose, and it is achieved by adding another point of contact with the shooter’s body, which in turn leads to improved accuracy. This is why, in my opinion, this item actually deserves the term ‘tactical’.
SB Tactical Braces
SB Tactical’s braces are compatible with most commercially available pistol buffer tubes. However, there is no set industry standard for the tube’s diameter, so the fit may not be optimal at first.
SB are well aware of this, and should the fit be too tight or too loose, this can be mitigated by following the instructions on their website or perhaps by reading the attached manual.
The company states that their braces will fit buffer tubes which are 1.1” to 1.25” in diameter. SB also sells a standalone standard AR buffer tube (1.2” diameter, 8.3” long), made of 7075 T6 aluminum, designed to be an optimal fit for their braces. They are showcasing this item on their website for the MSRP of $39.95.
The brace itself is very straight-forward, and it has few components to it (brace, rod, housing, strap). Other than the actual brace-end of it, the most important part is the buffer tube that comes with it. This is the game-changer, in the eyes of many users.
It means you can use the brace and potentially shoulder your pistol, effectively making it a non-SBR. This means no $200 tax stamp, no waiting period, and no special issues when crossing state lines.
Over time, the ATF has sent several more letters to SB Tactical, to clarify the position of the brace in the eyes of the government. Ironically, these letters managed to confuse the shooting public, because of the very specific wording involved. Things having to do with original designation and potential “redesign” of the accessory, left the shooting public unsure of the legality of such items.
The ATF’s policy regarding pistol braces is still a little vague, but the bottom line is that a pistol stabilizing brace may be purchased, owned, and installed on a pistol, and that the addition of such an accessory to the pistol does not take away from its ‘pistol’ status or classification.
Concurrently, a pistol with a brace remains a pistol, period. As long as you don’t alter the original design of the pistol brace, the ATF cannot place anything unlawful at your feet.
Still, there is a question here.
That question comes up time and again on various gun forums and almost anytime the topic of pistol braces comes up. And that question is this: why bother? Why buy a brace instead of simply purchasing a tax stamp and making your pistol a proper SBR (where permitted)?
Well, for some people it is not a mere question of money, but more a question of hassle. Is it worth it? Is the (sometimes lengthy) process worth the time? The bureaucratic headache? The extra cash?
The answer to this question changes from one person to the next, and it all depends on your circumstances.
Having a tax stamp could save you future hassles, but getting a brace will save you from present hassles. Your call, but DO do the research before buying one or the other. Not all states are governed equally, as we all know, so check your local laws regarding either one of these methods, as well as the legal implications which may come into play.
SB sells braces for the AR and AK platforms, and also for certain models of HK, CZ, Ruger, Remington, Mossberg, and even the IWI Galil. The prices vary, but the MSRP for these models runs anywhere from $79.99 to $329.99, depending on the one in question.
This adds yet another factor into the “SBR VS brace” conundrum, since some of these braces cost more than a SBR tax stamp itself!
SB Tactical SBA3
In April of 2018, SB Tactical began shipping its newest model – the SBA3. This is an AR pistol stabilizing brace, and it is designed for any platform which accepts mil-spec carbine receiver extensions.
The item’s weight is 6.75 oz, and its length is 6.1”. It is adjustable (5 positions), includes a QD point for sling, and comes in black or FDE. MSRP $169.99
This thing takes almost no time to install, is built from sturdy material, and as mentioned earlier it has the potential to provide the user with the advantage of increased stability and accuracy.
The question of price is always something to consider, but if you are not interested in going the SBR route – or even if you are – the SBA3 is a fine alternative, be it permanent or temporary.
At SHOT Show 2019, SB Tactical unveiled their newest prototype, the SBA4. This model retains some of the previous model’s attributes, and attempts to make them better.
There is the mil-spec buffer tube, increased adjustability, higher cheek-rise, wider back-end, and the bottom has been reinforced so there is less rotation and/or movement. The QD point has been moved from the back a bit more to the
These new braces are slated to be shipped to dealers in the Spring of 2019, so be on the lookout for those.
The SB pistol braces were intended for shooters who were having difficulties, but it seems they have outgrown that initial designation, and have since become a viable option for those who are interested in increasing stability, regardless of any physical difficulties or challenges they may be facing.
SB Tactical provides a one-year warranty on its products, and if there are any defects in materials and/or workmanship, you can contact them for a solution. There is also a 30-day return policy. See their site for details on how to get that done.
Is it a necessity? For some, probably.
For others, it could go either way.
The ability to side-step the SBR tax stamp issue and kind of “stick it” to the ATF (so to speak) in the process – I suppose this is precisely what makes this sort of item such a hit.
It is an altogether highly practical accessory, regardless of legal status, and I have no doubt that SB Tactical will have many more surprises up their sleeve in the months and years to come.
- Images courtesy of SB Tactical