The World of Adjustable Braces

The pistol brace has changed the way the world looks at AR/AK and other rifle style pistols, as well as SMG lites like the CZ Scorpion and SIG MPX. These guns are a little clumsy until you attach a brace. The original SB15 brace was a humble piece of plastic, but the concept has evolved into cleaner looking braces that are smaller, lighter, and more functional. This has lead to the advent of adjustable braces. Much like adjustable stocks an adjustable brace can change its length to accommodate a greater array of shooters. There are currently three big names in the pistol brace industry, and we’ve gathered a sample from each manufacturer.

The SBA3

The SBA3 comes from SB Tactical, the designer of the original pistol brace. The SBA3 looks a lot like an M4 style stock but is a conventional pistol brace. The brace has 5 points of adjustment and is complete with a QD sling swivel. It does function with a standard M4 style carbine tube. The fact that are tons of different tubes out there and they are super common and affordable. The use of a carbine tube on an adjustable brace does make it easy to swap the brace between different guns.

The SBA3 is super comfortable and very easy to use. It straps over the arm with a velcro strap, and the soft rubber design makes it comfortable when wrapped around the forearm. Should it find its way to your shoulder its comfortable with varying recoil levels. In all my shooting and experimenting I’ve found it best used on a AR 15 pistol. The SBA3 is natural for the AR 15 platform, and complete the pistol’s look and feel.

The SBA3 is one of the most AR style adjustable braces and is very well made, robust and easy to use. It’s a little difficult changing position with the brace. It tends to jump when pulled, but it isn’t too much trouble. The SBA3 is indeed not the cheapest of the adjustable braces, but it does include the carbine tube, and it is quite well made. It has a permanent home on my 80 lower AR pistol build.

The Gear Head Works Tailhook Mod 2

The original Gear Head Works brace was super simple, and very small, and made sense on a lot of lighter recoiling guns. Guns like the Scorpion were natural fits for the original Tailhook. The Tailhook Mod 2 goes in the opposite direction. This is a reliable and robust brace, easily the most robust of the adjustable braces. It comes with its own proprietary four position tube. The use of an exclusive tube does eliminate any issues with constructive intent revolving around pistol braces with carbine tubes. Adjusting it is very smooth, and it’s easy to pick and choose the right distance for your particular arm.

The Tailhook Mod 2’s beefy design does make it perfect for heavy weapons, including heavy recoiling armaments. As the beefiest of the adjustable braces, this is the ideal go-to for AR pistols in larger calibers, as well as firearms like the Galil pistol, or the Mossberg Shockwave. The big beefy nature helps counteract the heavier weight of these guns. The brace functions a lot different than the SB tactical variants. Instead of strapping over your arm your arms sits in it the brace. If it touches the shoulder, the Mod 2 disperses recoil rather well due to it robust and full design.

This allows it to balance much better as the weight pulls the weapon against the brace, steadying it by design. The Tailhook Mod 2 is the most expensive of the adjustable braces, but I think it’s worth the extra money for heavier weapons.

The Shockwave Blade 2.0

The Shockwave Blade 2.0 is the newest of the adjustable braces in my collection. The original Shockwave blade can claim the fact it was the first adjustable system. However, it was a bit more complicated than the new Blade 2.0 design. Instead of a screw and a dimple, the Blade 2.0 uses a lever that allows the shooter to adjust the brace. This little switch is a bit of a pain to press in with my massive sausage fingers fully, but it works.

The Shockwave Blade 2.0 doesn’t wrap around the arm like the other adjustable braces. Instead, it merely braces against the forearm or bicep. The Shockwave Blade 2.0 is the lightest and smallest of the braces on this list. The blade moniker appropriate. If it makes its way to your shoulder, it certainly feels like a blade with higher powered weapons. I love this brace on PCCs and SMG lites. With these guns, it’s perfectly balanced due to its lightweight and thin design.

Toss on a side folding brace adapter and the gun itself shrinks to a tiny platform, and due to the Shockwave Blade’s design, it will be thin and tight. This ends up making the gun very small with the brace folded. The Shockwave Blade 2.0 is the most affordable of the adjustable braces, and its best for a lower recoiling platform.

Adjustable Braces are the Future

I love capitalism and competition and seeing the rise of the pistol braces from a variety of companies has spurned innovation and driven the designs forward. The surge of adjustable braces is a Pandora’s box for future competition in the brace realm. You can’t close the box, especially when you have great adjustable braces like the three listed above.

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.