Pistol braces (or stabilizing braces) are still a relatively new product, debuting in 2013. Consider it a testament to their utility and popularity. In just five short years, they have gone from dwelling in an extreme niche to being featured on firearms from nearly every major manufacturer. For today’s review, we go back to the company that designed the first brace (on Sig Sauer’s behalf), SB Tactical, to shoot with the SBA3.
The SBA3 is a 5-position (6.1″-9.5″) adjustable “minimalist” brace, sliding on a mil-spec receiver extension (buffer tube), available in black or tan. There isn’t much material here, just the smallest amount of plastic required to do the job. With a QD sling swivel and a little velcro strap in case you want the SBA3 to fully deploy to brace mode. By that, I mean to split the brace open and lash it to your forearm, as the brace was initially intended.
Circumventing NFA Paperwork
However, as so many of us know, the most common use of most pistol braces is as a slightly less comfortable buttstock. While there was some back-and-forth at the ATF about shouldering a brace, it should be noted there is no legal prohibition from doing this as you would a stock. The advantage is circumventing the National Firearms Act paperwork associated with Short Barreled Rifles. With a brace, your sub-16″ barreled gun isn’t an SBR, it’s a pistol.
How does it work?
While using the velcro strap to secure the brace for a one-armed operation makes for a pretty awkward shooting experience, the angle at which I’m looking down a braced gun is simply too extreme: leaving the gun pointed far too high, with me contorting my neck down into a sub-par shooting position. Though, if I were a one armed shooter, I’d not be quibbling at all. This isn’t really an indictment against SB Tactical’s product, just the physics of joints and angles. I’m sure taller shooters (or yoga fans) would find no trouble lining up the firearm comfortably.
As for it’s secondary use as an impromptu buttstock, the SBA3 shines. While there isn’t as much read surface area on the rear “pad” where the brace interfaces with your shoulder, SB Tactical has done an excellent job of engineering ample material to distribute the recoil comfortably. This brace functions just like so many buttstocks out there, just with a slightly shorter range of adjustments (as nebulously defined by the ATF). This is the perfect balance of comfortable, functional and efficient all in one package.
It is said that necessity is the mother of all inventions. Due to onerous laws and draconian ATF enforcement, gun and gun parts manufacturers have spent countless hours looking for loopholes to legally circumvent such infringements. Not only do disabled shooters get access to a more stable and accessible shooting platform, but another option for firing of short non-SBR’s and freedom from the restrictions that follow NFA firearms. SB Tactical’s SBA3 runs $169.99 on their site, with online prices elsewhere hovering around $129.99 for the whole kit-and-kaboodle. The SBA3 is the current pinnacle of pistol braces.