Ask Roger: What’s the Deal with the Sig Arm Brace?

The SIG Arm brace has caused more questions and more controversy than it ever should have.  Gun owners did not help any, nor did “Innovators” who try to push the envelope on the National Firearms Act.

SIG Sauer developed a stabilizing brace to facilitate single hand firing of its AR/Rifle line handguns.  They wanted to develop a device that when added to the SIG “AR” pistol would assist limited mobility and handicapped shooters.  They submitted the design to the Technology Branch of the BATFE and it got approved.  If you have ever seen one of these things, you know that it looks like a buttstock that is hollowed out and open on the bottom.  It attaches by a Velcro strap to the forearm.  It seems too easy, right? One would think.  ATF in its ORIGINAL opinion letter, dated November 26, 2012 said that if the brace was not modified in any way, that it was not intended to nor designed to fire the weapon from the shoulder.  However, no one had specifically said that you could NOT fire it from the shoulder, making it a defacto shoulder stock.

One would think.  ATF in its ORIGINAL opinion letter, dated November 26, 2012 said that if the brace was not modified in any way, that it was not intended to nor designed to fire the weapon from the shoulder.  However, no one had specifically said that you could NOT fire it from the shoulder, making it a defacto shoulder stock.  Read this as intended.  NO ONE had said no you cannot, thus it became tacit permission because it had not been brought up.  Gun Owners and guys trying to invent the better mousetrap then began to ask questions that pushed the envelope, culminating with a guy that wanted to know if he built a shotgun with a short barrel and put an arm brace on it (Who would shoot a hand cannon with an arm brace anyway?) would it still be a short barrel shotgun and thus regulated under the National Firearms Act.  Really?  And the addition of an “ARMBRACE” changes the criteria based upon the barrel exactly how?  I swear, gun owners can be just like little kids sometimes, especially inventors.  Your mom gives you permission to eat pie for breakfast and you ASK, “Does that count ‘Chocolate Pie’ too?””With whipped cream, sugar frosting and sprinkles too?”  At this point mom is now tired of hearing you so she reverses her decision to let you have the pie to begin with.  You get stuck with powdered eggs and dried out toast all while talking about how unreasonable your mom is while all the time, if you had just gone ahead and had pie, with candy bars on top no one would have cared.

Enter Mr. Max Kingery, Assistant Chief of the Technology Branch of the BATFE.  He reviewed the ORIGINAL opinion letter and then wrote one of his own.  In Mr. Kingery’s OPINION, you can add the Sig Brace to a build or existing PISTOL.  Then, if you put it on the forearm, as intended it is NOT a violation of the law, HOWEVER, if you put the exact same gun to your shoulder you have redesignedthat gun as an SBR and is now in violation of the NFA.  Herein lays the problem.  You can, without adding to or taking away from this piece of equipment, simply by its positioning on the body change its legal status…Really?, Wow.  That does not even sound logical.  Not that you cannot fire it from the shoulder, that rule has been in play since the AR Rifle craze started more than a decade ago.  What does not pass “The Bubba Test” is that by simply holding the weapon differently you can go from legal, responsible gun owner to felon.  Yes, you read that correctly, Felon.

At 2015 Shot Show in Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to ask the BATFE about this.  I will call the man I spoke with Mr. ATF.  He did not see a problem with it.  I asked him about the use of the wordRedesign.  He did point out an obscure usage in Webster’s dictionary.  I then gave him this example; “I got up this morning and got dressed for this show.  I put on a pair of ‘loafer’ shoes.  I needed a SHOEHORN but did not have one, so I used a SPOON from the coffee we had ordered.  Sir, did I Redesign a Spoon?  He said “No, it is not the same thing.”  But it IS exactly the same thing Mr. ATF, IT IS.  What you do when you put that brace to your shoulder or when you use a spoon as a shoehorn, is called RE-PURPOSING. That is, to use an item for a purpose other than it was originally intended.  I pointed this out to him.  It did about as much good as pointing out to a new Second Lieutenant that he has his map upside down.  Arguing a point, valid or not with the BATFE is about as useful as beating your head against the wall to make the bad thoughts go away.  I wonder how much time and taxpayer money was burned up trying to find a word to justify this silliness.

I then pointed out to Mr. ATF that it is only his opinion and that Congress makes the law.  He acknowledged this.  When I asked him if they planned to put a BATFE agent on each range across the nation to enforce his opinion, he said “No, the person that we prosecute will give us all the evidence that we need themselves.” It was then that Mr. ATF said that they would use Social Media to gather all the evidence that they needed.  In a nutshell, the BATFE is going to cruise You Tube, and then one of you will post video showing you shooting a Sig Arm Brace equipped firearm from the shoulder, most likely explaining how you do not care what the “Opinion” of the BATFE is, that until the law changes…Congress makes the Law…Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms needs to be a convenience store not a government agency…yadda, yadda, yadda.  There are a couple groups out there that will be willing to defend you pro-bono, BUT I have to ask the same question that Mr. ATF posed to me; “Do you want to be the test case?”

Do you really think that the BATFE really gives a rip about the SIG Arm Brace?  No, I don’t either.  What I think it revolves around is the $200.00 each that the SIG Arm Brace was/is costing the BATFE.  Yes, $200 bucks a pop for Form 1 and/or Form 4’s NOT being filed for Short Barrel Rifles.  I bet Mr. ATF is looking at each SIG Arm Brace manufactured as a $200.00 tax stamp that the gun-owning public is not buying, because we all know that BATFE is not concerned about Suppressors, Short Barrel Rifles, Short Barrel Shotguns, and Machine guns…so long as the public has the MONEY to pay for the privilege.  It is NOT public safety, public welfare or public anything driving this train.  Nope, it is plain and simple just another excuse to ram their hand down your pocket, and we all know how the Government LOVES to do that.

No, I don’t want to be the test case, no sane person would.  I just look back on that old saying I learned while I was in the Army;  “No Pictures, No Proof.”  IF you shoot your pistol with the brace to your shoulder, well, I told you that was a “No Go.”  So, if one of you does choose to do this, and you are dumb enough to video it, please don’t be that “Special Kind of Stupid” by running your mouth about how stupid the BATFE is.  That really is just a big ol’ bowl full of Two Scoops of Stupid with a secret toy surprise inside.