AR-15 style pistols have become increasingly popular since the invention of the tactical arm brace/adapter. This device replaces or attaches to the current buffer tube and gives the end-user the ability to attach it to their arm, giving the shooter added support. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) just recently announced that you could shoulder them if you so desired as well. This is an awesome development because prior to this, users were not allowed to use them in that manner. Now, rather than going through all the bureaucratic red tape just to have a shorter rifle, people are often choosing to build or buy AR pistols instead.

When dealing with the AR platform, there are benefits and detriments to utilizing a shorter variant. With shorter barrel length comes less muzzle velocity and slower bullets. Speaking in terms of lethality, this means it is less effective (but still lethal) for a shorter distance because the projectile is traveling at a slower speed. However, smaller platforms are often more maneuverable than longer variants and can be more desirable for that reason.  For most everyday shooters, a smaller variant can make for a good home defense weapon or more likely something they just want to shoot at the range from time to time. The .300 AAC Blackout caliber bullet has become incredibly popular with hunters and only requires a nine-inch barrel to achieve maximum ballistic performance, so AR pistols are a perfect setup, especially for hog hunters and guys who backpack it.

SB tactical has been making AR pistol braces since day one and has a large line of products and a selection of braces for several models of firearms. Their products are quality and the latest model, the SBPDW, is no different. The brace comes in either the color black or flat dark earth and includes all the hardware essential to installation. It’s comfortable to use, looks great, and more importantly is reliably well made — function and aesthetic packaged together. The SBPDW has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of around $300-$320 but can be found for around $250 online, better but still a hefty price tag.

The SBPDW features a proprietary buffer tube and bracket system that mounts directly to the rear of the lower receiver like any buffer tube and end plate would. Both are manufactured out of mil-spec aluminum and are fitted extremely well. A quick detach sling point is mounted to the underside for use of a sling. The brace portion is composed of a durable rubber sleeve with a Velcro strap attached to two rods that mount to the bracket, capable of 3 separate positions for length of pull. The brace is adjusted via a small interlocking set of push-buttons found on the sides of the buffer tube section; the brace section can also be removed for maintenance via this method.

Performance-wise, the SBPDW tactical brace is an excellent piece of equipment and worth the price. It collapses and expands smoothly on demand by simply pressing the button (even with a tourniquet strapped to it). The design is not flimsy and all the parts are well machined to fit tight tolerances. It is bit heavy, but not so cumbersome as it is robust. The quick-detach plate is a little difficult to work around when trying to attach a sling, but releasing it is a breeze. It wraps comfortably around the arm or is just at home resting in the shoulder-pocket. There are not a lot of negatives except when it comes to price, but at least you get what you pay for.

Tactical pistol braces are a solution to a uniquely American problem and have little market anywhere else in the world; they are catching on fast here in the U.S. If it is something you’re interested in, then I suggest you take a look at SB Tactical’s products and see if you can find something that suits your needs. There are also several other manufacturers out there but I find that the SBPDW is the coolest and most functional AR pistol brace on the market today.