Posted on Leave a comment

Defining a Firearm

Rifle; A weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder, and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger. 27 CFR 478

Under the new regulation, this definition will include: includes any weapon with a rifled barrel and equipped with an attached stabilizing brace that has objective design features and characteristics that indicate that the firearm is designed to be fired from the shoulder, as indicated on ATF Worksheet 4999. National Register page 5111

The ATF and Department of Justice feel that rifle caliber pistols are too unregulated and easily concealed which make it easier to use in the execution of a crime or mass shooting. Boulder CO 2021 and Dayton OH 2019 are the two examples that were given. Short barreled rifles (SBR’s) take longer to obtain because of the ‘Form 1’ process to get them approved and the additional checks that need to be done to obtain them.

What is worksheet 4999? This form is intended to differentiate between a “true” pistol (firearm) and an SBR assigning a point value between zero and four to assess the firearm incorporating a stabilizer brace is an SBR or Firearm.

  • 1 point: Minor Indicator (the weapon could be fired from the shoulder)
  • 2 points: Moderate Indicator (the weapon may be designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder)
  • 3 points: Strong Indicator (the weapon is likely designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder)
  • 4 points: Decisive Indicator (the weapon is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder)

The new regulation and form 4999 have mostly clear definitions of what can and cannot be included in the features of a braced firearm when when it changes from a firearm into an SBR or rifle.

Here is a basic breakdown of the form 4999 and some of the reasons for the defining characteristics:

Section One: overall characteristics
Weight of more than four lbs or 64 ounces. Anything lighter could only be classified as a pistol but must not have stabilizers because it is light enough to be fired one handed.
Overall length must be between 12-26 inches otherwise it’s pistol sized and doesn’t need a brace or rifle sized and needs a stock and would be considered a rifle.

Section 2: this is dealing with mostly the stabilizing braces or why comes out of the back of a pistol length rifle.
Accessory design– the pistol brace cannot have similar characteristics to a regular existing stock design. Any form of adjustability like a stock, sling mounts (because existing stock have QD mounts in them)
Rear Surface area– pistol braces will have more points assigned the more substantial they are. Fin type would be a point, braces approximating the same size as a normal stock would be two points, braces clearly meant (with enough surface area) to be shouldered would be three points
Adjustability– this is either or. If it is not adjustable, that would be zero points. If it is adjustable, it would be two points.
Stabilizing support- this determining factor add points to any brace if you cannot secure it to your arm, which is the intent of the brace. A) Counterbalance which utilized a piece that goes under the arm and along the inside or outside of the forearm using the weight of the pistol to apply pressure to push the brace against the arm. This is the only type that does not have to have a strap and won’t count as any points unless you can fold up the lower part that goes under the arm which would only add one point to the total. B) Blade type will count for two points unless it has a strap for attaching to the forearm which would reduce the points to zero. C) Cuff type braces will only count as zero points for fully wrapping the forearm, one point as long as it can be partially wrap the forearm, and if it doesn’t have a strap at all it will count as two points. D) Split stock braces which are essentially stocks that are split but have to ergonomic way to strap to the forearm will count as three points.

Section three: deals with items designed for a rifle or physical characteristics of the pistol length rifle.
Length of pull– this is the distance from the trigger to the end of the pistol or rifle (center of the shoulder stock). The shorter it is the less likely it is to be able to be shouldered. If the length of pull is 13 1/2 inches or more it is considered a rifle. This is the full four points, but there are three lesser categories for it to fall under for it to accrue less points, but each is a minimum of a point unless it is under 10 1/2 inches.
Attachment method– buffer tubes come in a variety of sizes. When the pistol brace is attached to different buffer tubes, it can signal that the pistol was meant to be a rifle in a pistol aesthetic. Pistol length buffer tubes are a single point. Rifle length or PDW rails are two points. Adding a folding adapter or spacers indicate that the length of pull is elongated and count as two points. There is another three points for modifying a stock to incorporate a brace. On the 4999 form it lists “slant” as to signifier which would be three points.
Stabilizing brace mods or configurations– if you don’t have a strap to secure the brace to your arm, you will get points as this indicates that the brace is not used as a brace and instead for shouldering. If the strap is there, but too short or made of elastic, then those count as less points but still accrue points. Any modifications that change the brace into a stock automatically get four points.
Peripheral devices– Anything that can be added and used as support for a second hand or the pistol itself add points such as a handguard stop, bi-pod, or a ‘secondary grip.’ Not having sights, backup iron sights, or red dot sights with a magnifier that can be flipped to the side all count as two points. Any scope or sight that requires you to get your eye close to it count as four points because you would need two hands to get it close enough to your eye to use them which would classify the pistol as a rifle. Any unloaded pistol weighing over 120 Oz is deemed too heavy to use a brace and is automatically awarded four points.

TL;DR- The noose is tightening around the neck of the Pistol AR. If it can’t be shot one handed, you likely have an SBR according to the new regulation.

Leave a Reply if you think I’m wrong, or right, let me know what you think.