ATF Brace Ruling

Who is affected by the ATF Brace Ruling?

  • Unlicensed Possessors
  • Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) not under the NFA as a Class One Importer or Class Two Manufacturer SOT
  • FFL Importers or Manufacturers under the GCA that ARE Qualified under the NFA Class One Importer or Class Two Manufacturer SOT
  • Certain Governmental Entities

Read more about the ATF Rules and Regulations

What do I do next?

You have likely learned about the ATF brace ruling and are wondering – now what? We have put together the below guide based on ATF resources to explain your options – fortunately, you have until May 31, 2023 to take action. There are also a few ways Sprague’s Sports can help outlined below!


Option 1 - Replacing Barrel

Simply replace the barrel (or the whole upper) on your pistol with a 16” or longer barrel. This is not an option for all pistols but is an easy route for AR platform guns. If you do go this route, you can either leave the brace on your gun or substitute with a stock.

Barrel replacement – use a 16” 5.56/.223 barrels from our stock or we can order what you need. Whether you have the barrel or need one, our gunsmiths can swap the barrel for you. Note, you may also need to replace gas tubes and other parts depending on the setup. Additionally, you may want to replace your rail with a longer option to protect your gas tube.

Upper replacement – this is even faster, replace your entire built upper receiver with one that has a 16” barrel or longer. We have complete uppers in stock for 5.56/223 and can order other calibers. It may also be wise to dispose of/sell the old upper unless you have a registered SBR lower (so it doesn’t appear that you have constructive intent to build an illegal short-barreled rifle (“SBR”) – see below for more info) .


Option 2 - Removing the Brace

Remove both the brace and any non-operational parts that the brace attaches to. If the brace is mounted to a folding arm or a buffer tube that is not needed for a gun to function then remove these parts too.

The language states: “Permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the “stabilizing brace” such that it cannot be reattached”.

Removing the brace (and any non-operational mounting) typically requires some basic gunsmithing. If you need assistance, call our gunsmithing department to coordinate a time as this must be done on-the-spot. Pricing will vary depending on the work needed.

If you have an AR-15 pistol, it is as simple as pulling the brace off the buffer tube. The ATF has confirmed that you are legally allowed to leave the 6-position rifle buffer tube on the gun, however, you need to be careful of constructive possession (see below for full details).


Option 3 - Forfeit Firearm to ATF

This is an option, but don’t do it! We can help! Worst case you can forfeit the firearm to us – we will make it legal, take the gun onto our books (providing you proof), sell the gun, then donate a portion of proceeds to organizations fighting against ATF rulings like these.

Option 4 - Destroy Firearm

This is an option, but again, don’t do it! If you want to get rid of the gun, bring the firearm to us – we will make it legal, take the gun onto our books (providing you proof), sell the gun, then donate a portion of proceeds to organizations fighting against ATF rulings like these.

If you do choose to destroy, make sure to follow ATF Proper Firearm Destruction Guidelines


Option 5 - Register as a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR)

ATF is waiving the tax stamp if you submit the paperwork to “manufacture” the gun into an SBR yourself by May 31, 2023 on a Form 1.  ATF is also not requiring any further engraving on the firearm (previously required) as long as the gun is NOT a Privately Made Firearm.
You can complete this process yourself by submitting Form 1 via the ATF website ( To do this, you will need completed fingerprint cards (electronic or paper). We can of course help you with an ATF Form 1 Application and fingerprint cards please contact us to if this is the direction you would like to go and we can discuss the fees involved.
Once the form is submitted, you are able to keep the brace on the gun until the form is approved as long as you have proof the form was submitted. The ATF has not provided an estimated turnaround time for approvals. Once the form is approved, you can either keep the brace on the gun, or replace it with a stock.
Note – If you plan to manufacture/register your SBR under a trust, the ATF requires you to also submit proof that the pistol was owned by the trust prior to the ruling date. This would typically be in the form of a “Schedule A Inventory” at the back of a trust document. Not all trusts have this document or allow for you to have non-NFA items in the trust. Contact whoever designed the trust for more information. Otherwise, you must either register under an individual’s name or pay the $200 stamp to register under the trust’s name (engraving may be required for the latter).

Option 6 - Sell the Gun

While it is not legal to sell braced guns after 1/30/2023, we can help! Text us a picture of your gun to (928.726.0022) and tell us you want to sell it. We will review what is needed to make the gun legal and make you an offer. If you accept, you will bring in the gun, we will make it legal on-the-spot, then we will purchase the gun and provide you with a receipt as well as store credit or a check. Note that you (and we) are not able to legally transfer possession of a pistol braced gun after 1/30/2023 – the gun must be made legal before transferring.


Constructive Intent

This is an important consideration if you do not plan to register your gun. You do not want to be in possession of items in such a way that it appears you can readily make the firearm into an illegal SBR.
The ATF outlined a scenario in a recent webinar:
  • Joe owns one gun – an AR-15 pistol. To comply with the ruling Joe removes the pistol brace from his gun and puts it in his drawer. He leaves the rifle buffer tube on the gun. Joe is in possession of the parts to build an SBR and the ATF could argue he is in constructive possession of an illegal SBR.

However, they stated that if Joe had other rifles and rifle parts, they would likely not look at it the same way. The short of it is that you don’t want to have extra parts that would make your gun into an SBR (ie shorter than 16” upper or a pistol brace) if you don’t have other guns those parts would be legal on (registered SBR lower for the former, AR rifle for the latter).


For more Info from the ATF visit:

ATF Rules and Regulations 

ATF Form 1 (Online)

ATF Proper Firearm Destruction Guidelines


Would you like to share your thoughts about these frustrating changes?

Here are some resources where you can share your thoughts:


Legal Disclaimer

Note that the above is not legal advice, it is just our understanding of ATF provided info. Read all ATF rulings, regulations, and notices before doing any of the above. We are not liable for advice given.

Updated 01/31/2023