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A Quick Guide to AR-15 pistols; Everything You Need to Know

Having an SBR can have a lot of advantages. They are easily concealable, lightweight, and perfect for close quarters combat situations, like home defense. However, as you all probably know, Short Barreled Rifles or SBRs are a controlled item, and you need to pay a tax stamp and do some paperwork to own an SBR in your state. Even after that, traveling with an SBR can be very difficult, especially when moving across state lines.

However, there is a grey area between pistols and SBRs and that’s where the good old AR-15 pistol lies. To understand how an AR-15 pistol is classified as a pistol you need to first understand what the ATF recognizes as a rifle.

Well, any firearm with a barrel longer than 16 inches, and a stock is classified as a rifle. So, if you have a rifle that has a barrel shorter than 16 inches, and it doesn’t have a stock, it will be classified as a pistol, regardless of its caliber.

However, if you put a stock on a firearm with a barrel smaller than 16 inches, it becomes an SBR, which is not legal without the proper paperwork and tax stamp.

So, Practically, the only difference between AR-15 pistols and an AR-15 SBR is of the stock.

The pistol brace, “not a stock”

Now if you carry an AR-15 pistol with only the buffer tube in the back and no stock, it will be classified as a pistol and you can’t really shoulder it for that third point of contact. However, to get around the law of SBRs, the ingenuitive people of the US came up with the pistol brace.

It may look like a stock, it could be used as a stock, but it is not a stock. Instead, a pistol brace is designed to help you shoot a pistol, one-handed, but more easily. Still, there is nothing stopping you from shouldering that pistol and firing it like a rifle.

Though there was a lot of discussion around the legality of it at first, however, now, for the most part, you can legally shoulder a pistol brace. Another important thing to keep in mind is that in many states, you can’t put a vertical foregrip on an AR-15 pistol.

However, I do not claim to be a lawyer, and it is best to check your own state laws before doing it.

Advantages of an AR-15 pistol:

An AR-15 pistol has a lot of advantages, in fact, you get all the advantages of an SBR, without paying the Tax stamp, or waiting for the paperwork.

First and foremost, the best advantage of an AR-15 pistol is concealability. You can keep these small pistols in your car, or maybe a backpack, and deploy them in seconds to defend yourself, the people you love, and your freedom. They allow you to be more accurate than a pistol and use bigger calibers to maximize your combat abilities.

Secondly, an AR-15 pistol is an ideal CQB weapon. They are lightweight, and super maneuverable, allowing you to move through the tight corners, and confined space of your home, with the firepower and accuracy of a rifle, in a shorter and more maneuverable package. Moreover, with the small yet very capable .223 or 5.56 cartridge, an AR-15 pistol is the perfect Personal Defense Weapon PDW.

Another incredible advantage of an AR-15 pistol is that you can travel with it. Since it is classified as a pistol, you can take it across state lines without any problems like you may have with a rifle and will definitely have with an SBR.

Disadvantages of an AR-15 pistol:

Like anything, an AR-15 pistol has its disadvantages as well. With a shorter barrel, you aren’t going to get the ballistics that you get from a rifle barrel. This means lower bullet velocity, and lower effective range.

Moreover, though the 5.56 is a mellow caliber, it will also cause more noise and a bigger flash out of a smaller barrel. The felt recoil can also be more significant because of a shorter barrel and lighter firearm.

Also, of course, you can’t use most high-quality tactical stocks on your AR-15 pistol. Though Pistol braces can act as a substitute, they can never be as comfortable as a high-end, adjustable AR-15 stock.

Furthermore, with the shorter barrel, you also must give up on some accessories, simply because the rail is not long enough on an AR-15 pistol, especially if you have an 8 or 10-inch barrel.

Lastly, if you don’t put a pistol brace on it, the AR-15 pistol doesn’t offer many advantages at all. It won’t be as accurate as a rifle, and neither as lightweight as a pistol and shooting it one-handed can get clumsy. So, unless you use a pistol brace with it, you wouldn’t want to rely on an AR-15 pistol for self-defense.

Can you build an AR-15 pistol from a lower?

Yes, when you buy an AR-15 lower, it isn’t classified as a pistol or a rifle, so you can build it however, you like. You can pair them with an anodized upper, and the barrel length of your choice, along with loads of different after-market rails and accessories. However, some people suggest that you should go back to your dealer (obviously us) and change the classification of your AR-15 the way you have built it.

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