best ar pistol brace SB Tactical SBA4

Best AR Pistol Brace [2022]

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The hottest thing in the world of AR-15s lately has been AR-15 pistols. But every pistol requires a brace. 

What is the best? What is the law? Why should you care?! 

We have all of that and a lot more coming up!

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Why Do We Have Pistol Braces?

Something that the firearm community has become very good at over the years is finding ways to obey the law in… let’s call it creative ways.

The law is the law and if the law doesn’t let you do something, there is almost always a way to outthink the law. Just ask tax lawyers.

While braces are now used in such a way, they weren’t designed for it. Braces started their story as an assistive device so that shooters missing a limb would be able to effectively shoot a rifle.

best ar pistol brace
Rick Cicero lost his arm and leg while serving with the US Army in Afghanistan in 2010

It took a couple of years after that before someone had the thought that with a brace and a virgin receiver, you can build what is legally a pistol and end up with an AR-15 that has 99% of the functionality of an SBR but is legally a pistol and doesn’t require the extra paperwork and tax stamp.

Pistols, Rifles, The Law, Oh My

If you’re well versed in the difference between an AR-15 pistol and an AR-15 rifle, feel free to jump down to the reviews!

For the rest of the class, stick around because this might save you 10 years in federal prison.

AR-15 rifles almost always have a stock and have barrels of at least 16″ or longer with an overall length of at least 26 inches.

If your AR-15 was built as a rifle, then it is always a rifle and can never be a pistol.

AR-15 pistols can have barrels of less than 16″, overall lengths of less than 26″, but cannot have a stock — they must have a “pistol brace” or a naked pistol buffer tube.

If your AR-15 was built first as a pistol you can convert it between a rifle and pistol configuration as you please.

If your AR-15 is legally a rifle but you allow its overall length to drop below 26″ or the barrel to be less than 16″ then it becomes a “short-barreled rifle” and requires federal paperwork, permission, and a tax stamp to be legal. 

If you don’t have the paperwork, hide your dog because an unregistered SBR is very illegal.

Are you now very confused? Don’t worry, you’re not the first. Take a look at the picture below and that should help.

best ar pistol brace

Can I Shoulder A Pistol?

Yes. Period. Anyone that tells you otherwise is a fool and wrong.

There was a time that the ATF said shouldering a pistol with a brace was illegal, but several years ago they changed their mind and released a letter on the matter.

Since 2017, shouldering your pistol braced AR-15 has been completely legal.

Best AR-15 Pistol Braces

SB Tactical SBA4

One of the most recommended and best braces ever made, the SBA3 is super simple but packed with features.

best ar pistol brace SB Tactical SBA4

Adjustable for length of pull, QD sling sockets on both sides, and a cheek weld that is almost as good as a real rifle stock — the SBA3 is the king for good reasons.

It also is fairly lightweight at just over 6 ounces.

The downside is that this isn’t as cheap as many other options, it won’t break a bank but it’s not easy on the wallet either.

That said — this is my top pick for a solid workhorse pistol.

SB Tactical SBA3

Need something a little easier? The SBA3 is very similar to the SBA4 but with some features cuts to reduce the price.

best ar pistol brace

No QD socket, but the cheek weld is very solid and basically as good as the SBA4 and it’s a good chunk less expensive.

There really isn’t much else to say about the SBA4, it’s just that simple.

Do I love it? Not really. But I like it a lot more than some of the cheaper options and I can load up on them without murdering my accounts.

Maxim Defense CQB Pistol PDW

I can tell you’re a shooter of taste. A person of quality. You enjoy the finer things in life. Well then, the Maxim Defense CQB Pistol PDW is here to separate you from your money!

This pup is pricey, but if you want the best you have to pay for it.

The best cheek weld I’ve shot with a pistol brace and the most rock-solid lock up, this brace doesn’t mess around and is without a doubt the brace that is here to kick ass and chew bubble gum.

ar pistol case

Adjustable between 6.75″ and 9.37″ length of pull, this will fit most people in most situations and even feel good if you’re wearing plates.

Combine that with multiple QD sling mounts and a duel rod brace system and you’ll see why this is such a respected brace.

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KAK Industry Shockwave

This is about as simple and easy as a pistol brace can get, just slap it on and tighten a screw and you’re good to go to the range!

The KAK is also kind of uncomfortable, not very stable, and really ugly. Why do we like it?

It’s less than $50. That’s why.

KAK Shockwave Blade

If you need a cheap and simple option, this one isn’t bad. I might not put it on a pistol I really loved, but I don’t mind it on my range toys.

The other upside to the KAK is that it is very lightweight, just 5 ounces. If you’re going for a minimalist build — this is a pretty solid option.

It also has several sling mounting points, more than some of the more expensive options even and I love that.


Not your normal brace — this brace is really designed for Sig’s MCX family of rifles and pistols and requires a Picatinny 1913 rail to attach to. In other words, it will not be compatible with a normal AR-15 that uses a buffer tube.


However, since buffer-less AR-15 clones like the BRN-180 or some .22 LR and 9mm uppers are becoming so much more popular these days, I wanted to include this as an option if you’re looking for one.

Simple, strong, really good lock up, and it folds! This is by far one favorite 1913 brace.

Wrapping Up

If I had to pick a goldilocks brace, the SB SBA3 would be my pick.

But if you’re going for the Johnny Walker Blue of braces, Maxim Defense CQB is a hot contender.

That said, if you’re on an Old English 40 ounce budget — the KAK Shockwave is perfectly acceptable!

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