Washington, DC – -(AmmoLand.com)- AmmoLand News has just received documents (embedded below) as part of an FOIA request that our team recently submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) after the Agency’s recent Honey Badger pistol brace fiasco.
The ATF turned over documents, first to AmmoLand News, that alleged the popular pistol brace company SB Tactical had misinformed the public about its pistol braces’ legality. The ATF claimed that, despite repeated ATF warnings, that specific SB Tactical Brace models #ad are not, in fact, braces, but instead, stocks that turn pistols into illegal short-barreled rifles in violation of the NFA.
SB Tactical points to two classification letters on its braces, but according to the ATF, SB Tactical continues to market and sell dozens (23 models according to Freedom of Information Act Documents) of other models not covered by final determination letters. The ATF says that the only two braces covered by the letters are the original SB15 and MPX PSB.
The ATF claims that SB Tactical markets its braces as “ATF Compliant” or “ATF Approved Technology,” but the SBT website does not make that statement about the ATF. AmmoLand News was not able to verify that the company used this language in marketing.
Records received by AmmoLand News show that, on July 18, 2018, the ATF sent a letter to SB Tactical declaring that only two of their model braces had been approved for use as a pistol stabilizing brace. The specific models are the SB tactical SB15 and MPX SB.
The ATF letter states that “certain products currently marketed and sold by SB Tactical have not been evaluated nor approved by” ATF, and that “SB Tactical ‘braces’ are being marketed as evaluated and approved by ATF … although, in most cases, no evaluations or classification have ever occurred.”
ATF to SB Tactical Letter July 18th, 2018
The ATF claimed that it “has evaluated only two SB Tactical submissions: the SB15 brace and the MPX PSB brace.” The ATF letter listed a total of 23 SB Tactical braces, including the super-popular SBA3 brace #ad, that was “not submitted nor approved by ATF.” ATF continued that it “does not approve ‘stabilizing braces’ which are similar or based off-shoulder stock designs.”
ATF concluded by warning that “SB Tactical must cease false advertisement of products as ATF approved which have not been evaluated nor approved.” The letter was signed by Michael Curtis, Chief of FTISB within ATF.
A 2nd FOIA Document
According to the Agency, in September of 2020, ATF’s technology branch issued a “Report of Technical Examination” on an unknown (redacted) shotgun model that had been submitted for classification with an SBA3 brace attached. In determining the submission to be a short-barreled shotgun, the report notes that the SBA3 “has been previously and repetitively determined to be a shouldering device, not a ‘stabilizing brace.’”
The ATF report claims that, since the July 2018 letter, “SB Tactical has continued to market these accessories as “ATF Compliant,” which “has essentially left SB Tactical’s business partners … in the position where they are unknowingly manufacturing and marketing unregistered NFA firearms.”
Firearms Technology Criminal Branch Report of Technical Examination of Unknown Shotgun with SB tactical SBA.
AmmoLand News used the popular Wayback Machine to verify the claim by SB Tactical that SB did not market the brace as “ATF Compliant” or “ATF Approved Technology,” It appears that SB Tactical removed any references to pistol braces’ legality between March and April of this year, 2020. ”
“Our products are designed and intended only for use as forearm braces to provide a more stable firearm platform. They are neither designed nor intended to be fired from the shoulder. As configuration changes may alter the classification of a particular firearm, the user bears sole responsibility for determining the correct application of state and federal law.”
Before that change website stated, “The ATF has determined that attaching a Pistol Stabilizing Brace to a firearm does NOT alter the classification of the firearm or subject the firearm to NFA control. Learn more about compliance and the advantages that our braces offer.”
No Clear Guidance from ATF
For their part, the ATF would not give SB Tactical, or anyone else in the business of making braces, the language to use on their websites. The Agency was not clear about what is and what isn’t allowed. This answer harkens back to the problem being that the ATF doesn’t have a set standard for pistol braces. For the past year, SB Tactical has been working with the ATF to come up with set standards, which makes the content of this FOIA request surprising
The ATF report claims that even though “SB Tactical was made aware … that ATF determined in a criminal examination that the SBA3 accessory is a shouldering device and not a ‘stabilizing brace,’” SB Tactical “has continued to attempt to flood the market with the SBA3 accessory, misleading its business partners that the attachment of the accessory will not change the classification of a firearm.”
ATF claims that SB Tactical continues to deliberately mislead the public, claiming that its braces are “ATF Compliant,” and continuing to sell millions of SB Tactical braces to unsuspecting gun owners. These gun owners could be committing a felony without even knowing it.
SB Tactical refutes a lot of the ATF’s report. Pistol braces are one of the Agency’s top two concerns, along with 80% lower receivers, according to ATF Acting Director Regina Lombardo. It is unusual for information about talks between a company and the ATF to be released to the public.
Update 11/25/2020 and Response from SB Tactical
SB Tactical is aware that in response to FOIA requests from third parties, ATF has released internal documents that confirm the existence of an effort to malign and reclassify products used by millions of law-abiding Americans. Among those documents is an incomplete, redacted criminal evaluation that SB Tactical has never seen before and which contains multiple inaccuracies.
Contrary to the letters’ baseless accusation about SB Tactical’s marketing, SB Tactical has never and would never mislead its customers. SB Tactical has been working with ATF and DOJ for years and has sought determinations from the agency about the status of its products as applied to particular firearms. ATF’s false and irrelevant statements are sadly consistent with an activist and lawless ATF that refuses to engage SB Tactical or manufacturers on the legal status of accessories used by millions of Americans.
SB Tactical finds the motives and actions of the ATF to be arbitrary and capricious. Once again, SB Tactical encourages you to reach out to the White House and ask President Trump to rollback ATF’s agenda while he still can:
- One-Click Link to Contact DOJ:
- White House Comment Line:
- (202) 456-1111 / Email
Residents from the following states and districts should reach out to their congressional representatives to let them know what they think of ATF’s actions:
- Kentucky – Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) – www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/
- (202) 224-2541 / Email
- Alabama – Sen. Richard Shelby (R) – Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and oversees funding of DOJ/ATF. www.shelby.senate.gov/public/
- (202) 224-5744 / Email
- Kansas – Sen. Jerry Moran (R) – Chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) which is responsible for funding the ATF.
- (202) 224-6521 / Email
- South Carolina – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) – Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for ATF oversight.
- (202) 224-5972 / Email
- Ohio 4th District – Congressman Jim Jordan (R) – Ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee which has jurisdiction over 2nd amendment issues. jordan.house.gov/
- (202) 225-2676 / Email
- If you’re not from one of these States, you can find your representative’s contact information here: www.contactingcongress.org/
- ATF to SB Tactical Letter 2018
- Firearms Technology Criminal Branch Report of Technical Examination of Unknown Shotgun with SB tactical SBA3 Brace September 15, 2020
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.
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