Pistol vs. SBR

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between what is considered a pistol, as opposed to a SBR (short barreled rifle) when it comes to AR patterned firearms. Understandably so, since the dividing line between the two continually gets blurred by innovative accessory items like the Sig Arm Brace and the Thordsen Customs buffer tube cover kit. But let’s go back to basics and we’ll cover these types of accessories at a later time…

Very simply stated, in regards to AR patterned firearms, any rifle that has a barrel UNDER 16-inches in length overall, combined with a buttstock is considered a SBR and requires the appropriate paperwork along with the $200 tax stamp from the BATFE in accordance with the NFA (National Firearms Act).

Consider the same firearm however, built without the stock, and instead utilizing a pistol buffer tube instead of a rifle buffer tube and it becomes a pistol. Completely legal with no BATFE paperwork or tax stamp required. The difference between pistol and rifle buffer tubes you ask? Simple, on a pistol buffer tube there is nowhere for a stock to mount. That’s it. Hell, the Thordsen buffer tube kit uses a keyed stock exactly like a rifle stock except that it does not have holes in it for a stock to lock into.

This is why the AR Pistol has grown in popularity, you can still get all the benefits of a SBR, just without a buttstock, or the BATFE hassle, or the extra two-hundred bucks. Seriously, who the hell doesn’t like the idea of a 7.5” barrel AR that you can build yourself, without a bunch of government bureaucracy getting in the way?

Steven LaBarre


can you use a standard AR rifle buffer and spring on a SBR?
I have a SBR (7 1/2 " barrel) which will not cycle. After taking slow motion pics ( phone cameras are amazing!!) I observed the bolt not cycling back far enough to eject the spent casing and strip a new round off the magazine.
I’m guessing the rifle buffer assembly is not in tune with the reduced amount of gas pressure from a shorter barrel.

— Rod

Put a Shockwave balde on the pistol

— Martin