Explaining ATF Final Rule 2021R-08F “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces’”.

On January 31, 2023, the final rule for 2021R-08F “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces’” was published in the Federal Register as document number 2023-01001.

I’m not going to get into the semantics of compliance vs non-compliance with the rule. As an FFL it is my job to comply as much as I disagree with a law, ruling, etc. and in my professional role I would never suggest committing a felony.

Let me start off with this disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. The information I am providing comes directly from the ATF’s published documents and my knowledge of the NFA (National Firearms Act) process.

So, let’s get into it. Through final rule 2021R-08F, the ATF has amended the definition of a rifle to include the following.

(2) When a weapon provides surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder, the following factors shall also be considered in determining whether the weapon is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder:

(i) whether the weapon has a weight or length consistent with the weight or length of similarly designed rifles;

(ii) whether the weapon has a length of pull measured from the center of the trigger to the center of the shoulder stock or other rearward accessory, component or attachment (including an adjustable or telescoping attachment with the ability to lock into various positions along a buffer tube, receiver extension, or other attachment method) that is consistent with similarly designed rifles;

(iii) whether the weapon is equipped with sights or a scope with eye relief that require the weapon to be fired from the shoulder in order to be used as designed.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, the simplest explanation is, affixing a stabilizing brace and/or an optic/scope that requires eye relief to a pistol would make that firearm a short-barreled rifle (SBR) thus falling under the purview of the National Firearms Act and in turn requiring registration in the NFRTR (The National Firearm Registration and Transfer Record). Now, with that being said, the ATF has been extremely vague when addressing the determining criteria for length and weight. There is no published specifics and we are being told that it’s a case by case basis comparing the “pistol” to a similar “rifle” to determine whether it meets the definition of a rifle.

As of January 31, 2023, you have 120 days (until May 31, 2023) to become compliant with the rule through one of the following actions.

  • Remove the short barrel and attach a 16-inch or longer rifled barrel to the firearm,
  • Permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the “stabilizing brace” such that it cannot be reattached,
  • Turn the firearm into your local ATF office,
  • Destroy the firearm, or
  • Register your firearm as an SBR by submitting through the eForms system an Application to Make and Register a Firearm, which is commonly referred to as an ATF Form 1

If you choose to register your firearm as an SBR during the 120 day compliance period the ATF is allowing you to adopt the manufacturer’s markings, meaning there is no requirement to have your Form 1 SBR engraved with your information. They will also be waiving the $200 making tax.

There is no 88-day denial, if that were the case all Form 4s would be denied as they are exceeding 250 days for approvals. While at face value this rumor is wrong and misleading there is some truth to it. What they are referring to is the window for background checks to be completed which is only a portion of the form approval process. For the majority of folks background checks come back fairly quickly, for others unfortunately they can take longer and if a check is unable to be completed then the form will be returned with no action. Generally speaking, if you receive an instant approval from NICS when purchasing a firearm, you should be fine. If you get a delayed response and your dealer doesn’t receive a response within the 30 days, that is where the issue starts. Unlike firearms that fall under Gun Control Act, there is no Brady date for NFA applications.

If your specific question or concern wasn’t addressed I will post some helpful links below and as always you can reach us through the chat function via the website, our facebook page, instagram and through our contact us page.

I will continue to update this post as information becomes available.

Helpful Links & Resources
ATF Rules & Regulations Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached “Stabilizing Braces”.
Final Rule 2021R-08F Training Presentation
Federal Register: Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached “Stabilizing Braces” 
FAQ for 2021R-08F

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