It appears once again, that the ATF cannot make up its mind when it comes to what is and is not a short barrel rifle. ATF’s most recent attack on the popular Honey Badger Pistol manufactured by Q, LLC (“Q”), is another example of their ability to infringe on the Second Amendment without regulations by the Court to ensure constitutional rights are not violated. Within the last ten years, the firearm industry starting manufacturing in mass quantities, AR and AK style pistols that utilize an arm stabilizing brace for support. Originally ATF agreed that a pistol with a stabilizing arm brace did not reclassify that firearm as a short barrel rifle (“SBR”). Please click here to read ATF’s November 26, 2012 Letter. A short barrel rifle is defined under 26 U.S.C § 5845 , as “ a rifle with a barrel or barrels that are less than 16 inches in length.” Short barrel rifles are regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA) and require an individual to obtain a tax stamp to legally possess one.
In 2015, ATF issued a letter confirming that an arm stabilizing brace would not cause a pistol to be reclassified as an SBR, but indicated that if a person fires a pistol with an arm stabilizing brace from the shoulder position, that would reclassify the firearm as a SBR. Please click here to read ATF’s January 16, 2015 Open Letter on the Redesign of “Stabilizing Braces”. In early 2017, ATF decided that even if an individual fires a pistol with an arm stabilizing brace from the shoulder, that alone would not cause the firearm to be reclassified as an SBR. Please click here to read ATF’s March 21, 2017 Letter.
The Cease and Desist letter issued by the ATF to Q only addresses the Honey Badger Pistol model, but it does appear that they will be taking a closer look at the Sugar Weasel and Mini Fix models. Please click here to read ATF’s Cease and Desist Letter. It is unclear by the Cease and Desist letter what about the Honey Badger Pistol’s design has caused ATF to classify it as an SBR. To add further injury to Q, the ATF is threatening criminal sanctions against the company and anyone who owns a Honey Badger Pistol. The response from Q is attached here for viewing and it does an excellent job laying out the arguments against ATF’s arbitrary reclassification of the Honey Badger Pistol.
At the time of the publication of this article, ATF’s position only applies to the Honey Badger Pistols. Therefore, if you own an AR or AK style pistol with a stabilizing arm brace, as long as it is not a Honey Badger, you are still legal to possess it without a tax stamp. Of course, the fear is that ATF will soon make this reclassification applicable to all makes of AR and AK style pistols with stabilizing arm braces.
October 15, 2020- Update
On October 14, 2020, after the publication of this article, Q released a letter to their customer’s announcing that the Cease and Desist letter issued by the ATF regarding the Honey Badger Pistol has been temporarily suspended for sixty (60) days. Please click here to read Q’s letter to their customers. A copy of ATF’s letter to Q announcing the suspension is attached here for review.