Tuesday, February 28, 2023

ATF Brace Ban Picatinny Rail Options for MPX - Part 1

ATF Brace Ban Picatinny Rail Options for MPX

Sigh… Over a decade after the ATF’s 2012 express written approval of pistol braces and after reportedly over 40M were sold, the Jan 31 ATF decreed pistol brace were now banned. The decision sent highly concerned shockwaves around the country to law abiding owners that what you legally purchased yesterday was not necessarily legal today. Yet again an example of us letting the government run rampant. If the decree is not shut down, you will need some options which are not an arm brace or shoulder-able attached device. That is still a murky area with lots of undefined language like “shoulder-able”, “surface area”, “functional extension”...etc which all have no quantitative measurements defined. Kind of like saying your car is illegal if it “could fly” which is not reasonable as it can have “some path of flight” after being driven off a cliff.

[UPDATE] - This whole ATF Brace thing is starting to unwind in 100 directions... some good, some bad.  I have consulted with a number of attorneys and all are advising to wait until the final rulings come out and to either become a Maxim Defense customer or join FPC - Firearms Policy Coalition to be a party to the current injunctive protection allowing ownership. I am both a FPC member and also Maxim customer which I do hope provides a level of protection.

ATF also has added to their site that braces must be destroyed or permanently altered and that non-operational parts could be considered braces as well which is in direct opposition to a supreme Court Ruling on Thompson Center Contenders from 1992 and what they noted in late January... and if you are a FPC or Maxim customer/member this "should" give you protection...I don't know at this point.

Just a week ago, it looks like the ATF issued a decision that Thordson brace covers and cheek rests constitute surface area for shouldering and are illegal, but have conversely noted in the Jan 31, 2023 degree that a buffer tube is not sufficient surface area. - Please use the below article content at your own risk noting that this entire brace ban is a very legally fluid situation.  AT THIS TIME I CANNOT SUGGEST THAT ANYONE ATTACH ANYTHING TO AN FIREARM IN ANY MANNER OR CONFIGURATION.

Top - MWI Standard Beam
Middle - MWI Adjustable Alpha Series Beam
Bottom - MWI Non-Adjustable Alpha Series Beam
All configured a straight cheek rest bufferless extensions

According to the ATF, pistol arm braces which people may inadvertently shoulder are “in scope” of the decree, however buffer tubes and extensions which “do not have sufficient surface area” to shoulder are not in scope of the ruling (at this point). If you have an AR build which requires a pistol buffer, compliance of the decree is as simple as removing the brace or installing an upper with a 16”+ barrel. According to a number of manufacturers, all are noting straight tubes/extensions and cheek rests are still completely out of scope according to the ATF’s Maxim and Thordsen cheek rest letters and are conspicuously not listed as part of the ATF decree. 

Pictured Registered SBR for demonstration purposes
Pictured - Registered SBR for Demonstration purposes

So here are some “should be legal” options according to what we know. At the very least these options should become an example of you attempting to comply with the ATF decree. If you own one of the many firearms with the very common rear Picatinny Accessory Rails like MPX, AK, MP5, PCCs, shotguns, semi-autos, and even bolt action guns, and ARs with rear conversion plates, you need an option after you remove your brace. Midwest Industries MWI may have a few options for you for your pistol and a path for a stock if you intend to proceed with registering an SBR.

MWI Options

If I was in charge of marketing for MWI, their slogan would be “No wimpy Products”. Historically, MWI products have never been the lightest, but they are without question one of the strongest. MWI has a very long standing legacy of high quality and actually does work directly with a number of companies as an outsourced manufacturing partner in the industry. From my perspective their folding stock mechanism is among the strongest around. Buy once, cry once, the quality of MWI is exceptional and their new line of Beam products also can be adapted and moved from pistol to rifle as needed.

Bufferless MWI Beams attached
as a hopefully compliant option

For a rear picatinny rail gun owner, the best option (we think) is removing the brace and leaving a rear extension in place or attaching a plain looking buffer tube, however if you own an integrated SB Tactical brace, you will need to replace that with something else entirely. MWI has folding models of bufferless standard pistol tubes with rear picatinny rail attachment.  They also have something called a Beam series and the new highly adaptable Alpha Series which also include an adjustable height cheek rest. Most of these models are available in fixed or side-folding options and a few adjustable length models. MWI also has a simple thumb screw accessory which replaces the hex screw with a thumb/wrench/slot screw which is field serviceable for attaching/detaching any of the Beam, tube, stock or brace compatible solutions without hex wrench. 

MWI Brace Compatible Beam

MWI "Stock Plate" added when rifle barrel
length upper is attached. Also shown
MWI extruded folding stock

The standard Brace Compatible Beam is in essence a very heavy duty bufferless skeletonized tube available in different profiles. The round Brace Compatible Beam can be used as a buffer tube style extension and left bare or covered with some type of foam or paracord cover or is compatible with Tailhook braces or the MWI Stock Plate which converts it to a rifle stock.

Models are available in both fixed or folding models. I have been using the standard Brace Compatible Beam with just a foam cover for about a year now without a brace on a BRN-180 pistol receiver build. I can slip a 16” barreled BRN-180 rifle upper on and swap to the MWI side Folding extruded stock other the Alpha Series configured stock. As you might recall, the ATF allows pistols to transform back and forth between rifles and pistols - once a pistol, always a pistol.

Shown the reconfigured AR
pistol into rifle format

MWI Alpha Series Beam

The new Alpha Series was in essence the Gen 2 of the MWI Beam concept based around very broad adaptability. The Alpha Series Beam can be used bare as a receive extension, folding buffer-less “tube”, cheek rest, brace host, and stock. So if you are on the path to registering your gun as an SBR or just want one highly adaptable solution to move around from pistols to rifles and configure as needed, the Alpha Series is an amazingly flexible option. 

MWI also offers an Apha Series M4 Beam which is compatible with all standard carbine buffer tube compatible stocks. For the pistol owner, this could be used as a receiver extension and on a rifle or after an SBR tax stamp a stock could be added.  The other very cool feature of the Alpha Series folding and fixed Stocks is that it can be disassembled and reconfigured for different purposes and is specifically designed to do so. The Cheek Rest and folding mechanisms are ambidextrous configurable and the rear padded stock plate is adjustable up/down in several positions. The length adjustable model also offers a wide range of length adjustment. All Alpha Series models are designed to be compatible with the optional pistol brace adapter plate which can be covered simply with a protective tube cover or used with compatible bolt-on braces such as the Tailhook. If you are looking for some option for your picatinny rail pistol, take a look at what MWI has to offer.

Grey Birch La 10/22 Chassis with MWI Alpha Series Beam
Feddersen 10/22 Match .22LR Receiver & 7" Barrel
Kidd Trigger and Bolt & Hawke Optics Sidewinder 6-24
Ti Element .22 Suppressor Should be a fun build

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