Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached “Stabilizing Braces”

Three stabilizing races attached to machine guns laying on a table

On January 13, 2023, the Attorney General signed ATF final rule 2021R-08F, “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces,’” amending ATF’s regulations to clarify when a rifle is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.

The rule outlines the factors ATF would consider when evaluating firearms equipped with a purported “stabilizing brace” (or other rearward attachment) to determine whether these weapons would be considered a “rifle” or “short-barreled rifle” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, or a “rifle” or “firearm” subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act. The rule’s amended definition of “rifle” clarifies that the term “designed, redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder” includes a weapon that is equipped with an accessory, component, or other rearward attachment (e.g., a “stabilizing brace”) that provides surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder, provided other factors, as listed in the definition, indicate the weapon is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder.

This rule does not affect “stabilizing braces” that are objectively designed and intended as a “stabilizing brace” for use by individuals with disabilities, and not for shouldering the weapon as a rifle. Such stabilizing braces are designed to conform to the arm and not as a buttstock. However, if the firearm with the “stabilizing brace” is a short-barreled rifle, it needs to be registered within 120-days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

This rule is effective the date it is published in the Federal Register.  Any weapons with “stabilizing braces” or similar attachments that constitute rifles under the NFA must be registered no later than 120 days after date of publication in the Federal Register; or the short barrel removed and a 16-inch or longer rifle barrel attached to the firearm; or permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the “stabilizing brace” such that it cannot be reattached; or the firearm is turned in to your local ATF office. Or the firearm is destroyed.

Please note that this is the text of the final rule as signed by the Attorney General, but the official version of the final rule will be as it is published in the Federal Register. The rule will go into effect once it is published in the Federal Register. 

READ FINAL RULE

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Who is Affected by this Rule?

  • Unlicensed Possessors
  • Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) not under the NFA as a Class One Importer or Class Two Manufacturer SOT
  • FFL Importers or Manufacturers under the GCA that ARE Qualified under the NFA Class One Importer or Class Two Manufacturer SOT
  • Certain Governmental Entities

What Do You Need to Know?

Affected parties are provided a range of options to remain in compliance with rule 2021R-08F. ATF has provided this quick reference sheet to provide these options.  For questions not answered by the reference sheet, we have provided a comprehensive list of FAQs.

Related Resources

Related Research and Background Information

Contact Information

  • For questions regarding the application of the final rule, contact the Firearms Industry Programs Branch at Firearms Industry Programs Branch: FIPB@atf.gov.
  • For technical questions regarding firearms, contact the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division at: Fire_Tech@atf.gov.
  • For questions regarding the rulemaking process, contact the Office of Regulatory Affairs at ORA@atf.gov.
  • To register for an eForms account and/or submit an eForm 1 pursuant to ATF Final Rule 2021R-08F, please visit https://eforms.atf.gov/login
Last Reviewed January 26, 2023