The AR Pistol: What You Need to Know Before You Buy or Build

The AR platform pistol is extremely popular right now, whether it be a 5.56 or pistol caliber, the demand is through the roof for these firearms.

There are a few things you should know before you dive into the AR pistol world to make sure you stay on the right side of the law. This is not a comprehensive list of AR pistol laws, but just a quick overview. Please read and follow all local state and federal laws as it pertains to AR pistol ownership in your area.

AR Pistol Laws

  1. AR pistols are legal to own (in most states) and are regulated by the ATF the same as any other handgun.
  2. An AR pistol cannot use a standard rifle stock. You must use a pistol stabilizing brace. But, thanks to the recent ATF ruling, you can now shoulder your brace “sporadically” “incidentally” or “situationally” (see our previous blog on this).
  3. An AR pistol is considered any barrel shorter than 16 inches with an overall length of the gun not to exceed 26 inches.
  4. You cannot attach a vertical foregrip to an AR pistol. You can use an angled foregrip or a micro handstop. The law holds to a 90 degree ruling on vertical grips. So, as long as there is an “obvious” angle to it, it does not violate the law.
  5. If you want to use a standard stock and or violate the 26-inch rule, you must apply for an SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) stamp. As a note: you cannot take possession of or build an SBR until you have been issued the tax stamp from the ATF.
    • As a side note to the SBR (we will do a blog about this later):
      You cannot transport your SBR across state lines without ATF permission. Make sure you read up on this and follow the laws as it pertains to transporting SBRs out of state.

AR Pistol vs. AR Rifle

What are the advantages of an AR pistol over an AR rifle?

  1. Requires less storage space. Being a smaller gun, it can fit easily in places a rifle cannot, like under your truck seat. You will also require a smaller case than a standard rifle case. Plus, put a folding stock on it and some models can even fit in a backpack.
  2. Ease of use and maneuverability. For home defense, an AR pistol is a great choice. Close quarters combat requires agility and maneuverability, and you get both with a pistol. The down side is if you shoot an AR pistol in a small room or hallway without hearing protection… you will wish you hadn’t. We recommend the use of a blast can or flash forward can on a pistol to help with this.
  3. The availability of many calibers. The most popular calibers are available in AR pistols. Even the heavy hitters like the .450 bushmaster (often called the “thumper”). If you’re going to build or buy a pistol in 5.56 we recommend using a barrel of 10.5 inches or greater for the best ballistic results with this caliber.
  4. The majority of parts are totally interchangeable with your AR rifle. If something breaks on your pistol, it is easy to swap out parts from your rifle and keep going!

We love shooting AR pistols. They are a ton of fun and make great range toys and home defense guns. Once you buy or build one we’re sure you’ll love them too.

Ready to build your AR Pistol?

Check out our Full Build Kit!

Interested in learning if you should build or buy?

Read our blog for the pros and cons.

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