Five Not-So-Obvious Reasons for Owning a Rifle-Caliber AR-15 Pistol

By CTD Blogger published on in Firearms

Since the National Firearms Act (NFA) was passed in 1934, ownership of rifles with barrels shorter than 16 inches has necessitated extensive paperwork, a long processing period and a $200 tax. Oftentimes, pulling a short-barreled rifle (SBR) out of your gun case at the range will cause a small crowd to gather, as shooters drool over your fancy, relatively rare, registered hardware.

These inconvenient barriers to entry in the shorter-than-sixteen camp mean that SBR ownership isn’t nearly as widespread as “regular” firearms. But, there is still a way to achieve a compact weapon without violating any federal laws: Rifle caliber pistols.

AR-15 pistol

Oftentimes no different than the coveted short barreled rifle save for a buttstock, the effectiveness of the AR-15 pistol should not be called into question.

Oftentimes no different than the coveted short barreled rifle save for a buttstock, the effectiveness of the AR-15 pistol should not be called into question. Yes, they are trickier to shoot than an equivalently barreled AR-15 equipped with a stock. But, this doesn’t mean they should be ruled out altogether.

Here are five good reasons for owning an AR-15 pistol:

Vehicle Carry

Many states and jurisdictions have restrictions on carrying a loaded rifle in your vehicle, but pistols can usually be carried in such cases with only a concealed handgun permit. An AR-15 pistol gives you the punch of a rifle caliber, in a legal-to-carry configuration.

Not all states restrict carrying a loaded rifle around in your trunk, but if yours is one of them, an AR-15 pistol can be just the ticket.

Transportation Over State Lines

If you’re a proud owner of a registered short-barreled rifle, you’re well aware (or should be) that crossing state lines with your NFA item is going to require some paperwork and a notification to Uncle Sam. This can be inconvenient at best, and many gun owners are understandably reticent to notify the government when they’re traveling with a firearm, just on principle.

Owning an AR-15 pistol gets you around this hurdle. Since an AR-15 pistol is just another handgun, you’re free to transport them around the country. Most of it, anyway.

As Effective as an SBR

AR-15 pistol

For all practical purposes, a 10.5-inch AR-15 pistol is just as ballistically capable as a 10.5-inch AR-15 rifle.

For all practical purposes, a 10.5-inch AR-15 pistol is just as ballistically capable as a 10.5-inch AR-15 rifle. After all, the only difference is the absence of a stock. Many AR pistols, like this 5.56 NATO Spike’s Tactical ST-15 LE, even feature free-floating barrels.

It’s true that shorter barrels are less effective in the realm of terminal ballistics when compared to longer barrels. More velocity is always preferable, especially the farther away your target is. But, apples to apples, the AR-15 pistol is no slouch.

Also, as a side note: Shorter barrels are not necessarily less accurate than the longer pipes. In fact, many studies show that shorter barrels tend to be more accurate than longer barrels, due to the increase in stiffness. You won’t be giving up much performance with an AR pistol in the accuracy department.

While the Federal government gives citizens permission to register and possess rifles with barrels that are shorter than 16 inches, many states specifically prohibit such ownership. An AR-15 pistol gets you around these inconvenient state laws, as they are sold and transferred just like any other handgun. It won’t have a stock, but it will have a compact overall profile.

It’s Actually a Pretty Handy Little Gun

Is an AR-15 pistol as equally handy as an SBR? Perhaps so, perhaps not. It all depends on who you talk to, but suffice it to say that they are not the equivalent of a little rifle. There’s just no getting around the fact that there isn’t a buttstock. But with practice, an AR pistol can be shot to the same degree of proficiency as a true short-barreled rifle, without any of the legal disadvantages of owning an NFA item.

Furthermore, they are available in the popular .300 AAC Blackout chambering. Since this cartridge was optimized for use from shorter barrels, an AR-15 pistol gives you all the benefits of a .30 caliber round in a compact package, without any of the legal hassles.

Converting to a Rifle

Submitting all the paperwork to the BATFE for a legally registered short-barreled rifle is time consuming. It can take several months, if not longer, to get your tax stamp back in the mail. This is obviously not ideal.

However, the BATFE has stated that it’s legal to convert your pistol into a rifle. This means you can file the SBR paperwork on your AR-15 pistol, and then have the gun in your possession to shoot and play with while you wait (sans stock, of course).

As soon as you’re approved and have the stamp in hand, install your stock and start the party.

AR-15 pistol

Shorter than 16” barrel and no buttstock = AR-15 pistol. But do you need one?

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, you’ll note that most of these reasons exist because of draconian, unreasonable gun laws. Truly, if the National Firearms Act had never been passed, we probably would never have seen the invention of the somewhat-awkward AR-15 pistol.

No person in their right mind would willingly choose a stockless “pistol” over an equivalent, stocked rifle. There are simply no tangible benefits, from a technical perspective. However, as we’ve seen, AR-15 pistols offer some unique advantages from a legal standpoint, and should definitely not be ruled out by any means.

Do you own an AR-15 pistol, or have any first-hand experience with them head-to-head against a true short-barreled rifle? Tell us all about it in the comment section.

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Comments (116)

  • saintluger

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    I bought a virgin stripped lower, a Rock River LPK – complete at that, cool, a 10.5″ completed upper and viola… sweet AR15 PISTOL… receiver was sold as ‘other’, so it’s just a firearm… good stuff, easy to assemble, next build, rifle kit and all the tools, vise block, etc. – LQQK FORWARD TO IT.
    … it’s Barbie for Men! : )P

    Reply

  • Joe shmoe

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    As far as using a rifle tube minus the stock, I’m pretty sure you have to use a tube that can’t readily accept a stock.

    Reply

  • Zachary Krueger

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    I own an ar pistol with a 14.5″ barrel.not only can I hit any target up to 300 meters accurately, but it is extremely lightweight compared to a rifle, AND it is way easier to maneuver and shoot with. I would advocate this rifle to every American for personal defense, hunting, etc.
    Add a decent optic to reach out to 100 meters, and learn to shoot without sights to 25 meters and you’ll never want or need for anything else!

    Reply

  • STEVE

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    I HAVE SEVERAL AR RIFLES, A 300, AND AN AR PISTOL. I CAN CARRY MY AR PISTOL TO WORK WITH ME EVERY DAY AND IT ISN’T SO NOTICEABLE TO CUSTOMERS OR PEOPLE ON THE STREET BUT STILL ALLOWS ME THE SAME AMOUNT OF PROTECTION AS MY RIFLES. I REALLY ENJOY IT.

    Reply

    • John

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      Your caps lock is on!

      Reply

    • ss1

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      @John:

      His caps lock WAS on……on SEPTEMBER 3, 2016. You’re a little LATE with your impactful observation. God help us if you would have replied with a statement related to the topic….LOL!!

      Reply

  • Lou

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    An AR type pistol like the Kel-Tec PLR-16 can be concealed places that an SBR can not.
    Adding a stock is like adding a stock to any pistol. You ruin the advantages of the pistol.

    Reply

  • Daniel Coats

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    I have a true ar15 pistol it’s an EXTAR and is just as effective as any SBR and can be fired one handed if needed it has an 8.5″ barrel length and is pretty decent out to 100 yards .now the Extar boasts that it is the lightest AR pistol in the world mine is not because I have installed a linear comp and a holographic red dot and the trigger group is standard mil spec . thanks to some small innovative solutions as far as the buffer spring and whatnot there is no buffer tube to deal with its all self contained in the upper that’s why I say it’s a true AR pistol

    Reply

  • Dale

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    An AR15 pistol is a good option instead of a SBR. But use the buffer tube from an adjustable butt stock instead of a smooth round tube. If the world goes to hell, the last thing you are going to worry about is at doc stamp. Just but a butt stock on your pistol and go. If the look worries you in the interim, put a piece of round foam on it.1

    Reply

  • Mikial

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    I never really thought an AR15 pistol was very practical because you can’t really aim it from a Cooper stance like a pistol, or spray rounds like a “room broom” submachinegun since it’s a semi. But after reading this article about using the pistol classification to avoid some of the more idiotic gun laws, I might be willing to reconsider.

    Reply

  • Lou

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    TAX STAMP IS THE FIRST STEP TO REGISTER AR’s & AK’s

    The author wrote an article that introduced a very thought provoking issue. BUT he failed to introduce the most important thing about this issue in my opinion.

    I DO NOT TRUST OUR GOVERNMENT TODAY

    Our government, that is working hard to ban any gun it can, did not get generous and issue a TAX STAMP so people could have SBR’s and suppressors. There is a reason for their actions, and it is not to give us more freedom.

    Our government has become an uncontrollable beast. There are super rich foreign bankers that have more control of our government than the people do.

    The TAX STAMPS were issued so they could register all SBR’s and Suppressors. It is the FIRST STEP to registering all AR’s and AK’s. They will add to the list of firearms that require the TAX STAMP. After AR’s and AK’s they will add all magazine fed weapons over say 5 rounds.

    BUT even if they do not add one more weapon to the list, they know who the people are that own SBR’s and suppressors.

    The forms we fill out now stay with our gun dealer and the government has no record of firearms. But TAX STAMPS do register the firearms.

    I for one, do not want to buy any tax stamp, and here are more reasons:

    Our US Constitution was written by men that wanted to keep the military and dynasties from taking the power from the people. The 2nd amendment gave the people the power to possess the same weapons the military had, even cannon.

    The people tried to reason with the King up until he tried to take their arms at Concord. That was when they knew they had to fight to keep their arms, for with no arms they had no power and would be under the tyranny of the King.

    George Washington and others did not want a standing army of professional soldiers in our nation so they could be used against the people. A militia was to be formed from the citizens if there was a need for an army. these citizens were to have their own arms and train themselves in their use.

    Our government has taken away most of our freedom already. We are at the point where a private business can not refuse to serve anyone he pleases for whatever reason. After all it is his business and he should be able to run it as he pleases. If he acts in a way that is wrong, the people can simply refuse to use his business. That way the power is with the people and NOT the government.

    I do not want to buy a TAX STAMP to pay our government for me to have the right to own a weapon the US Constitution gives me the right to own. Further, the Declaration of Independence states that NO GOVERNMENT has the authority to give or take away the right to defend the life of my family, but that right is given to every man by God.

    I will buy no TAX STAMP just as the people of the colonies protested the King’s STAMP ACT. If I was able I would throw all TAX STAMPS into the Boston harbor that may still have a little bit of that tea in it.

    Reply

    • ss1

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      @Lou:

      As you may have read from my posts last night, I was wavering on this issue. But your write-up is very convincing. Thanks for breaking down this issue.

      Reply

    • Lou

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      Thanks for the very kind reply ss1.

      Reply

  • Infidel7.62

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    Any of the bullpup .223s are shorter than a car-15 with the stock collapsed. The Bushmaster M17S has a 21″ barrel and is still shorter than the 16″ AR with the stock collapsed. No paperwork and no hassle.

    Reply

    • Bill

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      I have a 10.5” ,and a 7.5”pistol .
      They were tested in raid rooms by a local SWAT team using 5.56 marker rounds.
      They were very impressed of how well they worked in close quarter combat. We then removed the Simunition package and tested them at the range at 100,200,300 yards Iron sights.The 10.5” pistol worked perfect to 300, the 7.5” struggled passed 200 yards to be accurate.
      they are in 5.56 caliber gas impingement Pistols using tula steel cased ammunition. and SpartaMax SGO#1 CLP .
      We did not use any rear stablilizer just a forward A frame grip.

      I would recommend as a secondary for cars and trucks to your side arm. Due to the size it is hard to deploy from the drivers seat of your car.
      Not to mention hard to conceal .

      P.S no Liberals were hurt in the testing of these products.

      Reply

    • Secundius

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      @ Bill.

      Try changing to a .25-45 Sharps instead, for greater range…

      Reply

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