Firearms

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

AR-15 pistol

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.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (118)

  1. Nope, fad at best. Just another way to sell merchandise. More accurate than a long barrel? Technically, sounds feasible. Practically, good luck with that.
    Plus they look silly, waaayy too much blast and noise. Rather use a Mossberg short shotgun for the times where this might be used indoors.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

    1. @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!!

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. @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.

  11. 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.

    1. 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.

  12. I think that instead of this pistol I would rather have the Tavor bullpup style rifle in the same 223 caliber. It is a short easy to use and aim and it has the long barrel that brings the ballistics back to standard. and overall is not much longer or more expensive than the handgun shown.

  13. Good point Lou. I have a Vector Arms V-51 pistol that I fire from a single point bungee sling. Does it kick? It’s a .308 in an MP-5 frame! Is it manageable? For a couple of magazines. Will I SBR it? As soon as I can afford the tax stamp! Will I build an AR pistol? Yes in .300 Blackout. Why? Because sometimes you find yourself away from home but don’t want a rifle. If the crap hits the fan, I want a gun I can lay across my hood and take out a threat at longer-than-pistol ranges.

    1. Hi Sivispace,

      Sorry I missed your reply until now. Thanks for the very kind reply.

      While the AR pistol was NOT my first priority gun to have; after I had a number of pistols, revolvers, shotguns, and mag fed semi auto rifles, I wanted a short, light, pistol that fired a rifle cartridge.

      It definitely fills a need.

  14. Some people put down anything they do not have themselves. I find that the liberals have many allies that speak against guns. Our only hope of keeping our gun rights is to get more people to own guns. Only gun owners will vote for gun rights. Some can only afford a Hi-Point that is low cost. I would never trash a Hi-Point for it is the only thing some have to defend their family and it is far better than nothing, PLUS it makes them gun owners that will vote for gun rights. Anyone that thinks a Hi-Point is a toy should be willing to be shot with one of those toys. Those toys will kill. Anyone who calls a gun a toy is frankly not very smart.
    I have owned that PLR-16 for years and it has never once malfunctioned in any way.
    The rounds come out the barrel at the same velocity of one that cost three times as much. Frankly your friend is an uninformed ignorant person who knows very little. My PLR-16 will penetrate bullet proof glass and 3/8″ steel Plate that is no toy and anyone who thinks so is not very intelligent.

    I did not want a handgun that was almost as long as a rifle with the buffer tube and also did not want a handgun that weighed 6#.

    Because I only paid less than $500 I am able to have over 40 weapons. Those who want to pay three times as much for one that weighs twice is there choice and I would not criticize their choice.
    My choice serves my purposes. As for me I am a gun fan and I do not put down guns, because it gives fuel to the idiots that are trying to ban them.

    1. Lou, like you I bought my PLR-16 a couple of years ago and I too find it to be an excellent, lightweight and powerful weapon. I’d recommend Kel Tec guns to anyone after my experience with this one.

    2. Hi bee O bee

      Thanks for the very kind reply. I too have many Kel-Tec guns and my two sons have many more. The PF-9 started the whole single 9 craze. If I want the smallest and lightest 9mm to carry, that is reliable, that is it for me. Their guns are made from Chrome Moly steel and there is no better. BUT it is NOT pleasant to shoot with +P+ ammo. Their little 380 started the whole small 380 craze. I chose the Taurus 738 instead, but my son has the Kel-Tec P-3AT. Both are good little guns and far better than a gun left in the back in the car. They are so small and light that you can always have one in your pocket.
      I have the Sub 2000 in 40 S&W and it is a gem. It can be carried in a laptop case with 30 round magazines. It weighs #3 and has full 357 power with the 16″ barrel.
      My son had to send his PF 9 back to the factory because it jammed. he was disappointed at first, but when he got it back, i wish mine had been the one that needed sent back. They did a free trigger job on it and it was really nice.
      But I also bought a S&W Shield and it jammed on every shot. I found the problem and S&W sent the part to my gun dealer. So quality is just not what it used to be in the US. My son owns a small business and he has extreme problems trying to find people who want to work and also are not on drugs. I imagine Kel-Tec and S&W have the same problem.

  15. I own a XTAR 556, 30 rd Mag pistol, I have bought 3 of them for family and friends. great to shoot at the range, only thing, there is no kick, but one hell of noise……Cost was $500 with shipping to Class 3 holder…Fun time at the range..

  16. Even if you live in a gun friendly state, pistol conceal carry rules are going to push the AR-15 pistol into your trunk. No way to keep in the passenger comartment except a huge case! Which, is way different than your armrest or dayplanner style off body carry! A police stop will take hours because you have a duty to disclose, they will likely kick the sh!@# out of you in the meantime and its out of reach in the trunk even if allowed! I support AR-15 ownership but best left to protecting your homestead!

    1. Kevin,

      Sorry, you must live in the wrong state. In Nevada, if you are not a felon, you can carry a gun in your car, loaded, within reach, concealed or otherwise. AR15 pistol? No problem. CCW? Don’t need that unless you want to conceal the gun on your person.

      We don’t have much road rage in Nevada – – strange, that?

  17. Much more versatile and practical if you just get a 16″ carbine or a shorter barrel with a collapsable stock so you can use it both ways.

  18. I am class 3 dealer I think you should not waste your time with an AR pistol I see very little practical uses for one. Pay the tax and open yourself to many calibers and barrel lengths on 1 lower. Having a rifle stock is worth it trust me. I don’t see many LE swat, SRT, military using AR pistols. My advice like Larry Vickers says “by name brand stuff you don’t want your equipment to let you down.”

    1. @East River Armament:

      I’ve always been against the SBR tax stamp, but your post is so “matter of fact” and blunt, it kinda makes me think “why not get it?”. I mean if I could put a folding stock on my Zastava M92 AK pistol, that would add a whole new dimension of performance to it while keeping it the same size.

      I’ve always hated the entire SBR issue, regarding paying the government, but when you said LE doesn’t use AR pistols, that really woke me up.

      Being a class 3 dealer yourself, what are the coolest caliber/barrel length setups you recommend?

    2. Hi ERA –
      Of course law enforcement does not need an AR pistol. They can walk around with anything they want. They do not need to conceal their weapons like we do.

      BUT us citizens can not do the same. A 3# pistol that can be CC that shoots a 5.56 round is a very valuable tool to have as far as I am concerned.

      The forms we fill out at our gun dealer stays with him and the government has no record of the guns I own. BUT when I apply for tax stamps that puts me on the government RADAR. They now know I have this gun. I for one do not want to apply for any tax stamp. The people that have a tax stamp will be the first ones that the state of Conn came after when they banned the AR in that state.

      Everyone has to make their own choice about this.

  19. I have owned a Bushmaster AR pistol for some 7 years now. I love it. I equipped it with an EOTECH red dot and a green laser, plus a tactical flashlight. I added a 3 point sling and have over 25, 30 round mags. Even though I rely on my Glock 27 for fast personal and home protection, I do feel better with this nifty CQC weapon. IMHO

  20. AR pistols = Huge waste of money. If you want a pistol, buy a pistol, not some butchered up rifle that doesn’t have the stopping power of the average 9mm handgun. Take the same amount of money and get yourself 2-3 handguns.

    1. @Scott:

      Your 9mm comparison makes no sense. It’s shooting the same ammo as a military M16. If you want to increase stopping power, you buy polymer tip expanding bullets.

      I’m trying to wrap myself around the AR pistol concept myself, although I do own an AK pistol already. But comparing them to 9mm is not the way to do it.

    2. Hi Scott, I have a Kel-Tec PLR-16 that fires 5.56×45 with a 30 round magazine. It weighs 3 pounds or the same as my 44 mag revolver.
      BUT it has 30 rounds not 6 and you can load another 30 in seconds.
      It will penetrate body armor which my 44 mag will not.
      It will go through bullet proof glass or steel plate that my 44 mag will not.
      I can carry it under my jacket concealed, it has no buffer tube.
      It will hit with more power at a longer range than my 44 mag revolver.
      It is more accurate than my 44 mag revolver at long range because it shoots much flatter trajectory than the 44 mag.
      I know these things because I have tried them all.
      I still like my 44 mag revolver, but my PLR-16 will do things it can not do let alone any of my 9mm pistols. The PLR has about three times as much muzzle energy as a 9mm pistol.

    3. Yep, my buddy had one of those Kel-Tec toys and after about a month he traded it in for a real pistol. He referred to it as a lot of noise and no balls.

    4. Some people put down anything they do not have themselves. I find that the liberals have many allies that speak against guns. Our only hope of keeping our gun rights is to get more people to own guns. Only gun owners will vote for gun rights. Some can only afford a Hi-Point that is low cost. I would never trash a Hi-Point for it is the only thing some have to defend their family and it is far better than nothing, PLUS it makes them gun owners that will vote for gun rights. Anyone that thinks a Hi-Point is a toy should be willing to be shot with one of those toys. Those toys will kill. Anyone who calls a gun a toy is frankly not very smart.
      I have owned that PLR-16 for years and it has never once malfunctioned in any way.
      The rounds come out the barrel at the same velocity of one that cost three times as much. Frankly your friend is an uninformed ignorant person who knows very little. My PLR-16 will penetrate bullet proof glass and 3/8″ steel Plate that is no toy and anyone who thinks so is not very intelligent.

      I did not want a handgun that was almost as long as a rifle with the buffer tube and also did not want a handgun that weighed 6#.

      Because I only paid less than $500 I am able to have over 40 weapons. Those who want to pay three times as much for one that weighs twice is there choice and I would not criticize their choice.
      My choice serves my purposes. As for me I am a gun fan and I do not put down guns, because it gives fuel to the idiots that are trying to ban them.

    5. @Lou:

      I like your description of the PLR-16. It looks pretty cool, and the no buffer tube fact is getting me very interested. It seems hard to find after I did an internet search. Where did you get it, or where should I be looking?

    6. Hi ss1
      Thanks for the very kind reply.
      The PLR-16 is a very desired firearm so they are not on the shelves very long. I bought mine at CDNN sports for $499. Just Google CDNN and they will come up.
      You have to keep checking and when they have them you have to buy right away before they are all gone.
      They are so light because they have a poly receiver and frame just like a Glock. No buffer tube because of the gas piston like an AK.
      Mine is very accurate and I an very pleased with it.

    7. @Lou:

      Thanks for the great advice!! This PLR-16, at that price, is really a pleasant surprise.

      I own 1 Hi-Point, 2 Glocks, and 2 AK’s, so I have no problem with poly, and definitely no problem with AK technology.

      I always try to stay loyal to CTD, and I searched here for the PLR-16 first, but couldn’t find one.

      And Lou, when you did your penetration tests, I’m assuming you were using normal green tips? Or was it an even more specialized bullet?

      Thanks again!!

    8. Hi ss1- I was using M855 green tip with steel penatrator rounds, BUT almost any FMJ will come close. Almost any 5.56 round will penetrate body armor.

      I found that a 3# pistol that can be CC under a short jacket or even a long shirt, that can penetrate body armor, could be a very valuable self defense weapon in SHTF situations.

      Also $499 and no tax stamp.

      But it is very loud. When I fire it at my gun club, they have steel pipe holding up the roof over the benches. When I fire it, it RINGS the steel pipes like a bell with the muzzle blast. EVERYONE comes over and asks, what the hell was that you fired. Everyone then wants to fire it. NOT ONE person who has fired it has ever asked or even thought about it being a toy, or something that lacks power. The recoil, however, is not uncomfortable at all.

  21. I was never a fan of the AR I was indifferent really, but I like to build and customize things so eventually when prices really dropped I built a 223 carbine length for under 650 stainless barrel , smooth side upper, nickel plated bcg. Its a fun toy but I wasn’t blown away, pun intended? So I built an AR Pistol in 300 blackout for around 550 or as I like to call it the AP300 and that thing is a blast to shoot ! Surplus Ammo GrimmReaper lower, Custom brake,stainless barrel, nickel bcg, smooth side upper, slanted keymod foregrip, rubber pistol grip, desert tan furniture. Its extremely light and nibble with a micro red dot sight. I’m not a high volume shooter so the ammo price isn’t a major concern for me but it is twice the cost of 223. I also have a suppressor which will accommodate 300 subsonic and I am in the process of competing the adapter. The 300 will be truly quiet while the 223 even suppressed is still quite loud. There are a myriad of reloading options as well for the 300 a tinkerers dream really. There are lots of cool AR pistol configurations out there, go make yours!

  22. I have a Rock River pistol lower, with an AR57 upper, in 5.7×28, with the 11″ barrel. It ejects through the mag well, so take an ld AR mag, cut off the bottom, Shoe-Goo a bag to the bottom, and you never need to bend over to pick up brass.
    Nice thing is the 50 round FN mag on top. Plus, with the bare buffer tube, I can fire it from the shoulder like a rifle and ATF says that IS legal.
    I can also carry it as my concealed handgun, if it is cold-or raining enough to wear my trench coat. That makes it double-cool!

  23. Just fired my Diamond Back AR pistol (7 1/2 barrel) at the range this weekend (200 rds)
    Hit my target from far away as 15 yards doing headshots with just flip up sights

  24. I use an AR 15 pistol 7.5″ barrel but as bullet performance is tied to velocity I go with 42 gr or 62 gr green tip at longer distance

  25. Should someone read this thread and, however unlikely, be convinced to jump right in and acquire an AR pistol with suppressor, there is an additional thing to be aware of. Most AR’s are “direct impingement” which is to say high pressure gas behind the bullet is ported directly back to the receiver where is pushes the bolt carrier back, operating the bolt and compressing a spring to cycle the bolt again, chambering a new round.

    Yup, that’s burnt powder and junk returned to the operating mechanism. This seems to work well enough for most application, but adding a suppressor complicates things some. A suppressor acts like a muffler, giving the gasses behind the bullet a place to “quietly” expand and cool instead of creating a strong muzzle blast. A “problem” occurs that even though the bullet is long gone the suppressor slows the pressure drop, as the compressed gas dumps, albeit more slowly, out both the muzzle end as well as into the gas port and back down the barrel into the receiver. This makes the gun run hotter and dirtier, and while this might be acceptable for occasional suppressor use a better solution is to use a “piston operated” upper. There are several available, mine is by Adam Arms.

    1. Hi Bumper,

      Good comment and true.

      That is one reason I bought the PLR-16 because it has a gas piston and works well with a suppressor. It also has no buffer tube so it much shorter. Also it weighs 3# instead of 6# like many do.

  26. Come to think of it, I’ve got a question for the more experienced among you.

    What would the legality be of mating a short barrel upper to an 80% lower? I know that BATFE regs hinge on such weasel words as “intended use” … so is an 80% lower “intended” for rifle use (and thus off-limits for a short barrel) or is it “intended” for whatever barrel is first mated to it?

    Intentions tend to be one thing: proving them in court another. I don’t want to be headed for bankruptcy court the day after I win against the BATFE … I want something that isn’t likely to be challenged to begin with.

    1. Bill: Illegal. I had a long-barrelled UZI back in the 80s, semi. Got a short barrel, then got rid of it when I was informed possessing the two together would be a problem. Regs may have changed on possession, but if you mount a short on a reciever, you better have a stamp.

    2. Bill,

      It is my understanding that if you mark the 80% lower with the word “Pistol”, you’re all good to put a <16" upper on it. Hopefully someone else chimes in as I am no lawyer and I'm not 100% sure of this; its just what I've heard.

  27. I had never fired an AR-15 and didn’t own one. I was late to the party, but I finally bought an entry level carbine in .223 Wylde last year. Can’t say that I’m in love with it, but I could get used to it. Someday I might get a version suitable for hunting .. deer, zombies, anything other than orange rubber targets!

    Now you want to talk me into an AR pistol?

    Sure, why not? 🙂

  28. I owned an AR-15 pistol for a while. Decided to get rid of it when it damn near jumped out of my hands during my range time. My replacement for it is a CZ Scorpion. Much easier to handle, plus the ammo is now cheaper and easier to get.

  29. Well not exactly.

    I’ll address the suppressor (silencer) legality thing first. About 40 states currently allow civilian ownership and use, though one must also comply with the federal regulations and get a tax stamp. Some states do further restrict suppressor when used for hunting, though many allow there use, especially for non-game animals.

    As to an AR15 pistol being worthless, facts or cogent argument to support that supposition would be interesting. I’ll agree that if I could have only one AR15, then it would be carbine or rifle length. But for home defense, an AR pistol has significant advantages over it’s longer brethren. At typical home defense distances, the shorter pistol length gives away nothing that matters in terms of accuracy or muzzle energy. The pistol’s firepower remains the same as the rifle, and when equipped with a laser, there’s no need to shoulder a weapon to achieve adequate accuracy.

    Adding a suppressor to the equation helps protects the bad guy’s hearing. Further, it reduces recoil to next to nothing and protects night vision from muzzle flash. Unfortunately it adds length that brings a pistol up to rifle length (or brings a rifle up to squirrel gun length). And we all know squirrel guns are sub-optimal for home defense.

    In a worst case home invasion with multiple bad guys scenario, I’ll take an AR15 pistol with light, laser, suppressor, and polymer tipped bullets please.

  30. Have had A AK47 pistol since 2005 built in Boyd Texas shortest I’ve ever seen all metal lots of fun with 75 round drum flash at night is outragous need sun glasses2

  31. I heard that someone at BATFE stated an opinion that shouldering a AR pistol made it an NFA firearm but it’s not federal law that I know of , it don’t make sense to shoot my 1911 against my shoulder but it don’t make that illegal ! 😉

    1. Hey, if this is the Robert A. I grew up around, when did you get so into shooting and AR’s? Glad to learn you’ve joined the fun.

  32. OK, back on subject. I think AR hand guns are a waste. The rifle does everything the hand gun does, only better. I guess I’m just one of those old school guys that feels a hand gun should be a hand gun and a rifle should be a rifle…just my own opinion.
    As for suppressors, check your state laws carefully before going to get one. Almost every state is different.

    1. Yeah, I feel the same way. I don’t really get it. If you think something like that can fulfill both the roles of rifle and pistol… THINK AGAIN.

    2. Hi Dan, I have a Kel-Tec PLR-16 that fires 5.56×45 with a 30 round magazine. It weighs 3 pounds or the same as my 44 mag revolver.
      BUT it has 30 rounds not 6 and you can load another 30 in seconds.
      It will penetrate body armor which my 44 mag will not.
      It will go through bullet proof glass or steel plate that my 44 mag will not.
      I can carry it under my jacket concealed, it has no buffer tube.
      It will hit with more power at a longer range than my 44 mag revolver.
      It is more accurate than my 44 mag revolver at long range because it shoots much flatter trajectory than the 44 mag.
      I know these things because I have tried them all.
      I still like my 44 mag revolver, but my PLR-16 will do things it can not do let alone any of my 9mm pistols. The PLR has about the same muzzle energy as the 44 mag revolver.

    3. @Lou

      My Smith M&P will do all that too, but how many times in one’s life time would you actually NEED a handgun to do all that? I sure don’t forsee any scenario that a defensive situation would call for all that. Modern pistols carry an ample supply of ammo and you can carry extra mags. I practice hitting what I shoot at, not how many rounds I can send in a given amount of time…thus, the reason for my original post.

    4. Hi Dan,

      I can not CC my AR rifle under a loose shirt or short jacket.

      In a SHTF situation I can certainly think of a situation where a short light pistol that fires rifle ammo would be very useful.

      After all submachine guns like the UZI have been used by the military for years. But my PLR-16 fires a rifle cartridge, not 9mm.

  33. It is really simple it is an infringement of my second amendment right not picking about this stupid law. I wait for the day for them to come get me because they better be ready to go all the way to the Supreme Court. Where I will win all day and this law will be done away with. I will not register or by that stamp. It is clearly an illegal law the federal government does not have the right to nfringe on my 2nd Amendment right or to tax me for that right. So I’m waiting if they want that law over turned by the Supreme Court than come and get me buddy Uncle Sam.

  34. BATFE can go suck one. All these updated rules, after they rule something legal, for no reason other than to further the political agendas of their masters. If you are a cop, then 9/10 times you are part of the problem, even though most are good, we’ll meaning people. Wish more cops would realize that they are nothing more than an enforcement arm for the liberal state.

  35. The ATF Technologies Section has ruled that shoulder fire with that SIG brace is illegal without a tax stamp. Why? Because too many people kep posting photos and talking about the practice.

  36. It’s true that the .223, even suppressed, will make a significant amount of noise. As you say, the round is still supersonic and will make a ballistic crack. However, the ballistic crack, when shooting at a close target, is very short duration and in any case is not the largest component of total noise. That would be the muzzle blast, which the suppressor is designed to reduce.

    The suppressor not only reduces the noise of the muzzle blast to approximately the same level as an unsuppressed .22 rifle, it also eliminates most of the secondary recoil (that component of recoil that is a result of the gas jet following the bullet leaving the muzzle. Secondary recoil can be as much as 70% or total recoil, so this too is significant. And finally, shoot an AR15 in the dark and you will be temporarily blinded by the muzzle flash, which in a short barrel pistol is even larger than a normal AR.

    Bottom line, with no hearing protection, and AR15 fired, especially indoors, will have your ears instantly ringing and do lasting damage. The suppressor goes a long way towards making the event hearing safe.

    Note: I also shoot rimfire, including 17 HMR suppressed. For those you don’t need hearing protection at all.

    1. I goofed and can’t edit my previous post. Forgot to say that the suppressor eliminates the muzzle flash too.

      Yes, you do have to get a $200 tax stamp and jump through the hoops to own a suppressor legally, and live in a state that allows civilian ownership of NFA “weapons” such as suppressors, but I think it’s worth it. Note that I am not condoning the NFA as I think it abridges our 2nd Amendment rights.

    2. Bumper, I live in Minnesota and I believe that last legislative session in April 2015, they passed a law saying you could own and use a “suppressor”. But I never heard or read any thing about a $200 tax stamp. I could be wrong though, but like I said never read about it in the newspapers.

    3. @ Ton Dukulil.

      Minnesota State Senate Bill SB878, that went into effect 1 July 2015. Requires a Tax Stamp upon EACH Purchase of any Silencer or Suppressor by the Seller of the Product, NOT BY THE STATE. It “Essentially” the same thing as the Seattle City “Excise Tax” on purchases of Prohibited Items. And to answer your “Thought” question, IT DOES NOT VIOLATE any known Right To Own Gun Law’s. Who ever Drafted this Bill, Knew what they were doing…

    4. .
      The NFA rule requiring a $200 tax stamp on machine guns, suppressors, short barreled rifles and other NFA “weapons”, is a federal law. Some state laws are more restrictive than the federal laws, CA being a good (or bad) example of gun laws run amok. Unfortunately, in more sensible conservative states, more lenient state laws don’t preempt the the fed. NFA law.

      Each suppressor (or other NFA item) requires a separate background check, passport photos, $200 tax stamp, and lengthy wait for approval. Then the tax stamp paperwork (or a copy) has to remain with the suppressor at all times, and the suppressor must remain under the control of the owner (or trustee) – control can also be locked in a safe etc.

    5. @ Bumper.

      Three of your Sensible Conservative States, BAN Ownership of Silencers and Suppressors even with a Tax Stamp. And they are: Iowa, Michigan (Scott Walker’s State?) and New Jersey. Go figure.

    6. Also, Michael , Gov Christie in New Jersey pushed the bill banning said items- extending the ban to silenced BB and pellet guns.

    7. NJ and Michigan are solidly blue states, and Iowa leans blue much of the time as well. None of the three are anywhere near sensible, nor conservative.

    8. Michigan does allow private ownership of supressors. It is a recent change like a year or so ago. Before then only dealers could own them.

    9. Michigan is on the suppressor, machine gun , and SBR band wagon. It’s ok to be quiet and do it fast. Oh yeah

    10. You can own a suppressor by going through the process and getting your Federal Stamp. You can not use them for hunting at this time, due to a firearms group that wanted to have a bill to use them for hunting attached to some other dumb bill they had and undermineing the firearms group and NRA that sponsored that bill along with stand your ground and wording to clean up the wording in our CCP. Thank You very much Aron Dhorr.

    11. Brother you are right about the muzzle blast. I tried firing an AR15 without hearing protection once, just to see how loud it was, and it was shocking, painful, and almost debilitating. My ears were ringing for days.

      I perceived it as WAY louder than a handgun or shotgun; in fact that experience made me change my mind about my home defense gun–it was so painful that I would definitely hesitate or flinch before firing an AR indoors again. I switched to a 20-gauge with #4 buck.

  37. There is supposed to be 6 reasons … but there is no #4 … which means there are only 5

    Unless you have another one you’re not telling us about :!

    1. #4 could be you can legally convert an AR pistol to AR rifle but not the other way around. The pistol in the picture has a regular rifle buffer tube ready to accept a stock so if you have a stock hanging around (not on the rifle or even on another rifle)the ATF could construe this pistol to be a SBR, you need pistol only buffer tube.

  38. Actually, that Not Entirely True. When the First M2 Bradley IFV was introduced in 1981. They had Firing Slit’s or Gun Ports for the Infantry inside them to fire from. The only way they could Shoot their Rifles, was to Remove to Rear Stock. So, even without the National Firearms Act. The Conception was STILL There, Somebody just “Blew-the-Dust Off” the Idea and Reinvented the Wheel…

    1. Isn’t that where the M-1 Garand “tanker’s model” came into being? I seen one at a gun show once. Shortened version of the “Rifle that won WW2”!

    2. @ Tom Dokulil.

      Actually, the T26 or M1E5 Tanker/Airborne-Garand was introduced into US Military Servive in June 1944. It was being Phased Out of US Military Service sometime around 1957, but Lingered On until 1963 or 1964…

  39. I’m sure they have legitimate reason(s) for getting rid of the butt stock and shortening the barrel of a perfectly sized rifle such as the M4. Otherwise, why not just use a handgun or a smaller than an AR/M4 rifle. First the ammo is too powerful and just goes through whatever it hits so they developed frangible bullets. Then make a smaller ammo like the 5.45×39. Then make it an SBR. What’s next, a scaled down version so it fits in a holster?

    1. You may be on to something, there. Let me know when it fits in an ankle holster. Preferably with room for a spare magazine. 🙂

  40. I like taking a 14.5 inch barrel and pinning and welding a flash hider on the end to bring the barrel OAL to 16 inches. It makes the finished product an inch and a half shorter . We did that on the CAR-lite carbine and the result was a 4-pound M4 style carbine that is both light and handy.

  41. I’m a little confused on this issue, even after reading the article, and I just want to make sure.

    1. Is the tube at the back of the gun, in the photo shown, considered the arm brace?

    2. If that is the arm brace, is this setup legal WITHOUT having to get a government SBR license?

    1. 1. The tube is called the buffer tube, and it IS NOT the arm brace. Arm braces fit on the tube, and with a Velcro strap, attach around your forearm to assist in one-arm shots. Great idea.
      2. If you buy one of these pistols, you need no SBR license. That INCLUDES BUYING a brace/stabilizer to fit the gun.

      MOST IMPORTANTLY, (from what I understand), (I am not a legal expert!), is that you can’t put a stock of any kind on this pistol without first paying the government, and ,,, you can’t use the brace as a stock. I guess this means putting it against your shoulder as you would with a rifle.

    2. I have read that Sig Sauer has gotten clarification from the ATF regarding their braces that you can interpret with your own research.

    3. @ ss1.

      You said you were looking for High-Capacity Magazines, the Sportsman’s Guide has “AR-15″ 100-round Drum/”Beta” Mag’s for $107.99 USD with Membership of $ 29.99 USD (so, actually $137.98). Without Membership, their $199.97 (P/N: #F538C-292604). SEC…

  42. Excellent article and you’ve made the point that it’s just dancing around the political activists that are robbing us of our GOD GIVEN FREEDOM! I don’t travel, at all. When I do find myself in an unprotected place as a commercial driver, my government and my employer require that I be defenseless. The bad guy knew that when he put a gun to my head and took everything I had. Riding around with the local authorities attempting to help recreate the situation for their investigation I was confronted with one inescapable truth, the detective made it very clear that enforcement is totally out-manned and outgunned.

  43. I heard and this might not be true but if you own a German Luger pistol, you cannot legally attach a wooden shoulder stock to the rear portion of the pistols frame. Anybody know any thing about this?

    1. you cannot legally attach a butt stock to any pistol as that makes it defined as a unregistered Short Barrel Rifle, however there are certain historical “broomhandle” mauser pistols that came with a wooden stock. The laws are muddy about putting a modern replica onto a relic pistol.

    2. @ Tom Dokulil.

      The ONLY Models that are ALLOWED Stocks are the Model 1906 Luger Rifle and the Model 1918 Artillery Luger. After WW2, When Luger’s were being Ship Stateside, some were modified with Stocks to DRIVE-UP the Resale Price of them. Unfortunately, these were DUBBED “Black Widows” and many “Accidental Death’s by a Second Person” were committed. After that, only Models that were designed to have Stocks, were allowed to retain Stocks. ALL other’s were outlawed…

  44. Another advantage of the AR15 pistol with 10.5 inch barrel, is that when a suppressor is added, the weapon is still of manageable length to use for home defense. Add a light and laser, and for home defense the disadvantages of “no stock” become mostly moot. The suppressor protects what little hearing some of us old folks still have, and the laser restores accuracy lost when not shouldering the weapon.

    How one might use an arm brace defending one’s home and family in the dead of night should be of no business to the government.

    1. You are still shooting a supersonic round,so you will still get a significant amount of noise from the ‘crack’ of the round coming out, unless you have a subsonic .300 BLK chambered pistol.

      Also, to get a suppressor you have to go through the same steps as a Short Barrelled rifle.

    2. Don’t forget about subsonic .223, 7.62×39 and .300 AAC ammo. I have used these indoors suppressed/subsonic with great results.

    3. The ballistic crack, at short range, is basically insignificant as it is of such short duration. To a degree it is also affected by projectile size. I have a suppressed AR-15 with 10.5″ barrel, so I’m speaking from experience. The can gets rid of almost all the muzzle blast and all of the flash. It is by no means “quiet”, it has about the same impact on one’s ears as shooting a .22 LR rifle with no hearing protection. You don’t want to do that a lot for sure, but a few rounds won’t trash your hearing.

      On the other hand, shooting an SBR .223 indoors would do a number on your eardrums!

  45. As an elder statesman speaking, how many of you remember the Remington XP-100 “pistol”? It shot a .221 Fireball. I collect stripper clips, machine gun cartridge “links” and was surprised to find out World War One 5 round stripper clips cannot be shipped to residents of Connecticut unless you have a FFL. Go figure!!!!!!

  46. From what I have been told at two gun shops, If you buy a pistol stabilizing device, make sure you don’t put it against your shoulder like you would a rifle stock! This will get you in “deep poop” with the BATFE. Gun stores (and from what I have read) said it is legal to put it against your cheek however. I do not want to leave my freedom up to the opinion of an ATF agent that may not be honest.
    Long story short, If you have one of these cool pistols with a brace, use it only in the intended way.

    1. I too Have Fabricated my own 10.5″ .300 Blackout Pistol. Federal law allows for individuals to own fabricate their own “personal firearms”
      Firearms W/O serial No.’s cannot be sold or transfered.

      When the SHTF to think I care about whether or not I am in compliance with some non-constitutional administrative ruling will be the least of my concerns, I will be focused on center mass, maintaining fire discipline, and assessing immediate threat vectors!

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