While searching the internet for accessories that will help with my short-barreled rifle’s recoil, I stumbled upon SB Tactical’s StabilizingBrace. Intrigued, I read on and found several other models and versions. Its simple but effective design got me hooked and I dug around for more information. This led me down a deep rabbit hole of short-barreled rifles, laws, and more products than I can handle. At the very least, I wanted one now. I did more research until I finally whittled my choices to two: SBA3 and SBA4.
SBA3 vs SBA4 Overview
SB Tactical may be a new player in the gun market, but it certainly does know how to play. It elected exclusive distributorship agreements with SIG Sauer until the contract’s expiry in 2015. Since then, it has launched its up-and-running website and partnerships with several websites for the distribution of their patented rifle stabilizer. Their partners include Daniel Defense, Lantac USA, 2nd Amendment Wholesale, Chattanooga Shooting Supplies, and Optics Planet, to name a few.
The SB Tactical SBA3 and SBA4 Pistol Stabilizing AR Brace with Mil-Spec Carbine Receiver Extension, more commonly known as either SBA3 or SBA4, respectively, are stabilizing braces specially designed for disabled veterans and gun owners.
The brace is ambidextrous and adds a third contact point which allows its user to accurately shoot with one arm when needed. Additionally, the integrated QD sling socket is ambidextrous.
Each purchase comes with a Mil-Spec Carbine Receiver Extension, Brace, and an adjustable 1-inch wide nylon strap. The SBA3 comes in four colors namely Black, Flat Dark Earth, Olive Drab Green, and Stealth Grey.
Installation and Use
The braces are easy to install, but only if your weapon is capable of accepting a mil-spec carbine receiver extension. Assuming it does, SB Tactical has a step by step Youtube video on how to install the brace. It is important to watch the video first and assess if you can do it yourself. If not, you can always go to a gunsmith to have it installed. Every purchase also comes with a leaflet detailing the process on how to install your brace.
I watched a few other videos besides SB Tactical’s official installation video and noticed that some attach their brace directly to the carbine receiver. I found it fascinating since the SB Tactical video recommends putting the mil-spec carbine receiver first without the brace itself.
To use an SBA3 or SBA4 as intended, it must first be attached by the mil-spec carbine receiver extension that comes with every purchase. The shooter then slips his forearm through the flaps at the rear and adjusts the nylon strap to get a snug fit. You also have the option to use it as you would a stock, whether you like resting the butt on your shoulder or inner arm or pressing your cheek against the cheek weld.
The brace can be adjusted into 5 lengths, depending on the model you buy. However, the method of adjusting is the same. There is an adjustment lever found just under the part where the tube is attached. Grip the lever with one hand and you can adjust according to your preferred length.
One way to distinguish the two braces is the way the lever handles are oriented. For SBA3, you have to press down at the front to adjust. For SBA4, you press the lever down near the rear to lengthen or shorten the brace.
In his comparison review post on The Firearms Blog, Matt E described the two brace designs in simple but meaningful words. For SBA3, he described the design as compact and minimalistic with a smaller and lower profile. He then described the SBA4 design as robust, stiff, thick, and sturdy as compared to the SBA3.
Split Fix and Strap
For those who want to use the SBA3 as a stock, you can buy a split fix online. For the SBA4, it is simply called a strap. It is a velcro strap with a smaller, perpendicular velcro strap that goes over the flaps of the brace. The split fix or strap can also be useful when it comes to the storage of the SBA3 or SBA4.
When not in use, the split down the rubber flaps where the arm is supposed to go tends to fold in on itself. A company called Wise Men Company created a velcro strap to hold the split in place. The package nylon strap can be replaced by the Wise Men Company Split Fix or SBA4 strap. They will help hold the rubber flap split in place.
Youtube Channel Gear Know-How showed how to maneuver the split fix through the strap holders to get the small perpendicular velcro flap to the split. You must start at the top of the brace so that the velcro strap lines up properly with the split. Once there, the velcro flap just has to cover the split. Now held in place with the split fix, the problem of the flaps folding in on itself is a thing of the past.
Perhaps the best thing about SB Tactical’s products is the Service Discount that is given to all disabled veterans, active or retired military and law enforcement, active reservists and national guard, and first responders. All they need to do is submit proof of status via email. Once approved, they will get a one-time discount coupon worth 30%.
Pros and Cons
The pros of the two braces are as follows:
1. An added third point of contact that helps stabilize the shooting arm.
2. An adjustable brace for a better grip on the forearm, shoulder, or inner arm.
3. Braces are lightweight and travel-friendly.
The cons are:
1. A confusing legal limbo with the NFA.
2. The split in the rubber folds in on itself if used as a stock.
The SBA3 is 5.1 inches long, 1.6 inches wide, and weighs 6.75 ounces. It has a cavity depth of 6 inches. Its 5-position feature allows the brace to be extended to lengths of 6.75 inches, 7.6 inches, 8.25 inches, 8.75 inches, and 9.5 inches.
The Truth About Guns website review written by Jeremy S. is insightful as to the composition of the brace. It is mostly made out of plastic, save for the metal QD sling bracket, rubber arms, and the adjustable nylon strap. He points out that the brace is also for those who prefer to brace against their cheeks, the inside of their arm, or their shoulder.
Jeremy hails it as extremely convenient for the reason that he can pack the collapsed brace in his back and then readjust it quickly at the range. He praises it as well-designed and well-made.
The SBA4 weighs 10 ounces, 2.25 inches for its maximum width, and 6.75-inch cavity depth. It is made from 7507 aluminum. The 5-position feature may be utilized to extend the brace to 7.5 inches, 8.25 inches, 8.8 inches, 9.5 inches, and 10.25 inches.
For this review, I will be taking another one from The Truth About Guns, though this time, it is a review written by Jon Wayne Taylor. He notes the addition of quick-detach slots on either side of the brace near the front, as there isn’t enough material near the back to put such slots. Taylor also provides in his review that the rear is wide and rubbery enough for it not to slip on clothing. However, he says that SBA4’s inferiority shows in using it as stock when used against the shoulder and the cheek.
He then talks about the placement of the brace makes a big difference in the controllability of the pistol. He also liked how the nylon strap is adjustable and gives the brace a near-custom fit on his forearm. His final say is that the brace is God-sent for disabled shooters and great flexibility for everyone else.
Around the same time, the braces were made for public consumption, a dilemma was created between the gun community and the NFA. The debate was whether or not the attachment of a brace classifies a short-barreled rifle as a pistol. If it does, it saves a lot on a 200$ tax stamp and removes the hassle of crossing state lines.
However, the NFA drove their foot down and announced that the attachment of a brace that does not redesign the short barrel rifle in any way still classifies the latter as an SBR, and therefore still subject to tax stamp and certain restrictions. I, along with the many reviews online, ask you to check and double-check the applicable laws in your state.
With every fact and detail accounted for, I’ll choose SBA4 as my choice for this. I feel like the added brace will help me take a more steady aim. I just have to add a strap to keep the split together and I’m good to go. I also like the design of the rear better with the SBA4. The huge rubber coverage is an advantage if I ever want to rest the butt of the brace against my shoulder.
The SBA4 Brace is an upgrade for the SBA3. There is hope that it will only get better from here.