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Sig Sauer's Controversy: How Firearms Brand Stirred Up Debate

By    |   Tuesday, 07 April 2015 04:58 PM

When you’re in the firearms manufacturing business, controversy is a natural occurrence. Supporters and opponents of gun rights struggle to make their voices heard over one another. Gun legislation – from the right to conceal carry to the banning of certain types of guns – is always a hot topic. Rules, regulations, and safety issues are constantly being revisited. For Newington, New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer, controversy recently manifested itself in the form of a seemingly simple brace.

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The SB 15 Pistol Stabilizing Brace “is designed to improve the single-handed shooting performance of buffer tube-equipped pistols,” according to the Sig Sauer website. The accessory also “enhances accuracy and reduces felt recoil when using an AR-style pistol.”

Gun enthusiasts had mixed reactions to the brace when it was introduced a couple of years ago. “By adding the second point of contact, the pistol brace spreads the weight out over a larger number of muscles and eliminates the tendency for the muzzle to drop down because of the forward weight,” a review in The Truth About Guns noted. “It also eliminates the side-to-side wiggle within the hand.”

Others were less enthusiastic. “Installing the SB15 is incredibly easy, as it slips right on to a pistol buffer and, if so desired, you may use the Velcro straps to cinch it up to your arm,” said The Firearm Blog review. However, the tester found that “you really need to turn the gun sideways to aim it right, and it does not relieve much weight.”

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Perhaps the harshest criticism came from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), which issued a statement in January apparently indicating that using the SB15 Pistol Stabilizing Brace to build an AR-style pistol creates a different type of firearm entirely. The letter stated in part: “Any person who intends to use a handgun stabilizing brace as a shoulder stock on a pistol … must first file an ATF Form 1 and pay the applicable tax because the resulting firearm will be subject to all provisions of the [National Firearms Act].” This was a complete reversal from a statement issued by the bureau last March. Some wondered if this new declaration meant that using the brace was illegal.

Sig Sauer was quick to defend its product. “We question ATF’s [BATFE] reversal in position that the classification of the brace may be altered by its use. We are reviewing the legal precedents and justification for this position, and will address our concerns with ATF [BATFE] in the near future,” a company statement in February said.

“We will vigorously defend the classification of all of our products and our consumers’ right to use them in accordance with the law. If we find that the open letter opinion is outside the scope of the law, we will seek further review,” the Sig Sauer statement concluded.

Soon, the creator of the SB15, SB Tactical, got involved. SB Tactical’s CEO Alex Bosco said in a statement posted on Breach Bang Clear: “The Stabilizing Brace was conceptualized to assist a disabled war veteran in shooting the AR pistol the way that it was intended: safely and accurately. The finalized design is for people with limited mobility due to a handicap or the lack of strength to fire AR pistols in compliance with the Gun Control Act.

“The latest opinion issued [by the BATFE] prohibits people from freely using a legal product, restricting how shooters position the pistol, and is contrary to the intent and statutory language enacted by the U.S. Congress,” Bosco said.

The Sig Sauer controversy regarding the SB15 appears to be far from over. Meanwhile, the SB15 continues to be marketed and sold by Sig Sauer as the debate rages on.

This article does not constitute legal advice. Check the current gun laws before purchasing or traveling with a firearm.

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When you’re in the firearms manufacturing business, controversy is a natural occurrence. Supporters and opponents of gun rights struggle to make their voices heard over one another.
guns, sig sauer, firearms debate
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 04:58 PM
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