ATF Strikes Down Q Honey Badger “Pistol Brace”

by Ryan Cleckner

October 7, 2020



The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) recently sent a Cease and Desist letter to Q, LLC wherein the ATF explained that they considered the Honey Badger Pistol to be Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) and therefore subject to National Firearms Act (NFA) rules and regulations.

This means that the firearm sold by Q, up until now as a handgun, is now considered to be a special highly regulated class of firearms by the ATF. This special class of firearms, often called NFA firearms or Title II firearms, requires registration, approval by the ATF, and the payment of a $200 federal tax prior to changing possession (buying/selling) of the firearm.

Q has since stopped selling the firearm on their website and they have provided a letter as guidance to those currently in possession of these firearms.

Q’s guidance to customers currently in possession of these firearms sold as “Honey Badger Pistols” was to remove the Honey Badger upper receiver and either:

  • Assemble it onto another AR-15 receiver that is either an AR-15 pistol or already registered as a Short Barreled Rifle, or
  • Get the upper out of your possession.

The reason they are giving this guidance is two-fold:

First, in its assembled configuration, it is an unregistered NFA firearm. This is a significant legal problem. The ATF, according to their letter, considers it to be a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches in length.

Therefore, by disassembling it, There is not longer any barrel on the rifle.

However, mere possession of an AR-15 upper with a barrel under 16 inches, even though it is not a firearm by itself, can cause legal issues. This is because possession of parts that can be easily assembled into an NFA firearm, with no other clear legal purpose for the parts, can be considered “constructive possession” of an NFA firearm.

This is why Q is suggesting that the Honey Badger upper be put onto an AR-15 pistol lower or a registered SBR – if it is simply laying around with no AR-15 pistol lower or registered SBR in your possession, the ATF could consider that unlawful possession of an SBR (just with the top removed from the bottom).

If no AR-15 pistol or registered SBR is available, getting rid of it is the only way to avoid a “constructive possession” issue. Just make sure that whoever you give the upper to doesn’t have the same problem.

ATF’s pistol brace issue continues as they are now trying to use a scorecard system to rank pistol brace features.


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About Ryan Cleckner

Ryan is a former special operations sniper (1/75 Ranger) and current firearms attorney, firearms industry executive, university lecturer, and bestselling author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook.

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