Once again the ATF is targeting pistol stabilizing braces. The ATF published a list of “factoring criteria” for determining whether or not your AR-15 pistol is considered an illegal SBR rifle. If you want to keep enjoying your AR pistol with any accessories you want, then it’s time to legally convert it into an SBR rifle by registering it as an NFA gun. But It’s not as difficult as you think.

You can use this blog post to guide you whether you want to convert an AR pistol or build an AR-type SBR rifle from scratch. The steps are also the same whether you’re using an 80% lower or a stripped lower receiver you bought from an FFL.

The following 7 steps will cut through all the confusion and point you in the right direction of converting your AR pistol into a legally registered SBR rifle.

Maxim Defense

Converting an AR Pistol to an SBR Rifle in 7 Steps

Plan Your Upgrade to an SBR Rifle

Since you need some information about your AR pistol to SBR rifle conversion for the Form 1 application, it makes sense to start buying the parts required for your rifle before you complete the ATF application. Even with the ATF’s looming pistol brace ban, AR pistols will still be legal to own as long as you meet their criteria, which includes not being able to install a brace on your buffer tube.

The overall length of your SBR rifle is calculated by measuring from the tip of the muzzle to the end of the stock with the stock at full extension. Although you can change the overall length later, you still need to report your SBR rifle length on the Form 1 application. This is why it’s important to get your parts figured out before submitting the application. The ATF recommends estimating the overall length since you can’t technically assemble your SBR for measurement without your application being approved.

RELATED – Pistol Brace Ban Updates and How the ATF is losing

Create an EForms Account with the ATF

ATF EForms Registration

Once you create an EForms account, you can start the process of seeking approval to convert your AR pistol to an SBR rifle.

Submit Your Form 1 Application to the ATF

When you log in, you’ll be brought to a dashboard with a horizontal scroll bar and a series of forms at the top-center of the page. drag the scroll bar to the right until you find the green icon labeled “Form 1 ATF F 5320.1“. This is the application you must fill out for your SBR.

ATF Form 1 Application

Submit Two Sets of FD-258 Fingerprint Cards

Two sets of FD-258 fingerprint cards need to be included with your Form 1 application by mailing them to the ATF. Ordering cards from the FBI will take approximately one to two weeks for processing and shipping. You can purchase an FD-258 fingerprinting kit from Amazon, and get them much quicker. The kit comes with ink and five cards.

FD-258 Fingerprint Kit

After you submit your Form 1 application, you’ll receive an email from the ATF notifying you that your application is in a “PENDING RESEARCH” status. During this time, the application is being reviewed by the ATF. Once the application has been reviewed by the ATF and they determine that the information has been entered online correctly, your application will go into a “PROCESSING” status.

When this happens, you’ll receive a second email with a letter attached. That letter has instructions for mailing your fingerprint cards in. You must mail two sets of prints with this letter to the address provided in the letter. On average, people are receiving the letter’s within 5 to 15 days of applications being submitted.

Patiently Wait on the ATF for Approval

Once you’ve mailed your fingerprints, you’ll need to wait between 30 to 90 days for your SBR application to be approved, although many have seen their Form 1’s come back within 30 days.  Once approved, the ATF will email you a third time. This email will contain a copy of your tax stamp, which you should print multiple copies of. Keep one with your SBR rifle, keep one in your gun safe, and one inside your vehicle.

Ensure that the Lower Receiver is Engraved

All NFA guns require a serial number, but this doesn’t mean you can’t use an 80% lower for your SBR rifle. You get to make up your own serial number and have it engraved on the 80% lower receiver you fabricated.  If you’re in the 80% lower group, here is what’s going to need to be engraved on the firearm.

  • Manufacturer
  • Location
  • Model
  • Caliber
  • Serial Number

SBR engraving

Engraving must be at least .003” min depth and 1/16” min print size. The lower receiver is the most popular location because any changes to the other components would not require the engraving to be repeated.

If you purchased a firearm through an FFL, then the manufacturer already has everything engraved on it that’s needed, so there is nothing you need to do.

Swap out Your AR Pistol Brace for an SBR Stock

With approval and engraving requirements met, you can now legally convert your AR pistol into an SBR rifle by installing your stock, or otherwise completing your build if you haven’t already. You can even just keep your existing AR pistol brace installed if you want to since you’re legal either way at this point.

A great option for a new SBR rifle stock is the Maxim Defense CQB stock. The Maxim Defense CQB Stock is a durable, comfortable, and compact stock that is made for real-world use.  The Maxim CQB Stock weighs in at just 18.59 ounces and is made of 7075 Aluminum Alloy with smartly placed QD mounts. At its most collapsed position, this CQB stock only adds 5.35” to your AR15. At full extension (10″), the Maxim CQB stock is the length of an extended carbine stock. And with 4 total positions, you can adjust for maximum comfort and multiple scenarios.

The Maxim Defense CQB Stock is not built to be a safe queen, it’s made to be used.

Maxim Defense PDX


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