“What’s an AR pistol?”
AR platform pistols are no longer a fad. They’re a popular, versatile weapon that has a place in almost any gun owner’s arsenal. By legal definition, an AR pistol is an AR-platform firearm with a shorter barrel, that doesn’t have a rifle stock. If it has a stock versus a pistol buffer tube, or arm brace, then it’s an SBR. (Short-Barreled Rifle). SBRs and AR pistols are a desirable item for certain situations; They’re lightweight, very maneuverable in personal defense situations, and pack the same or similar firepower to a full-sized rifle. Perhaps you want a powerful gun to keep in your vehicle in case of the zombie apocalypse, or you find a full-sized AR-15 to be too cumbersome when clearing the hallways at home when things go bump in the night.
- It cannot have a stock, or a vertical foregrip*. If it has a stock, then it’s an SBR.
- The ATF says it’s perfectly fine to shoot an AR pistol from your shoulder.* In a letter dated March 21, 2017, the ATF stated they’ve “…concluded that attaching the brace to a handgun as a forearm brace does not ‘make’ a short-barreled firearm because … it is not intended to be and cannot comfortably be fired from the shoulder… an NFA item has not necessarily been made when the device is not re-configured for use as a shoulder stock -even if the attached firearm happens to be fired from the shoulder”
- You can carry a loaded AR pistol in your vehicle if you have a CHL/CCW!* Even though it looks like a rifle, it is by legal definition a pistol, therefore the same legalities apply to it as your favorite Glock/Springfield/Sig/HK handgun. You can even transport it across state lines if your concealed handgun permit has reciprocity with that state. With larger capacity magazines, “big gun” firepower, and its ease of customization, it’s the ultimate trunk gun!
- Choose your barrel length/caliber carefully. When you shorten the barrel, it will affect a bullet’s velocity. a 10.5″ pistol chambered in 5.56 will have very similar velocity and accuracy as a full-sized 16″ gun. Drop down to an 8″ and you really start to degrade the performance of that round. Also, you’ll get a lot more volume and muzzle flash from that shorter barrel as well. You might consider building for 300 BLK or 9mm ammunition if you want a really small firearm.
- Once you build a rifle, it needs to stay a rifle.* You can’t swap the upper from a rifle you own with a shorter one to make a “pistol”.
- You can build one in a pistol caliber like 9mm. How’d you like to have a large platform gun and your favorite pistol use the same ammunition and/or magazines? Build an AR-9 pistol that takes Glock magazines!
- No compromises needed. There is always a trade-off between the versatility and stopping power/range of a rifle and the portability of a pistol. While you likely won’t be holstering and toting one on your person, they’ll readily fit in your trunk or under your car seat.
Be sure to check out our AR-9 and AR-15 10.5″ build articles for everything you need to know to get started on your very own personal defense powerhouse!
*Disclaimer: Here at My First AR15.com we strive to provide accurate information to our readers. However, you are responsible for knowing the laws of your own state/city. Federal laws also periodically change, you should familiarize yourself with the laws and ordnances that affect you before building, buying, or transporting a firearm such as an AR-platform pistol.