By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
One of the biggest pieces of gun industry news this week is certainly the Honey Badger being put on the ATF’s naughty list.
On the one hand, it is everything that people say it is. It’s capricious, arbitrary, and almost certainly an instance of selective law enforcement or at least darn sure looks that way.
On the other, there’s some food for thought when it comes to skirting the gray area of gun laws or indeed any laws. Maybe we should have seen this coming at some point, though darned if the gun laws in question aren’t stupid to begin with.
Had one to guess, the ATF probably felt like reminding people that they giveth and taketh away or something along those lines, and making an example of someone as a reminder to take the pistol brace/shouldering issue seriously. Or at least something along those lines.
For those unaware, the Honey Badger is/was an AR pistol made by Q, LLC, a rather curious and unique gun company making rather high-end and offbeat firearms.
The Honey Badger has and/or featured a 7-inch barrel, chambered in .300 AAC Blackout and a telescoping arm brace – somewhat reminiscent of the Maxim CQB stock – made for Q by SB Tactical.
On October 6, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, issued Q,LLC a Cease and Desist order, telling them they needed to stop making the Honey Badger.
After having not had a problem with it for several years or indeed the multitude of firearms with a similar build, the BAFTE obtained a sample of the Honey Badger and determined that it was intended to be fired from the shoulder.
They further ordered Q, LLC to send them samples of other products, including the Sugar Weasel AR pistol (basically a “budget” Honey Badger) and the Mini Fix, a bolt-action pistol in .300 BLK with a folding brace.
BAFTE’s reasoning is that the weapon is clearly intended to be fired from the shoulder, especially given a length of pull of more than 13-½”, which therefore makes it a Short Barreled Rifle under the rules of the National Firearms Act and thus requires a tax stamp to purchase.
And herein layeth the rub:
The pistol brace issue has been one of the ATF’s favorite sports in the past decade, at first declaring that a pistol brace is just fine, reversing course and saying a brace is verboten since it’s clearly meant to be shouldered, and then finally declaring in 2019 that a pistol brace couldn’t be considered a stock or a modification if it’s occasionally and/or inadvertently fired from the shoulder.
The gray area is the brace and how such firearms are marketed. Since it isn’t a stock, like the actual stocks on most AR-pattern rifles, and the manufacturer clearly states it’s supposed to brace the arm – it isn’t a stock, even if the end user decides to use them otherwise.
The problem with the gray area about SBRs and AR pistols, none of their rulings about pistol braces have been final. It’s subject to the interpretation they prefer at the moment, and that is problematic.
It’s also worth noting that the ATF went after Q, LLC specifically rather than the multitude of other companies making similar firearms as there are many. Why is that?
The Honey Badger is a Gucci AR pistol (MSRP is $2500) with healthy media exposure, especially among guntubers like Colion Noir, TFB TV, and if you’ve ever seen Garand Thumb’s review of it, go ahead and hit that subscribe button.
The nail that stuck out got the hammer.
It would be one thing if the ATF were to just come out and say “look, if it even CAN be shouldered, that means it’s not a pistol and therefore subject to NFA regulations.” Draconian? Unfair? Sure, but at least clear.
However, as long as there’s enough wiggle room to go back and forth things like these are going to keep happening. It’s time for the NFA to either be overhauled, or – better yet – done away with.
The reality is that virtually no crimes are committed with suppressors, short barreled rifles or shotguns or fully-automatic rifles or submachine guns that are purchased legally.
At this point, it’s regulation and prohibition for its own sake, rather than regulation and/or prohibition to accomplish some sort of purpose.
Seat belt laws, for instance, make sense; they inarguably save lives. Requiring a license plate on the front AND rear bumper? Not so much.
It’s one thing for a law enforcement agency to enforce the laws that are their purview in accordance with how they’re written. It’s another when the agency picks and chooses what the law is, when and where they’re going to enforce it.
And until the NFA is overhauled, or the BAFTE gets reigned in we can probably look forward to more of this.
Sam Hoober is a Contributing Editor to AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.