Shooting an AR-Pistol Without a Brace: Do We Need to Learn?

Today’s market of compact PCCs and sub-gun-sized weapons has not just increased over the years, it has exploded. AR-pistols in rifle and pistol calibers are among the most popular sold today. Sub-gun size weapons like the B&T, Stribog, MPX, and more can be easily found in gun stores across the country. But the buzz of the ATF’s rule change on pistol braces has not fizzled out and they continue to claim a ban is on the horizon. Nearly every PCC, AR-15 Pistol, or sub-gun sold comes with some type of a pistol brace. So, should we know how to fire one without a brace?

What is STS? Sling Tension Shooting
Shooting a weapon without an arm brace is fun and a good way to train. With the use of a sling, the weapon can be fired easier than you might think.

I am not going to give advice on what to do if a ban does go into effect. And I’m still holding out hope that our courts will come to their senses and intervene if such a ban does take place. But knowing how to shoot such a weapon without an arm/stabilizing brace is not a bad idea anyway. It’s not complicated or difficult, but it does take practice. In my experience, any type of training on the range is a good thing. And if there is a style of shooting you have not learned yet, today is a great day to learn a new technique, right?

Shoulder support is better, but not required.

Stabilizing braces were designed to help the shooter stabilize the weapon while shooting with one hand. But when a shot does need to be accurate, a stabilizing brace can still be pulled into the shoulder so two hands can be used. As of this writing, the ATF has ruled this does not make the weapon a short-barrel rifle. Firing from the shoulder must be temporary and not intended for shoulder-supported use. When there is a choice, a shoulder-supported weapon is going to be more accurate than shooting without the support of the gun pressed against the shoulder.

Shooting an AR pistol from the shoulder using stabilizing brace
A weapon that is fired from the shoulder is more stable. It is still a good idea to practice firing it in other ways too.

Most guns with a stabilizing brace or SBRs with stocks are collapsible or folding. This means that they can be made shorter and the brace or stock is then adjusted or opened to allow the weapon to be braced against the shoulder. Regardless of a ban on stabilizing braces, the need could arise to fire the weapon quickly. There may not always be time to extend the brace. This is where learning to shoot without a brace or stock becomes important.

Sling Tension Shooting

STS (Sling Tension Shooting) takes some getting used to and practice, but can be learned by anyone. It is a style of shooting like anything else. STS can be used with a single-point sling or a two-point sling. Guns with longer barrels or heavier guns work better with a two-point sling because the tension on the sling is attached at the rear and toward the front of the gun. It distributes the weight of the gun more evenly across your shoulders and back.

Shooting a PCC with a sling instead of stabilizing brace
STS (Sling Tension Shooting) is done by pushing the weapon out, away from the body until the sling stops it. With the tension caused by pushing, the gun can be stabilized enough to keep control over the weapon while shooting.

For a shorter and lighter weapon, however, I like to use a single-point sling. A single-point sling makes it easier to maneuver the weapon. When shooting with tension, you simply bring the weapon up to eyesight and push the gun away from your body. The sling needs to be adjusted so that the optics/sights are about the same distance away from your body as you would normally have it with a stock. If you currently have a PCC with an arm brace, you can practice this style of shooting by leaving the brace collapsed and shooting it like you would if the brace wasn’t there.

Shooting Without a Sling

An AR-pistol or sub-gun can be fired without a sling, but this is the most difficult way to fire one. In this case, there is no brace to use against your shoulder or sling to push against, making it more unstable and less accurate than either of the two forms of stabilizing the gun. Ideally, you would have a sling when shooting without some type of brace or support, but not everything in this world is ideal. So, practice without a sling along with your STS drills. Shooting a weapon without some type of support is less accurate and harder to shoot at the same speed. It can help build new skills and makes the use of a sling feel easier.

Shooting an AR-9 PCC without the brace
Practicing without any form of stabilizing the firearm can be beneficial. Even if your weapon has a brace or stock, this can be practiced by holding the weapon out away from your body and shooting it.


Some small compact sub-gun weapons are made to carry on a single-point sling. They can be pulled up quickly and fired without a stock. Stocks make shooting a weapon faster and more accurate, but they also take up more room. If there is an emergency and there is no time to extend a stock or arm brace, shooting with a sling may be the only option you have.

Maybe you do not plan to carry a weapon without an arm brace or a stock, but practicing something new is not going to hurt. It can also be fun. As they say, train for the worst and hope for the best. And when you think you have trained enough, train some more. We don’t know what will happen with arm braces yet but don’t let that stop you from using your weapons for self-defense.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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