Which rifles do you know that are also cool pistols?
AR’s and AK’s of course! Whether you want it for plinking or home defense, an AR/AK pistol is doable, and yes you can build one as well.
We’re going to steer away from the calibers because you can build one with a .300 Blackout or a .223.
In this segment we’re going to go over the popular AR/AK pistol, this is not the complete guide. This is to get you started if you’re planning on building or buying a complete AR pistol.
If you’re not familiar with the AR/AK pistol, lets cover a little bit on the current legalities…
Legal Pistol Stuff here
First off, double-check the current laws, we are not lawyers.
“Short-barreled rifles” with a barrel of 16 inches or less were subjected to the restrictions of the 1934 National Firearms Act.
Yes, the same NFA that added extra regulations to fully automatic guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and suppressors.
But thanks to one minor loophole detail, the AR-15 pistol isn’t legally a rifle in their definition.
This is the short definition: An AR Pistol is an AR-15 that was built from the start to be a pistol – it also has a barrel less than 16 inches in length and does not have a stock.
Though it might look and function like a rifle, but thanks to the fact that AR-15 pistols don’t come built with a stock, they’re legally classified as pistols – giving them a full pardon from inconvenient NFA restrictions.
However, the NFA isn’t the only set of laws you need to consider: in order for an AR-15 to be a pistol it needs to be marked as such on your DROS when you buy the lower receiver.
Generally, this isn’t an issue – except in some states such as California where there are other laws to consider.
Even if you buy a receiver that is marked as a pistol, you can still build it into a rifle if you so choose – but you cannot legally turn a rifle into a pistol.
Another thing is that in general an AR-15 Pistol will have a stabilizing brace instead of a stock, but that isn’t required.
Components of an AR Pistol
The basic components of an AR pistol is going to be similar to an AR-15, here’s a few key differences:
- Stabilizing brace
- Gas System: pistol length
- Pistol buffer tube instead of the standard rifle buffer tube
- Vertical grip is only allowed when the overall length is over 26 inches
Some comments on Shouldering
Shouldering the AR pistol with a brace is a gray area which is close to a stock without changing the legal definition.
At the moment shouldering the AR pistol itself is ok with the ATF, until they change their mind on the ruling, enjoy while you can.
Here’s a few AR’s and AK’s to look at to get you on your way.
Palmetto State Armory 7.5″ AR-15 Pistol
This sucker is known for offering many configurations based on barrel length, caliber and brace options. What’s cool is that their pricing is low.
Springfield Saint AR-15 Pistol
With its 7.5″ barrel it keeps the platform compact, comes with an M-LOK rail & Picatinny easy for accessorizing. Most say shooting this Saint is very comfortable and not that loud.
BCM Recce 11 KMR-A Pistol
If you’re looking to spend more money, this is it.
Quality parts and craftsmanship meets a sleek design with a classic KMR Alpha rail.
Accessorizing with BCM possibilities are endless.
Here are some AK pistols to check out:
AK-47 Draco Pistol
his miniature AK 47 is made in Romania before being imported by Century.
Features a 12.25-inch barrel comes with wood furniture and the shortest sight radius, comes with a SB Tactical brace.
Shoots a 7.63×39 rounds, this was design for 300 meters and less.
When firing this thing will roar, guess thats part of the fun.
The recoil is minimal when properly braced on your shoulder. Muzzle rise is certainly there, but controllable. A muzzle device would certainly help tame this beast.
Century Arms Yugo PAP M92 AK Pistol
Ever since ATF approved the arm support brace, rifle-caliber pistols have become wildly popular. For the AK pattern rifle-caliber pistol, one of the best on the market is Century Arms Yugo PAP M92. It’s very affordable and surprisingly nicely made for under $500.
The Century Arms M92 is currently available in two calibers, the 7.62×39 as tested, or the M85 NP 5.56mm NATO version. It’s also available with or without the SB-47 arm support brace.
Century Arms C39 AK-47
100% American Made quality AK-47 pistol.
The C39 features all the same quality of the original C39 rifle but in pistol form. With a Century’s own SB47 Arm Brace attached, the C39 Pistol becomes a realistic hunting tool when a smaller size is required while maintaining a high rifle caliber power factor.
The C39 Pistol features a shorter 11.5” barrel with a removable A2 style compensator to reduce recoil. Ergonomics are upgraded with comfortable polymer grip, and a quad rail picatinny forend. The updated polymer quad-rail forend provides easy mounting, finally, of the accessories the “modern warfighter”, hunter and shooter wants/needs.
Lets talk about the Brace
While the concept of the AR-15 pistol was undoubtedly cool, it had one major flaw: the buffer tube.
As you can see, the buffer tube extends out well beyond the butt of the gun where it’s meant to be pressed against the shoulder of the shooter.
You can imagine how unnatural and uncomfortable this feels after squeezing off a few rounds.
Still, manufacturers and most hobbyists weren’t ready to shelf the AR-15 pistol just yet. Instead, they came up with a solution to make the gun easier to handle – the AR pistol brace.
This handy adapter transforms your nose-heavy AR pistol into a functional weapon within seconds.
Alex Bosco is the US veteran who came up with the AR pistol idea.
As he puts it, while getting some range time with his buddy, who is a disabled combat veteran. He had the idea to come up with a device that could help shooters with disabilities to better stabilized their guns.
After gaining approval from the ATF, Bosco then co-founded SB Tactical and developed pistol braces for the AK and AR platforms.
For a while there were some uncertainty about the legality of pistol braces.
But in Spring of 2017, the ATF released a statement saying pistol braces do not turn AR pistols into short-barreled rifles.
Ok, let’s look at some braces!
Shockwave Blade by KAK Industry
This may be the most affordable Shockwave Blade and really effective at making your AR pistol easier to handle.
SBM4 by SB Tactical
SB Tactical is considered the industry leader in pistol braces.
Designed to be lighter and more comfortable to operate than others.
SBPDW by SB Tactical
This is probably the coolest looking and ultra-compact brace.
The SBPDW (personal defense weapon) offers three positions of length.
Maxim Defense CQB Pistol PDW Brace
Very expensive piece to make your AR pistol function like a rifle. This isn’t ideal for the casual shooter. This PDW pistol brace is considered by many to be the Rolls-Royce of pistol braces. What makes this bad boy better than the other is the adjustability.
Features four positions and its no problem finding the right setup specifically for you.
SOB47 by SB Tactical
This may be the best brace for the AK pistol user.
Nothing fancy about it just highly effective pistol brace.
Cheekweld is just ok…maybe a little narrower than the Magpul MOE. But the height is perfect for both irons or a low red dot.
DIY own AR Pistol
If you’re not into buying a complete gun, here are more endless building options.
Building an AR pistol is not too difficult, its similar to building an AR-15.
Its the same process but with some different parts.
There are three major things you need to consider for a pistol build: caliber, barrel length, and brace.
You should first figure out primary use. Is this going to be a plinking toy, home defense weapon, truck gun, or hog hunter?
–5.56: this is a great go to if you’re not exactly sure or you want it to be a multi-use gun. Ammo is not too expensive and finding the parts for 5.56 is easy.
–.300 Blackout: looking for a super short barrel or you want to play with that suppressor? This is going to be your go-to option. .300 Blk is a larger round that was meant to be shot suppressed and can be run through a shorter barrel than 5.56.
–9mm: If you’re a Glock carrier and want to be able to swap mags, this might be your option. It’s not as loud as rifle calibers and cheaper to shoot, but parts can be harder to find.
Ask an AR nut the shortest barrel length 5.56 needs to burn or what length .300 is optimized at and you’re in for some heated arguments. Here are some few common barrel lengths to look at for your build.
The barrel is an important piece. If you’re going to spend on one thing, go with a nice quality barrel.
–11.5″: this is what you want for 5.56 because it can nearly fully burn and barrels are common. A 10” or 11” rail pairs perfectly.
–10.3″ or 10.5″: Common among USSOCOM rifles, you can expect fireballs and is very loud.
–9″: in .300 AAC, you will get the highest velocity making this the ideal combination. You truly get the pistol feel with this short barrel.
–5.5″:This is the most common length for 9mm, not really offered for much else, however – the Sig Sauer Rattler uses a 5.5″ barrel in .300 Blackout.
They’re really important and can make or break a firearm.
Its not about being a sniper or anything like that.
But it is about quickly acquiring your target.
On an AR pistol, the main considerations are size and zoom.
You should think about how far you’re going to be shooting and what conditions.
Here are a few optics to consider for your AR pistol.
Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optics
This thing runs for 3 years on a single battery and is durable.
The dot is clearer than you can imagine and makes target acquisition extremely simple, this is the gold standard for red dots.
Trijicon Acog was my first experience with scopes.
Fixed power works well for this platform, especially with the optic that has become the symbol of rugged and functional.
Vortex PST Gen II 1-6×24
If you’re looking to reach out to 300 yards with ease, this is what you need.
Last Thing on the AR-15 Pistol
The AR-15 pistol is one of those guns that you love or hate. Initially, I viewed it as one of those faddish quirky guns that were fun to shoot at the range but didn’t have much use in a practical setting.
But after playing around with a couple of AR-15 pistols fitted with braces, along with the freedom to shamelessly shoulder and firing it, I can see the potential in an AR pistol.
Though the gun is not for hunting or doing a 3-gun competition with.
The AR/AK pistol can really stand out to plink with and/or used at close range for home or self-defense.
Click here to see how an AR pistol is used for home defense.
Do you have an AR pistol or built one?
Here’s an AR Pistol kit built by Youtuber Gun Fzx for under $400 dollars.
But if you want one cheaper here’s one for under $250 if you’re tight on cash.