What’s the Difference Between an SBR AR15 and an AR 15?

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Sometimes people use the two terms interchangeably, which is wrong.  The term (SBR) or short-barreled rifle refers to a rifle with one or more barrels and is less than sixteen inches.  It is made to fire from the shoulders. On the other hand, an AR15 sometimes referred to as a pistol or a handgun, is designed to be held and fired using one hand.

Here is an exciting thing for you to note.  If you equip your AR-15 platform of whichever caliber with a barrel that is less than 16 inches and also have stock, your firearm becomes an SBR (short-barrel rifle)

The question on what’s the Difference between an SBR AR15 and an AR 15 sounds difficult.  To the beginners, this is not as hard as it may sound. It entails understanding the different features and the best way in which each model works and after that, comparing the two.   

For firearm holders, whether you are using it for military or sporting, understanding the different firearms and how best they perform will make your escapade fun, and you will not find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Besides, it will save you time and discouragement and reduce the number of loads that go to waste.

A Brief History of the AR15

The story about AR15 began way back in 1956 when Armalite Inc. got into producing firearms for military use.  But in 1959, as a result of bad decisions and hitches in finances, AR15 patent was sold to Colt Manufacturing Company.

By 1963, AR 15 was part of the US military standard gear, and Colt was to manufacture the paraphernalia for them, becoming M16.  Upon expiry of Colt’s patents in the 1970s, other manufacturers joined the business of AR 15 and started producing the AR 15 rifles under different names. Later the popularity of the firearm turned the generic term for the types of AR 15-style rifles. 

Today, the term “modern sport rifle” is used to refer to AR 15 and other semi-automatic rifles, and it is a term that is highly used in most of the industries.  It has become a preference for many sportsmen and women since you can customize it to meet your needs.  

Significant Differences between the SBR and the AR15


An AR pistol is an AR-15 usually with a long barrel but is minus the butt stock, unlike SBR, which has stock. They have similar guts, and therefore the AR pistol is fitted with a naked buffer tube in place of a stock where the rifle is built around the tube.

Of late, comparing the two AR pistols has become very popular in most states thanks to their stabilizing braces, which help the firearm user stabilize the gun. These braces function and look like a stock; they are intended to fit against the user’s forearm.

When we talk about an AR pistol, we talk about an AR-style firearm with a barrel under 16 inches without a butt stock.

What Will Make Your Brace Illegal?

You may find yourself in hot water if you reconfigure your brace to a shoulder-stock. Reconfiguring your stock refers to permanently fixing your brace to the buffer so that the new length will make it possible to fire from the shoulder. Also, you violate the law when you remove the arm strap, thus undermining the brace.


When you compare the two, a rifle is longer than an AR15. An AR15 pistol with a handle is 13.4 inches (34cm) long, and the barrel’s interior diameter is 1.0 inch (2.5cm). On the other hand, the average length of rifles is not less than 26 inches, while the minimum length for rifles should not be less than 18 inches.


Many countries have rules that regulate the issuance of firearms. And whether you live in a country governed by a federal government or you live in a state, at one point, you may have come across these laws, or you may have heard from your friends. 

You must be 21 years and above to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer in the United States.  But the age limit for the military-style rifle is relatively lower.  The age limit starts from 18 years, which has made the long gun a weapon of choice for many people in the US.  

Freedom of Use

There is no rule that is against shouldering an AR pistol since the ATF has since rescinded it. This makes the AR pistol sound appealing and user friendly since you are free to use it legally. 

However, there are some drawbacks. If you need to have a modification to your AR pistol, in some states, you may violate state regulations. Therefore, you need to check the countries’ laws and also check if there are new ones. Even better is that you can check court opinions and see the pre-existing legal challenges.

On the other hand, you can use the SBR rifle in the same way you would use a rifle. You need to ensure you have the legal tax stamp, which puts you on the safe side of the law.

This is because, in most states, it is legal to own a short-barrel rifle, and as mentioned earlier, you only require going through the NFA process, then going for registrations, and lastly, paying the $200 tax stamp. 

Note: Though the AR pistol delivers rifle performance, its short barrel, lack of stock, and overall length does not make it a rifle, it remains a pistol.

When in use, an AR-pistol fires a rifle round. It also feeds from rifle magazines, and according to the ATF definition of forearms, it is defined as a pistol.

How do you keep your AR pistol legal?

One of the misconceptions people have is that they think they can easily convert their rifle into a pistol.  It may not be easy as one may think. However, if you had built an AR pistol, you can easily convert it to a rifle, and later you can convert it to a pistol without violating the law. To make your firearm easier to shoot, you can modify it with various accessories, but you can’t add a stock.

What are the Similarities between the SBR and AR15

Whether you want to be an SBR or an AR15 holder, you must go through a rigorous process to ascertain whether you qualify as a gun holder. However, when you compare the two processes, you will find that acquiring an AR15 is more rigorous than when purchasing SBR.

Also, AR15 and short-barreled rifles are identical in most parts and especially in mechanical operations. They often process interchangeably operating parts and are assembled on the same manufacturing lines. 

It is worth noting that a brace is not another name for a stock. However, people get confused because they look similar when you look at fully assembled AR and SBR. To make things simple, you should note that a pistol brace has a hole in it and a strap intended to wrap around the arm.

SBR vs. AR15: Which One is better?

Many firearm holders opt for an AR pistol since it is fun to use.  When fired, it creates a bright fireball, and they are lighter and smaller in size compared to the rifles. They are also easier to maneuver and will give you a room to create a unique weapon.

Advantages of a Pistol over the SBR

  • It is light and is designed to be gripped using one hand.
  • Can have any barrel length
  • They have braces


• You can’t have a vertical fore-grip

Most Popular AR15 Accessories and Ammo

AR15 Caliber

Besides the famous .223 Cal, the AR15 boasts numerous caliber options. See our article on What is the Caliber for AR15?

AR15 Ammunition

See our exclusive article on AR15 ammunition, type and cost.

AR15 Customization

The AR15 happens to be one of the most customizable guns in the market. See how you can customize your AR15 in wood.


In the United States, the AR-15 style rifle is mostly used in national shooting sports. Many hunters prefer using the rifles for their versatility, accuracy, collapsible stocks, among other reasons. The collapsible stock is a darling to most hunters for who pack their rifles into adjustable locations. 

When using a firearm, safety is one of the critical factors to consider. AR-15 is, therefore, preferred because of its safety positioning. It is relatively improved from traditional hunting rifles, and users use reduced-capacity magazines.

People say that SBRs are firearms for those who want to play operators or those who make clone guns.  You will hear others saying that pistols are for cheap people who want to get the tax stamp.  But the decision is for you to choose what you need depending on your needs.  It would be best if you make a decision depending on your budget and where you live.

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