Legal Again: Harrington & Richardson Releases the Retro HAR-15 Pistol Brace

Harrington & Richardson has been taking the retro AR world by storm the past couple of years. At SHOT Show 2023 they previewed a CAR-15 style pistol brace which would have been great for Colt Commando, GAU-5, and XM-177 builds for folks who don’t want to go through the SBR process and pay the government $200 to exercise their constitutional rights.

Unfortunately ATF then dropped their pistol brace “final rule” shortly thereafter, so the project got put on the back burner.

Things got rolling again with a number of court injunctions against the rule, and now the rule’s been vacated altogether. That was perfect timing for the H&R CAR brace to drop and it’s being appropriately called the HAR-15 Adjustable Stabilizing Brace.

The HAR-15 is made from injection-molded polymer and is designed to fit on a mil-spec buffer tube. It follows the general lines of a classic CAR-15 stock, but there are a few differences.

Obviously being a brace, it has a narrow blade profile in the rear rather than the checkered butt plate of an actual CAR stock. H&R incorporated a QD attachment point along the rear blade for sling attachment, if that’s something you want to do.

If you look at the HAR-15 side-by-side with a CAR stock you’ll notice a couple of other differences as well. Rather than the squared off front of the CAR stock the HAR has a bit of a curve to it. The bigger change is a thin adjustment lever rather than the bigger CAR adjustment lever that wraps around the stock body.

There’s been some grumbling in the retro communities about those changes, but the changes were made to comply with the ATF. Notably, the adjustment lever was thinned out to allow the arm to rest flatter against the brace. The end result is a brace that, well, embraces the look and style of a CAR stock while remaining legally compliant as a brace.

I’ve already seen folks modding the braces by swapping out the narrow lever with an actual CAR lever. I admit it looks better, but now you’re converting it to a configuration that ATF specifically made H&R change for approval. H&R doesn’t recommend it, so you’re doing that at your own risk if you make the swap.

Whether you like it or not, brace regulations are still in place for now. We dodged the bullet — so far — on ATF reclassifying braces as stocks, bit we (and manufacturers) still have to work within the strictures of the original brace requirements. At least it gives folks an option to make large format pistols easier and safer to shoot without having to go the SBR route.

I bought two of the H&R braces as soon as they dropped. I’ve actually SBR’d a lot of my stuff already, but I like having the option of not having to do that for future builds. Or I can drop a HAR-15 brace on while I wait for my tax stamp to be approved if I still do decide to SBR something.

The HAR-15 sells for $39.99, which is very reasonable. You can buy it separately to use on your own buffer tube, or as part of a set with a retro two-position buffer tube assembly including spring, buffer, castle nut, and end plate for $80 or $85 depending on whether you get a gray or black finished tube.

I dropped a HAR-15 on my 9mm Colt 635 clone, which is built on an H&R lower half. The 635 is actually SBR’d already, but if the brace had been available last year I probably wouldn’t have bothered. I’m waiting on parts for a couple of new builds so I used the 635 as a test bed to see how the brace worked in the meantime.

The HAR is sturdily built and nicely finished with no obvious mold marks or flashing present. It fits snugly on the mil-spec buffer tubes I tried without any rattle. Your tube may vary.

The narrow lever isn’t quite as easy to engage as the wider CAR lever, but it works just fine. It’s easier than some other adjustable braces I’ve used. I haven’t tried the QD point yet and I doubt I will. The HAR has two other slots for sling mounting and I’ll likely use those when I decide what build they’ll finally live on.

Whether you’re building a retro-inspired AR pistol or just want a good-looking mil-style brace for a more modern build, the H&R HAR-15 is a good option. It’s well made and very reasonably priced and lets you keep that retro vibe going without the extra paperwork and taxes of an SBR.

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