The Theory And Practice Of A Glock Brace
2013’s introduction of the SB Tactical Brace turned the firearms world upside down. The SB brace was initially designed to attach on the rear of an AR-15 pistol so those guns could be fired more easily with just one hand. According to the designer, the inspiration for the brace was to help veterans who owned AR pistols fire their guns more accurately and easily.
The pistol brace was soon adapted to many other guns, and now they are available for a wide range of guns and a variety of different manufacturers make them. One of the reasons for their popularity is that a pistol brace can (and I repeat, “can”) also be used to stabilize a gun when it is pressed against the shoulder, just like a rifle stock. This means that a brace can (there’s that “can” word again) have the same effect on your shooting as a stock.
The Long Arm Of The NFA
This becomes a big deal because of a 1934 law called the National Firearms Act, or NFA for short. That law makes it illegal to own either a short-barreled rifle or a short barreled shotgun without a $200 tax stamp and an extensive background check. The NFA defines a short-barreled rifle as any gun with a rifled barrel that has a barrel length of less than 16 inches and an overall length of less than 26 inches. There is a lot of legal hair-splitting over how those definitions work in the real world, so please consult with a lawyer if you have any questions. However, pistols are generally considered to not fall under the NFA rules because they don’t have a stock. A pistol brace is a brace and not a stock, even if you put it up to your shoulder. Got it? Let’s move on.
Placing a pistol brace against your shoulder allows you to steady your pistol much more than just your hands. Adding a brace to a pistol such as a Glock helps that pistol become much more than just a short-range defensive firearm. A brace makes your Glock much harder to conceal, which in turn means that off-body carry becomes your best choice for carrying around these guns. Because of this, adding a Glock brace also changes your pistol from something that is an immediate first response to lethal force into something that is similar to a home defense gun.
Advantages Of A Glock Brace
What you lose in speedy deployment with a Glock brace is made up for in additional effective range. Fast, repeatable 25 yard shots are easy to accomplish with a brace on your pistol, and hits out to 100 yards or more are also very easy to accomplish.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the Glock brace options out there right now. The three Glock braces we’ll be looking at are the CAA MCK, the Flux Defense G19 Brace, and the Recover Tactical
The MCK started out in 2010 as the Roni. This was an add-on accessory that turned a Glock pistol into a short-barreled rifle. When the SB Brace came along, CAA quickly added it to the Roni. This addition allowed users to keep their pistols as a pistol in the eyes of the law, rather than converting them into short barreled rifles.
The MCK Glock brace is different from the other two Glock braces we’ll be testing. It has a chassis that covers the entire pistol. This means that any optics or sights need to be mounted to the chassis, not the gun. The MCK model we tested is easily the largest brace of the three models in our test, and takes up the most space either folded or unfolded. The brace folds and snaps into place along the right hand side of the gun for more compact storage. To deploy the brace, simply lift up the folded portion and swing it to the rear. The brace will snap in place. The MCK also has a forward grip that doubles as a magazine well for a spare magazine and a proprietary weapon light as standard equipment, something that costs more on the other braces we tested.
Because the optics for the MCK glock brace are mounted on the chassis and not the gun, the gun needs to be sighted in every time you install the pistol into the brace. This means range time and ammo, and that limits the MCK’s ability to quickly convert your Glock from a concealable defensive firearm into something meant for longer ranges.
On the plus side, the MCK has a long section of Picatinny rail on the top of the chassis. This allows you to add common rifle accessories such as optics and sights to your brace rather than rely on the sights that are already attached to your gun. This also means you can set up your optics at the optimal height and distance for your eyes instead of moving your head around to use the sights on top of your pistol.
Flux Defense rolled out their line of Glock brace models in 2019, starting with Glock 17 and then on to other guns later. The model we’re looking at is the version that fits Gen 4 or Gen 5 Glock 19 pistols, as well as the Gen 4 or Gen 5 Glock 23 and 32. The brace attaches to the back of the pistol using the pin hole for the various grip modules on Gen 4 or Gen 5 Glocks. Adding the brace to your gun takes just a few minutes and requires a punch or similar tool. Flux Defense includes a tool for this purpose with the brace, along with a slightly longer pin to hold the brace in-place on your pistol.
One of the nicest things about this brace is how compact it is when not in use. The brace has two spring-loaded arms that extend out at the touch of a button on the left side arm. I had no problem activating the brace, but it might be a stretch for people who shoot left handed. The brace collapses back and locks in place when not extended, and the stiff activation springs means that it requires a fair amount of effort to collapse.
As I said before, off-body carry is probably your best option for this brace, however, unlike the MCK, there are holster options available for the Flux Defense brace. There is also a forward-mounted combination flashlight / magazine holder available which uses an optional Olight tactical flashlight. Oddly enough, that flashlight / magazine holder combo is also a very convenient place to put your support hand when you shoot this gun, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence (sarcasm).
Flux Defense brace length is limited by the length of the frame of the pistol itself. Because of this, the distance between the end of the brace and the frame of the gun (aka “length of pull”) was the shortest of the three Glock braces we tested. That cramped space between your face and the gun does present some challenges. The brace also uses the optics mounted on top of your pistol, which works well if you’re using a red dot optic on your gun. However, it can be very difficult to acquire a good sight picture while using iron sights with this pistol. Small size does have its advantages, but it comes with some drawbacks as well.
The Recover Tactical 20/20 Stabilizer was introduced in early 2020. Recover Tactical uses the word “stabilizer” to describe their product and so will we, except for the part at the very end that wraps around your arm. We’ll continue to call that part a brace.
At first glance, the stabilizer looks quite similar to the Flux Brace. The brace attaches to the gun itself, just like the Flux brace, but it attaches to the gun in a different manner. The Recover Tactical stabilizer opens up like a clamshell to attach to the front of the trigger guard and the rear of the frame of any Glock pistol with a G17 or 19 sized frame. The brace part of the stabilizer itself folds along the right side of the gun and snaps into place quickly, just like the MCK, but it is much thinner than that other brace.
The Recover Tactical stabilizer has a short length of Picatinny rail along the bottom of the front of the brace, and we’ve also added two additional sections of rail (purchased separately) to the sides of the brace. There is also a forward-mounted spare magazine well available which attaches to the Picatinny rail at the bottom of the stabilizer. Unlike the other braces, there is no single dedicated flashlight that works with the 20/20 Stabilizer. Instead, you are free to mount the weapon light of your choice on any of up to three Picatinny rails, a nice feature which opens up a world of light and accessory choices for your Glock brace.
The Recover Stabilizer is smaller than the MCK Brace, but it is larger than the Flux Defense brace. The clamshell design makes it very easy to attach to your gun with just a Phillips screwdriver. The length of pull was short, but it was sufficient to allow a good sight picture through the Swampfox Liberty red dot that is mounted on top of the Glock 19 we used as a test pistol. Things will probably be different if you’re using iron sights with this system.
Testing The Effects Of A Glock Brace
We already know that a Glock brace can seriously alter how easy a pistol is to conceal. Now we’re going to see how adding a brace to a Glock affects your accuracy and speed. We’ll be conducting two tests.
For the first test, we’ll compare group sizes when shooting each brace from a rest at 25 yards, using the same Glock 19 Gen 4. We’ll then shoot at the same distance from a rest using a Glock 19 with a red dot optic and no brace. We’ll use a Swampfox LIberty red dot optic on the Glock for the Flux brace and Recover Tactical Stabilizer, and a Holosun 503c optic with the MCK brace.
For the second test, we’ll test the ability of a brace to speed up your follow up shots on targets at longer distances. To see how much a brace improves your ability to quickly get hits on target at longer distances, we’ll engage an 8 inch by 14 inch steel target at 25 yards six times from the low ready position. We’ll measure the average engagement speed compare the amount of time required to get a hit on-target with a brace versus using a pistol by itself. The gear and optics we’ll be using in this test will be identical to the first test, and the ammo we’ll be using for both tests is 9mm PMC 115 grain FMJ rounds.
Test One: 25 Yard Accuracy
Glock 19 pistol With Red Dot Average Group Size: 3.24 Inches
CAA MCK Brace Average Group Size: 3.3 Inches
Flux Defense Model 19 Brace Average Group Size: 1.52 Inches
Recover Tactical 2020 Stabilizer Average Group Size: 1.68 Inches
The results for the MCK brace were a bit surprising, as they were slightly worse than shooting a pistol from a rest without a brace. The reason for this, I believe, lies with how the MCK and the pistol interact. The sights on the MCK on the brace itself, rather than the pistol. This means the MCK is only as accurate as the interface between the pistol and the brace. Any movement of the pistol inside the shell of the brace will affect the relationship of the barrel and the sights and throw the rounds off-target.
Test Two: Speed
Average Time To Engage A Target At 25 Yards
Glock 19 pistol With Red Dot Time: 2.67 Seconds
CAA MCK Brace Time: 1.48 Seconds
Flux Defense Model 19 Brace Time: 1.65 Seconds
Recover Tactical 2020 Stabilizer Time: 1.42 Seconds
Several things emerge when looking at these results. The first is that the MCK Glock brace was able to get all its hits on target despite the problems it had with accuracy in the previous test. In addition to this, the shorter, more uncomfortable distance between the sights and the end of the stock on the Flux brace made it harder to get back on-target. This, in turn, meant that it took more time in-between each shot. All the braces, however, got hits on-target faster than shooting just a Glock by itself.
Adding a brace to your defensive pistol adds some distinct advantages. By adding a brace, you’re adding accuracy and speed at longer distances and stretching out the effective range of your pistol to 100 yards or more. However, you’re also changing the mission of your Glock. Rather than a first-response gun for concealed carry, your Glock now acts more like a home defense gun. With a brace attached, your Glock is a gun you use after a threat has been identified, and there is sufficient time and distance to use something more than just a concealed carry pistol to neutralize the threat.
Is a Glock Brace Right For You?
A Glock or any other pistol with a brace on it can make an effective 1-2 punch when combined with your daily carry gun. For instance, a Glock 17 equipped with a brace, a red dot sight and a 33 round magazine would make an effective home defense gun that could be carried about in a small bag. Combine that with a Glock 19 concealed carry gun, and you have two guns for two separate purposes that share ammunition and magazines between themselves. Not bad.
A pistol with a brace is not a substitute for a long gun, but it can do things that a long gun can’t do. A Glock with a brace can’t reach out to 300 or more yards like a rifle can, but it can hide easily into places where a long gun can’t fit. A pistol with a brace can share the same ammo and magazines as your concealed carry gun, but that also means you won’t have the punch of a rifle or shotgun on-demand if you need it.
However, the small size and utility of a pistol and brace combination make them an attractive option for people who want to augment their firepower, without drawing undue attention by carrying around a large gun case with them wherever they go. If you’re looking to add some distance to your defensive armament, without adding undue amounts of attention, you might want to look into adding a brace to your Glock and see how that works into your armed and safe lifestyle.