SB Tactical PDW Brace: Stability and Strength

Released in mid-2017, and in conjunction with Maxim Defense, the SBPDW by SB Tactical gives the AR pistol a compact brace in a solid metal frame. Its three-position adjustability and QD sling mounting point add to the brace’s use and overall functionality for all shooters.

The SBPDW is among the many AR platform pistol braces offered by SB Tactical, intending to give shooters a stable extension for forearm support or in a collapsed configuration. The 1” hook-and-loop support strap aids the SBPDW in maintaining a solid connection to the arm.

The ready-to-install brace is compatible with mil-spec bolt carrier groups, carbine buffer tubes, and includes a proprietary buffer tube, castle nut, and end plate for direct assembly to the lower receiver.

With its three-position setting (at lengths of 6.75″, 8.125″, 9.375″) the SBPDW allows for the shooter to the most comfortable length for their arm, and grip. Understanding these measurements can become impetrative when determining the overall length of an AR build to meet ATF regulations on AR pistols. At the six o’clock position just below the adjustable brace is a QD attachment point for single or two-point slings.

Given the design of the SBPDW to collapse along the two guide rods, the angled polymer brace itself has a wide base for added comfort and accommodating variance in body dimensions.

Consumers should take note: The SBPDW is not compatible with Freedom Ordnance FX-9 lowers or SIG M400/516 lowers with integral QD sockets.

The SBPDW is available in FDE (featured), Black, and OD Green.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostFair (2/5): Coming in at $299 MSRP, the PDW is one of the higher AR pistol braces on the available market, but not nearly the most expensive PDW-type out there. This is directly related to its materials, being dominantly solid metal receiver mount and body, with a polymer support brace for comfort. This gives the overall product some of the most robust durability available, but also has other effects (to be discussed later). The closest comparator would be the Maxim PDW Brace ($359-$499.99) which shares a number of similar design aspects with the SB Tactical variant, Strike Industries Viper PDW Pistol Stabilizer ($264.95), or Troy’s PDW Stock kit ($499) which necessitates an included BCG and buffer spring. Overall the materials and price give SB Tactical’s PDW brace a fair cost, being far more expensive that most traditional AR braces, but not nearly as expensive as other PDW-type braces.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): In many aspects, the PDW has the same good comfort aspects as the SBA4 or other forearm stabilization devices for the AR. The sides of the PDW were very rigid and its ensuring metal frame gave support to the forearm rather well. This prevented the AR pistol from canting, while the support strap kept the overall brace secured despite the weight of the firearm (and weight of the brace as well) held out at full extension to the body. Indeed, users with thicker forearms may find it more difficult to get a deeper position within the brace at first, until the rubber has had time to adequately break in. There is notably less material than the SBA4 for the purposes of a potential cheek weld, but still sufficient for use in a collapsed configuration. The nylon support strap was slightly elastic which made getting a positive/tight bond somewhat difficult, but not unattainable. Internet research showed a number of aftermarket replacement straps to most SB Tactical braces, including the PDW and the recommendation to the manufacturer would perhaps examine improving or offering alternate straps for improved comfort and function.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The PDW was made with dominantly a solid metal frame and a forearm brace that was adjusted along two locking metal support rods. The forearm brace itself was made from a rubberized ABS material that gave the brace sufficient flex and softness to contour around the arm as well as for a cheek weld. Over time and despite regular use, the PDW’s support sides did not collapse nor overlap, a problem that was a common concern for the SBA3, and rather the PDW’s sides were molded to form and maintain a slight wedge shape when not in use, rather than an enclosed loop. It is most likely that over time, the element of the PDW that will wear out first will be the hook-and-loop material to the 1” support strap (another reason there are aftermarket straps available). While the release tab for the locking mechanism to the support rods did feel small and somewhat frail, it is still a solid metal feature that will still last a long time.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): From a functional aspect the PDW was a little tricky to don on the forearm, it being necessary to fully loosen the support strap and push the arm through the sides before re-threading the strap back through. This was the same process similar to securing other SB Tactical Braces, and one that can be slightly difficult one-handed. It would be preferred if there was a way to fully open the strap and then loop/secure it without necessitating threading it through small loops for speed and function. Adjusting the position of the guide rods was very simple given its tab, and the locking mechanism gave the brace a solid lock. The included buffer tube and castle nut were of a similar material as other assemblies and installed without the need for staking. The ambidextrous QD mounting point was full metal and accommodated a variety of mounting accessories. The feel of the QD point (under the PDW assembly) gave the sling an out-of-the-way feel as it dropped directly down as opposed to the more traditional off-side. Perhaps the only negative aspect to the function of the PDW was its limited adjustability, with only three different positions to select for sizing, it was basically a Small/Medium/Large design. It may be of suitability for SB Tactical to consider a ratcheting system in future PDW designs, or to simply add more adjustability.
  • Weight Average (3/5): Tipping the scales in at 18.14 oz, the PDW is the heaviest AR pistol brace within the SB Tactical line and one of the heavier overall. This has the added aspect in that the weight and solid metal design will help absorb the recoil impulse of the AR pistol (to some extent). However, it also has the negative aspect in adding weight to the AR pistol that was otherwise unnecessary if wanting a simple AR pistol brace. In comparison, Maxim PDW Brace (18.59 ounces), Strike Industries Viper PDW Pistol Stabilizer (20.8 ounces), or Troy’s PDW Stock kit (36.72 ounces) all demonstrate the full scale of weight in PDW-style braces/kits on the market. It also shows SB Tactical’s PDW falls within the lowest end of those designs, but still among the heavier on the overall market in comparison to other more traditional braces, such as the SBA4, giving it an appropriate (or average) scoring.

Overall Rating – Above Average (17/25)

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IMG_2889_TackenbergI am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.