May 18, 2022
One of the newest pistol arm braces from SB Tactical, the inventors of the pistol arm brace, is the HBPDW—the Honey Badger PDW (personal defensive weapon) brace (SB-Tactical.com)
Previously this brace was only available on the Honey Badger from Q (LiveQOrDie.com), and while you could buy it separately, it would only fit the unique Honey Badger receiver. This HBPDW fits standard AR lower receivers…and chances are, you probably want one.
First, a quick bit of history, as it’s pertinent to the design of this brace. Kevin Brittingham designed the Honey Badger, chambered in 300 AAC Blackout, to be a replacement for the Heckler & Koch MP5SDs in the inventories of our elite warriors. They wanted something as quiet as the MP5SD, but with AR controls. Loaded with subsonic ammo the Honey Badger is that quiet and weighed two pounds less than the MP5SD. Part of that weight loss had to do with the interesting design of the stock—and subsequent very similar brace, which was designed and built with input from SB Tactical.
The HBPDW brace uses a proprietary buffer and tube, and complete with tube, spring, and buffer weighs just 16.4 ounces. There are two versions, one meant for 5.56/300 BLK guns, and one meant for 9mm guns, with the latter having a slightly heavier buffer. Currently they are available in two colors, black or original Honey Badger gray. The gray version features a gray cheekpiece and arm cuff, and clear anodizing on the buffer tube and brace arms which give it a honey color (and was the inspiration for the name).
This brace has a polymer cheekpiece that fits over the shortened buffer tube. A rubber brace sits at the end of two aluminum arms, and a push-button release on the left side of the polymer cheekpiece is what you’ll use to adjust length. The button really isn’t left-hander friendly. There is a QD sling swivel socket on the underside of the polymer piece, just behind the receiver, that can be used from either side.
Fully collapsed, this brace extends just 5.5 inches from the rear of the receiver. The brace is three-position adjustable—collapsed, extended 3 inches, and fully extended (4.5-inches), which puts the rear of the brace 10 inches from the rear of the receiver. The rear of the brace has a rubber cuff which goes around your forearm, as well as a Velcro-equipped tensioning strap.
Installation is relatively simple, with only one noticeable difference. With a standard buffer tube, the castle nut is tightened at the front of the tube, pinning the buffer tube’s shoulder against the rear of the receiver. With the HBPDW brace, the buffer tube is screwed in, and then you slide the brace assembly over the tube. The castle nut is then screwed on behind the brace assembly, tensioning the polymer brace body against the receiver.
As the HBPDW uses a non-standard buffer and tube, the only question is how reliable it might be when compared to a standard setup. Over the past six months I’ve used HBPDW braces in two separate builds of 300 Blackout AR pistols. I installed a black one on the 300 Blackout pistol I built as part of my two-part series on that cartridge last year for Firearms News. Using a 9-inch BCM top end this pistol was completely reliable with both super- and subsonic ammunition, which is quite impressive.
I most recently built up an even shorter 300 BLK pistol for my Modern Urban Carbine project. It’s got an 8.3-inch Ballistic Advantage barrel, Aero Precision handguard and upper receiver, and a Seekins Precision NX-15 lower receiver. Unloaded, with optic and flashlight, this pistol weighs just 6 pounds, and part of that light weight is due to the HBPDW brace. With the HBPDW brace installed the pistol was 100% reliable with supersonic ammo, however it took about 50 rounds to wear in the buffer spring before it would fully cycle with soft subsonic ammo—and then it ran fine.
This brace is light, functional, and has a truly iconic, almost sci-fi appearance. For short/light AR pistols it seems the perfect choice, as long as you don’t mind its non-traditional look. 5.56/300 BLK models are $299.99, and the 9mm version is twenty bucks more.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.
About the Author:
James Tarr is a longtime contributor to Firearms News and other firearms publications. He is also the author of several books, including CARNIVORE, which was featured on The O’Reilly Factor. His current best-selling novel, Dogsoldiers, is available now through Amazon.