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Sig Sauer Sues BATFE for Classifying Muzzle Brake as Suppressor

According to Sea Coast Online New Hampshire-based SIG SAUER has filed civil suit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives alleging they wrongfully classified a SIG-designed muzzle brake as an item “intended only for use” in producing suppressors. Specifically, BATFE determined that the SIG brake incorporated a monolithic baffle stack in its design. On April 4, 2013, SIG submitted the brake for BATFE examination which is described as 9.5 inches long and permanently attached with a weld to a 6.5 inch barrel, making the overall barrel length 16 inches. ATF responded by informing that the device was classified as a suppressor and that, “Welding it to a barrel does not change its design characteristics or function.”

SIG asked for a reconsideration, responding to the ATF on 6 September, 2013 in a letter offering evidence that sound meter testing proved the device amplified, not muffled sound,as well as evidence showing the device offsets and corrects recoil. Unfortunately, it seems the ATF stuck by their determination, responding in a February 21 letter stating that the device is a part intended only for use in manufacturing a suppressor.

Consequently, SIG filed suit claiming economic injury because suppressors are “subject to burdensome legal requirements” and “no market would exist for the device” whereas their muzzle brake “effectively reduces recoil and muzzle rise when a shot is discharged” making it “highly marketable to consumers and will generate profit.” SIG also asserts that despite their follow up with ATF, the agency did dispute its evidence that the device worked as claimed.

“If classified as a silencer, no market exists for the subject device given that it will not silence, muffle, or diminish the report of a firearm and yet it would still be subject to the burdensome requirements set forth above as if it really is a silencer,” Sig argues through Manchester attorney Mark Rouvalis and Virginia attorney Stephen Halbrook.

This suit comes on the heels of a recent suit by Innovator Enterprises against the ATF because it classified their Stabilizer Brake as a suppressor. U.S. District Judge John Bates

“In any agency review case, a reviewing court is generally obligated to uphold a reasonable agency decision that is the product of a rational agency process,” U.S. District Judge John Bates writes. “This is not a high bar,” he continues, “But in this case, ATF fails to clear it.” The Judge overturned the BATFE determination letter for teh device becuase it was based solely on physical characteristics rather than performance. He goes on, referring to the determination letter in his decision, writing, “contains hardly any reasoning, and makes no reference to prior agency regulations or interpretations that support its conclusion.” Instead, Judge Bates called the ATF letter a brief and informal document and “a non-binding statement of the agency’s position on whether the Stabilizer Brake is a silencer,” and “will not bear the force of law as applied in future classifications of different devices.”

Sounds pretty familiar.

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22 Responses to “Sig Sauer Sues BATFE for Classifying Muzzle Brake as Suppressor”

  1. cy says:

    Are there any pics of the device out there? I’m curious to see what the ATF has their panties in a bunch over.

  2. There are pictures out of it. Search for their new SMG design. The old pics had it on there.

    Salute to Sig Saur

    • dude says:

      Well, now we know why the ATF classified it as a silencer part.

      Dudes, just shut the fuck up before you let any more secrets out. With this kind of coverage, it’s not like the ATF could ignore it.

  3. Fred says:

    I was wondering how long that was going to take.

  4. Elizabeth Dinan says:

    I’m the reporter who wrote the story. I asked for photo, but never got one.

  5. Geoff says:

    I see a revision in their opinion of the SB15 coming…

  6. MiamiC70 says:

    Sig just earned my business. The time has come to call out the ATF thugs out and hold them accountable.

  7. Jason says:

    So, the take away from this is that BATFE classified the device without actually firing it?

  8. KKS-1 says:

    I wish the ATF would just go eat a bowl of dicks already.

  9. Jason says:

    So by saying this

    “contains hardly any reasoning, and makes no reference to prior agency regulations or interpretations that support its conclusion.”

    the judge basically called out the ATF for using reason and for pulling random rules out of their ass. Par for the course for the ATF but it’s nice that a judge actually called them out on it.

  10. That Guy says:

    Figures I put a small deposit down for to secure the “civilian” version of the MPX last fall. Ughh!

  11. Joshua says:

    Sure “looks” like a baffle stack.

    • Lance says:

      “Looks” is exactly what BATF based their opinion on.
      They apparently never considered the data that documents that the weapon is LOUDER with the brake.

      • Riceball says:

        Reading over the SigForums thread linked earlier it seems that the consensus is the ATF based their call on the idea that all one has to do is simply put a skin/shroud over the brake and, voila, you have yourself a suppressor. The counterargument to this was that that wasn’t the intent of Sig and that just because someone can misuse something shouldn’t make it illegal, or something to that effect.

  12. Saul says:

    Ahhhh, I love driving by Sig’s HQ on my way into work each morning. Always a good reminder of my freedom and second amendment rights. Oh by the way ‘seacoast’ is one word :-)

  13. joe_momma says:

    So sig wins this, and then they will then lose the stabilizing brace