An SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) is a rifle with an overall barrel length of less than 16 inches. These types of carbines are popular with law enforcement—especially SWAT officers—because they are easier to transport in patrol cars and easier to wield in close quarters, like when conducting a tactical entry. The problem with SBRs is that they require a special application and a $200 transfer fee through the ATF. Police departments are exempt from this. However, later transfer of an SBR requires the same application and tax payment unless it’s going to another law enforcement agency.
Smith & Wesson’s new TS version of their popular M&P15 is, in a way, an SBR but is not subject to these restrictions. Why? The new TS has an overall barrel length of 16 inches, but that includes the flash hider. Conventional AR-style carbines with a 16-inch barrel and a flash hider in actuality have an 18-inch barrel because the flash hider adds an inch or so to the overall barrel length. These guns are cataloged with a 16-inch barrel but overall barrel length is indeed longer. Smith & Wesson lists the TS with a 16.1-inch barrel length, which includes the flash hider.
Despite the shorter barrel, Smith & Wesson remains compliant to ATF’s regulations by permanently attaching the flash hider to the M&P15 TS’s 14-inch barrel. The downside to this is that the enduser cannot change the type flash hider on the rifle or covert it for use with a suppressor. You might be wondering why Smith & Wesson would do this, especially since police agencies are exempt from the ATF’s SBR restrictions. While I didn’t ask anyone at S&W for an explanation, it seemed pretty obvious to me.