Keeping Your SBR Locked Up In Public

| December 5, 2013 | 2 Comments

In the United States you have to exert an extra amount of control over your NFA item. In our case, we’re talking about SBRs, but depending on what you have and where you live this would also apply to suppressors, short barreled shotguns, and “any other weapons” (AOW).

NFA items have to be kept under the possession of the person, trust, or company named in the paperwork approved by the ATF. NFA items shouldn’t be mixed in storage areas accessible to people not on the paperwork. Most people don’t have to worry about this, but if you are married and your spouse isn’t on the paperwork this may present a legal concern. To my knowledge this has never happened, but I’m not interested in being the first test case. Besides, my wife is on our NFA trust.

Anyway, carrying an SBR in public increases the probability that other people may come into contact with you. Locking your bag up is smart anyway, but may also satisfy the requirement to keep unauthorized people from “possessing” your SBR.


Locking up your bag is especially important if you take your SBR to work with you or a place where you may leave your bag for an extended period of time. I took my AK to work almost daily for 9 months during a consulting assignment. I left my locked bag underneath my desk. I don’t think anyone ever tried to mess with it, but I’ve seen female co-workers rummage through each other’s purses enough to not trust someone from getting into my bag.

I also took public transit during this time, and spent about two hours a day on Minnesota’s light rail system.

It’s worth stressing that my goal isn’t to keep someone from stealing my SBR, it’s to keep a casual person from gaining access to it, and potentially satisfying the ATF’s legal requirements. If you take your SBR in a bag it’s subject to theft.

I am a huge fan of the MasterLock TSA luggage lock. The flexible cable will fit through just about any zipper enclosure you will encounter. The locks are inexpensive at about $7 or $8 online. You can set the 3-digit combination to whatever you like; all of ours are set the same so it’s easy to remember.

I really prefer a combination lock to a keyed lock. I have some smaller shackle-style padlocks for ammunition cans, and about a dozen of them are keyed-alike for convenience. However, fumbling about for my keys and then finding the (usually smaller) lock key and then inserting it properly seems more challenging than moving a digit or two on a combination lock.

Unlocking the lock while under duress is a challenge, but I’ve practiced doing it at several classes. I’ll write up my thoughts on unlocking your bag during these moments in a later post.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

2 Comments on "Keeping Your SBR Locked Up In Public"

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  1. Joseph says:

    At the end of this post you said “I’ll write up my thoughts on unlocking your bag during these moments in a later post.” Have you done that yet and I’m just not finding it? Also, do you still prefer this method (small combination luggage padlock) of securing your SBR bag in public? Thanks!

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi there! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      The follow up post is here:

      I still use a small combination lock for my bag. I think it’s good enough to keep casual hands out of my bag. One of my coworkers told me last week about going through another coworker’s bag during a company trip ; I couldn’t believe they’d just open their bag to see what’s inside. Definitely still using the luggage lock. :\

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