You can tell a company has plenty of attitude when their website is liveqordie.com.
New Hampshire-based Q, LLC and its founder, Kevin Brittingham, are loaded with unabashed attitude.
“I’m pretty bold. I think I’m pretty confident. I’m not afraid of confrontation. I’m not afraid of losing. Well, I’m definitely afraid of losing. But, I’m not afraid of failing,” he told recoilweb.com in 2016
Brittingham is also innovative. He started his first company making silencers. Q still does and they carry names like Trash Panda, Thunder Chicken, and Jumbo Shrimp. Q also makes guns with the equally don’t-give-a-flip names Honey Badger, Sugar Weasel, and The Fix.
It is these three guns, a Honey Badger semi-automatic pistol, a Sugar Weasel semi-automatic pistol, and The Fix bolt action rifle that will be available in Rock Island Auction Company’s March 2 Arms and Accessories Day Auction.
Q, LLC and its founder’s attitude has drawn mixed feelings from the gun community and unwanted attention from the federal government.
ATF and Q
The Honey Badger semi-automatic pistol was part of a kerfuffle with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2020 because it is equipped with a Pistol Stabilizing Brace (PSB). Under the National Firearms Act (NFA), a pistol is meant to be fired using one hand.
The ATF, in a letter to Q in August 2020, deemed the gun a short barrel rifle because it was meant to be fired from the shoulder. A short barrel rifle has a barrel length of 16 inches or less and an overall length of less than 26 inches and is designed to be shouldered.
The ATF also requested Q provide samples of the Sugar Weasel and The Fix pistol versions to determine whether they were also short barrel rifles. The ATF later reversed course, as you shall see.
The ATF has an on-again, off-again relationship with pistol braces. At times the agency has declared them legal and not considered a redesign or modification if they are incidentally, sporadically, or situationally shouldered. At other times it takes on a company like Q for using pistol braces.
The ATF’s standard length of pull is 13.5 to 14.5 inches for long guns that measures the distance from the middle of the butt of the stock to the trigger face. That is how the Honey Badger fell under the ATF’s scrutiny, saying it had a length of pull of 13.5 inches with the brace.
This was a concern not just for Q but for the gun industry. At the time, SB Tactical, one of the biggest makers of braces and a supplier for Q, had more than a quarter of the 4 million PSBs in circulation.
In October 2020, the ATF temporarily suspended its guidance that deemed the Honey Badger a short barrel rifle, reversed course yet again in a letter dated Dec. 20, 2020, then issued a notice of withdrawal three days later on classifying weapons with stabilizing braces.
During this process, 90 congressmen signed on to a memo to ATF citing “deep concerns” about the agency’s action.
In another 180-degree turn, the Biden administration in 2021 ordered stabilizing braces fall under the National Firearms Act. Gun owners wanting to attach a stabilizing brace to their AR pistols have to seek approval from the ATF. That process can stretch for months and requires an application that has a points system, extensive vetting, paying a $200 tax, and registering the weapon with the federal government.
Honey Badger Origins
In nature, the honey badger has a thick skin, is strong, and has ferocious defensive abilities. Surely that is what Brittingham was going for when he created his firearm. Or, perhaps the name is meme related? The original Honey Badger was developed by Brittingham at Advanced Armaments Corporation (AAC) at the request of U.S. military special operators wanting to replace their MP5-SD with an improved platform. The goal was to maintain low visibility with noise suppression.
The gun never made it to the commercial market until Brittingham founded Q.
Alongside the Honey Badger, .300 AAC Blackout ammunition was also developed. AAC Blackout is a .30 caliber bullet in a 5.56mm NATO brass casing that is more effective at longer range with minimal recoil.
Q markets the Sugar Weasel as the poor man’s Honey Badger. The Honey Badger’s billet receiver is machined, making the upper and lower unique. The Sugar Weasel uses a spec M16 receiver. The braces and triggers are also different. The Honey Badger has a collapsing brace to the Sugar Weasel’s standard brace. The Honey Badger features a Geissele trigger while the Sugar Weasel has a military single-stage trigger.
The Fix is touted by the company as “the biggest step forward in bolt-action rifle innovation since 1962,” and is described by at least one reviewer as having similarities to an AR, is lightweight, compact, and accurate.
Of the guns at auction, the Honey Badger and the Sugar Weasel are chambered in .300 AAC Blackout, while The Fix is chambered in .308 Winchester. The Honey Badger and Sugar Weasel have clear anodized finishes with polymer grips, while the Fix has a gray finish with a metal/rubber stock.
The founder of Q started selling guns in high school, opened a shop to sell silencers, and then incorporated AAC as a 19-year-old. In 2009 he sold AAC to Remington Arms for $18 million and a position in the company. The trouble is the boss can’t be led, and he found himself on the outs with corporate. He landed in a legal battle as he parted ways with the company.
He won the legal battle and moved on. He found himself working for Sig Sauer as the company wanted to start a line of silencers. The fit wasn’t right and it was time to move on again.
Brittingham founded Q in 2016. He got the Honey Badger in Call of Duty Online and Modern Warfare video games and sees a younger, X Games demographic among his customers.
The trio of guns from Q LLC could be the bad boys of the March 2 Arms and Accessories Day Auction, coming in after a dust-up with the ATF. Check out the attitude and innovation on the Honey Badger, Sugar Weasel, and The Fix.
“Are Pistol Braces Legal? PDWs, Braces and the Honey Badger Debacle,” by Sam Hoober, USAcarry.com
“Pistol Braces and the ATF: What You Need to Know,” by Jacki Billings, Pew Pew Tactical
“Kevin Brittingham – The Original Honey Badger,” by Rob Curtis, Recoilweb.com