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6 Best Folding AR-15s: Stocks, Rifles, and More [2024] preview image
Jan 14 2024
16 min read

6 Best Folding AR-15s: Stocks, Rifles, and More [2024]

I never leave home without my concealed carry firearm. And as time has gone on, I find myself breaking down my AR-15 and throwing it in my Eberlestock pack just in case. Knowing I don’t have to rely on a four-inch barrel and 9mm if things go bad is comforting.

Whether you want a solid rifle to keep in a truck for a rainy day or maybe to keep in a SHTF pack, there are millions of reasons why a shooter would want to fold their AR-15, but it all boils down to one thing.

Portability.  

And if portability is your thing, you can’t go wrong with a good AR-15 and a Law Folding Adapter. Law enforcement has used that combination for a long time, and it will work for you, too.

And what better way to defend yourself than with an AR-15, the most customizable platform in the world?

Today, we will dive into the world of folding rifles and adaptors that can prepare you for whatever comes your way.

How Can An AR-15 Fold?  

An AR-15 can fold by using an adapter between your upper receiver and your stock or, in at least one specific case (the FoldAR), by using a latch and pivot point between your upper and lower receiver. 

Either way, you can fold and unfold your rifle within seconds.

Folding AR-15s from the factory are rare, so many of these options will be adapters. However, we will cover a couple of rifles as well.

How Do Folding Stocks Work?

Folding stocks use two adapters that work on a hinge and go between your buffer tube and upper receiver (with your castle nut and end plate on the side of the buffer tube).

You’ll also need an adapter for the back of your bolt carrier group since there will be about an extra inch to an inch and a half between it and the buffer tube.

The folding adaptor functions with a button on the side. When you fold it, a button has to be pressed to unlock the hinge and let the stock swing out. When folded, the hinge will lock back into place.

Voila. A folded stock.

Best Foldable AR-15s & Recommendations

ImageProductPrice
Law Tactical Gen 3 Stock AdapterBest Overall – Law Tactical Gen 3 Stock Adapter
Sylvan Gen 3 AdapterRunner Up – Sylvan Gen 3 Adapter
SIG Sauer MCX Spear-LTBest Folding AR-15 – Sig Sauer MCX Spear LT
Law Tactical ARICBest For Firing When Folded – Law Tactical ARIC
Shield Arms SA-15 Lower ReceiverBest Built-In Folding Adapter – Shield Arms SA-15 Lower Receiver
FOLDAR MOBETTA CONCEALED CARRY RIFLEBest Breakdown AR – FoldAR 

Best Overall – Law Tactical Gen 3 Stock Adapter

Law Tactical Gen 3 Stock Adapter

Specifications

Weight8.5 Ounces
Overall Length1.3 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • QD Sling attachment slot 
  • Machined from 4140 Hardened Steel 
  • Built specifically for duty use 
  • Made in the USA
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Hefty

When it comes to AR folding adapters, there are none as proven as the Law Tactical AR adapter. It’s rugged, robust, and built for duty rifles. Every time you fold the stock, it locks into place firmly and is flatter than any other adapter on the market.

Law Tactical Gen 3 Stock Adapter
Law Tactical Gen 3 Stock Adapter via brownells

My favorite feature of the Law Tactical Gen 3 Adapter is that it’s made from steel, not aluminum, like other folding stock adapters. Sure, this adds weight. Not a considerable amount, but some.

Still, I’d rather have a steel folding stock adapter. If I’m going to have another point of failure on my rifle, I want it to be as sturdy as possible. I’ve never had any issues with a Law Tactical adapter, and I don’t feel that I will either.

Law Tactical Gen 3
Law Tactical Gen 3 Stock Adapter via brownells

It works with every mil-spec rifle you can get your hands on, so you don’t have to worry about fitment. If you’re looking for the best adapter on the market, you’ve found it.

It is rather expensive, like any other adapter on the market (aside from the next one), but that’s what you pay for a good kit.

Runner Up – Sylvan Gen 3 Adapter

Sylvan Gen 3 Adapter

Specifications

Weight6 Ounces
Overall Length1.3 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • The flat top doesn’t interfere with the charging handle 
  • Pivot assembly doesn’t hit your thumb when using the charging handle 
  • Made from 7075-T6 Aluminum
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Heavy

7075-T6 Aluminum is excellent for many things: charging handles, upper receivers, lower receivers, handguards, you name it.

Sylvan Gen 3 Adapter
Sylvan Gen 3 Adapter via sylvanarms/IG

It’s what all the best manufacturers are using on their AR-15s these days, and that’s what the Sylvan Gen 3 adapter is machined from. Not some cheaper grade aluminum that increases the risk of malfunctions.

Sylvan Gen 3 Adapter on AR-15
Sylvan Gen 3 Adapter via palmettostatearmory

If you haven’t seen the Gen 2 version, then you won’t notice that the top of the adapter is flat. This is to make sure your adapter doesn’t block you from using your charging handle. That would be bad.

The hinge is also low profile, so your palm and fingers won’t get scratched up from hitting it. That sucks when it’s cold…I know from experience.

It’s another expensive adapter, but again, you pay for what you get.

Best Folding AR-15 – Sig Sauer MCX Spear LT

SIG Sauer MCX Spear-LT 5.56 NATO 16" Barrel Semi-Automatic Rifle with Folding Stock, Coyote Brown, 30-Round Capacity
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Specifications

Caliber5.56×45
Weight7.5 Pounds
Overall Length34.3 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It’s a Sig 
  • Robust and durable 
  • Fire when folded
Cons
  • Can’t change the stock
  • More expensive than it should be 
  • Heavy
  • The handguard has been known to flex

What has an odd gas system, a multi-tone coyote paint job, a flexing handguard, and is far more expensive than it should be?

sig sauer mcx spear lt review

You would be correct if you guessed the Sig Sauer MCX Spear line of rifles, including the LT. But, since we are discussing folding AR-15s, we must mention the Spear LT.

There’s only one real benefit to going with a Spear LT over a regular AR-15, and that benefit would be that the folding adapter was built into the system, so you’re less likely to run into any issues that you would with one that wasn’t meant to be in there like gassing issues.

sig standard mcx vs mcx spear lt
Sig Sauer standard MCX vs MCX Spear LT

This can be fixed easily. And for well under $2,500.

For that price, you can even get a solid Noveske Chainsaw rifle; throw a Law Adapter in there with an ARIC and still have enough money to tune your firearm to fire with the added weight of the BCG adapter.

However, the Sig MCX Spear LT is still a fine rifle. And if you have the money, go for it.

Check out our Sig MCX Spear LT review here.

Best For Firing When Folded – Law Tactical ARIC

Law Tactical ARIC

Specifications

Weight10 Ounces (Estimated)
Length7 Inches (Estimated)

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Allows fire when folded
  • Works best with the Law Tactical Gen 3 Adapter
  • Requires no tools for installation/field stripping
Cons
  • Expensive 
  • Two different bolt carrier groups for suppressed/unsuppressed shooting

If you want the ability to fire your rifle with the stock folded, you’ll have to do a little extra work to make it all possible. The ARIC from Law Tactical is a one-piece buffer/bolt carrier group attached to a spring.

Law Tactical ARIC
Law Tactical ARIC via lawtactical.aric/IG

This allows your bolt carrier to reciprocate and chamber a round while the other part of the carrier acts as a buffer and allows you to fire the rifle with the stock closed.

Law Tactical ARIC folding
Law Tactical ARIC via lawtactical.aric/IG

It is mighty expensive, though. It’s almost as expensive as your premium bolt carrier groups. With the Law Tactical stock adapter and the ARIC, you’re looking at nearly $700 extra in your folding rifle build.

Best Built-In Folding Adapter – Shield Arms SA-15 Lower Receiver

Shield Arms SA-15 Lower Receiver

Specifications

Weight12.4 oz
Length7.75 inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It is as cheap as most of the adapters on the list
  • Machined from 7075-T6 Aluminum
  • Built-in folding hinge 
  • Works with any stock
Cons
  • Requires an FFL

If you don’t mind involving your local gun store, changing the lower receiver to one with a built-in folding adapter can save you money and headaches in the long term. This a great find if you are building your AR and haven’t found a solid lower yet.

Shield Arms SA-15 Lower Receiver
Shield Arms SA-15 Lower Receiver via shieldarms

Since it’s a stripped lower, you’ll have to throw in your trigger, safety, and all that fun stuff to get it shooting. It also works with any upper receiver on the market, so you don’t have to worry about your BCM or PSA upper having fitment issues.

Shield Arms SA-15 Lower Receiver on SA-9
Shield Arms SA-15 Lower Receiver via shield.arms/IG

While it is inexpensive, durability shouldn’t be a concern because it’s machined from 7075-T6 Aluminum and is hard-coat anodized.

It’s solid and a great way to save money on your folding AR-15 build.

Best Breakdown AR – FoldAR 

FOLDAR MOBETTA CONCEALED CARRY RIFLE

Specifications

Caliber5.56 NATO/6.5 Grendel/.300 Blackout
Weight6.8 lbs
Length (folded – overall)17-⅝  – 32-⅞ Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Comes with upgraded furniture
  • Plenty of Picatinny and M-LOK space
  • Cerakote finish from the factory helps to avoid rust 
  • Easy to fold and deploy within seconds
  • Comes with a 5.11 Tactical MOAB pack if bought from the website
Cons
  • Exposed bolt face can gather debris and cause seating issues
  • Opened gas tube can allow debris into the gas system
  • Expensive

I’ve encountered one FoldAR in passing when some guy at the range was using it as a party trick.

foldar
FoldAR via officialfoldar/IG

“Bro, watch this,” he says to me. I have to admit we both jumped around like cavemen when they discovered fire. I was completely unaware of the company. And after he put the handguard back in line with the upper, he blasted through 200 rounds of M855 flawlessly.

I was intrigued.

Like a folding stock, a hinge on the left-hand side of the firearm allows the handguard to swivel and tuck next to the upper receiver.

FOLDAR MOBETTA CONCEALED CARRY RIFLE
FoldAR via foldar

And when you’re ready to get it back online, just line it up and push the QD levers forward, and you’re ready to go.

All of the FoldARs are milled from 7075-T6 Aluminum, so there is no sacrifice in durability, and I’ve heard great things about the longevity of FoldARs, including the guy from the range who carries it in his truck.

No one else on the market offers a folding AR-15 in this capacity, nor does any folding stock cut the length in half like the FoldAR. It’s way easier to fit in a pack than an AR-15 with a folding stock.

So, if you want the ultimate concealable folding AR, consider the FoldAR line of rifles.

How We Chose Our Top Picks:

The folding adapter support is relatively small. There aren’t many out there, and once you’ve used one, you’ve used them all. Still, we picked the ones we would run on our rifles if we used folding adapters.

We have used them but opted to ditch them and, instead, simply separate the upper from the lower or run an SBR. While they offer some storage assistance, folding adapters have more downsides than upsides.

Still, after getting our hands on a bunch of cheap adapters that we wouldn’t use at all, picking the best ones was relatively easy.

Buyer’s Guide

Aside from deciding which rifle to run, there are some other factors you should think over before slamming down your hard-earned money. Everything from the legalities of folding AR-15s in certain states to the best attachments to maximize your rifle’s effectiveness.

Let’s get the law out before we go crazy on parts.

Legalities Of Folding AR-15s

Owning an AR-15 with a folding stock typically isn’t illegal as long as you don’t make it an SBR. But that isn’t necessarily the case in every state. Of course, you have states like California, which don’t allow collapsible or folding stocks.

And states with “assault weapon” bans don’t qualify for importing parts that will enable you to make a folding AR-15.

It’s always best to check your local, state, and federal laws to see if it’s legal for you to own one.

Owning A Folding SBR

Owning a folding SBR is like owning a regular SBR but with a folding stock. This is the ultimate way to get your AR-15 down as small as possible, opening more doors for concealability options.

Trust me, it’s hard to conceal even a 14.5-inch BCM with a folding stock. There is always the option of separating the rifle (upper from lower) and carrying it in a pack that way, but then you wouldn’t need a folding stock, and it takes longer to get in the action.

Still, all this is subject to law. You don’t want to get caught with a folded AR-15 in your car in a place like NJ or NY, I’ll tell you that. Again, check your local, state, and federal laws first.

Advantages Of Folding AR-15s

Portability

As I stated in the introduction of this article and a few other places, the ability to have your AR-15 be as compact as possible is why any shooter would want a folding AR-15 in the first place. The more compact it is, the easier it is to conceal and get around with.

Uses For A Folding AR-15

Due to how compact it is, folding AR-15s are an excellent option for those looking for a solid backup gun, whether in the truck, in a backpack, or wherever else you may need it.

I like a folding 13.7-inch AR-15 for the car. With a pin and welded Surefire Warcomp, it comes out to 16 inches precisely and is still short enough for a suppressor not to add too much length.

I have friends who keep a folded AR-15 in their truck or car door, and some keep it in a backpack on the passenger seat. You just never know when you will need it.

Disadvantages Of Folding AR-15s

Weight

Something that isn’t mentioned too often is the amount of weight that an adapter puts on the back of your rifle. If you thought they were lightweight, I got some bad news.

These things can weigh the same as a loaded ten or 20-round magazine.

Does that matter? Well, it depends. Any extra weight that may have to be carried over a distance has to be considered carefully. If it’s primarily going to be in the truck, and you likely wouldn’t have to carry it over extreme distances to get home in a SHTF scenario, then it may not matter too much.

Added Point Of Failure

Like any significant mechanical alteration done to a firearm, putting an adapter on your AR-15 can cause issues, whereas there wouldn’t be any if you didn’t have an adapter.

AR-15s aren’t designed to be used with a foldable stock. While no guaranteed significant issues come with using one, it is something to consider.

Longer Length Pull

Adapters are longer than regular end plates. With a typical size of 1.3 inches, you can expect your shoulder to be farther from the trigger than usual when shouldering your AR-15.

That may not be a big deal to some shooters, but others may want to make sure they have the reach to shoot properly and efficiently with the extra 1.3 Inches.

Can’t Fire While Folded

Unless you have specific parts that allow you to fire the rifle when folded, like the ARIC from Law Tactical, then a folding adapter will only benefit storage.

If you want to shoot with it folded, you will need more than an adapter.

Please do not try to shoot your AR when the stock is folded. This could cause damage to the rifle and you.

Attachments For Folding AR-15s

Optics

Primary Arms SLx 3x MicroPrism mounted on BCM Recce MCMR

Finding the right sight for your rifle will be one of the first things you do since most rifles don’t come with iron sights. There are dozens of different types of sights that you can put on a gun.

From red dots to LPVOs, it all boils down to how much you want to spend and what you’re trying to accomplish with the firearm. Most likely, you will run a red dot on it since it will be used for close range and has a shorter barrel.

Still, LPVOs are an excellent option for those who want a “get home gun” where they might find themselves on foot moving behind the trees, trying to stay off the main road.

Again, it boils down to your personal needs and preferences. I have an EOTech EXPS3 with a 3x magnifier on my truck gun. It’s the best of both worlds, although it’s heavier.

Flashlights

No firearm in a self-defense role should ever be without one.

If something happens at night, seeing what’s out there is paramount for survival and staying on the right side of the law.

Flashlights can get pretty expensive. I spent the equivalent of a Glock 19x on my setup. But, it is invaluable when outfitting a rifle. Not only can it help you see in the dark, but a beam of bright light to the eyes can rob an attacker of their sight and take the fight right out of them.

Make sure you don’t go without one.

Check out our recommended AR-15 flashlights here.

Foregrips

A foregrip or hand stop gives you enough extra surface area to pull back on and grip the front of your rifle.

They also help with maneuverability or swinging your muzzle around more controllably.

Be careful with this since AR Pistols are not allowed to have 90º vertical foregrips. 

Muzzle Devices

Having a particular muzzle device on your folding AR-15 is an excellent way to ensure that you have the proper mounting host for your suppressor later on (should you go that route).

A standard A2 flash hider won’t work here, so you may want to get a barrel without one of the darn things pinned and welded. Not that they can’t be taken off, but it’s a pain to do.

Usually, I recommend the Surefire Warcomp. Of course, there are plenty of options available that would work just as well, too.

Before putting on a muzzle device, ensure the suppressor you want will fit it. This way, you don’t waste money or have to spend time replacing it down the road.

IR Devices

If you’re one of those shooters who will have night vision in your get-home bag, then I’m sure you already know to make sure you make space for the IR device on your folding AR.

I would recommend the B.E. Meyers MAWL in this situation since it’s so compact. If you’re not worried about sticking to a compact option, a Steiner DBAL will work great, too.

FAQs:

Can I customize a folding AR-15 like a traditional AR-15?

You can customize a folding AR-15 in many ways, like a traditional AR-15, with some exceptions.

If you have an AR pistol, specific pieces, like a 90º foregrip and a regular buttstock, aren’t allowed on your rifle. If you have a traditional AR-15 that isn’t an AR pistol, you can customize it however you wish (with legal parts and components, of course).

What are the potential drawbacks of a folding AR-15?

A few potential drawbacks of folding AR-15s are being unable to fire it when folded, gassing issues, extra weight, the added length of pull, and an additional failure point. Use your best judgment when choosing one, and don’t skimp on the quality. I genuinely recommend the Law Tactical Gen 3 adapter.

How reliable is the folding mechanism on AR-15s?

It is as reliable as you pay for it to be. If you compare the Law Tactical Gen 3 adapter constructed from steel with a no-name adapter constructed from aluminum, you can bet the Law Tactical adapter will be more rigid and durable.

Conclusion

There you have it. Pretty much all the folding adapters and a couple of rifles are worth their respective costs and will allow you to have an awesome folding AR-15.  

Again, I recommend the Law Tactical folding adapter, mainly due to its steel construction and proven reliability. However, many adapters can accomplish the task of allowing you to fold your AR-15, but choose wisely if it’s going to be installed on a rifle you will be protecting your life with.

Remember, it’s going to cost you. And it’ll weigh you down. Take it all into consideration before you dive in and start modifying your AR-15.

Be good and take care.

Written by Brian Zerbian
Brian Zerbian photo Brian is a USMC Veteran and avid gun enthusiast from New Jersey who loves to spend his time shooting, writing, listening to classic rock, and learning new things. His goal is to help new gun owners and people who are getting into guns get all the best knowledge in the simplest ways. With no technical jargon and seasoned with fun.
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