Folding Stock Adapter Comparison Pt. 1

1.2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.

1. Doublestar Ace FSA, 2. SB Tactical BTFA, 3. Sylvan Arms FSA 4. MDT Carbine|Carbine FSA,
5. UTG/Leapers FSA, 6. XLR FSA 7. Law Tactical FSA (and clones) 8. Hera Arms SFU

Folding stocks are great. They let us collapse the overall length of our rifles for easier transport or carrying. Folding stocks started on guns that were commonly carried by troops like tankers and truck drivers and, most notably, paratroopers. Airplanes and vehicles are confining places. If you’re stuck with a 4ft long gun all the time, you’re going to be bumping into shit and flagging everyone else that happens to live through being around you. Shortening the weapon system made it safer to have a number of armed men all packed like sardines in a can.

Solutio? Folding that butt stock over the side of the rifle is a heck of a good start. It’s an easy way to cut a full foot off of the average rifle or carbine. Of course as soon as you solve any one problem with technology, you end up creating new ones. With folding stocks, the act of folding them over can interfere with the operation of the weapon. When deciding on a weapon and a folding stock mechanism, one should know if they’re going to want to fire while folded and select accordingly.

Some time back in history Law Tactical came out with what is considered by many to be kind of the gold standard of folding stock adapters for AR-15’s. Their system is clever, durable and functional. There’s only 1 way they could have made it any better which would be being able to shoot with the stock folded. Doing that is impossible with the normal operational mechanism of the AR-15 platform. So, it’s a pretty big win for Law Tactical to hit all the other nails so squarely on their heads.

Since Law Tactical came out with their unit criminals in China and the USA have copied the design and produced thousands of poor quality units from inferior materials. At the same time additional players have entered the market with their own, occasionally original, designs. Law Tactical doesn’t go out and whine though. They know that if you want the best, you’ll get their unit and if you don’t, you won’t and there’s nothing they can do to change your mind.

What nobody has done so far is try to break every single one of them and compare and contrast them for appropriateness on bolt action rifles. So here at BallisticXLR, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re looking at the available designs with an eye to how well they’ll work on a bolt action rifle that gets used roughly. We’re looking for function, materials selection, ergonomics, lockup when closed, lockup when open, engagement surface wear-in, accumulated dings/dents, and then if they work on gas guns, we’ll check that all out on a gas gun too.

To look at each of those areas we have formalized a testing regime. Each test is worth 1 point and fractional points are allowed. Beyond those functional points we’ll be looking subjectively at the lot and taking a critical eye to each design. Hopefully at the end we can find a set of criteria that make selecting an adapter easy and we might just inspire someone to make the next coolest thing.

  1. Materials – Steel 1pt, 7075 Al .75pt, 6061 AL .5pt, pot metal .25pt, glass 0pt.
  2. Lock-open Detent – Locks in the open position as well as the closed position.
  3. Surface Pre-test- Inspect surface finish of all surfaces. No wear 1pt, light scratches .75pt, dents .5pt, galling .25pt, breakage 0pt.
  4. Installation – comes with all tools/parts/etc… needed for installation.
  5. Installation – comes with instructions for installation.
  6. Installation – instructions are easily followed and include useful pictures or pictographic representations which are easily identified.
  7. Tuning – Methods exist to close buffer tube interface tolerances to zero. both ends 1pt, 1 end .5pt, none at all 0pt.
  8. Snap Close – 10 snap closures with no dents/dings/breakage/failure to lock
  9. Snap Open – 10 snap opening with no dents/dings/breakage/failure to lock/unlock
  10. Barricade Bash – run prone, 3-step barricade, prone exercise 5x
  11. Wiggle Check – Prone w/ bipod loaded
  12. Wiggle Check – Prone w/ bipod unloaded
  13. Wiggle Check – Prone w/ bipod reverse loaded
  14. Wiggle Check – Torque load
  15. Wiggle Check – Bending load
  16. Wiggle Check – Shear load
  17. Ergonomics – does not invade grip space on bolt gun 1pt, gas gun 1pt
  18. Ergonomics – sharp edges, pinchy parts, etc…
  19. Surface Post-test- Inspect surface finish of all surfaces. No wear 1pt, light scratches .75pt, dents .5pt, galling .25pt, breakage 0pt.
  20. Compactness – Measured by water displacement. Rank order based on number of units in test total. Divide 10 by that number to get the rank order point total. Top gets 1 point. Bottom gets 0 points.

Law Tactical Folding Stock Adapter – $239-269 retail vs. Facebook Knock-off: $58 retail

So far we’ve tested a knock-off of the Law Tactical unit as well as the real thing. The real deal Law Tactical FSA is stupid strong and really works well at everything it does. Guns with really touchy gas systems or that are a bit undergassed may experience cycling issues but that’s easily treated with a change to buffer, spring or gas port. The Law tactical unit is so good that I’m really surprised that they don’t get factory equipped on TONS of AR’s. In fact, the Law Tactical unit is so good that it is the benchmark against which all others will be measured (with the exception of the water displacement test which we won’t know the results of for a while). That being the case, the Law Tactical comes out with an otherwise perfect benchmark score of 19. I have good reason to believe that it will not scrape up the extra point for a perfect 20 because I know some of the other units are a bit smaller.

The first new unit tested was pretty obvious about how it was going to turn out as it was advertised on Facebook at a price point that simply couldn’t be done with good materials. It was purchased just to see how bad something could be and still have thousands of units sold. Well, how bad was it? It broke during installation so it couldn’t have possibly done much worse. Even if it hadn’t broken so early, given where it broke it would have broken very early in the more physical of the remaining tests and would not have scored any of those points. That’s pretty pathetic.

The Chinese unit was found on Facebook. It was ordered on September 5th and arrived on October 24th (~50 days to deliver), mailed from New York City in an envelope littered with Chinese characters. An obvious re-ship despite the ad saying “Made in the USA”. I’d actually stopped expecting it to show up at all and just counted that $58 as a loss. In addition to all the other shady shit going on with this thing, the PayPal transaction showed that the seller was involved in selling “Clothing” which was a lie as their actual market space is a violation of the PayPal ToS.


The locking hasp for the Chinese unit
showing deep dings in the ramp
and the nose busted clean off.

The unit was made of partly what seems to be very light/low density aluminum alloy but all the little parts that go inside it are made of what appears to be pot metal or an even lower grade of aluminum alloy that has all the strength of egg shells from very small birds. If you tried to do something this badly, I don’t think that you could. Since it’s the same size as the Law unit, we’ll assume it won’t do very well on the displacement test either. Both the Law and the fake Law do invade the area behind the web of your thumb when put on a pure carbine tube interface on bolt action rifles like that on my gen 1 MDT LSS chassis but, it does not do that on AR-15’s or bolt action chassis that were meant to take the taller, teardrop shaped fixed stock interface.

Our unit broke at the locking pin that keeps it closed. The nose of that just snapped off the first time it was given a snap close. Prior to snap closing a couple tries at more slowly closing it didn’t work. That was the reason for trying to snap it closed. You can see on the picture above that each of the gentle attempts to close it actually damaged this part. When I followed that up with a snap closing, the poor quality material made its opinion heard. So the Facebook / Chinese Law clone graduates with 2.4 points earned so far out of a possble 19.

XLR Industries Folding Stock Adapter – $115 retail

This was only the third unit to arrive for testing and, boy, we could not have had a better counterpoint to the garbage from China. Nicely made, clearly aluminum but good strong aluminum (I’m betting 7075 but can’t confirm yet). I’ve bashed this thing around really hard trying to get it to break but it just won’t. I’ve done the barricade bashing and live fire range testing and all the other tests. The designer should feel really good about their work. It’s a small unit full of very clever ways to deal with inevitable issues native to folding stocks being put where they maybe weren’t originally intended to go.

There’s just the tiniest amount of audible jiggle in there but I can’t tell where. You can only get an idea that it’s not a single piece by shaking it roughly. The lockup is really tight and is adjustable through a very clever and dead simple adjustment screw. A standard castle nut on the rear holds that side firm. The chassis to adapter interface is rock solid and like the rest of it, clever. Cinching up the adapter to the chassis side and getting it clocked properly is the easiest of any unit tested so far.

The method to add drag to the folding mechanism is simple and easy to use but I wish it’d let me add a little more drag. At some point the screw you snug up for that just doesn’t turn anymore but there’s still not that much drag on the mechanism. The drag helps to keep the thing in the open position when folded but it’s not quite enough to deal with the weight of my XLR Tactical stock and full length buffer tube if I shake the thing vigorously while holding the whole contraption horizontal. It did just fine for a vigorous hike while stowed on a pack frame, in that it didn’t come loose and bang me in the back of the head. On the other side of the coin, it can hold itself open on a hike and still take a flick to make it snap closed, which is neat. This is only possible because there is no need to unlock from the open position. The lack of a ‘real’ lock-open feature still cost it half of that point. It doesn’t have to be a hard lock, just a ball detent that can hold it open.

From a compactness standpoint it’s looking like it should end up as the #2 or #3 smallest (that test is the last test and I’m still waiting for my new graduated cylinder to arrive). Where it really wins is on price. It’s quite a bit cheaper than all but the Ebay/Facebook/ripoff or the UTG (both of whose low prices should ring alarm bells) and it’s right on par with the DoubleStar unit. $115 is not a lot to spend on such a well made gizmo and against the $150 average buy-in for most of the others, it’s a pretty decently low cost option.

From order to delivery took 6 days and notifications came via email the entire time. All in all it got 18.5 of the 19 points it could have so far and it’s fast becoming a personal favorite. Since it doesn’t work with gas guns we’ll ignore gas gun performance. Because it doesn’t work with gas guns we should then assume that the designers were able to use area previously carved out for bolt carriers to cycle though and put it to use doing something useful for a bolt action rifle. Given the tight lockup, I’m glad they only pursued one mission.

UTG/Leapers AK-47 Folding Stock Adapter – $15 retail

Well, this is the least expensive unit by FAR. 5x cheaper than the next cheapest and ~10x cheaper than the average. Definitely made of aluminum and lacking in pretty much any kind of sophistication. That’s ok. Keeps prices down. It also is not capable of being what it advertises itself to be because it is obviously for AR-15 pattern interfaces, not AK-47 interfaces. It’s unclear how much we should expect from this thing but we’ll keep an open mind and report back next week. The unit was ordered on October 24th and is set to arrive on November 9th. A single shipping notice was sent when it was shipped. If someone were really smart they’d take this design and make it out of steel with very snug tolerances. I betcha that would be a heck of a unit.

Continue to part 2.
Continue to part 3.
Continue to Part 4.

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