Folding Stock Adapter Comparison Pt. 6


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

The Sylvan Arms Folding Stock Adapter…
Not going far enough.

Because this might seem overly harsh, I’m putting my final paragraph at the top and the bottom so the TLDR crowd doesn’t get the wrong idea: In the end, Sylvan made a decent part. The machining is masterfully done without any visible tool marks and with ultra smooth surfaces and tight clearances. I’m not excited about the finish wear and dings on the lockup faces, the hinge height interfering with knuckles and the fact that the hold-open detent is for shit but the rest of it is great for a gas gun. The only way you can make yourself totally unsatisfied with it is to expect too much of 7075 aluminum or to put it on a bolt action rifle.

Other than the Chinese garbage pail kid and the Law Tactical, this is the only unit designed for gas-gun use that’s being tested (For right now. I’m hoping to get a Dead Foot Arms unit too.). Some salt has to be given to the amount of harsh criticism you’ll find below because the other units didn’t saddle themselves with gas gun compatibility so they could make much more excellent designs for use with bolt action rifles than Law/Sylvan/China could with a gas-gun compatible design. That said, it’s not a Law Tactical and should not be confused with one. They’re on similar but separate planets.

Like I said, it’s not a Law Tactical and that’s for sure. It does the job of alternately folding and extending well enough. It locks closed very nicely and very securely with only a tiny amount of wiggle in the lockup which is easily treated with a bit of masking tape. Locking closed is something it’s committed to doing well.

It lightly considers, on the other hand, the notion of locking in the open position before deciding firmly against that path. The button you push to open it is un-gated and sticks out enough that I guess you could theoretically inadvertently press it but I don’t think that an inadvertent press is going to matter a cold squirt of piss worth. I tried on both a bolt gun and an AR-15 to break the stock open while behind it and pressing the button against a barricade but it didn’t work. All I could do is screw up my aim and hurt my wrist.

Here’s their instructional video for the Gen3 version.

Installation is really quite straightforward but they annoyed me with the actual instructions. Worse than MDT’s effort, Sylvan’s was instead an infuriating direction to go and watch a fucking YouTube video. Normally this might be considered an OK, even helpful, thing but the one there is presented by some gal that doesn’t seem to have full confidence in her actions or the script and so, in the end, she inspires as much confidence in the instructions as a Trabant might in its ability to be “reliable transportation”.

FYI to Sylvan Arms: Gun bunnies have to be hot to be gun bunnies. It’s in the dictionary. Back to business… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-lwRVkl0zQ that’s a gun bunny (although, I have to mention that Brickell/AGC is an example of what happens when you pick the pieces to your ideal woman before seeing them all assembled together. Mistakes are made.)

Construction is reportedly 7075 Aluminum but, I found more beneath the covers. The lockup pin on the receiver-side block is steel, or at least ferrous. The locking tab that gets captured by that pin is aluminum and that greatly concerns me. The reason for the concern is that the lockup bits exhibited definite finish wear and got dinged up quite a bit by opening #4. Some of the marks really concern me given their depth and width. I think all of the lockup bits should be steel, period. This design doesn’t seem very good place to mix aluminum and steel. Breakage seems like it will be eventual.

The ball bearings that act as detent balls are hard-as-fuck bearing steel like you’d expect. They are way harder than the hinge material though and since the detent groove is in the hinge itself the balls are just chewing the hell out of the corner of the detent groove, peening it into uselessness, and they’re progressively carving grooves in the hinge itself. It gradually makes the hold-open detent more and more non-functional and it does this early in the life of the product. This suggests that materials selection and widget design were not taken together on this feature. I suspect that the decision to go with aluminum was done to hit either a lower price point or a higher profit margin and what usually happens happened. If you add features to a thing and don’t change the price, then some included feature(s) have to be less well implemented. In this case, they compromised the Law design by using a material it wasn’t meant to use and came out with a product that’s not up to snuff when measured against its ferrous forebear.

If you’ve felt like the criticisms were a-plenty, now’s your respite. Functionality wise, it operates mostly as you’d guess except for not locking open for shit. It operates just fine as a stock extension on both AR’s and bolt guns and it does fold and it doesn’t hinder closed functionality. WELL, It caused me no major hassles on my AR-15 but it might on yours. On my AR-15 there is a scope mounted super low so the charging handle has to be gripped from the top only. You can’t really get a good handle on it from the side anyway. If you go from the side with a Sylvan in place, scope or no scope, you’ll rap your knuckles on the hinge. It’s annoying, not painful but it’s still annoying and might cause you to lose your grip on the charging handle.

One other thing to note here, the bolt carrier extension it comes with is pretty heavy. No heavier than the Law unit but still, should be mentioned. The Chinese unit’s extension weighed under an ounce and feels like it was cast from pot metal. The Sylvan feels like ~3oz. Heavy enough to possibly change how your gun cycles if you’re already on the edge of your gas system being not gassed hard enough. Since I have personally never encountered an AR-15 that wasn’t over-gassed like a bitch, I’ll note that this problem is entirely theoretical for any but an extreme minority of AR owners.

Certain elements of the design are purely to satisfy AR-15 use and we have to give lip service to that fact because it compromises the bolt-action use case. One such element is how far below the buffer tube it extends. Well, on an AR-15 that’s basically unnoticeable in daily use. On a bolt gun it is obviously sticking out like a sore ‘friggin thumb. It’s not in the way really but it is there and it’s ugly as hell on a bolt gun. Looks like a wart on an ass.

I can’t say I’m disappointed in this unit for what it is meant to be so much as I think anyone using it on a bolt gun should be disappointed in themselves for not choosing a bolt-gun specific unit. It’s a gas gun unit, not a bolt gun unit and pretty much any bolt-gun unit is going to be better on a bolt gun. Duh. In the end, it’s basically a Law Tactical clone that is close but still not the real deal. From a huge hold-open detent that doesn’t do actually that, to the hardened steel ball bearings grinding grooves into to the aluminum hinge to the lockup face that begins to show wear nearly instantly. This is not confidence inspiring. I’m happy enough with it to leave it resident on an AR-15 but I would personally buy a Law or a Dead Foot Arms unit given my druthers. In this case, I’ll end up popping for the DFA and sending this unit to a good friend of mine who’d better be reading this article. Right, Bruwer?

Don’t use screwdrivers as hammers! On the points system, it got 9 of 19 points. The Sylvan lost points everywhere it could by not being used as intended. Even the UTG beat the points count that the Sylvan reaped, mostly because the UTG was not made for a gas gun and the UTG is a real double locking design. On the value scale it got .05 which is smack in between the Law Tactical and the Chinese garbage pail kid. On the arbitrary points (stars) scale, this gets 2 stars (ONLY as applied to bolt action rifles) which ties them UTG on that scale but it does it at 10x the price. As a gas gun unit, looking only at how it works on my AR-15, it’d get 3 stars because it’s markedly better at doing that job than the bolt gun job.

These things retail for $180 plus shipping. That I got mine on sale for $119 plus shipping isn’t relevant because even for $119 plus shipping it’s too damned much money for what you get by a long way IF you use it on a bolt action. If you use it on a gas gun, then you’re getting more for your money by a long way but I question if you’re getting the best from your money and I question whether or not there is a way to quantitatively answer that question. I see only qualitative answers.

On the objective points scale, well it did pretty badly there with only 9 points of 19 but, that’s why we have multiple scales to measure with. No scale will always tell you what you’re asking it to. I would personally rate it much higher than the UTG just based on the lack of blood blisters and the more sophisticated design and better materials. I would not treat it as roughly as I might a UTG unit though. So even if we’re considerate and give it some benefit of the doubt for being cross-compatible between bolt-guns and gas-guns, for a bolt-gun it’s pretty much ass and for a gas-gun it’s nothing compared to its Law Tactical big brother in durability or wise materials selection. For gas guns it’s not much more costly to go Law Tactical and for bolt guns literally any other design except the UTG would be a better option.

All the above said, I’m not yet certain that nowadays I’d pop for a Law Tactical for my AR-15 in any event. It’s not that important for me to fold that gun up that I’d make it temporarily unusable for the ability to do so. I mean, granted I have two that are folders NOW but that’s a result being young and dumb in the past and of this test and not wasting money. The tacticool factor isn’t really my jam either. I laugh at people that go too far off the tacticool cliff. I might, however, just pop for the Dead Foot Arms unit though because what you get for doubling the price over a Law unit is fire when folded and that could be a big value add to me if it doesn’t run afoul of my state’s assault weapons laws (FYI, it does). The DFA unit is basically pointless on a bolt gun because they didn’t compromise the design to allow a normal AR-15 bolt carrier to be used. They said, “Fuck that. I want my fire when folded and if that means a new bolt carrier, screw you then. New bolt carrier it is.”

Because this might seem overly harsh, I’m putting my final paragraph at the top and the bottom so the TLDR crowd doesn’t get the wrong idea: In the end, Sylvan made a decent part. The machining is masterfully done without any visible tool marks and with ultra smooth surfaces and tight clearances. I’m not excited about the finish wear and dings on the lockup faces, the hinge height interfering with knuckles and the fact that the hold-open detent is for shit but the rest of it is great for a gas gun. The only way you can make yourself totally unsatisfied with it is to expect too much of 7075 aluminum or to put it on a bolt action rifle.

part 1.
part 2.
part 3.
part 4.
Mid-Series Check-in.
part 5.
part 6.
Declaring the Winners