Sig MCX folded and stored in a bag

Best Folding AR-15 [2022 Guide & Review]

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Folding rifles are all the rage right now and for good reason, they’re handy and easy to travel with!

But folding America’s favorite rifle the AR-15 can be a little tricky. The options are limited and good options are even rarer. 

We’ve got the best rifles, the best lowers, and the best adopters for all of your AR folding needs!

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What Are Folding AR-15s?

It really is what it sounds like — AR-15s that fold in half (mostly). Generally, this means the stock will fold to the side making the rifle or pistol much smaller in overall footprint.

Why would you do this? Simple, to make it easier to store or pack.

Best Folding AR-15
Law Tactical Gen 3 Folding AR Adapter

Maybe you want a truck gun, maybe you want to store an AR-15 in your GoBag, maybe you just want something smaller so you can covertly tuck it in a smaller bag when you go to the range.

The reasons are endless but the result is the same — a rifle that fits in less space.

Folding does make it a lot thicker, but that is normally not a huge deal.

The main downside to a folded AR is that the rifle generally can’t fire while folded. Or if it does fire, you get 1 shot before it spontaneously disassembles itself.

Since you can’t fire while folded, getting your rifle out and into action can take a few seconds longer. Is that a big deal? Depends on your use case.

The Truth Hurts

Okay, we need to face the facts here. The AR-15 is amazing at a lot of things but folding simply isn’t one of them.

Sure, there are ways to do it and ways to cludge it together but the fact remains… the AR-15 just isn’t very suited to it.

Looking at rifles like the AK series, SCARs, AR-180s, Sig Sauer MCX that are actually designed and well suited to have folding stocks — the standard AR-15 falls way short.

Underfolding AK-47
Underfolding AK-47s belonging to the Peshmerga(Kurdish branch of the Iraqi Army)

If you want the best folding goodness possible, you might have to look outside of the AR-15 platform.

However, you can still get fairly close even with an AR-15.

The Best Folding AR-15s

FoldAR Complete Rifle

Hey man, we heard you like folding — so we made your folding rifle fold some more.

FoldAR is the foldyiest (that’s a real word, just trust me) AR-15 that you can get. Not only does it fold at the stock but it also folds at the chamber area too.

This double-fold turns a normal-sized rifle into a super small little package.

Best Folding AR-15 FoldAR
FoldAR — oh ya, that’s some folding action

A 16-inch barreled FoldAR rifle packs down to just 17 inches when folded up.

Not small enough? Grab a 9-inch barreled pistol and you’ll have a folded pistol with just 10 inches of length.

Really the magic that FoldAR designed was an upper that folds — the stock folding is done by way of a Dead Foot Arms MCS adapter (more on this later).

If you want just a FoldAR, that is a lot easier to find. Combo this with or without a folding lower and you’re ready to rock and roll.

I know the FoldAR looks weird, but I’ve actually gotten to shoot them are it’s shockingly smooth to unfold and get into action. 

What really blew me away is that it retains zero like a champ. 

The bad news? Your wallet will take some bruises to pay for this. At $2,000+ you’re paying top-shelf money for an admittedly mid-quality rifle that moonlights as a Transformer.

If a rifle that can do yoga better than you can is what you need, then the price isn’t a big deal. But just know that this isn’t a “go to war” kind of rifle.

17 Design & Manufacturing IFLR-15 Stripped Lower

Fairly new to the world of folding ARs, 17 Design & Manufacturing has finally brought us the first AR lower with an integrated folding device.

No more adapters or workarounds, this lower is actually designed to fold and requires nothing weird or different on your end.

17 Design & Manufacturing (top to bottom) Mil-Standard Forged, Billet, and IFLR-15 Stripped Lowers
17 Design & Manufacturing (top to bottom) Mil-Standard Forged, Billet, and IFLR-15 Stripped Lowers

Shipping with a special buffer weight, the rest of the parts needed to build this into a complete rifle or pistol are completely standard AR-15 parts. 

The lower is also just a good lower to start with. Flared magazine well, mil-spec dimensions, tensioning screw to remove wobble with the upper, and a threaded bolt catch pin. These are solid features that make for a much nicer lower than your average mil-spec.

The folder works much like other folders on the market. A special buffer weight pokes through the folding section so it doesn’t require any extra steps to fold or unfold, just pop the latch and go.

But this also means that your rifle can’t fire with the stock folded. That’s pretty common so not totally unexpected.

Good news is that it uses a normal mil-spec BCG!

Overall — I really like this option if you’re making a dedicated folding AR from the start.

Law Tactical Gen-3 Adapter

By far the most common adapter on the market, the Law Tactical Gen 3 is the gold standard in folding ARs.

Easy to install, easy to use, and works with any AR lower or BCG — the Law Tactical does it all and does it well.

Best Folding AR-15 law tactical

Basically, the Law Tactical attaches to your lower before the buffer tube with the buffer tube attaching to the other side of the Law Tactical. Add a special plug into the rear of your BCG and you’re ready to fold and go.

This system works great and is easy to use, but again the rifle cannot be fired when the stock is folded.

Coming in several colors and works with a huge range of parts, the Law Tactical gives you the most flexibility in build options.

Dead Foot Arms MCS Adapter

Finally — a folding AR that you can fire while folded.

This is good news, bad news situation. While the Dead Foot Arms MCS finally lets you fire a folded AR-15 — doing so means you can’t fold it into as small of a package as other options allow for and the MCS requires a proprietary BCG.

Dead Foot Arms MCS Adapter
Dead Foot Arms MCS Adapter

Something like the Law Tactical will give you a folded size about 3 inches smaller than the Dead Foot MCS. 

The proprietary BCG is a good and bad thing. Good news is that it’s a solid BCG, but it isn’t the best it can be. If you were planning on getting a really Gucci BCG, maybe this kit isn’t for you.

On the other hand, if a better than average but not amazing BCG is okay with you — then this is one less part you need to buy and that helps offset the higher price of the MCS.

Either way you slice it — if you want to fire while folded, this is really the only option right now for the AR-15.

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Honorable Mentions

If almost an AR-15 is okay with you, maybe take a look at these.

Sig Sauer MCX

This is not an AR-15, period. But it’s really similar (kind of) and uses the same magazines and has the same feel.

Big differences are that it is piston-driven, expensive, and very high-quality.

Sig MCX folded and stored in a bag

Sig Sauer was hoping the MCX platform would be the new US military standard, but that hasn’t happened… yet.

What has happened is that the MCX is being used by a lot of law enforcement in the USA and by some Special Forces units on a limited basis. So far, they love them.

I’ve shot the MCX a little and was floored by it, it’s pretty amazing. 

When it comes to folding the MCX is designed to fold and fire when folded. No messy buffer tube to deal with, the MCX is a folding rifle as a standard, not an add-on or a weird workaround.

It also fires when folded, so that’s cool.

But (here comes the other shoe) the MCX is not cheap and is really hard to find in stock right now.

Brownells BRN-180

This is an upper, not a complete rifle. Slap this on any normal AR-15 lower and add a folding adapter of any kind and you have a folding AR-15 (kind of) that can even fire while folded!

The BRN-180 isn’t an AR-15 though, really it’s a re-creation of the AR-180 and uses a radically different design to do basically what the AR-15 does.

BRN-180 upper on a completed folding lower
BRN-180 upper on a completed folding lower.

While piston-driven, this is a rock-solid system that is actually the basis for almost every western military standard issue rifle current in service.

The gas system of the BRN-180 can be seen, in spirit, in everything HK 416 including the French 416F and the USMC M27 IAR. Even the Sig Sauer MCX uses basically the same gas system and a very similar bolt carrier.

If you want to get into the folding game for a whole lot cheaper than some of the other options, the BRN-180 is an awesome option.

Wrapping Up

If you want to build a folding AR-15, the 17 Design IFLR-15 stripped lower is my top pick.

But if you just want to turn your normal AR-15 into a folder, the Law Tactical Gen 3 is hard to beat.

If you want a true folding AR-15 the FoldAR is basically the only best option — but I would choose a Sig Sauer MCX over it even though it isn’t technically an AR-15.

I hope that clears up a lot of questions you might have about what is good and hot in the world of folding ARs!

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