The great semi-automatic rifle designs of the 20th century use gas pressure and springs to cycle their actions. Depending on the rifle, recoil springs are either contained inside of the receiver or housed in some type of extension that is concealed in the stock. In the case of the hugely popular and influential AR-15, the recoil spring and buffer sit inside an extension that directly fastens to the lower receiver. In an AR, the receiver extension is either fully concealed underneath the stock, or it is also used to hold the stock directly. Simply put, the extension is a hollow tube that simply provides enough space allowing the bolt carrier to move rearward to cycle the action. AR-15 receiver extensions, also commonly known as “buffer tubes” come in two styles, a full size and a shorter carbine extension. The former is primarily used for full size rifles with fixed stocks like the Colt 6700 rifle or the M-16, and the latter is used for AR-15 pattern carbines like the military M-4 Carbine or my personally owned Lone Star Armory TX-4 carbine (or virtually any other modern carbine).
The issue with the AR-15’s design is that the receiver extension and recoil spring must be in-line with the bolt carrier or the action will not cycle. Traditionally, the solution was to make carbines more compact by adding telescoping carbine stocks which sat on the receiver extension itself and could be adjusted to lengthen or shorten the carbine. Still, stocks could not be folded 180 degrees to the side of the receiver like with other firearms such as the FAL Para variants or folding Kalashnikovs, a feature that removes a considerable amount of length. Being able to fold a carbine’s stock to the side carries huge advantages for situations when storage space, mobility and portability are priorities. For example, imagine a scenario where space was at a premium but the ability to fold a carbine made the difference between bringing it or having to bring a less powerful handgun.
Enter Law Tactical
For several years, Pennsylvania based Law Tactical LLC has been developing solutions that allow AR-15 carbine stocks to fold cleanly. Their flagship product for nearly a decade has been the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter. This device bridges the receiver extension to the lower receiver while providing a smooth hinging action that locks the tube in place directly in line behind the bolt carrier group. The AR Folding Stock Adapter is designed to be installed onto any carbine or rifle with existing parts. While a carbine can technically fire one round with the stock folded (in extreme emergencies only), shooters should lock the stock before firing.
Following the recognition and great success Law Tactical has enjoyed with their AR Folding Stock Adapter, the firm had been busy at work implementing a solution for the other technical challenge that befalls ARs with folding stocks–a way to safely and reliably fire carbines with folded stocks. The end result was finally unveiled during the end of 2022: the ARIC (AR-Internal Carrier). It ingeniously flips the script on the traditional in-line AR-15 design. Instead of having the standard recoil spring behind the bolt carrier, Law Tactical essentially cleaves a bolt carrier in half and adds a pair of smaller recoil springs that sit on guide rods while providing enough clearance for the action to cycle. In conjunction exclusively with the AR Folding Stock Adapter, the ARIC is designed only to reciprocate inside the length of the receiver which renders the traditional receiver extension into a vestigial structure, useful only for placing a carbine stock or pistol-brace. The ARIC’s end piece contains the springs’ tension, helps the guide rods remain in place and limits the carrier’s maximum rearward travel. The end piece remains in the same position whether the carbine’s stock is open or locked. Both the upper receiver and the AR Folding Stock adapter help cradle and maintain the end piece staying in place.
Because the ARIC is designed for AR-15s with direct gas impingement systems, Law Tactical offers two ARIC versions, the “C” and “M”. The ARIC-C is for unsuppressed general purpose shooting using standard SAAMI spec .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO cartridges while the ARIC-M is for suppressed shooting. Both units use identical parts including the springs, but ARIC-Ms have additional venting (and cycle slower than the ARIC-C) to be more reliable shooting suppressed. Most .300 Blackout firearms are ARIC compatible but they require individual vetting and testing (as they differ from 5.56mm ARs in some regards).
Hands-on With The AR Folding Stock Adapter And ARIC
Putting the ARIC in the upper is straightforward. No special tools are needed, and once the AR Folding Stock adapter is installed, the ARIC drops right in. Otherwise, installing the AR Folding Stock Adapter itself is not overly complicated. It pays to be extremely meticulous as there are many details that have to be right for the adapter to work properly. Those who are new to the AR or firearms in general might consider having an armorer install the adapter. Law Tactical does an excellent job providing clear instructions for both the adapter and the carrier, and I strongly recommend taking the time to watch installation videos too.
The ARIC has a minor break in period, and Law Tactical recommends adding extra lube to the carrier before the first shots. At the time of this writing, my Lone Star Armory TX-4 14.5-inch 5.56 NATO carbine (built from the ground up to be an ARIC host) has cycled about 150 rounds of various 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington rounds. So far, there has been only 3 stoppages all which happened before the 30th round was fired. I expended more than half of the Lone Star Armory carbine’s round count at a local weekend 2-gun match. While being intently focused on the match and shooting aggressively at paper targets throughout each stage I forgot about the fact that I was not shooting a traditionally configured AR. The same goes for the stock adapter, it was my first time shooting with one and never got in my way. I deliberately attended this match for the chance to be able to “run and gun” with the TX-4 and more importantly: the ARIC and the AR Folding Stock Adapter.
Law Tactical’s products are extremely well made with quality materials and finishes. The company invests a lot of research and development into their products given the fact that they often break away from the original designs. Neither the AR Folding Stock Adapter or the AR Internal Carrier are cheap (retailing for $259 and $389 respectively), but the fit, finish, engineering and research are all reflected in their retail pricing. In the case of these AR-15 accessories, they definitely belong in the buy once, cry once category. While the AR Folding Stock Adapter or ARIC may also not be for everyone, they are extremely useful in offering better stowage and unconventional firing function to those who specifically need it. Law Tactical’s products are about adding more options to your existing tool set.