In an industry obsessed with innovation, one company delivering one of the most ground-breaking products in the past decade has been Law Tactical. Their Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter has changed the form factor of the AR, allowing it to go places and do things that were previously impossible. To learn more about Law Tactical, their adapter and what’s next , we reached out to the company and its founder…
Q: For starters, can you tell us a bit about your background and where this idea came from?
Law Tactical: My background is with the Secret Service. About half of my time there was spent at the counter-sniper team, and that’s where the concept for the Law Tactical Folder came from. It’s where I originally had the idea. At the time, we were issued the Knight’s Armament Mk11 Mod 0, a variant of the Knight’s Armament SR-25…and for whatever reason, we were issued M4 bags with them.
So, I would find myself climbing up ladders, going up cages, or whatever it may be, getting into position, and I’ve got a gun where the entire stock of the rifle doesn’t fit in the bag. The bag would instead zip up around it. So, I had a bolt gun strapped to my back and the SR-25 on my front, in a bag that was unzipping as I’m trying to climb ladders. So, the original idea came from necessity, as most ideas do.
Q: How did it go from an idea to something tangible?
Law Tactical: That original idea was simply “this rifle could use a folding stock” and me realizing that there was no such option. The reality was, for an AR-based recoil system, there was simply no folder available. The only things that had been done all had to do with changing the recoil system completely… whether that was moving it above the barrel like an AK, or doing some completely different system. There was no simple accessory that could be added that would address my needs.
The truth is, we’re not looking to be “game changers” but we are looking to give you more capability. How much capability you can get from it, it’s really up to you. What can you now do that you have a folding stock weapon that you couldn’t do before?Law Tactical
“Well, Why Can’t We?”
It was around this same time that I actually had a friend casually mention “I want to get a folding stock for my AR.” Well, I laughed and said “you can’t.” He came back and asked “why can’t you?” And that really got me thinking “well…why can’t we?”
At that point I started thinking a lot about “how could we do this, if we wanted to do this?” And as it turned out, he had a family friend who had a machine shop. And so, getting in touch with them is what started the development process of what would become the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter.
We converted my initial drawings into a schematic- type drawing which I then had a professional draftsman come in and refine a bit further. Then we started breaking down each component of that drawing. It was like “ok, so we have this part, how can it be better? We have this other part…how can it be better?”
From Prototype to Gen 1
And we did that over and over and over again. And, after a lot of refinements, we looked at what we had, and I said, “I think we have enough here…let’s run some prototypes.” And those prototypes we created were the Gen 1’s…Our original, all-aluminum prototypes that came from those original drawings…drawings I had done on just a whiteboard originally.
Q: Were there any challenges that you ran into during the prototype phase?
Law Tactical: I would say that while it all sounds like smooth sailing, looking back there were some major hurdles along the development process. There were several times where I felt like we were stuck, asking just how are we going to make this part work? How are we going to make that work? The other big concern I had was just how do I keep it as simple as possible?
As it turns out, making something complex is easy. Making it simple is what’s difficult. And with the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter, having it automatically lock into place, not having any latches, buttons or switches to bring it into operation…that simplicity was the first key piece of having a viable product…with the second thing having it be an actual decent piece of equipment.
Q: So, it had to be simple and it had to be ultra-reliable. Clearly you succeeded, but I can just imagine how many different tweaks it would take to get something like this just right.
Law Tactical: We had plenty of things that didn’t work. I could show you plenty of different versions of the product that failed along the way before we got it right, it’s very easy to get it wrong.
Q: What kinds of things did you change with the early models?
Law Tactical: The Gen 2 Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter, which was really the first commercial version…well, with that one, we learned very quickly that we could not just use aluminum. We had to use a combination of aluminum and steel for load-bearing surfaces. So, right there, in our own testing, we were finding where quality needed to be improved before we actually ever released it.
To test, we had thousands and thousands of rounds fired on a dozen weapons systems internally, but then we were also handing out samples to key people we could call “beta testers”. We had them run it as well and tell us their feedback.
Q: What was that initial feedback like?
Law Tactical: There was a lot of “why didn’t I think of that”, or “I had thought of something like this but I could never figure out how to make it practical” That was a lot of the response. Other responses we received helped us form what would eventually become the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter Gen 3. These responses were the things that people didn’t like about it.
Q: So, in regards to the Gen 2…what kinds of things needed improvement according to that early feedback?
Law Tactical: A big example was the hinge position. People would rack the system and scrape their knuckles on the high hinge. The bolt carrier extension was also a major issue for people. The Gen 2 they were testing had a screw you had to tighten, so it required a tool for maintenance.
And then the last big thing was people wanted to be able to fire it while it was folded. Well obviously, the AR system was not designed to do that and with an aluminum housing, we had an intentional weak point where it could deform and lock itself out so you couldn’t use it if you tried to repeatedly fire it folded. This was done to avoid a catastrophic failure of the system. But from direct feedback, people were like “if I do this intentionally or unintentionally, I simply cannot have it lock me out of using the weapon.”
So that’s where the Gen 3 concept came from. Now, I will say that we knew most of these feedback points, but having them repeated back to us by others helped us go towards the Gen 3, which was really the product that blew up for us.
Q: So, walk us through the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter Gen 3…
Law Tactical: The Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter Gen 3 was an all-steel construction. And with the Gen 3, we listened to feedback and we lowered the hinge position. We also redesigned the geometry of the blocking finger which is the piece that holds the carrier and the extension in place while it is folded. This allowed the use of a symmetrical bolt carrier extension…one that could be twisted in and twisted out without any tools.
And then with the all-steel construction and a sacrificial piece on the bolt carrier extension, it allowed us to be able to sustain fire while folded. We never show it being fired while folded because the weapon system itself was never intended to do that, even though all of our components have been built to sustain it. Now, there have been others who do it. There’s one particular video where a guy goes through an entire magazine, firing one at a time, folding it, firing it, unfolding it, racking it, folding it, firing it. He actually did it one hundred times.
So, we did all the internal testing…the same process of beta testing where we sent it out to others for feedback before releasing the Gen 3, with the idea of taking care of all of those people who said “I like it…but” with the Gen 2.
Q: So, the Law Tactical Folding Stock Adapter Gen 3 is released…what was that initial wave of feedback like at that point? Was it well-received or was there skepticism at first?
Law Tactical: I think the biggest concern of people with the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter is “Why do I want this?” It was very interesting how many people didn’t think they wanted it or needed it until we showed them different applications of how they could use it. Then, all of a sudden, it became a “must have.”
Just the fact that you can fit it into a smaller bag for transport and storage. Motorcycle units were also very interested, which is something we never even thought about. They could now have a rifle type weapon system locked in the hard case of their motorcycle.
Also, with the advent and popularity of the AR pistol, now people could transport in their vehicle or depending on the laws of their state, they could now potentially carry an AR under their concealed carry permit and adding our folder gave that portability that they didn’t have before. It’s really “what application can you come up with?”
In our case, we found we had to give people the application, and they then saw the need or the want. Rather than them coming up to us and saying “I need it to do this.”
Q: Was it around this time that agencies and OEMs began showing interest? How did that growth occur? Also, can you explain the difference between the Gen 3 and the current Gen 3-M Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter?
Law Tactical: With the Gen 3, we ticked off most of the boxes of what people were looking for and wanting it to be able to do while still understanding the limitations of the AR system. We started to get some OEMs at that point…and, yes, I guess this is where we should get into the current Gen 3-M and just what that is.
The Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter Gen 3-M, the current version, has incremental minor changes from the Gen 3, but it did allow us to use a standard mil-spec buffer retaining pin, so instead of having a proprietary pin that we used to have, you are able to move your standard pin from the lower receiver to the adapter, and that made it a true drop-in accessory. So, for departments and agencies that are not allowed to change certain things on their guns, it’s now just a true add on. And the same for OEMs.
We’re not changing any of the OEMs components, rather we’re just adding to their system. So, once we had the 3-M generation, there was a lot less concern on the part of OEMs and agencies, especially as it grew in popularity and began to be adopted more widely, it became “how do we fit this in our portfolio?” versus, “do we want this in our portfolio?”
Q: What did it take to convince the OEMs that this was a viable product, or did they already have a good idea that the Law Tactical Folding Stock Adapter was good-to-go?
Law Tactical: So for our OEM partners, it was “here it is. Put it on your system and do whatever testing that you would normally do internally. Don’t take our word for it.”
I can tell you it’s great all day, but I’m the one selling it, so don’t listen to me. Listen to other people in the industry who you trust who have them and who use them. Put them through your own testing protocols. I know one OEM did a 20,000 round test, including our adapter on three different weapons systems. So, it was a “don’t take my word for it. Test it out.”
But at the same time, the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter was being purchased and actively adopted by others in the industry that people trust. And the more people that were using it, the more people that saw it and went hands-on and saw the reliability and quality of the product…it has just continued to grow from there.
Q: What was the adoption process like for law enforcement, and various agencies?
Law Tactical: As for adoption, the first part was getting an individual’s trust. So, we would have an individual who would get the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter, use it, trust it, and then recommend it to their department or agency, or law enforcement unit or their shooting group…whoever it may be.
But then we had the reverse as well. What I mean by that is that a department would look into bringing the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter in for a specific application. They would put it through all of their own protocols, and then it would become more widespread and adopted in different units of a department.
Top Down and Bottom Up
They’d then bring other departments to come and see it, they’d become curious about it, try it out, adopt it…and then individual officers would see it and interact with it and want it for their personal weapon. So, it was both a “top down” and a “bottom up” approach to gaining acceptance.
As far as larger federal agencies that were using it, as they’d travel around, confidence in the part would grow. At the same time, it was being used by major OEMs that people have confidence in…you’d see it being carried by certain retailers that people have confidence in. All of this together created what I see as a “community confidence” for the part…a confidence that was well beyond: “well, my friend has it and it seems good.”
Q: Receiving the National Stocking Numbers has probably also helped it gain an even wider acceptance I can imagine. Any qualms I may have possibly had certainly went out the window when I heard that news…
Law Tactical: SOCOM sponsored the adapter for a safety certification, and later a joint service safety certification through Crane, Naval Special Warfare’s testing facility. After passing their protocols, the adapter was issued an NSN number. So, that puts it in the inventory system of the U.S. military…and with it having a joint service certification, any branch of the military, not just SOCOM, would be able to purchase it and use it in approved applications.
Q: Law Tactical has produced one of the more innovative products in the last decade…that has to feel pretty good. Can you talk about how this success has helped shape the company…perhaps talk about what’s next for Law Tactical?
Law Tactical: The original concept for the company was to put out quality parts that are innovative. We are not trying to compete against established names. We are trying to supplement what is out there and give you something that was not available before. Whether that is a capability or an improvement, it’s the basis of our company.
We want to give you something new. Everyone always talks about “new” and “innovative” and “game changers”, and all those catch phrases, but in reality, there is not that much of it.
“Give You More Capability”
The truth is, we’re not looking to be “game changers” but we are looking to give you more capability. How much capability you can get from it, it’s really up to you. What can you now do that you have a folding stock weapon that you couldn’t do before?
In the old days, there was always the alternative…take apart your upper and lower. I understand that. But now you have a weapons system that is not ready to be used, and you must use fine motor skills to put it together and you’re taking all that time to bring it into operation.
With the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter, it takes no more time than it does to take the safety off. You’re out of the bag and on target, ready to be used as fast as if you didn’t have a folder. So, it’s not trying to be a “game changer” and be the “most innovative”…it’s about what can I give you that you didn’t have before.
Law Tactical and the Rise of the AR Pistol
As far as our success, I think we were fortunate that our component, new at the time, was aligned rather well with the proliferation of the AR pistol. From the civilian side, the two go hand and hand.
They are really a “peanut butter and jelly” type of growth…The fact of the matter is our growth was tied to the AR pistol. That then ties back into the government side of departments using them, agencies using them, OEMs using them…that the quality of the part allows for its adoption throughout the government.
Q: At SHOT Show 2019, you had a newer version of the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter available…built for the H&K 417. Can you talk a bit about how that came about, and perhaps touch on other new items on the horizon?
Law Tactical: Years ago, the Army started a program looking for a shorter alternative to the M110. From that program eventually came the M110A1.
However, this new weapons system is based on the HK417…and it has a number of proprietary parts because it’s H&K. Their buffer tube diameter, the threading, the bolt carrier size for the extension, are all different from your standard AR or even your 308 based ARs.
So, to meet that need…and to give the same capability the warfighter has now to put a folding stock on their M4 or M110, we started developing our Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter for the HK417 series of weapons.
The new adapter also transfers into the civilian market…while not that large in the US, we can still offer that same quality product that we built for the military to the civilian and international markets as the Gen 3HK Adapter.
What’s Next for Law Tactical…
Law Tactical: As far as what’s next for us…What’s nice is being able to adapt. We’re small enough where we don’t have to do a three-year business case to come out with a new product. We can look at things, see potential areas open up, for example the H&K adapter…we can say “this makes sense, even if it becomes only a small program, there’s still a civilian side to it as well. Let’s move forward.”
But we’re big enough to actually move forward with plans, and actually come out with a quality product in a reasonable timeframe. To that end, there are certain things that people have been asking for from us that we have held off on for a number of reasons….but, in the very near future, we hope to take care of those last people who say “we like your product, but…” We’re looking to take that last bit of hesitation off the board. The future for Law Tactical is very exciting…so stay tuned.
A big thanks to everyone at Law Tactical for letting us tell their story. We look forward to bringing you more information about Law Tactical in the months ahead. Also thanks to Matt for helping track down some of the pics above.
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