The Olympic Arms AR-15 is a semi-automatic tactical rifle chambered in .223 Rem. or 5.56 NATO.
|Sights:||Adjustable military sights|
|Features:||Hollow buttstock; gas operated system; and bayonet lug|
|Twist:||1 in 9"|
A Good Buy
Earlier this month a buddy of mine sold me an Olympic Arms AR-15 for $450. What a deal, right? Now you may be asking, “Why? Did he steal it? Is he getting rid of evidence?”
And my answer to you is, perhaps – but I don’t think so. Actually, it was June 3 and he had until June 5 to pay his rent. You see, he’s also a writer, but substitute teaching is where he makes his real money. But the school had just ended and his only current writing gig was for one of those content mills that pay $15 an article (and it takes about two hours to write), so financially he was struggling.
I said, “No problem Randy. Just throw in a couple of those 30-round mags and you got yourself a deal.”
He had no choice, you see, so he did. He grabbed the stack of twenties and one ten from my hand, and then sullenly picked up the rifle by the handguards and handed it over. I could tell that he would later regret this transaction because he had just bought it a few years back for about $900 and had only put a couple thousand rounds through it. I snickered at his shame as I held it out in front of me. It was the most beautiful $450-AR-15 I’d ever seen.
But I then asked myself, “Was it as amazing on the range?” Now allow me to explain.
A No Frills Rifle
I’ve heard fellow shooters express mixed feelings about Olympic Arms, and I have to admit, I have them too. But it’s hard to complain because it’s a no frills, economical rifle, meaning no rails or modifications whatsoever. It’s just a standard AR-15 platform. Round plastic handguards, two-stage trigger, and adjustable military sights. The one notable feature is it does have is a heavy barrel.
When I say standard AR-15, I’m referring to something similar to the Colt M16A2, which is the standard issue rifle of the US military. It’s what troops learn with and has been since the late 70s, early 80s.
For those who don’t know, AR-15s and the M16 have a few similarities. The pistol grip is very easy to grip, so you won’t have to stretch your finger or bend your wrist too much to pull the trigger. The grip is made of plastic and has a finger groove and textured body.
The butt stock has a trap door and is hollow on the inside, so you can store cleaning equipment or other gear. The butt has a hard rubber recoil pad, which you’d think would feel uncomfortable, but the recoil is next to nothing because inside the stock there’s also a buffer spring that absorbs the backwards force of the bolt. In the end it feels as if someone has lightly pushed your shoulder.
And to top it off it uses a gas-operating system meaning the propellant gases that push the round out are captured and cycled back to push the bolt to the rear. In a way, it delays the recoil. In a nutshell, that is a standard AR-15 platform and the Olympic Arms rifle.
The reason I’m telling you this is the rifle is totally mil-spec except for the heavy barrel minus the flash hider and minus the three-round burst. There wasn’t a lick of difference in the look and feel.
But how’d it perform?
Since this is a test of frugality I purchased the least expensive ammo I could, which was Remington’s .223 Rem. and loaded up my surplus 30-round magazines. And, Olympic Arms may have held back on the rifle’s features, but the action functioned properly throughout the entire testing. No jams or failures to feeds. It was completely reliable in that respect.
How can you see through that tiny hole?
The carrying handle (which really isn’t a handle) is actually the sights and isn’t removable unless you change the upper receiver and that’s just ridiculous. If you buy a gun, you want to be able to use it as is, right?
The rear sight aperture has a tiny pinhole, but it can be flipped down to bring up another ring with a rather large hole. The tiny hole is for daylight shooting and the larger hole is for, you guessed it, night shooting. Just get the front sight post dead center in that tiny ring.
The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation, and if you don’t have proper instruction it can be hard as hell to figure out. The windage knob clicks 80 times and each click shifts the impact anywhere from centimeters to inches depending on the range. The elevation knob located directly below the ring raises and lowers it by the hundreds. One click will add or subtract a hundred yards. However, zero for the elevation knob is 300 yards.
For the recreational shooter this can be a bit much. Also, if you have to shift the rear sight more than 20 clicks perhaps it’s time to see a gunsmith because something else might be off.
Stop complaining; How’d it shoot?
Randy brought me to an outdoor range that allowed ARs. It was a public range located right outside of Greenwood, SC. Although it’s a rather large range, it only had a one other patron in attendance. Since it was free (and government owned) you can imagine what it looked like. The area was surrounded by overgrown vegetation, but the range itself was red clay dirt. Bulldozers were once brought out to build the berms, but grass was never re-planted. The avid shooters of the area had built target stands and staked them at the end of each slot. The simple frames were nailed together and had a holy piece of cardboard stapled to it. I pinned up a couple of paper plates and began loading my magazines.
After I zeroed the rifle, I tested it by putting a hundred rounds through it and I shot in sets of 10.
Was it worth it?
At the price I got it for, it’s hard to say I’m dissatisfied. If I were offered one brand new at the original price, I’d say nay. One popular reason to buy an AR-15 is because it is so customizable, but this one wasn’t. If you’re a recreational shooter looking to buy an inexpensive AR, Olympic Arms would be a good choice, however, I’d suggest going for one with one or two or four Picatinny rails on it. Think of it as an investment. You may want to add something like a red dot sight or a fore-grip and it’ll just be easier to mount on a Picatinny.
As for Randy and his desperate deal, I look at it like this: He was able to pay his rent. Besides, I live in Illinois and was just visiting friends and family in South Carolina, but when I go back and want to shoot my AR all I have to do is go to his house where I store it.
Check out what others say about the Olympic Arms AR-15: