First off, Olympic Arms is still open for business. Partially, anyway. This is an in-between time for them, as they are working on restructuring their company and transitioning into new ownership. This is what they stated in their most recent press release, dated December 2018.

We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for this veteran AR-15 manufacturer. Perhaps this new ownership will work out in their favor. Let’s take a look at some of what they’ve been doing so far.

Olympic Arms

Olympic Arms is not affiliated in any way with the international Olympic Games, by the way. Just in case you had any doubts.

The founder of Olympic Arms is Robert Schuetz. He first established Schuetzen Gun Works in 1956, in Colorado, where the company produced barrels. In 1975, the outfit changed location to Olympia, WA, and concurrently changed its name to Olympic Arms. It began designing and producing complete firearms, rather than just components.

Olympic manufactured AR-15s and 1911s for a long time, and later on, they added the Whitney Wolverine to their lineup. Their reputation has been hit and miss, really, largely due to one or two oversights which set the company back and disappointed their customers. There are times when a manufacturer can bounce back and get back in the game, but even then there are those who will forevermore consider the brand to be junk.

The company produced their own parts and components in-house, and overall it had some quality firearms available for civilians, law enforcement, and military personnel.

Whitney Wolverine
The Notorious Whitney Wolverine

Olympic Arms AR 15

M16-pattern rifles and AR-15s – this was what Olympic has been producing for a long time. I know, I know – everyone on planet Earth seems to be manufacturing their version of the AR-15, so do we really need another one?

Well, that is a fair question, but the thing with Olympic Arms is that they were one of the first manufacturers (other than Colt) to make AR-15s to begin with. They are one of the OGs in this business, they’ve made some great AR-15 clones, and have been around long before the market was so saturated with such models.

There were times when their rifles were simply not good ones. Case in point: one of the worst moves that Olympic made – or so many shooters feel – was to make cast receivers, as opposed to forged ones. That move is probably what got them the most negative feedback over the years, and it was a business decision which caused them to be branded as a garbage, despite their solid efforts afterwards.

Olympic Arms AR
Olympic Arms AR 15

Here is a quick glance at some of Olympic’s line of AR-15s. Note that some of these models have been discontinued.

  • M4 models
    • K3B-M4
    • K3B-M4-A3
    • K3BM4-FT
    • K3BM4-A3

These are offered in a variety of configurations (buttstocks, handguards, uppers, grips, capacity) and there is also the possibility of attaching a grenade launcher or flare launcher.

Olympic Arms M4
Olympic Arms M4
  • LE models
    • K23B Stubby
    • K23B-TC
    • K3B-11
    • K3B-14

These are short-barreled rifles, meant specifically for law enforcement personnel. The length of the barrels ranges from 6.5” to 14.5”, and they are not available for civilians.

Olympic Arms K23B
Olympic Arms K23B Stubby LE
  • AR-15 Carbine models
    • PPC Plinker Plus Compact
    • PPFT Plinker Plus Flat Top
    • Multimatch ML2

With a 16” barrel, and chambered in either 223 Rem or 5.56 NATO, these are entry level rifles.

Olympic Arms PPC
Olympic Arms Plinker Plus Compact
  • 20-24” models
    • UMAR-22250 (chambered in Magnum 22-250)
    • UMAR-22250F Fluted
    • UM-1P Target-shooting model
    • UMAR-300 (cambered in 300 OSSM)
    • PP20 Plinker Plus 20”

These are all models which sport a 20-24” barrel. Particularly intriguing, in my opinion, was their .22-250 chambering. For a while, it was the only AR to be chambered in that caliber.

Olympic Arms Ultramatch Premium
Olympic Arms UM-1P

The thoughts on these rifles tend to be all over the place, especially since some people will insist that Olympic is no good. While it is true that they are not on the same level of some higher-end manufacturers, that is precisely the point: they were never meant to compete with those gun-makers. They wanted to provide the public with cheaper, American-made options. This they have succeeded in doing, to a great degree.

A cheaper price does not always reflect much cheaper quality. Many shooters who have worked and trained with Olympic Arms ARs over the years report that these guns work flawlessly. It is natural for some customers to encounter issues, be they with the gun or  with the service. I am not focused on isolated cases here, though they undoubtedly exist. I am attempting to look at the company and its products as a whole.

As said, the MSRPs are these rifles are on the cheaper end, some costing less than $600. For that price, you get a standard rifle with standard furniture. You can then choose to invest another $100-200, and build it up as you see fit. As an entry-level rifle, these work and they do their job. Are they the best in their category? No, and they are not marketed as such.

Olympic Arms K Series

The K series includes a variety of AR-type rifles, and the sub-series K8 and K16. The calibers being offered are 5.56 NATO, 6.8 Rem, 300 BLK, 7.62X39mm, and 204 Ruger. The K-series barrels range from 16” to 20”, and what sets the K16-series rifles apart is their factory features, which include bull barrel, flat top upper receiver, free floating handguard, and the A2 buttstock. They have a MSRP of roughly $800, and for that price it is a good deal.


This is a manufacturer which has pioneered some of the innovations we now take for granted with a AR-15 setup. The firearms which Olympic has produced may have gotten a bad reputation over the years, but it is not always justified. There are many examples – brought forth by those who have handled their weapons – where Olympic has been reliable, affordable, and highly functional.

Olympic doesn’t really build competition rifles, so it is safe to assume that we are talking about training and practicing for self-defense and home-defense situations. I believe in second chances, but I know what it’s like to feel as though a weapon has utterly failed you. It is difficult to trust a brand which has let you down – certainly in this industry -, since you are essentially trusting this firearm to save your life or the lives of others. And it is not an easy choice, considering Olympic Arms’ past. It’s not exactly your go-to rifle, and definitely not in these days when it is restructuring.

Are manufacturers not allowed to make mistakes? Surely, no one is claiming that. But it is the way in which they deal with those mistakes that makes them reputable manufacturers in the eyes of the public. In that sense, Olympic has been very forthcoming with their information, and they are not trying to pass themselves off as something they are not. Or so I feel, anyway. Your mileage may vary.

If you should get your hands on an Olympic rifle, give it a try. You may find it to be accurate, dependable, and in your price range. It is definitely more on the “budget-friendly” end of the AR-15 spectrum, so take that into account. There are other brands in that lower-tier which may attract you more (think American Tactical Imports and their line of $400~ AR-15s).

With such a varied range of views, opinions, and experiences, it comes down to individual taste and budget. Maybe more so than in other cases, since some praise Olympic Arms firearms for their accuracy and affordability, while others lament the day they came near one of their firearms. Like I said, perhaps the new ownership which is in the works will be able to give us a clearer picture of the brand.

Sam M

Sam is an avid firearms enthusiast who loves sharing his knowledge and experience with fellow gunivores.

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  1. Bought an Olympic Arms Whitney Wolverine knockoff. My mistake. Would never feed reliably. Returned to Olympic Arms 2X. First time, the gun was returned saying it was working well, it wasn’t. Second time, they supposedly replaced a spring. Never fixed the problem. Sold the gun at a loss.

  2. Great gun i love

  3. I purchased an Olympic 5.56 A2 in 2005. It has functioned flawlessly and is very accurate. Also note that Olympic won the AF contract to provide them some of their M-16s. I’m a Nam vet (1970-1976) and will say the Olympic is at the top of AR-15 platforms. If some have trouble with the Olympic it’s probably abuse, ammo, etc… not the weapon. If you can find one, buy it. Cheers!

  4. Back in 1992-93 Pre Ban , a co worker was building AR 15s from parts . He used Bushmaster and OLY as sources . At the time we would get catalogs like today that sold these components . So he put an A2 24 in barrel H Bar together for me . That has been my first AR and to date M that toy most shot firearm I own I have only had one problem years ago at about 5000 rounds it started to have a failure to feed correctly . The cartridge would not lift up high enough to enter the chamber . I took it to gunsmiths and they were no help . Did a lot of reading and after a couple of years I ran across an article on line that suggested trying a new buffer spring for what sounded like another rifle that had the same problem . So I bought a new Wolff standard power spring and that totally solved the problem and and 7 years and more than 5000 more rounds the old girl still shoots like brand new . I now have other AR’s now by Daniel defense, and Lwrc, But I will never get rid of the old OLY She is a keeper

  5. I bought my first Oly about 6 months ago as a former weapon utilized by the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office. It was well maintained, very clean, straight shooting and closest the M16 that i used in the Army. Would love to have another one to share space in the safe. I have an S&W M&P that cant hold a candle to my Oly

  6. I am a devoted Olympic Arms customer. I have a few cast receiver rifles in my collection. Never had a issue with them. I own a few OA93/96/98 300ossm , 22-250 etc. and a couple dozen misc. AR’s. Olympic imo just didn’t keep up with the ever evolving quality of parts being mfg in today’s market. Didn’t invest in new equipment. They still build everything like they did in the 1980’s. And that okay with me. But this generation wants perfect parts. Like Olympics best parts are in the blem pile of A.P. Olympic has no such thing as a blem. A scratch or a defect in the receiver is the end of it for this generation. It’s junk. Everything you get from Olympic has a defect. Olympic Arms rifles shoot and keep on shooting. Dollar for dollar spent I’ll take a Oly rifle over the other guy anytime. I hope that they can keep the doors open down there in Olympia. They were always evolving and innovating back then. Maybe if they would of focused more on what worked instead of always creating something different. IDK. I think there stuck now.

  7. Olympic Arm’s is top notch in my book. The only AR platforms that I’ve never had feed or jam up issues with are my Olympic Arms, Windham made Bushmaster ( Dyke ), Windham Weaponry, and my Becker, MN marked DPMS. The equation here is that none of the above are from the massed produced garbage that SW and the Freedom Group make. Wanna talk about junk guns, most anything the Freedom group produces is overpriced, guaranteed to fail garbage. I have 3 Oly’s and have yet to ever have one fail. As far as a cast reciever goes I woul say most fail due to shooting reloads or a ” HOT ” round repeatedly, the recoil strees will eventually break something.

  8. I got my 20″ barreled flattop with the rear sight/ handle assembly added on. It doesn’t get shot a lot, probably had 200-300 rounds put through it and I’m not great at cleaning. Never had a failure when I’ve used it. It’s 12 years old, pretty accurate too. No complaints. I would like to know what accessories and upper assemblies might fit and fire?

    1. Well, the Picatinny rail system is practically universal so your range of accessories is pretty unlimited. Depending on what kind of shooting you do, you can opt for iron sights, a red dot, or whathaveyou.

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