Unintended Consequences of the AWB: The Olympic Arms OA-98

The AR-15 does not lend itself to stock-less use, because its basic design places the recoil spring in the length of the stock, and requires that space for the bolt carrier to travel in. Olympic Arms, however, developed a way to modify the basic AR-15 design to allow for a pistol version that did not require a rear buffer tube (it was also made into a carbine with a folding stock). This was the OA-93, and it was unluckily introduced just before the implementation of the 1994 assault weapons ban in the US.

With that law in place, the OA-93 met the legal definition of “assault pistol”, and Olympic wanted to find a way to avoid that designation, so they could continue to sell the gun. Their first solution was to replace its ability to use normal AR magazines with a permanently mounted 10-round magazine – but this was a commercial flop. Looking for a better solution, they developed the OA-98. This version of the gun omitted the barrel shroud and thread muzzle, thus removing two of the “assault pistol” elements. A third and final element was avoided by reducing the weigh of the gun from 71 to 48 ounces (from 2kg to 1.36kg). This was done through drastic skeletonization of several components, and removal of all excess features – and the result was a pistol which indeed avoided the legal definition of “assault pistol.”


  1. Exactly what a pistol firing 5.56 x 45mm out of a short barrel without any flash attenuation is actually good for is another matter entirely. It would have made a bit more sense in 9 x 19mm.



    • I could not care any less about the idea. It’s a great item with which one can intimidate democrats, but probably useless as a practical weapon beyond the shooting range. Ergo, this pistol is more likely a toy for some rich fat cat… or am I wrong?

      • “useless as a practical weapon beyond the shooting range”
        It might be useful, if you need compact weapon with better armor-piercing ability, than, say 9×19 Parabellum. Assuming that this shorter barrel allow velocity high enough for armor-piercing effect.

        • If we speak about armor piercing pistol ammunition, 7.62 Tokarev does the job as well as some wildcats based on 9×19 such as the Russian 7H21/7H31 or Swedish 6.5x25mm CBJ.

          Those would be at least more compact, lighter to carry and maybe more optimized for shorter barrels.

    • “It would have made a bit more sense in 9 x 19mm.”
      But then why not use other, classic, automatic pistol, for that cartridge? Which would be smaller and lighter.

      • I was speaking in relative terms. Essentially, it’s a semi-automatic only version of an SMG, minus a folding stock. In the U.S. today of course, people put stocks on such devices, pay a $200 transfer tax, and register the thing with BATFET as an SBR (Short-Barrelled Rifle).

        While modern propellants can certainly develop near maximum velocities in short barrels (in some ways a reversion to blackpowder pressure curves!), such weapons tend to be louder, “flashier” (in muzzle signature terms), and less accurate overall than their “larger” brethren. Not to mention heavier, bulkier, and clumsier than an actual handgun.

        Even a monster like a Desert Eagle, which in .44 Magnum probably delivers more actual kinetic energy, shot per shot, as its cartridge was actually designed from the outset to work in a handgun-length barrel. (Incorrectly, IMHO, but that’s another matter for another day.)

        While a certain tactical argument can be made for them, and has in the past (AC-556K, Plainfield Enforcer, AK-74SU), for most non-military uses (including police), they have most of the vices of SMGs and ARs combined with very few of their virtues.

        Rather like the old saying that putting a stock on a good pistol generally turns it into an indifferent carbine, removing the stock and bobbing the barrel of a rifle turns it into a less-than-satisfactory pistol.

        NB; I have used both the AC-556K and Enforcer. While in full-auto the former has something to recommend it, the latter was mainly a device for very peculiar circumstances that I found inferior overall to the MAC-10 in 9mm or .45.



    • “It would have made a bit more sense in 9 x 19mm.”
      What about .221 Fireball? Optimized for shorter barrels that 5,56×45 so should less muzzle flash and rim diameter is close to 5,56×45, so it should be relatively easy to adopt this weapon to that cartridge, magazine should work if equipped with spacer.

      • In that length of barrel, you probably wouldn’t gain much by having any case with a larger capacity than a .22 hornet.

        5.56 has the advantages of ready availability of cheap factory and military surplus ammunition, but much more of the powder will go towards making noise and flash but without gain in bullet velocity energy or momentum, when compared​ to either
        a longer barrel with 5.56,
        a smaller capacity​ case, or larger diameter bullet with the current barrel length.

        There are some very nice newer powders, that use chemistry to achieve a progressive burn rate (they start off slow with a nitro guanidine outer coating,, and get faster as they burn through to a nitro cellulose middle),

        But, comparison with the indicator diagrams for the Otto and the Carnot cycles for internal combustion engines, will show that there’s not much that can be gained from burning characteristics

        For a given peak pressure, the biggest gains are to ​be had from increasing the expansion ratio.

        • “In that length of barrel, you probably wouldn’t gain much by having any case with a larger capacity than a .22 hornet.”
          So .22 TCM seems to be even more better suited:
          which also shares rim diameter and base diameter with 5,56×45 but being only as long as .38 Super.

    • I suspect that the 9mm would not produce sufficient gas pressure to reliably cycle the bolt; when Colt built their 9mm SMG (on the AR-15 platform), it was a straight-up blowback weapon instead of direct-impingement gas.

  2. What the video shows most clearly is the stupidity of politicians when drafting gun laws and the ingenuity of individuals in circumnavigating them. This is shown clearly in the UK where handguns are banned. Instead we have Long Barreled Pistols and Revolvers, which arguably are better at what they do than what they replaced other than in concealability, which was always a no no in the UK. Also banned were self loading rifles which got circumnavigated by the development of thumb cocked single shot guns.
    There remains an anomaly in that a lever action rifle is allowed but a pump action rifle is considered far too dangerous??????? The reasoning is that a certain Cheif Constable of Manchester had a down on P/A shotguns as they had been used to knock over a couple of that city’s banks. Resulting law – P/A shotguns OK, P/A rifles – tut tut tut ……..

    Ideas on how to get round the Pump Action ban, as I really want a Marlin that I can shoot to finish my collection ( Got the .22, and the S/G)
    Winning the Lottery and buying a Green Card don’t count.

    • “laws and the ingenuity of individuals in circumnavigating them”
      Sometime I think it is favorite action of U.S. citizens. Examples? We will not sold weapons, but then Lend Lease Act, it is not sold, it is leased!
      Something linked another favorite action is going to court with trivia.
      Patenting seems also well-liked, see for example US Patent 5443036A:

      • Why not just say that the federal government (congress in particular) is full of incompetent fools whose literacy level is on par with that of a preschooler? And yet they will say “we make the rules and you don’t!” just to excuse their lack of actual critical thinking skills. And yet the BATF would put you behind bars for possessing a matchlock musket because they would claim “no serial numbers and ownership/importation documents=gangster gun.”

        • “(…)congress(…)is full of incompetent fools whose literacy level is on par with that of a preschooler(…)”

          “(…)put you behind bars for possessing a matchlock musket(…)”

          • I saw a nasty case at adamsguns.com where the ATF apparently conducted an unlawful search and seizure and then claimed the collection was a stash of street guns intended for gang use…

          • You don’t actually need idiots for government to be incompetent.

            Mises’ 1921 “the problem of economic calculation in the socialist commonwealth”; shows that without market prices, there is no way to engage in rational economic calculation.

            There is no market for the provision of goods and services (or should that be “bads” and “dis services” such as gun control, drugs and liquor prohibition…

            So there is no way to know what quantity, qualities etc that they should be provided in.

            The socialists usual ( and completely unsatisfactory) answer to Mises, was that Oskar Lange, had come up with equations, so there was no need for a market.

            The answer actually does have some superficial attractiveness if you we’re raised on walrasian mathematical economics, where demand and supply curves are assumed to be “given”

            Hayek 1945 “the use of knowledge n society”
            shows that the inputs necessary for such calculations are never given in a timely manner to a single individual, instead, they are distributed amongst market participants, and are always in a form that cannot be collated and communicated to a central planner.

            Instead, they arise and are discovered on the market, and they are ever changing, there are no constant relationships.

            Rothbard ?1958 “man, economy and state” and “power and markets”,

            Shows that any monopoly (a state in max Weber’s definition is merely a body which claims a monopoly of the legal use of violence over a geographical area), suffers from the calculation and knowledge problems.

            So, get the brightest geniuses, and give them unbelievable super computers to crunch their equations, and, compared to freely competing providers on a free market, they’ll still fail. They can’t do anything BUT fail.

            The usual argument which follows from that is “but a market won’t provide…”

            This is the assumption that some goods and services can only be provided coercively

            Which raises the question of what goods and services they might be?

            And, if people are not willing to freely pay the price that competing free market providers ask for a service – doesn’t that mean that they don’t actually value it highly enough for it to be worth producing it?

            If that is so, then governments coercively taxing to provide that service, are taking resources from what people valued enough to pay for, in order to provide them with something that they don’t value enough to choose to pay for…

            Which is a very good definition of incompetence.

          • @Daweo guns from the collection in question ranged from cap-lock muskets to Great War vintage pistols, none of which are gangster pieces! What gangster uses an antique for a stick-up?!

          • “What gangster uses an antique for a stick-up”
            Irrevelant. You stated that:
            “BATF would put you behind bars for possessing a matchlock musket”
            then if they did it for collection of, which is not limited to said matchlock musket or unless said BATF explicitly stated that matchlock musket was reason, then your statement lacks evidence.

          • Okay, let’s not compare apples and pomegranates. The issue is that of principle. Ownership of any supposedly undocumented firearms, regardless of era of origin, is treated as a crime unless the law says otherwise. Whether or not there is only a single musket or an entire room of guns from different eras, the BATF will call them contraband if there is insufficient documentation to prove that they are not street guns! This supposedly applies even if only one of the guns lacks ownership papers. The owner of said guns is held responsible for providing proof of lawful ownership. The federal government has no obligation to prove via evidence that it had any rights to raid a house and confiscate guns (and the prosecutor sometimes doctors the evidence)… just look up United States vs Robert E Adams. It’s a mess.

        • If you manufacture a gun yourself and strictly for your own use it legally does not have to have a serial # or manufacturer name etc on it.

          This makes the gun completely illegal to transfer to another individual, but that’s another matter entirely!

          Speaking as a home builder though I can say that I always do put on these unrequired markings since most police officers are shockingly ignorant of what the actual laws governing firearms are!

          It’s just easier to put something on there during the construction and machining phases.

      • In Britain, it’s defined as a firearm which is reloaded by manipulation of the fore-end. So a rifle which used, say, its pistol grip to reload (which does exist, I believe) is not legally a “pump action”.

        In Britain, with the correct certification, you can legally own a pump action shotgun (restricted to a 2 round magazine), a pump action shotgun (no magazine restriction) or a .22 pump action rifle. But full bore pump action rifles were banned at the same time as semi-auto rifles.

        Why? I could not tell you. They were pretty rare, only a few dozen were owned as I remember, and no single pump action full bore rifle had ever been used in a crime. I can only think that some bureaucrat saw a chance to ban some class of the hated “pump action” family of firearms without incurring a large compensation bill. They might also have thought that, with SLRs banned, their former owners might have bought pump action rifles instead, and decided to ban the whole class of weapons out of spite. Who knows? No-one has never had the decency to explain the decision.

          • Daewo:

            A pump or semi-auto shotgun with a two round limited magazine can be owned on a shotgun certificate. It is fairly straightforward to get one of these if you do not have a criminal record.

            An unrestricted magazine shotgun can only be owned on what is called a firearms certificate, and that is harder to get. Most police forces will only issue you a certificate for one of these if you are some sort of pest controller, or if you take part in practical shotgun competitions.

            You are right about the Burgess system, if that were used on a rifle, the rifle would not be classed as “pump action” under British law, and could legally be owned on a firearms certificate. I seem to recall a German firm made a rifle operated by moving the pistol grip, not the fore-end, and this was legal to own in Britain, though I doubt many, if any, were actually sold.

        • You can own an unrestricted Pump Action Shotgun as a Section 1 firearm (with your rifles etc) You can also own obsolete calibre Pump Action rifles, – but not shoot them. Crazy.

        • IIRC, the british legislation assumes a gun remains in the highest level of restriction that it has ever been – until it is deactivated and has a proof house ticket to say that it has been deactivated to the required standard.

          If a gun had ever been classified as “section five” (prohibited), then it remains section five until it is deactivated or destroyed.

          That was the reason why the imported “straight pull bolt action” AR15 and mini 14 rifles were actually manufactured new as “straight pull”, they’ve never had gas systems.

          I think that the only way that you’ll legally get one while the current regs are being enforced (enforced is subtly different to being on the statute books) without getting a section five ticket, is to persuade the importer and manufacturer to do a batch with an operating handle somewhere else.

          That’s my recollection of it anyway.

  3. Love it,

    There’s a rich trove of quotes which sort of approach uncle J’s “The ultimate answer To kings, is a belly laugh” but don’t quite equal it.

    (They don’t like it up’em Captain Mainwearing!)

    John Ross’s “unintended consequences” and several other books of the same dire warnings genre, painted a picture of what a low intensity insurgency could look like (not very nice). I don’t know if Mike Vanderboegh ever completed his book of that genre; “absolved”?

    The draft chapters that I read about a dozen years ago suggest that Vanderboegh understood the power of laughing at rulers, and helping them to look like the jackasses that they are.

  4. According to Stoner’s “UniAxis” approach, any displacement of recoil effectedly moving masses(Projectile, Breechbolt, Carrier, Buffer and Recoilspring” would spoil the need of realized embodiment. If required to do so, it would be more reasonable to adapt into a more suitable lay out like AR18 as Mr. Stoner Did. These guns are pistolized military rifles. But why in the mould of AR15. IMHO.

    • Iirc, Stoner wasn’t involved in the AR18,. I think that it was Sullivan who was the lead designer.

  5. My major malfunction is, I just don’t get bullpups which don’t have long barrels.

    They are making 6.5 Hansel and Gretel whatever, because it’s better out of short barrels- Bullpups, enable longer barrels in a short platform.

    I mean like.


    • “I just don’t get bullpups which don’t have long barrels.”
      But OA-98 is not bull-pup (trigger behind magazine).

      “6.5 Hansel and Gretel whatever”
      Can you be more precise?

      • Hi, sorry. Er… I meant the 6.8 Spc, I read there’s some chatter about replacing 5.56mm. 6.5 Grendel… 6.8 Spc.

        .280 British.

        One of the above is supposed to function better out of shorter barrels, my argument was- Bullpups enable short guns, with long barrels. Aren’t we pissing in the wind?

        For M4’s.

          • Fg42 compromise? Side mag, 7.62mm seems great to me. 20rnds, bring back the Smg, for trenches.

        • “One of the above is supposed to function better out of shorter barrels”
          But it might be possible to get 5.56×45 mm NATO load optimized for short barrels, without necessity of new cartridge.

          • How?

            Powders, modern powders- Avoiding detonation, as is my understanding.

            Forward ignition??

      • Oh. Er… The weapon in question isn’t a bullpup your right. I’ve forgot what set me off actually.

        • Trying to shorten the M16 “Type” weapon… In conjunction with, reading ditching 5.56mm is back on the agenda. Must have been that.

  6. L85A3 like the A2 worked.

    Having to accept the need to forward assist.

    Is like accepting terrorism.

    Flat dark pissing earth.

  7. the defunct OA AR-15’s limited list-of-media-appearances proves that there’s very heavy bias against AR-15 models not coming from the big three (Armalite, Bushmaster, Colt) players in the trade.

  8. The very concept of defining something as an “assault pistol” is asinine. The “assault pistol” features spelled out in the AWB all revolved around the TEC-9, because idiots in Congress somehow thought that was an especially dangerous pistol rather than it merely being used by gangsters because it was cheap.

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