Last week, I told you about one of two AR-15 pistols I was evaluating: the Olympic Arms K23P. While the K23P is classified as a pistol, the presence of a foam padded buffer tube makes it a bit unwieldy for standard pistol-style two-handed fire but allows it to be fired accurately in a fashion similar to a fully stocked rifle. This week I am reviewing the second Olympic Arms pistol, the OA-93.
When I pulled the OA-93 from its shipping box, my first thought was that was it looked like a C96 “Broomhandle” Mauser (one of the coolest looking pistols ever made) on steroids.
Weighing in at 4.46 pounds, the OA-93 is not designed for concealment, but is more of a true handgun than the K23P. Lest you think that its weight removes it from the handgun category, think again. The 1847 .44-caliber Colt Walker revolver made for the Texas Rangers weighed in at 4.5 pounds and was designed to be fired with one hand while astride a horse.
The OA-93 has a 6.5-inch stainless steel barrel topped off with a Phantom flash suppressor. The upper receiver has a partial, rather than full, Picatinny rail because of the modified gas system. No sights are included.
A standard gas-impingement AR uses a buffer tube and recoil spring in the buttstock to return the bolt carrier assembly to its forward position after firing. Thus, an AR-15 firearm that uses the standard system prevents a side folding stock from being used. In order to make the OA-93 a true pistol, Olympic Arms modified the gas system and mounted a recoil spring atop the receiver, which eliminated the buffer tube. This system required the elimination of the standard rear-mounted AR-15 charging handle. On the OA-93, a charging knob is mounted above the upper receiver on the left side. I found this arrangement easier to work with than the standard charging handle. The forward handguard is a free-floated aluminum tube.
The OA-93 does not have a forward assist (really, I didn’t miss it), but retains the receiver bump and replaces the actual button with a sling-mounting point. The magazine release, bolt release, and safety are all standard AR.
I needed a lightweight sighting system for my range test. Kinetic Concealment (www.kineticconcealment.com), a holster company I have written of in the past, supplied me with a brand new LED Red Dot Reflex Sight, the HD01.
The HD01 is about as good as it gets for the short potential sight radius of the OA-93. The HD01 is lightweight and the optics are clear, with the red dot being easily acquired. There is an on/off button in the front that cycles through four different brightness settings for the dot starting at the highest, then running to the lowest and finally to the “off” setting.
I mounted the HD01 and headed off to the range with a 20-round magazine, which I felt would allow the OA-93 to be more easily wielded than if I had used a 30 rounder. Ammunition for the test was plain Winchester 55-grain “white box” ball. (Note that Olympic advises that only brass case ammo should be fired through the OA-93, which is good advice for any AR-15.)
I tried shooting the OA-93 with three different grips variations. Firing with one hand only from 30 feet, I managed a five-shot group in the 6-inch range. Of course recoil was very light. Cycling was flawless, which was impressive for a firearm modified from the original this extensively. While you can shoot the OA-93 one handed, there are better options.
Next, I tried shooting the OA-93 with my left hand supporting it at the forend. This improved things considerably—my groups were down to 3 inches. (What would improve this shooting position even more would be the use of a single point sling to help lock the OA-93 in place as it was pushed away from the body. However, that option was not available at the time of my test.)
Finally, while still at 30 feet, I used a standard, two-handed pistol grip, which turned out to be the best shooting grip for me. The groups shrunk down to a more satisfying 2 inches, and I felt in better control and was able to move the OA-93 across the target much more easily.
The Olympic Arms OA-93 is the most compact AR-15 system available, and was the first AR pistol to hit the marketplace. With some practice, and maybe the addition of the right sling, it could prove to be a useful survival or bugout tool for tight quarter stowage. In any event, it is quite a bit of fun to shoot. And in the end, isn’t that what shooting a gun should be at the end of the day? MSRP is $1267.
For more information, check out the OA-93 and other Olympic Arms products at: www.olyarms.com.