Another long-standing name in firearms is closing its doors. On January 25th, Olympic Arms announced it will officially close down completely at the end of February. Olympic Arms has been the manufacturer of AR-style rifles and popular 1911 handguns for more than 40 years and were the first to create an AR pistol. Operations will cease on February 28th.
Olympic Arms was started in 1956 by gunsmith Robert C. Schuetz. Schuetz was the partner of famed gunsmith P.O. Ackley, inventor the many wildcat “Ackley Improved” cartridges. After leaving his partnership with Ackley, Schuetz founded the Schuetzen Gun Works in Colorado and began machining high-quality rifle barrels. In 1975, the company moved to Olympia, Washington and expanded operations to begin machining bolt-action rifles. Then, in 1982 SGW spun off a new brand name under Olympic Arms to create and manufacture AR-style rifles. Five years later, it acquired M-S Safari Arms, and began selling 1911 handguns under the Safari Arms brand.
Under the banner of Olympic Arms, the company released many new and innovative models of ARs. Among these was the controversial OA-93, the first AR pistol. Chambered in both .223 Remington and 7.62x39mm, the OA-93 was introduced in 1993. Unfortunately, because of the chambering in 7.62mm, release of the OA-93 triggered the ATF to reclassify the cheap steel core 7.62 ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition.” This ban on steel-core 7.62 infuriated many gun owners, who blamed Robert Schuetz and Olympic Arms for stopping the flow of cheap military-surplus ammo.
The announcement of the closing comes on the heels of the Washington Attorney General proposing a weapons ban and a licensing requirement for owners of so-called “assault weapons.” These new bills, if passed would negatively impact Olympic Arms. There does not seem, however, to be any connection between these bills being announced and Olympic Arms’ decision to close down. Defender Outdoors will continue to sell Olympic Arms products until supplies run out. Though Olympic Arms will no longer offer manufacturer warranties on their products, you may want to pick up an Olympic rifle as a keepsake!