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In 1993, Olympic Arms introduced an AR-15 with a side folding stock, as well as a stockless – and buffer-tube-less – pistol version. They did this by relocating the recoil spring of the AR to a tube running above the barrel and receiver. It was a clever modification (although the execution left something to be desired), but it came at a very unfortunate time. The very next year, in 1994, the US Assault Weapons Ban was enacted and Olympic’s pistols were prohibited from production.
However, Olympic recognized that the definition of “assault pistol” was based first on a semiautomatic handgun with a detachable magazine. If the magazine were not detachable, the gun was not an “assault pistol”, regardless of any other features it might have. So they introduced the OA-96 in 1996, with a 30-round fixed magazine, as well as a barrel shroud, pistol grip, and flash suppressor. In order to reload it, they incorporated a button to easy hinge the upper receiver open, allowing access to the magazine.
This was a slick workaround, but of course what they and their customers really wanted was a detachable magazine. Olympic went immediately to work on that, and introduced the OA-98 two years later…
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