View Full Version : "Mystery" AR-15 question

August 2, 2012, 08:36 AM
Got an offer to buy a AR-15 from a family member. I'm not yet sure if I will take him up on the offer or not, but I am curious as to what a fair price might be.

I'm not sure if it is normal or not, but when last I fired it, it shot very well and accurately but...and this is the best way I can describe it...when shooting the action felt like when you hit a garage door spring with a stick. Had that sproinnnggg feeling to it?

Any thoughts? I'd like to pick it up, but would like to know based on the information available if it would be a good buy and at what price without breaking the (rather meager) bank or insulting said family member.

Crow Hunter
August 2, 2012, 09:45 AM
Not sure about the price but the "sproing" is normal. The action spring is cycling in the "buffer tube".

August 2, 2012, 10:03 AM
Not sure about the price but the "sproing" is normal. The action spring is cycling in the "buffer tube".

Well, that's good to know. Couple more details - it's definitely a shooter, not necessarily collector's item - was used in 3-gun competitions for just about the entirety of it service life thus far but has mainly collected dust for the past few years

August 2, 2012, 12:42 PM
Final revision (I hope:confused:)

Asking price is $600 - but, sadly, it's not a Colt. Owner not sure offhand what make it is, I'll give him a break - he is old and can't see very well:p

I don't have it in hand to check and, again, owner is a bit foggy on the details of it's origins other than he inherited it from his uncle (now deceased)

Anyways from what I gathered it is more like 1978-ish vintage and AFAIK was manufactured in Seattle(?)

Anyone have any clue what it might be? It looks like a base model.

Not sure if I can change the title of this thread....guess this is what happens when full details are not known prior to posting queries:o

Spats McGee
August 2, 2012, 01:04 PM
I am truly, woefully ignorant about ARs, but this rang a bell:
. . . .manufactured in Seattle(?) . . . .

Could it be something by Olympic Arms? (http://www.olyarms.com/)

August 2, 2012, 01:10 PM
Definitely could be - were they in business in the late '70s?

If so, worth $600? It's definitely not "mint" but AFAIK is in working order

Spats McGee
August 2, 2012, 01:18 PM
Definitely could be - were they in business in the late '70s?
According to their website, they've been around since 1975. I remember them from the mid-1980s or so, but that's about all I can tell you about their history.

If so, worth $600?
I'd answer your question if I could, but I just don't know. I did mention that I'm woefully ignorant of ARs, didn't I? :o

August 2, 2012, 01:34 PM
IMO, a well used Olympic is definitely not worth $600. New ones aren't that far off of that. $600 won't be far from buying you a new S&W M&P Sport, which is a MUCH nicer rifle than anything Olympic makes.

Unless it's just been worked over with some particularly nice parts, just based on what little info you've said would have me completely uninterested at $600.

August 2, 2012, 01:40 PM
I did mention that I'm woefully ignorant of ARs, didn't I?

That you did, and as you can probably guess - I'm no better:o

At least on the right track though, I think

I think some of my apprehension is stemming from the possible purchase being from a family member: ie I don't want to make a deal to pay a boatload more than something is worth only to find out that I could get the same darn thing new for the same or half - main reason I dislike doing business with family, but it sounds like a good deal to my relatively inexperience sensebilities:confused:

August 2, 2012, 01:49 PM
I don't want to make a deal to pay a boatload more than something is worth only to find out that I could get the same darn thing new for the same or half

Pick it up and take it to a reputable gunsmith or shop and get a retail value estimate. Excuse to family member? To get it checked out for any safety issues... which is sort of true. ;)

By the way, if it's actually an Olympic Arms rifle, it would have been made after 1982. OA was one of the innovators or the modern AR, as well as one of the first "aftermarket" makers to make all components in house and to mil spec.
Prior to 1982, they made custom gun barrels and bolt action rifles under the name Schuetzen Gun Works.
In other words... they know what they're doing.


Addendum: If it's an original early OA and in good shape, I'd drop $600 on it in a hot minute. :)

August 2, 2012, 01:57 PM
Too close to the price of a brand new, fully warrantied gun. I would turn it down. Based on your description of the history of the gun, it's probably well on its way to becoming worn out.

August 2, 2012, 02:20 PM
Yeah, lots of questions should be answered to determine the value of the gun.

Roughly how many rounds have been through it?
Chrome lined barrel?
What upper receiver?
Lower receiver?
What trigger group (being a 3 gun AR, it's probably upgraded)
Any optics come along with it?
Aftermarket stock, hand guard, rail?

A lot of these things add up quick and $600 could be a good deal based on the answers. Good luck with whatever you decide.

August 2, 2012, 02:26 PM
Look it over. I doubt it is "worn out". AR's are so easy to work on, it will be simple to fix or replace anything on it, use it for a base to build it into any type of AR you want.
Plus, it has the advantage of being a private, non-paperwork sale. Your family member may be OK with taking $300 down and letting you pay off the rest so you don't break your bank.
Definately worth a closer look.

August 2, 2012, 03:45 PM
Oh, boy, well, now I'm more undecided than I was to start with:confused: I was unrealistically hoping for consensus one way or another.

Look it over. I doubt it is "worn out"....Definately worth a closer look.

Well, what are some things to look for when checking one out?

I doubt it's on it's last legs at all - possibly 4k round count maybe?

August 2, 2012, 03:59 PM
Are you in a different location then the gun currently? If its just down the road I would figure you would have went and taken some pics by now.

Every firearm that I have recieved from family has been given to me or handed down if you will over the years. I have never bought a firearm from family however our family has passed around automobiles like no ones business. As always Grandpa or dad insisted that the vehicle go to a grage and get a once over from a pro (not a farm boy wannabe mechanic like the rest of us). Also had an uncle who was a real mechanic and even still when it came to trading or selling each other vehicles there was always a non biased opinion.

I see nothing wrong with taking it to the smith for a look see.

Regards, Vermonter

August 2, 2012, 04:00 PM
I doubt it's on it's last legs at all - possibly 4k round count maybe?

If that's the actual round count, and it's been fairly well cared for, it's fine... just fine. Without seeing it though... :confused:

If you aren't real up on ARs, it would be very time consuming to tell you what to look for. You can look at the obvious... the BCG, the barrel, quality of the trigger etc etc.

Again, if it's early OA, there is an intrinsic element to it that I, and probably others, would appreciate. How you see it is based on your value system.
It's kind of like... for the same approximate money, would you like a nice original '69 Z28 Camaro, or a new one? A nice 70 Series Colt Gold Cup, or a brand new one? Know what I mean?


August 2, 2012, 08:24 PM
An old Oly might be nice to have but today's ARs are better so I'd go that route. I'd say begin your research and then buy exactly what you want not what this single AR happens to be. The only older AR I'd be interested in would be Colt.

Things to research? Barrel profile, barrel lining, barrel length, twist rate, gas system length, gas block type, A2 vs. A4 receiver, feed ramps, trigger, handguards, stock/buffer tube and much, much more. Once you're up to speed with what you want the Oly will fall way short.

Coach Z
August 2, 2012, 08:24 PM
The price is a little steep imo for a gun that was run hard in competition. That said I have no idea what "improvements" were or were not made to the gun. I'd say take it to the range and put fifty or a hundred through it. If it shoots well and you feel that it's worth it scoop it up, otherwise bail on the deal. I've bought lots (TONS) of guns on impulse. I've been very lucky that I've only ended up with one or two bad ones but don't be too quick to part with hard earned cash.

Purely my $0.02

August 2, 2012, 08:36 PM
You really need to find out the make and manufacturer before anyone can give you sound advice. Haha it sounds like a incredibly good deal or your going to get ripped off. For reference i built my BCM for around $800 and thats including my troy back ups.

August 2, 2012, 08:58 PM
Considering the vintage, I'm seeing in my mind a classic A1 style AR, which I don't think anyone can find for 600 bucks nowadays. I'm also expecting a 1:12 twist on the barrel, which would be fine for the bulk of cheap 55gr ammo.

If you are ok buying a shooter rifle for 600 from a family member then you should be just fine. Yes you can get a new S&W M&P for around that price but sometimes it is worth it to pay a higher premium to family, truth be told 600 bucks is about the bottom price for any AR.

Now it if isn't a classic A1 style rifle, then all bets are off, but I'd post some pics here if you can.


August 3, 2012, 01:06 AM
Best you can do for now without further info on this AR, is to have him take good pics and send him to you, then post it here to see what brand and accesories it has.

$600 is a bit high for a 1978-ish non-name brand AR. You can get a modern AR15 for around that price brand new

August 3, 2012, 08:25 AM
Sadly, while I have planned to get one, I am as Spats stated "Woefully ignorant about ARs"

I have shot and handled it, but it has been several months since. I am not a collector by any means - so the sole purpose of the rifle to me would be as a shooter.

My area is woefully lacking in competent smiths, actually lacking any at all for that matter and this particular family member would likely be insulted that I would want to have it checked out - just the way he is:rolleyes:

Another worry, I suppose, aside from my own lack or practical knowledge in this respect is the current owner's propensity for "tinkering" and then not remembering what he did or when he did it. It's previous owner had the same inclination to "tinker" but as a master machinist, he actually knew what he was doing for the most part.

All the advice and input is greatly appreciated - I have the excuse right now that money is tight, so I will probably pass for the time being. While he said he has another party or 2 interested, if the asking price is indeed too high I'm not worried about it moving very fast and in the meantime I may chance to get a closer look at it.

If and/or when I can get more details I will see if I can dig this thread back up. Vermonter, it's not terribly far away - but as stated the man can be rather...touchy....about any inclination of mistrust. Not that I think he would rip me off - but, there is a reason that I generally avoid buying "used" - from a manufacturer, I at least have some recourse should a product not function as advertised.

August 3, 2012, 09:13 AM
As long as I'm at it, can anyone recommend a good source of information to become more familiar with the AR platform in general?

August 3, 2012, 09:25 AM
I learned from a bad experience years ago not to have any financial dealings with family members....period. This includes sharing equipment, selling or buying stuff, borrowing or lending money. Once a deal goes sour and you realize you might have to sit across the table from that family member for the next 50 Thanksgivings the "smart" meter in your brain will peg out.

Spats McGee
August 3, 2012, 09:41 AM
As an EBR-challenged member, I have little or nothing to add to the discussion about the AR at issue. However, I will add the following: Someone noted a few posts back that $600 is awfully close to the cost of a new, warrantied AR. Given that comment and your comments (Stressfire) about: (1) the family member's inclination to tinker, but not to remember exactly what he'd done; and (2) the lack of competent smiths in your area, I'd be very cautious about this purchase.

As an attorney, whenever I go to make a major purchase (& yes, $600 is a major purchase for me), I consider the following question: What happens if something really goes wrong? What is my recourse? Were I in your shoes, I'd probably pass, given the state of my AR-fu. Why? Because if something has really, really been messed up, I'm going to wind up just eating the $600 loss, and being mad about it. I'm not going to sue a family member for $600. If I buy a new rifle from a company, though, I operate on the assumption that every company can put out a lemon now and again, and that they'll make it right. That's what warranties and customer service are for.

August 3, 2012, 01:48 PM
Spats & Utopia: that's kind of where I'm at, as in if the rifle craps out or blows up or what have you, I'm essentially out $600 and there may be some hard feeling. And $600 is a major purchase for me as well.

The fiancee and I are going over for dinner tonight, so I will probably get a closer look at it to at least figure out make and model - but I will likely either wait for a considerable price drop or pass entirely.

collector rob
August 3, 2012, 01:51 PM
If it is an Olympic Arms lower and is that old. The lower itself could be worth 500-600- to the right buyer in a ban state.


August 3, 2012, 02:36 PM
that's kind of where I'm at, as in if the rifle craps out or blows up or what have you, I'm essentially out $600 and there may be some hard feeling. And $600 is a major purchase for me as well.

The most expensive part of the AR is the barrel. They can be found for around 125$
Everything else is 100$ or less.

In today's world most any working AR is worth 500-600$

Offer 500 and go have fun with your new AR.

August 3, 2012, 07:01 PM
I recently purchased a Bushmaster AR15 20" chrome lined heavy barrel...it`s a target model...in excellent cond.... low round count....for $600 OTD....

The problem with the AR you are looking at is it is considered a parts gun if it isn`t made by a recognized manufacturer....and if you cannot find out who makes it... you should consider it one...

If it is a parts gun.... then I don`t think it`s worth the money he wants...But there are very good parts guns also but you will be able to tell who made the parts easily...there will be names all over...

Just my 2cents...Jim

August 3, 2012, 07:23 PM
One problem with Olympic Arms rifles is that they made different models, some great, some not so great. Unless you know what you are looking at, I would pass on it, $600 is high.

August 4, 2012, 01:26 PM
Well, got a look at it last night and it would appear to not be Olympic at all. The lower was the only portion that carried a visible manufacturers mark. Would appear to be a Palmetto, SN# in the mid 4000's. 20" barrel, maybe?

Actually not sure it even counts as an EBR, being mostly OD green
Except for the massive scope, it's a dead ringer for the one in post #7 HERE (http://m14forum.com/ammunition/117084-palametto-state-armory-has-free-shipping.html)
Any chance that helps out any more?

August 4, 2012, 01:56 PM
Well then it is a parts gun like Jimjc suspected above. So its value comes down to "What Parts?". If you can't determine that the parts are high quality, then they're likely mediocre. I doubt we can help much from a distance, I'd say pass and get something of known quality. Too many unknowns for me but from your picture it could be pre-ban.

August 5, 2012, 09:10 AM
That Palmetto State appears to be an A1 style rifle. I would buy it.


August 6, 2012, 09:30 AM
So its value comes down to "What Parts?"

That does appear to be the $600 question.:confused: