Steyr’s AUG/A3 SA 5.56 x 45

I had a great visit with the folks from Steyr while at SHOT SHOW 2013, in Las Vegas. I’m excited about their rendition of the new AUG bullpup carbine, the AUG/A3.

The AUG (Armee Universal Gewehr, or universal army rifle)  design dates back to the 70’s. The carbine was designed by Steyr-Daimler-Puch now called Steyr Mannlicher GmbH & Co KG. Its original design was visionary in that it incorporates many of the features now sought after by the services. Because of its compactness, the AUG is ideally suited for CQB/CQC or mounted operations. It featured interchangeable barrel assemblies, which allowed the operator to transition from a 13.8 inch barrel up to 24.4 inch barrel suited for a designated marksman or light machine gun. The AUG was magazine fed featuring a polymer 30 round magazine. The bullpup design meant that the overall length could be kept to a minimum while still retaining the barrel length needed to provide effective muzzle velocities. The AUG was available in 1:9 and 1:7 twist to accommodate SS109/M855, M193 and the SS109 NATO ammunition. Interestingly enough its commercial success was not as impressive as it should have been and it became a cult rifle very much like SAAB automobiles. Other features included full ambidextrous controls, an adjustable gas piston operating system and a pull-through trigger that eliminates the need for a selector switch. Integrated with the receiver was 1.5x optic manufactured by Swarosvik Optik. From a technical perspective, the AUG was far superior to the M16/M4 family of rifles yet it was never successful in displacing either the M16 or M4. It’s failure to achieve full potential revolved around two subtle points, none of which I consider valid from a decision making point. First, the receiver was not compatible with the M16/M4 magazine architecture. Secondly, it lacked the all important Picatinny rail system; thus, limiting the choices of accessories that could be mounted. Steyr’s AUG suffered a further setback with the passage of the 1989 Importation Ban, and the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB), also called the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, subtitled Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which banned the importation of a number of semiautomatic carbines, including the AUG, on the basis of an ambiguous and arbitrary “sporting use” concept.

Since then, Steyr has made a number of changes, the more noticeable being the addition of Picatinny rails at the 12 o’clock and removable 45 degree offset rails at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions. Steyr has also shifted production to the United States by teaming with Sabre-Defence. The AUG reincarnation comes to us in the form of the AUG/A3 SA 5.56 x 45.

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If you’ve ever owned or fired the AUG, you will love the AUG/A3 SA it is a viable alternative to another M16/M4 clone. The AUG/A3 deserves your serious consideration.

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