A number of Commonwealth countries have adopted some version of the Austrian Steyr AUG bullpup rifle as their main combat rifle. Australia and New Zealand are the two main users, but the Falklands Islands Defence Force has also used them until quite recently. The Republic of Ireland is another user of the AUG and it is fair to say that it has been a very successful design of rifle since it was first introduced in the late 1970s.
The term ‘bullpup’ means that the magazine is behind the trigger, allowing a longer barrel in a shorter length rifle. The Steyr is also distinctive in being one of the first military rifles to make extensive use of polymer, which gives it a unique shape that is instantly recognisable:
The rifle has a folding front handgrip and a distinctive metal scope on the top, made by Swarovski, that has 1.5x magnification:
The reticle consists of a small ring with four radiating cross hairs:
A charging handle is fitted to the left side of the rifle that draws the bolt back through the use of a set of metal guide rods:
As this rifle is deactivated, the bolt itself has been welded into the chamber, however the bolt carrier still moves and can be locked rearwards:
The rifle has a progressive trigger which means that a short pull fires the rifle in semi-automatic, whilst pulling the trigger all the way to the rear allows it to be fired in full auto. A small safety is fitted next to the trigger that is pushed through to change the weapon from safe to fire:
The barrel has a large flash hider at the muzzle and is designed to take a bayonet, often of the American M9 type:
The rifle has a pair of sling swivels, one just in front of the front sight bracket:
And a second on the buttstock:
This swivel can be removed and swapped to the other side if required. Note also the manufacturer’s name and the rifle’s designation AUG molded into the polymer. AUGstands for Armee Universal Gewehr.
The magazine well is in the buttstock and the magazine is released by a small spring loaded catch:
The magazines are as distinctive as the rifle and are made of transluscent plastic. They each hold 30 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition:
This rifle is an Austrian produced example, but the Australians set up their own manufacturing plant in Australia and the weapons used by both them and New Zealand are manufactured in the Southern Hemisphere. Although not a true F88 rifle, this is as close as I will get in the UK and it looks pretty impressive with my Australian uniform and webbing- a full reconstruction post will be coming at the end of January.
Nice little write-up, just a few additional points on the New Zealand version of this weapon. Introduced from 1988 to replace the L1A1 SLR and M16A1, the NZ version was slightly different from the Australian model. The NZ version didn’t have the Australian trigger mechanism but rather the safety catch had three settings, Safe, Single and Auto. Not all the NZ models were produced in Australia, with the first 5000 manufactured in Austria with the remaining quantity (10000 I recall) made by ADI.
NZ Steyrs were issued in three main variants, one with a 350mm barrel, which was primarily used by armoured units, a carbine with a 407mm barrel and the standard rifle with the 508mm Barrel. From the late 1990s, the SP Steyr was introduced, this was a modified Steyr with a Piccanty rail in place of the standard sight. NZ also developed the Steyr M203PI which was a standard Steyr mated with an M203 40mm Grenade launcher.
Initially issued with a Steyr sling, Cleaning kit and Bayonet, these items had been replaced by the mid-1990s with the SA80 Sling and M16 cleaning kit and bayonets.