Finally after waiting for the Steyr AUG A3's to drop down to pre-panic pricing, I finally have my own. Ahead are a plethora of pictures, and quite the wall of text!

Why Choose an AUG?   

    One thing I have to point out, as my friends so often to: I am a plethora of "retarded" ideas according to them. All of my friends, and myself have shot AR's for quite some time. It is nice that we all have the same parts and same magazines. Still, I wanted something different. For the longest time I wanted to build a short barreled AR, something with a 10.5" barrel is what I had in mind. I wanted something that was compact, and quick handling. Some downsides with the short barreled AR are as follows:

  • $200 tax stamp and the whole NFA process
  • Harder on parts
  • The damned things are LOUD
  • They can be somewhat finicky to run at times
  • Ballistics are not optimal with a short barrel
  • In the end it is still an AR and my dad's undying hatred of them would cause me to tuck my head in shame everytime that I go home with the damned thing

    Now, I had seen the AUG in the past, but with the built in optic and the high price of Pre 1989 guns, they did not appeal to me. Once I saw that they were now making the AUG A3 in the US, I actually started thinking about them seriously. And, well, being different it definitely appealed to me. The AUG with its short overall length and a 16" barrel is comparable sized to a short barreled AR seemed to be just the ticket. I told my friends that I was going to get one, and as expected by good friends, I was chastised. The Giant Ginger chastised me the most. He pointed out all of the flaws in the system, as follows:

  • It takes odd mags
  • The trigger sucks
  • Wrong handed people such as himself cannot shoot them
  • It's expensive
  • Everyone has AR's!
    I took all of those into consideration.........and bought one.

A Brief History

    The AUG was designed by Steyr Mannlicher in the early 1970's for use by the Austrian Army. It was designed as a bullpup for mechanized troops for ease of handling within vehicles. A bullpup is a firearm where the action is located behind the trigger, allowing for a full length barrel within a compact and easy to handle package. The AUG was adopted by the Austrian Military in 1977, and was designated the STG 77. Since its inception it has been used by over 30 countries.

    The AUG was imported into the USA for commercial sales as the A1, A2 and USR models in the past. The A1 model featured a built in 1.5 power optic, which doubled as a carrying handle. Due to the 1989 Assault Weapon Import ban, the AUG could no longer be imported. After the 1989 ban, the AUG was changed a bit and renamed the USR for the US market. The changes were the addition of plastic behind the pistol grip to give it a "Thumbhole" stock, and an unthreaded barrel, to get rid of the "Evil Features". The AUG A2 model featured a receiver that you could remove the optic from and place a Picatinny rail on, so that you could choose what optic you would like to mount on it.

    In order for the AUG A3 to be sold in the USA, it could not be imported into the country. As a result Steyr Arms teamed up with Sabre Defense to produce enough of the parts domestically so that the gun could be sold. Steyr had receivers cast stateside, and Sabre machined them and produced barrels domestically so that the gun could be sold in the USA. Sabre completed the first guns for the US market in early 2009. Unfortunately the production was short lived, as Sabre got caught up with quite a few legal issues, resulting in them shutting down shop.

    Fortunately Steyr Arms announced in 2012 that production would be resuming, with VLTOR out of Arizona machining the receivers for them, and FN USA producing the barrels. These current production AUG's started hitting the market in August of 2012, which brings us to my AUG.

The AUG A3

The first thing that most people notice about the AUG is the short overall length. The overall length of the new production Steyr AUG A3 is right at 28" at the tip of the flash suppressor. My AR15 for comparison is 32" OAL with the buttstock collapsed, and 37" with the buttstock in the fully extended position. The AUG is 4" shorter, while still maintaining a 16" barrel, and a Title I status.

    The flash suppressor is referred to as the "Tulip" flash suppressor, due to the shape of it....well....resembling a Tulip. It features 5 ports, with a closed bottom to minimize the dust kicked up while shooting from the prone position.

    The barrel on the current production A3's is a 1/9 twist Cold Hammer Forged and chrome lined, produced by FN USA. It is 16" and measures slightly over 18" when removed from the gun and with the flashider installed. (It looks bigger than it really is in the picture......I swear I have not used that line on a woman before)

    On the right side of the barrel is the Gas Regulator assembly. The AUG is a piston operated weapon, with an adjustable gas system. The gas system features two settings, normal and adverse. The normal position is used when firing normal or quality ammunition, and the adverse setting is used when the gun is dirty, using underpowered ammunition (such as Wolf, Tula, Silver Bear), or when the gun is iced up. When the Gas Regulator is on normal, you can see a large hole through the gas port. When on adverse you see a small hole through the gas port, which allows more gas to drive the piston back, making sure that the weapon has enough energy to properly cycle the bolt group. To adjust from normal, you press the black "pressure piece" downward and rotate the Gas Regulator counter clockwise. As a note from experience, you may not want to do this after you have ran several magazines through the weapon, as it may be a bit hot on your bare fingers. 
Gas Regulator in Normal position. Note the large gas port.
Gas Regulator in Adverse position. Note the small gas port.
    Attached to the bottom of the Gas Regulator assembly is the assembly is a built in foldable foregrip. With the grip in the vertical position simply pulling down on it and pressing it forward will fold it horizontal. While shooting it I have found this to be the optimal position for shooting off of a pack or rest. By simply pulling it down it will return to the vertical position.
On the left side of the receiver, directly next to the foregrip is the Barrel Lock Pin, which allows for removal of the barrel. We will go into further detail on this once we go over the disassembly.

On the forward left of the receiver is the charging handle. Before I get into it I must stress the following, quoted directly from the manual on page 10: "Caution, always pull the cocking slide back with your palm facing up as in the accompanying photograph to prevent your knuckles from being cut or scraped on any devices, such as optics, that may be mounted on the Picatinny rail of the receiver."

    By that, they mean to do it like so:
Do this
Do NOT do it like this.......
Don't do this!
    I did it like that. Once.
First blood!
    "Learning what not to do is also part of the learning process!" Now that I learned the hard way, I surely make sure to operate the charging handle properly! Once that I had made a blood sacrifice to the Steyr Gods, and cleaned up the O Negative off of my new gun, and bandaged myself I kept going.

    The charging handle on the AUG A3 can be used as a forward assist. To do so you retract the charging handle approximately one inch, and fold it towards the receiver. This allows you to manually place the gun into battery in the event that you ride the charging handle forward, or it fails to chamber completely.

All bandaged up and ready to go!
     By retracting the charging handle all of the way to the rear and rotating it clockwise you can also manually lock the bolt to the rear. Very simple and easy to do.....unless you are running an EOTech.
Bolt locked to the rear using the charging handle
    The right side of the receiver contains the markings for Steyr, and a short piece of Picatinny rail, where you could mount a light or laser. As of yet, I am not sure what light I will place on it, but surely I will figure it out as I go along. The Surefire that I have will not mount on there due to the thumbscrews, so I may get a different mount for it.
    Located directly behind the trigger is the safety for the AUG. It is a simple cross bolt safety that blocks the rearward travel of the trigger. Pressing the safety from the right side to the left places the weapon on fire and reveals a red dot on the safety where it protrudes from the left side of the rifle. Pressing it from the left side to the right places the weapon on safe, with a white dot visible on the safety where it protrudes from the right of the grip. With how the safety is situated it brings the mantra "Smooth on the right, ready to fight".

     The trigger, unlike most rifles is a sliding trigger, versus a hinged trigger. Pulling it presses it straight to the rear. One of the biggest complains on the AUG is that they have "A horrible trigger". Brand new out of the box my trigger broke at a consistent 8 pounds 10 ounces. This may seem like a lot, but it did so with very little creep. The trigger has an extremely positive reset. For lack of better terms, it feels very "Glockish". I personally do not think it is a bad trigger for a combat weapon by any means. The trigger pull on an AUG is definitely longer than that of an AR (exact length unknown at this time). We all know that you can get a Geissele or other aftermarket trigger for the AR that breaks at 4 pounds or less, but as an apples to apples comparison I took a reading of the trigger on my AR. The trigger on my AR is from a standard CMT (Stag) Lower Parts Kit. It has over 10,000 rounds through it, so it has been thoroughly broken in. The average of 10 pulls for my AR trigger was 7 pounds 4 ounces. The AUG trigger new is only 1 pound 6 ounces heavier. As it gets some rounds through it we will see what it settles into.
Safety in the Safe position.
Safety in the Fire position.
    On the top of the receiver is a Picatinny rail with 25 positions to mount various optics and accessories. Currently I am using an EOTech mounted in position 4. On the front of the rail there is a sling swivel which swivels 360 degrees. The rail is held to the receiver by several Allen head bolts. PJ Investments offers several different rail models, varying in height and length if you wish to change this out. For my uses, this rail suits me just fine. Now, as for the EOTech.....we will talk about that later.

    A few inches to the rear of the receiver on the stock are ejection ports. With the AUG being a bullpup, in its standard configuration it ejects spent casings to the right of the weapon. If you are wrong handed, this can be rather problematic, as getting hot brass ejected into your face can be rather detrimental to being able to shoot accurately. But no worries, Steyr offers a wrong handed bolt kit so that even wrong handed people can shoot the AUG!. You simply replace the right handed bolt with the wrong handed bolt, and switch the ejection port cover to the right side of the weapon.
Note the writing on the ejection port cover. Reading is not only fun, it's fundamental!
Ejection port without cover.
    The magazines are specific to the Steyr AUG. They are made out of translucent polymer which allows you to see how many rounds you have remaining at a glace. The locking point is on the rear of the magazine. To insert a magazine you simply place the magazine in the magwell and press straight up. The magazines themselves are very well made, being a much thicker polymer than that of a Magpul PMAG (no doubt in them being designed for this system). They are a waffle design, and are very beefy. On the bottom of the magazine You must depress two buttons on the floorplate in order to disassemble the magazine. There are two options for capacity; 30 and 42 rounds. Here is how the different magazines look in the weapon.
30 round magazine
42 round magazine
    Located towards the rear of the stock is the bolt release on the left hand side, and the magazine release, centered directly behind the magazine well. The bolt release is simple to use by pressing the top of it in while the bolt is held to the rear. The magazine release is also a simple press on the lever to release the magazine. I found that all 21 magazines I have will drop free once the magazine release is pressed.

Initial Thoughts

        Out of the box, this thing is short. Shorter than my AR with the stock collapsed. One thing I was not expecting is the weight. It is deceivingly stout. The manual states that it weighs 7.8 pounds, a full 3 pounds lighter than my AR. Being so much more compact though, it feels heavier. But, that being said, the balance on it is superb. You can hold it in the firing position much longer than you can an AR, and it is even easy to shoulder and aim one handed.

    The fit and finish is superb, with no apparent machining flaws or dings. One thing I must say is the factory packaging is somewhat mediocre. The box definitely shouts to the world though, with STEYR AUG in huge print on the front of the box.

    Currently the charging handle is pretty stiff to operate. I am sure that with more use, it will become easier. The magazine release is very firm, you definitely will not actuate it by accident. The safety is a bit sharp on the edges, if you have delicate hands, it will definitely take some skin off.

    For the moment, I have an EOTech on the rifle. The EOTech is currently my favorite red dot optic offered, but on the AUG it does not work well. Due to how the stock charging handle is, it is a bit of a pain in the ass to operate easily. This is due to how the EOTech overhangs off of the rail. With the EOTech on the rifle it is a bit tricky to lock the bolt to the rear using the charging handle. In the next few days I will be trying a Trijicon TA31RCOM4, so we shall see how that works out.

    One of the biggest complaints I hear is that "Bullpups have horrible triggers". Personally, I think the AUG has a good trigger. Yes, it is a bit heavy, but it does not have much creep and it breaks clean. Many people compare it to aftermarket AR triggers, but that is not a fair comparison. When you compare it to stock, production triggers it is pretty close in pull weight, and is much cleaner than triggers I have felt on DPMS or Bushmaster AR's. Tomorrow The Giant Ginger will be shooting it, and since he is a trigger whore, we will see what he thinks.

Initial Range Report

    With the EOTech mounted, I went to the range with a total of 230 rounds of various ammunition. The ammo was a mix of Wolf 55gr FMJ, Federal 55gr FMJ, LC M855, and 55gr FMJ reloads. It took me 4 rounds for me to get the EOTech on target. I then produced this 20 round group using M855 at 50 yards. This was roughly shooting 1 round per second or so and with no magnifier shot from the prone position.
    There are a few holes in there from 17 HMR, but I was pretty happy with that grouping using a red dot on it. In the next few weeks when I take a trip back to Elko County I will be doing some 100 yard groups using a 10x scope, so we will see how well it does.

    Recoil was very mild, seemingly less so than that of my AR. Also, not having a buffer tube and spring, it was nice not to hear a SPRONG every time that I shot. Once I established zero, I had no problem nailing clay pigeons and soda cans from 100 to 300 yards within one to two rounds.  The muzzle report is definitely more than that of an AR, just due to the muzzle being closer to the shooter. I found that the foregrip folded up worked great for shooting from the prone position off of a pack. Everyone who shot it commented on how well it shot, and how balanced it is. I think more than anything, the balance is what appeals to me the most. The gun is much easier to hold on target for longer periods of time, and having most of the weight centered above and behind the trigger definitely makes for the gun swinging faster.

    Reliability was superb, as expected. When shooting Wolf I noticed ejection to not be very positive, and the bolt sounded sluggish. I switched to the adverse gas setting and it promptly started ejecting cases 15 feet or so. I did a bit of shooting wrong handed. and found with the EOTech I could get far enough back on the stock so that I did not eat brass to my face. Intentionally I shot it wrong handed with my face up to the ejection port so that I did eat a few pieces of brass, and it was not that bad (more than likely due to having a beard, and it taking the brunt). It can be done if you must. I plan on trying a few different things over the next few weeks when shooting wrong handed to see how I can do so more efficiently.

The Plan....

    For the remainder of 2013, I will be running only the AUG, with the exception of shooting my AR for comparisons on things such as accuracy, malfunction clearance drills, reloads, and things like that. After shooting today I cleaned it, and that will be the last time I clean it until I have issues with it. Over the next month or so, before squirrel season, I will be working up some varmint loads. And yes, I will be using an AUG to shoot ground squirrels this spring. My whole goal is to see if switching to the AUG offers enough advantages over the AR. I plan on going into detail into comparing and contrasting it versus my experience with the AR, especially when it comes to things that people  say are downsides of the AUG, such as the trigger, and magazine changes. Check back, as I hope to be adding new content, and some videos on this in the coming weeks.

    For now, I will be leaving you with some gun porn, because hey, who doesn't like that?!

AUG vs 16" AR with stock collapsed
AUG vs 16" AR with stock extended


03/19/2013 10:37

Sweet initial review.
I have wanted an AUG after seeing it in Die Hard as a kid.
Currently trying to save a little bit here and there to get one.
Can I make some requests?
I too plan on using an ACOG with it and would love to know how the combo performs.
Can you review the handling differences between the 42 and 30 round magazines? Things like reloading and how it interacts with your gear when your rifle is slung. That 42 looks pretty long.
What sling do you plan on using and how well does it work?

I would also like to expose you to the existence of this upgrade.
It may help you sarcifice less blood to the Steyr Gods.

I found this page on
Any more info you could give would be greatly appreciated.


Erick Z
03/19/2013 12:19


So far, I am really liking the AUG. Definitely save your pennies, it has been worth it for me. The prices keep dropping, I see within the next few months they will be back at pre panic pricing. They went as high as $4,000 at the height of this panic, I got mine for $1975.

As of yesterday, my AUG now has a TA31RCOM4 on it. The ACOG is definitely the ticket with the AUG so far. I can easily lock the charging handle back now, with no fuss (I still may get either the Manticore Raptor or that GHW charging handle you linked to, just for ease of use). My only complaint with the TA31 is the short eye relief. The eye relief is only 1.5", so you have to get right up on it to get a full field of view. I will be running the TA31 for a while, so we shall see if I can get used to it. When I shoulder the rifle and get my cheekweld I find that I have to push my head forward a bit further than what comes naturally in order to get the proper field of view. In the long run, I will probably end up getting a TA11, since it has more eye relief. With the TA31 if you try shooting wrong handed, the image is very boxy. It is doable, but something with a more forgiving eye box would be nice. From the prone though, the TA31 is just fine.

The 30 round mag is definitely much more handy to use. With that said, going prone with a 30 feels like an AR with a 20 if that makes sense. The 42 feels like being prone with a 30 in the AR, as the mag will make contact with the ground. This Saturday I will be working on nothing but reload drills using my chest rig at the range, so then I will be bringing everything together to see how it works. The 42 sticks out a little bit more, but it does not seem overly cumbersome.

As for a sling, I am still a bit undecided. I have seen the single point slings that they make, but I am unsure as to if I want to go with that, or a two point. For this weekend I may look through my random gun stuff and see what I have that will work on it. Tomorrow I will be hitting up the local gun stores, so we shall see what they have there as well.

Here hopefully within a few hours I will have a range report up on the AUG with the ACOG, along with some accuracy testing. I will update the thread on with the link as well.

Thanks for looking, and let me know if you have any more questions. I do find that I tend to get a bit overly detailed in my articles, but I have not really found anything online with as much detail as I want (hence, the site).

Erick Z

Stanley (New Zealand)
03/24/2013 00:08

Excellent review, nice photos and loads of interesting information.It is worth mentioning that the Steyr AUG rifle has also been issued to the Australian and New Zealand defence force many years ago.Tell us Erick, would the chamber be by any chances fluted as to release pressure on empty case while being extracted? I would be surprised if it was the case, but well worth having a look...Beside that many thanks for the interesting read and the considerable efforts you have been going through in writing this review. Keep up with the good work! Always a pleasure in reading your comments and reviews.

With Plain Fists
06/01/2013 12:16

Thanks for a thorough review! Today I took my AUG A2 first time to the range. The optic I have is LUCID HD7 Gen 3, which seems to be bang for the buck.

First I had some problems with the bolt, as I have used to AK style weapons which are not so picky if you "follow" the closing operation with your hand (I do not know where this habit has come to me, but I need to get rid of it now). Anyways, when I followed the closing operation with my hand with AUG, the bolt often did not fully close and resulted to problems. New gun, first time, beginners problems I guess :)

I am 100% with you on the balance. I also had opportunity to shoot a high class AK copy and HK416, which were worse in balance. The HK416 had less recoil that the AUG though.

AUG seems to be very fun gun to shoot. I am looking forward to get some range time with it :)

Michael Crowley
07/16/2013 21:05

Have a question, my dad recently purchased a couple of these Styers. We went to the range and were having a problem with it. We were having to pull the charging handle every round. we are using steel cased .223 ammo. Also tried turning up the gas pressure and that locked the gun up tighter than a drum and took some gentle persuasion with a dead blow hammer to unjam it. Would appreciate any feedback!!!

07/19/2013 15:10

Hey Michael,

That is a pretty weird issue that you are having with your Steyr, what steel cased ammo are you using? I did have issues with the Hornady Steel Cased training ammo, but since then the issues have seemed to resolve. Are you having these issues from the first rounds you fire, or is after the gun gets hot?

When you adjust the gas regulator are you turning it to the adverse position (marked with the smaller hole out of the vent?" It nearly sounds like you are getting no gas, so the rifle is acting as a single shot. In the above post, you can reference what the regulator looks like in the adverse position. Let me know what you come up with!

Erick Z

Michael Crowley
07/22/2013 09:15

We are using Wolf brand steel ammo, and it happens on every round. cant get it to fire semi-auto so it's never had a chance to get hot. the gas regulator was on normal then we turned it to the "adverse" setting and that's when it locked up.

08/01/2013 01:15

Why would anyone with a $ 2,000 rifle use crap steel Russian ammo?

09/08/2013 20:55

Thanks for the review. I will be picking one up soon.

10/12/2013 21:34

Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.

10/26/2013 16:54

First off, outstanding review. I've had my AUG for 2.5 years and I'm glad she was my first 5.56 rifle. I figure I could give you some helpful tips to make your experience with your AUG drama free.

When racking the charging handle I curl my index finger around the handle, palm facing down. This way really helps when I manually lock back the bolt too. I'd also advise you to add a magpul or ergo low profile ladder rail. No more bloody knuckles.

As for the crappy trigger. I sent my trigger pack to Bill Springfield ( up in Colorado. He adds a neu-trigger and polishes it up a bit. Good Lord what a difference. I swear it feels a lot like the trigger on my Springfiled TRP. Believe me, best mod you can do on your AUG. Good luck!

Joe Black
11/06/2013 07:40

Excellent review, thank you very much for such a thorough, well-thought out discussion. I purchased an AUG in September. At the time, I was torn between the AUG and the Tavor--which is the latest rage/fad. I got lucky a few weeks ago and was able to pick a Tavor that suddenly became available.

I was really expecting to love the Tavor, and I do really like it. I was surprised to find myself liking the feel and handling of the AUG much better—despite it’s quirks.

I also tried using an EOTech and found them unausable on my AUG. I started experimenting with a small red dot (Bushnell TR-25, if I really like it, I would have upgraded to the Aimpoint T-1). I also got Magpul BUIS. The small red dot works very well, but I decided to experiment with a low power optic (the original AUG uses a fixed 1.5). I now put on a Nikon P-223, fixed optic, 3x32 and I like it so far. It’s compact (8 inches long), simple to use, and light. It gives you more flexibility but not as good for CQB as a red dot.

The light I would recommend is the Four Sevens Maelstrom (I got their weapon mount as well)—it’s like it was made for the rifle.

Joe Black
05/19/2014 18:54

5/19/14 update: I found the perfect sight for my AUG--a 1x4 scope. I have the Nikon point blank and it works great.

Joe Black
11/06/2013 07:44

I forgot to add this: After handling and using the AUG, I find it difficult to go back to an AR. The AR seems much more awkward, bulky, and less reactive. The AUG is just plain more comfortable, ergonomic, and versatile.

11/13/2013 21:22

Excellent review; thx. I've got a FS2000 and wondered if anyone has ever performed a side by side comparison of the two? I'm very happy with the FS2000 (with the whole bullpup concept for that matter), but wanted to see what the other designs offered. Also, any info on the Tavor or the Valmet M82 would be appreciated. Thx.

12/27/2013 14:25

I have the Steyr Aug A3 with a Trijicon Accu Point 4x24 scope. So far I haven't had any problems and went through at least 500 rounds. I am curious to see how people fix up their Augs. I will say, I was surprised by how heavy the gun is, but the gun is extremely well balanced.

12/27/2013 17:46

12/27/2013 19:42

With Plain Fists
01/09/2014 01:34

One question to all AUG shooters!

Let's say I want to make sure that I have a round in chamber. I pull the charging handle back so the lock goes backwards an inch or two. I see that the round is there and I want to seat it again.

Now, when I try to push the lock forward, the bolt on my AUG A2 does not fully close. The only option is to discard the chambered round and fetch a new one from the mag by pulling the charging handle all the way back and letting the bolt close with spring force.

Should this be like this or is it just because the rifle is new'ish with ~500 rounds shot? In your AUGs does the bolt fully close even if you draw it back a little bit after a round has been chambered?

Joe Black
05/19/2014 19:00

Why do you need to check if there is a round after you have loaded and charged your weapon? You should never ride the charging handle--this includes pulling it back just a bit.

You can use the handle as a forward assist to help chamber a round, but I would would avoid riding the charging handle at all. It is true that the spring breaks in after a few hundred rounds BTW.

05/19/2014 11:08

I am trying to decide whether to go with the Aug A3 or the Travor, any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Joe Black
05/19/2014 18:52

I have both and really like both. I thought I would love the Tavor more--but the AUG fits my body better. That was a big surprise to me.

The Tavor has a longer rail with built-in back-up sights. The AUG mags are the best of any rifle probably. The AUG has a longer track record, but both are proven.

You really should try holding both if you can. Between you and me, I am glad I have both--wouldn't want to part with either. wouldn't want to part with either.

05/19/2014 21:45

Joe Black, i was hoping for a desision help, you didnt help @ all :).
thanks i guess i will have to hit the road & go caress them both. thanks Joe for you input

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