Why Choose an AUG?
- $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!
A Brief History
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 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 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.
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.
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
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.
For now, I will be leaving you with some gun porn, because hey, who doesn't like that?!