The Steyr AUG (Armee Universal Gewehr, lit. "army universal rifle") is an Austrian family of bullpup automatic firearms designed by Hannes Kepplinger, Horst Wesp, Karl Wagner and Karl Möser in 1974[1] and produced by Steyr Arms since 1978. The name "AUG" is often used to refer to a specific version, most often the original AUG A1 with a polymer plastic receiver and integrated Swarovski Optik optic. The AUG has been adopted by the Austrian Armed Forces in 1978 as the StG 77 and serves as their service rifle.

History[edit | edit source]

The AUG was initially designed by Hannes Kepplinger, Horst Wesp, Karl Wagner and Karl Möser back in 1974, with a design finalized around 1977. The weapon's standard version was introduced in 1977, and was available with a choice of green or black polymer furniture. It was adopted by the Austrian Army as the StG 77 in 1978,[2] where it replaced the aging 7.62mm StG 58, which was an FN FAL produced under license in Austria. In production since 1978, it has remained the standard small arm of the Austrian Bundesheer and various police units and has since spawned a number of related weapons and numerous derivatives. The weapon has since been adopted by various other armed forces worldwide and is now produced under license in several countries.

Design Details[edit | edit source]

The Steyr AUG is a gas-operated, select-fire family of bullpup weapons which fire from a closed bolt; it is designed as a modular weapon system which can be configured as an assault rifle, submachine gun, carbine, compact carbine or as a squad automatic weapon while retaining a high amount of parts commonality between each of its variants. The weapon is largely made of aluminum and polymer components.[3] The weapon's lack of a trigger guard are intended to facilitate for the use of winter gloves.

The AUG features a seven lug rotating bolt unlocked by means of a pin on the bolt body and a recessed cam guide machined into the bolt carrier; the carrier is guided by dual hollow guide rods, which are brazed to the carrier. Both rods run through steel bearings located in the receiver. The guide rods also contain the weapon's return springs.[4] The weapon features a claw extractor and a "bump"-type spring-loaded ejector; the extractor also acts as an eighth locking lug.

The weapon's gas piston is offset to the right of the barrel; it serves a dual purpose by working in tandem with one of the dual guide rods. The gas piston features a three-position regulator: one for normal operation marked with a small dot, a second for fouled conditions indicated by a larger dot and a third marked "GR" used for launching rifle grenades. The weapon's left hand guide rod can also act as a reamer to remove fouled gases in addition to providing retracting handle pressure when connected by the gun's forward assist.

The weapon is hammer-fired, with the fire control group being contained at the rear of the stock; this is protected by a shoulder plate made of synthetic rubber. The fire control group is mainly made of plastics, with the exception of the springs and pins used to contain the fire control group within its casing.[5] When the weapon is fired, the bolt surface resets the hammer as it recoils rearwards, with the bolt surface contacting the hammer and resetting it.

The AUG uses a "pull through" multi-stage trigger system; pulling the trigger halfway allows the weapon to fire semi-automatically, while pulling it all the way allows the weapon to fire fully automatically. The weapon features a three-position crossbolt-type safety located above the handgrip.[6] Certain versions of the AUG, particularly the Irish and Australian versions, feature an "automatic lock-out"; this is a small projection located at the base of the weapon's trigger. This projection prevents the weapon from firing fully automatically by blocking the trigger from being pulled all the way; this block can be pushed up to allow the AUG to fire fully automatically when required.[7]

The AUG is normally fitted with a 1.5× telescopic optic manufactured by Swarovski Optik,[3] which features a single ring reticle colloquially termed the "donut of death".[8] The optic also features a basic rangefinder which is designed so at 300 m (980 ft), a 180 cm (5.9 ft) target will completely fill it, giving its user an accurate method of estimating range. The top of the optic features a set of backup sights. The optic itself cannot be set for a specific range, but can be adjusted for windage and elevation.

The AUG's barrels are cold hammer-forged by GFM-GmbH of Steyr, with certain parts of the gas system chromed or nitrided. The barrels are mainly fitted with three-pronged open flash hiders; the HBAR versions use a closed ported muzzle device. The weapons are mainly hand-built.[9] The weapon's receiver is made of a steel-reinforced aluminum while the stock is made of fiberglass-reinforced polyamide 66.[3] The weapon's charging handle is located on the left of the rifle and features a forward assist to help push the bolt shut without recocking the rifle.[3][10] A cavity is located in the stock which houses a cleaning kit.

The AUG features a bolt hold-open function.[10] However, only the AUG A3 features a bolt release button; all prior versions of the AUG required the user pull the charging handle to close the bolt. The weapon is not fully ambidextrous but can at least be configured for left or right-handed usage by swapping the bolt and charging handle and placing a blanking plate on the ejection port not in use. A special right hand-only stock exists which allows the AUG A1 and A2 to take STANAG magazines named the NATO conversion kit.[11]

Variants[edit | edit source]

Military[edit | edit source]


Improved version introduced in 1982. Available in either olive or black polymer furniture. Adopted as the StG 77. Variants exist:


Improved version with redesigned charging handle and Picatinny rail. Picatinny rail section can be installed in place of the folding grip.[12]


Further improved version with Picatinny rail located on top of receiver and external bolt release button. Introduced in 2004. Variants exist:

  • AUG A3 SF: features Picatinny rails mounted on the telescopic sight and on the right of the receiver.[13]
  • A3-CQC: Prototype version with Picatinny rail forward of receiver shown off at the 2006 to 2008 editions of SHOT Show. Did not progress past prototype stage; only five prototypes produced. American company PJA Investments subsequently acquired all five prototypes and reverse-engineered them to create US-made AUG-CQCs and the relevant conversion kits.[14]

Heavy Barrel Automatic Rifle. Version of the AUG intended to serve in a squad automatic weapon role. Features a 4× Swarovski Optik telescopic sight as opposed to the 1.5× optic of the normal versions. Variants exist:

  • AUG HBAR-T: essentially an AUG rifle assembly mated with a HBAR barrel.[15] Fitted with a Kahles ZF69 6×42 optical sight and intended for use in a designated marksman rifle role.
AUG Para

Submachine gun variant produced since 1988.[16] Features a completely different barrel, bolt and magazine and uses blowback as opposed to gas operation. Chambered in 9×19mm Parabellum as opposed to 5.56mm.[16] Also known as the AUG MP.[17] Variants exist:

  • AUG A3 Para XS: 9mm version of the A3. Features similar ergonomics to the A3 such as a Picatinny rail and bolt release.
  • AUG 40: version of the Para chambered in .40 S&W.[17] Most notably used by the São Paulo police.[18]

Special Receiver. Version of the A1 featuring a unique rail attachment as opposed to the Swarovski optic.[19]

Licensed production versions[edit | edit source]

F88 Austeyr

Australian version produced by Thales Australia. Can be fitted with the ML40AUS GLA grenade launcher. Adopted in Australia and in New Zealand, the latter naming it the IW Steyr (Infantry Weapon);[20] IW Steyrs have since been phased out and replaced by the LMT MARS-L in service.[21] Numerous variants exist:

  • F88C: Carbine version.
  • F88SA1: Version with Picatinny rail.
  • F88SA1C: Compact version of F88SA1.
  • F88 GLA: Fitted with underbarrel M203 or ML40AUS GLA.
  • F88 T: Training version intended for cadets. Chambered for .22 Long Rifle.
  • F88SA2: Evolutionary upgrade to fulfill operational capability gaps.[22]
AUG Mod 14

Modernized version of the AUG A1 used by the Irish Defense Force. Usually fitted with a 4× ACOG optic.[23]


AUG manufactured under license by SME Ordnance based in Malaysia. Produced jointly with Steyr[24] before SME withdrew from joint production;[25] lawsuits were quickly filed by Steyr after SME's withdrawal.[26]

Civilian[edit | edit source]


Semi-automatic version of the AUG A1. Variants exist:

  • AUG P SR: Semi-automatic version of AUG A1 with Special Receiver modifications.

Semi-automatic version of the AUG A1 designed specifically for the US market. Subsequently banned from importation in 1989.


Civilian version of the AUG A2 with thumbhole stock to circumvent the Assault Weapons Ban.[27] Most notably lacks a flash hider.


Modernized semi-automatic version of the AUG with Picatinny rail and rail-mounted front grip.[28] Numerous variants exist:

  • AUG Z Sport: AUG Z with original fixed folding front grip.
  • AUG Z A3: semi-automatic version of the AUG A3.[28]
  • AUG Z 9mm: semi-automatic version of the AUG A3 Para XS.[28]
  • AUG Z SE: semi-automatic version of the AUG A3 SF.[28]
  • AUG Z SP: straight-pull bolt-action version of the AUG Z available in some European markets.[29] Appears to have been discontinued.

Semi-automatic version of the AUG A3 manufactured in the United States.[30] Numerous versions exist:

  • AUG A3 SA USA: semi-automatic version with 16 in (41 cm) barrel.
  • AUG A3 SA NATO: features a right-hand only stock assembly which can accept STANAG magazines.
  • AUG A3: semi-automatic version of the A3. Features Picatinny rail.
  • AUG .300 BLK: semi-automatic version chambered for .300 AAC Blackout.[31]
  • AUG A3 M1: version with numerous optic mounting options. Features eight colors of furniture.[32]

Derivative weapons[edit | edit source]

Thales F90

Modernized version of the F88 with numerous modifications.[33] Initially designated the EF88 (Enhanced F88).

Thales ATRAX

Semi-automatic version of the F90. Importation into United States canceled in 2019.[34]


Semi-automatic derivative of the AUG designed by Tony Marfione and manufactured by Microtech Small Arms Research, subsidiary of Microtech Knives. Features an AR-style bolt release. Discontinued in 2015 on account of the closure of MSAR.


Semi-automatic derivative of the AUG designed by Kent Luttrell[35] and manufactured by Tactical Products Inc.[36] Produced in extremely small quantities.[37]

Oberland Arms OA-UG

German clone of the AUG produced by Oberland Arms KG based in Bavaria.[38] Intended to be compliant with most German laws but is apparently not legal in most states.[39] Appears to have been discontinued.

Type 68 assault rifle

Taiwanese derivative of the AUG. Features numerous design differences compared to the AUG.

Advanced Individual Combat Weapon

Australian modular prototype developed in cooperation with the DSTO, Tenix Defense Systems and Metal Storm. Development funded by Australian government.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Ezell, Edward Clinton (1993) [1983]. Small Arms of the World. Thomas M. Pegg, research assistance (12th rev. ed.). New York: Barnes & Noble.
  7. Manual of the Steyr rifle, Irish Defense Force
  10. 10.0 10.1 Choat, Chris (March 2008). "Microtech's STG-556 An Exclusive First Look". The Small Arms Review. 11 (6): 43–50.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Hogg, Ian (2002). Jane's Guns Recognition Guide. Jane's Recognition Guides. Glasgow: Jane's Information Group and Collins Press.
  17. 17.0 17.1
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3
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