I am not a fan of bullpups. In fact, you could say I hate the things. But, there is an exception to every rule and now, my exception is the AUG. Since the 80s, I have always admired the AUG as a cool exotic weapon that was hard to get my paws on here and it only got harder to find one until recently. Then, it just became hard to get a good one. Over the weekend, my friend and one of Looseorunds guest writers brought in his new Steyr AUGA3 for us to use and abuse until our heats became intend. And while the AUG is not perfect, it lived up to be everything I hoped it would be.
The new AUGA3 is not a knock off or cheap copy, but a real Steyr AUG. The barrel is made by FN with what is said to be a 1/9 twist. But recent investigation has shown the barrel twist to be closer to a 1/8.5. I will talk more on that in a bit. The gun uses the original magazine pattern, but lacks the original low powered optic. Instead it comes with the infinitely more useful railed top.
The gun also has a side mounted rail for adding accessories you may need or want to add. We mounted the excellent Aimpoint T-1 in a Laure mount, and the nice compact Surefire X300 on the side rail. This gave a very compact and handy general purpose package. One of the down sides to the AUG is the slight difficulty of being able to activate some of the on/off switches to weapons lights. This can be over come, but every solution we came up with never really seemed to be idea in my opinion, As it stands now, the light would have to be turned constant on/off when needed. I am sure some one else will eventually come up with a good solution to this.
As can be seen in the picture above, the top rail still has plenty of space for NOD mounting and even has room left over for a IR/visible laser that an be mounted in front, or a set of BUIS. All of this adds not weight to the rifle that makes the way it handles change in any way that we could detect.
After zeroing the red dot at the typical 50 yard zero, we took it up to shoot at some of the longer distances to see how it would feel and perform,
After shooting at 300 yards and on “Q” target and determining that it stabilized the MK 262 load, I then started shooting it at a steel target at 800 yards. The gun was fully capable of getting hits on the plate at 800 with no problem. It was actually easier to hit the plate with the AUG than it was when using an HK417 in 308. The short stiff barrel is very accurate. Match ammo produced 1 MOA groups while M193 gave the typical 2-2.5 MOA groups.
Above, the owner poses beside the steel at 800 to show its size and the hits on the plate from the 5.56 AUGA3. The pate is not the same size as a man, so it is a lot better performance that it seems without being able to see the actual size of the target compared. Once again I want to point out that it is no big deal to shoot beyond 200 yards with a red dot sight despite what gun board experts will claim. The right zero and quality ammo makes it no real feat. In my opinion the RDS with a good zero on a 556 rifle is very close to being the perfect general purpose combo.
Now on to the qualities that really make the AUG stand out to me. This gun is so easy to fire with speed it was a huge surprise to me. The recoil is tame. Tame and flat. When firing the gun during rapid fire drills, it seems that it is like shooting a .22LR. The recoil comes straight back and is very, very light. The gun seems to not rise at all. My first thought on shooting it was how great it would be for run and gun competition, It is like using an AR15 with a really good brake. It is something you have to see for yourself to really enjoy how smooth and soft it is. I would be interested to know what it was like with a sound suppressor on it.
Another thing about this gun that was a surprise to me was how great the trigger turned out to be. It was not light weight, but it broke very clean. Just like the cliched “glass rod.” I would say it had about the same pound trigger as the average AR. but it broke very clean with little creep or just anything that you would expect from a gun like this. Or anything without a match trigger really. This greatly added to the easy of hitting at 800 yards consistently with the rifle.
Reliability was all you could ask for. After a 100 round mag dump, it still worked perfectly. One of the mags my friend brought with the gun was around 20 years old and it worked just like the two new mags that came with it. And those mags are very well made and tough. The ribbed and roughed finished mags are easy to grab and manipulate under speed but do not have a rough low quality look or feel. The ribbing adds to the strength no doubt, and the smoked translucent polymer give you the ability to see the loaded status. One of the mags was the 42 round version and it still felt balances in the gun and gave no trouble. All of the mags also nicely fit in common M16 mag pouched just as you would expect.
The safety is the cross bar type but was not trouble to get used to after a short bit of use. And, it actually seemed really natural after using it a bit. It was located on the stock where it is easy to hit on activate on and off easily. It is no AR15 safety by any means, but it is not something I would even nit pick about.
Now, the downsides. The gun is not ambi. The charging handle is not, and the ejection port would have you eating brass as you fired it when set up for your strong hand. You can have it one way or the other, but no both. Another thing, is you HAVE to wear gloves if you are going to shoot it a lot and fast. We forgot our gloves and we both burned ourselves. It is very easy to put your alternate killing hand too high up on the vertical grip and touch the barrel. Especially if you forget and try to hold the gun like you do the rail on a AR15. The receiver also gets hot as the devil’s butthole as well. Even just letting the gun hang buy sling means you have to be very careful. It being as short as it is, it is very easy to let it touch some part of your upper torso or thighs or have it touch against you when moving or handling something else. I can easily imagine transitioning from the AUG to a handgun and when letting it hang, burn yourself in some places you never want burned. So you have to be careful think about it. But this is mainly training issues that can be worked around and reduced. Like I said above the light placement is also a but if a down side, The light is fine, but being able to turn it on and off without shifting the hand. If a cord is ran for a pressure bad to the VFG, I would be concerned the heat from the barrel and receiver would burn or melt the wiring.
Reloading is not where near as fast as an AR15 thought with practice many have gotten very fast. It is not as natural or ergonomic, but it is something you can train to. While not really a problem it is something to be aware of and needs a very different gun handling skill set on the AUG. The butt stock is also not adjustable like a M4 carbine. This is not so much a problem since everything you would sight through already sets well to the rear by design of the bullpup. But maybe for some one very small, it could possibly affect the ability to manipulate the trigger and safety if wearing body armor. We had no problems with this though.
the AUGA3 is a very fine gun and in my opinion, is a lot better than the tavor, which I loathe. It has a great balance and is very easy to shoot and move with. If you have the hots for a bullpup, this is the only one you will ever hear me recommend. It is a classic for sure and like the AR15 pattern, it has had enough years and combat use behind it to know you are getting a real combat hardened carbine, not some hyped up attempt to be different.