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Written by  2014-11-21

The Auspicious AUG

I've been talking about the AUG quite a bit lately, so here are two articles I wrote about them a few years ago.

This article was originally published in SureFire's Combat Tactics magazine (Fall 2010). Photos by Ichiro Nagata.

I was resigned to the fact that I should just count my lucky stars that I had a couple of AUGs, but because of our insane “assault weapon” import laws, I would never see the newest AUG, the A3 version, in my stable. A couple of U.S. companies began to make domestic versions of the A3, but I never really warmed up to them, because owning the real thing spoiled me.

Then came the announcement that Steyr was teaming up with Sabre Defence to produce the A3 in the United States, for commercial sales. I did everything I could to avoid handling one because I knew it would be bad for the Bolke family budget. Unfortunately, my love of the AUG is not a secret, and the editor of Combat Tactics called me to evaluate the new Steyr AUG A3.

An original A1 Steyr AUG sits in the center, flanked by an A2 on the left and the latest A3 on the right. The A3 is made by Sabre Defence for Steyr USA, due to “assault rifle” import restrictions. Note the length difference between 30- and 42-round magazines.


The A3 has addressed numerous issues that have often been considered shortcomings in previous AUGs. The most obvious issue is the ability to utilize more modern optics, and to be more mission adaptable.

On the A1 models, you were stuck with the factory optic unless you spent a huge amount of money for a railed “Special Receiver.” The A2 was an improvement by having the optic removable; an aftermarket rail section could be slid on in instead. An improvement for sure — and it’s how mine is setup — but not ideal.

The main issue is both expense and having multiple attachment points. The A3 has a solid continuous rail on the receiver that can handle a variety of optics and night vision equipment. It is also well suited for running BUIS sets in conjunction with other optics.

The original A1 had some small iron sights on top of the optic that were essentially worthless. The A3 can actually use decent sights.

Another great addition is a rail mounting point above the trigger area on the stock. This allows for easy mounting of a white-light system, without the use of a barrel clamp. SureFire’s latest three-volt Scout Light is ideal for the AUG, in any of its variants, but it really fits perfectly on the two-inch piece of side rail.

Another major improvement is the use of a bolt release paddle, located on the rear of the stock near the magazine. This allows for easier release of the bolt during speed re-loads rather than reaching forward to the left-side-mounted charging handle.

As far as ergonomics and ease of use, the new A3 is better than its previous incarnations. The use of a muzzle brake, instead of a flash hider, helps keep muzzle rise to a minimum. This in a gun that already has a low recoil impulse.

The cross-bolt safety is very easy to operate and is well placed. I find that rounding the corners of the safety with a Dremel tool helps if you’re working long training days.

The new bolt hold-open device is a welcome addition and improves reload speed and smoothness. For those who want to use M16 magazines, conversion stocks are available to allow the use of standardized NATO pattern magazines.

I've found the original AUG magazines, in both their 30- and 42-round variants, to be some of the toughest and most reliable magazines I've ever used, so I would not be interested in running AR mags in my A3.



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