I’ve been using and accessing Steyr AUG for months now and it’s taken that long to really give it a fair review. My time with bullpups was limited so traversing to a bullpup really took some time. It’s easy to compare a bullpup like the Steyr Aug to an AR 15 and then get lost in the comparison. I’m completely fine with a fair “Versus” article, but I don’t think it’s impartial to write a review and bitch the whole time that Steyr AUG is not an AR 15. The reason these reviews occur is that most Americans are accustomed to AR 15 kits. It took me months to break the habits I’ve built with the AR platform throughout my military and writing career. Now that I have I think I can deliver a fair Steyr AUG review
This particular model is the NATO model of the AUG. This means you give up some of the features of the AUG to simply use AR magazines. You do lose the bolt release so you have to rack the charging handle to reload. You also lose the ability to swap the AUG for complete left-handed configuration. I chose the NATO variant for review because I am right-handed and AR magazines are plentiful.
Other than that the AUG A3 M1 is all AUG. The charging handle is aggressive, easy to reach, and non-reciprocating. It’s placed right where it needs to be for easy access and for clearing malfunctions. The bolt has a small slot to lock it into place should you need to resolve more advanced malfunctions.
The folding foregrip is one of the Steyr AUG’s most prolific features. It works, as it always has. The rifle weighs 8.8 pounds but as a bullpup, it is superbly balanced. You can hold it up forever. I have one of those fun SLAP tears in my shoulder, yet this is easily still one of the most comfortable rifles I’ve ever shot. Since I don’t have to reach as far forward my shoulder isn’t nearly as tweaked after a long day of shooting.
Reloading the Steyr AUG
Reloading was the biggest challenge to overcome. This isn’t because the rifle is poorly designed, but because I’m so used to my AR 15. This is one of those things I had to learn over again, and why I took my time reviewing the rifle.
The Steyr AUG has two magazine releases. One is a small button placed above the magazine, and the second is a larger button/lever placed behind the magazine. I found a use for both magazine releases. For me, the small button is better for admin tasks. If I just got to pop the magazine out of the gun I use the small button.
For tactical and speed reloads I used the larger button behind the magazine. I had to get used to holding my thumb upwards behind the magazine. Positioning your hand this way allowed you to naturally press that button as you grab the magazine.
My retention reload is simply gripping the fresh reload at the same time I’m grabbing the magazine and pressing the release upwards. I pull the depleted magazine out and insert the fresh mag. The speed reload goes the same way, except I just rip the depleted magazine out and toss the fresh one in.
The great complaint that “It’s hard to reload a bullpup” is bullshit — at least with the AUG. Once the fresh mag is inserted, grip and rip the charging handle and you are good to go. Just a bit of practice and training and you can do it quickly and intuitively.
The biggest selling point about bullpup platforms like the Steyr Aug NATO is the size savings. You can have a gun the size of an SBRed AR without a tax stamp and with a much longer barrel. Longer barrels equal greater ballistic performance, less muzzle flash, and a longer effective range.
The Steyr AUG is nearly the size of my Remington Tac 14 with its 14-inch barrel and pistol grip. That’s exceptionally short for what’s essentially a full-sized rifle. This makes the gun super handy for close-range encounters, but if the terrain opens up I still have a rifle capable of hitting targets at 500 yards.
The Steyr Aug is exceptionally maneuverable and perfect for home defense with the 1.5 optic option. I’d imagine the 3x optic would be a bit more difficult indoors. There is also the flat top option for using whatever optic you want.
Steyr Aug Integrated Optic
Speaking of optics, to me it’s not an AUG without the classic built-in optic. I went with the 1.5x option because I shoot at relatively close ranges. The optic itself is small, clear, and provides a great little reticle. Nevertheless, I do wish it was illuminated in some way. This would make it a bit handier in low light, indoor situations.
Once the rifle is on your shoulder the optic is presented at the perfect eye level for a solid cheek weld. The optic presents you with a very solid look at the battlefield and was one of the futuristic approaches Steyr took in 1977. Now the entire western world equips optics to infantry rifles.
The optic is also covered in picatinny rail. So for fun, I added a Meopta Meosight 3 miniature red dot. I’ve actually never run a backup optic but always been intrigued by the idea. One downside to the AUG is that it has no iron sights. No iron sights means no backup sights. The miniature red dot acts more like a reflexive close-quarter shooting optic and a backup sight.
I will admit zeroing is fun because of holy height over bore Batman. I got it down close enough for those 15 to one-yard engagements and I feel confident in it.
Steyr Aug Rails
Like any modern rifle out there you have to have plenty of rails! Well the Steyr AUG has a few. Actually, it has one rail if you don’t count what’s on the optic. I tossed on a Streamlight TLR 1 just for fun. I’d prefer a dedicated weapon light, but I also didn’t want to take the time to de-Loctite and undo pressure switches to attach a Surefire.
I will say the little pistol light turned out to be a perfect fit. The rail’s location on the right-hand side allows me to easily reach up and turn the Streamlight on with a press of my finger. It actually mounts in an ergonomic fashion for easy use.
Steyr Aug Trigger
Bullpup triggers are generally crap compared to the brilliant triggers we are seeing in ARs. Not all though, with a few bullpups featuring very nice triggers. The trigger on the Steyr AUG however isn’t great. It’s about nine pounds and feels like squeezing a sponge. It alternates between feeling stiff and light and there’s lots of start/stop with it.
That being said it’s not so bad as to cause inaccuracy and I could put round after round into the head of an anatomy target at 100 yards. Of course, the target isn’t moving or shooting at me, but the gun isn’t inaccurate or hard to shoot. I wouldn’t take it to a benchrest contest, but I’d go to a multi-gun shoot with it.
Steyr Aug Shooting Impressions
Oh man, this gun is fun to shoot. It points so quickly that getting on target is lighting fast. There is nothing to it. Going from a low ready, or from a more casual patrol carry, to getting on target is as fast as snapping your fingers.
Recoil is what you expect from a 5.56 rifle that weighs over eight pounds. It’s basically a gentle push. The bullpup design places your hands close to the barrel, which really helps you control muzzle rise. Even with rapid-fire the gun barely feels like it’s moving.
I utilized a couple of different AR-type magazines. The gun worked perfectly with Lancers, PMags, Mission First Tactical magazines, GI Aluminum, and even the FN brand SCAR magazines. It did not work with the Torkmag Ultra High capacity magazine. I’d love to test it with a Magpul D-60 but didn’t have one at hand. I had zero issues with standard cap magazines and went through a variety of ammo.
The one big downside to this platform is its lack of customization options. You can’t swap grips, stocks, or handguards. There are a few options out there, but the design of the Steyr AUG is not customization-friendly.
In defensive situations, this gun would be outstanding. I’d even imagine it being easier to handle for shorter and smaller people. Its compact configuration lends itself easier to smaller shooters. The Steyr AUG is an outstanding little bullpup and an excellent rifle overall.
If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting our Veteran Editorial by becoming a SOFREP subscriber. Click here to join SOFREP now for just $0.50/week.