The Rifle that Changed Rifles
If you opened your 1984 edition of Gun Digest and instantly fell in love with the Steyr AUG, pictured there for the first time, you are not alone. The AUG’s exotic looks, along with its revolutionary design and construction, appealed to anyone who had seen Star Wars and loved rifles. It also appealed to military men and security forces, from Austria to Australia, as well as some hush-hush U.S. security agencies. Within a few years, it was in official use all over the globe.
Designed in 1977, the Armee-Universal-Gewehr (AUG) was Austria’s entry in the modern infantry-rifle stakes—up until that time dominated by the AKs, ARs, and FN-FAL—and the AUG upped the ante considerably. Designers at Steyr have been iconoclastic, not to mention quirky, since the company was founded 150 years ago, and the AUG fit that pattern.
Steyr’s designers threw out rifle-design preconceptions and started fresh. First, the AUG is a bullpup, with the receiver set well back in the buttstock. The magazine is inserted behind the pistol grip. This design reduces overall length by a foot compared to a conventional rifle. The stock itself is composite, originally in a soft green color. Barrels are instantly interchangeable.
Originally designed for both semiauto and full-auto fire, the firing mode was controlled by the trigger. A short pull fired one shot and squeezing it all the way to the rear unleashed full-auto. With magazines holding up to 42 rounds of 5.56mm ammo, the AUG provided serious firepower. The magazines were made of translucent polymer and were virtually unbreakable. Instead of conventional military sights, it had a swept-back carrying handle that incorporated a fixed optical 1.5X glass with aheavy, black, donut reticle. For the civilian market, the AUG was semiauto only.
In 1977 all of this was extraordinary. When Steyr began exporting …read more
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