1970s bullpup compared to modern life

 

A Royal Oman Army soldier with an Austrian-made Steyr AUG, standard issue not only in Austria and Oman nut also Australia Bolivia, Ecuador, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malaysia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Pakistan

A Royal Oman Army soldier with an Austrian-made Steyr AUG, standard issue not only in Austria and Oman nut also Australia Bolivia, Ecuador, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Pakistan

The modern Austrian Army, the Bundesheer, was in a tough spot in the 1970s. Although Austria was officially neutral, to the East, the country shared a border with the Warsaw Pact countries of Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and to the West, it bordered NATO West Germany. In the event of World War III kicking off, the prospect of having to fight either Soviet/Warsaw Pact or US/NATO forces wishing to pass through was very real. As such, the Bundesheer used conscription to have a large force of reservists ready for war. This meant that the tiny 30,000-man force could swell to almost 300,000 in wartime. Heck a young Arnold Schwarzenegger even served his time in the ‘heer back then.

Well the thing is, 18-year old draftees in the Bundesheer prior to 1971 were given a year of initial training before being sent home to the reserves. Then, after that date, draftees were only given six months. The standard rifle of the time was the FN FAL, license built by Steyr as the Sturmgewehr 58. The FAL was a beautiful 7.62x51mm NATO standard battle rifle, but it was long (at 44-inches), heavy (at 9.5-pounds unloaded), and the average soldier needed a good bit of training to keep it running properly. With already short training times cut in half and declining numbers of healthy draftees, the Austrians needed a more efficient, compact, and easy to use rifle.

Steyr, long the supplier of rifles to the Austrian Army, submitted a prototype rifle called the AUG (standing for Armee-Universal-Gewehr—”universal army rifle”) for testing.

From just a glance at the Steyr AUG, you can see that the gun is very different.  The entire action including the chamber, slide, bolt, hammer, guide rod, magazine, cocking piece and retaining bolt are all to the rear of the trigger, hidden inside a club-shaped hollow polymer (plastic) buttstock. The only thing above and in front of the trigger is the barrel and barrel grip. Lightweight was a huge factor in the weapon’s design. Polymers were used so much that even the trigger pack except for the springs, steel bearing pins and catch hold-open was synthetic. This allowed the full-sized rifle to be just 31.1-inches long, and weighing in at 7.9-pounds. This is more than a foot shorter– not to mention a pound and a half lighter– than the FN FAL the Austrian Army used at the time. Likewise, the AUG used 30 and optional 42-round lightweight polymer magazines for the more controllable 5.56mm NATO rather than the FAL’s 20-shot 7.62mm steel boxes.

The thing is when compared to a 14.5-inch barreled M4 of today, is it really that much of a difference? The 6.36-pound M4 is just 33-inches long with the stock extended, and goes a couple inches shorter when collapsed.

Observe this shot from a recent outing for Exercise Sea Soldier ‘17 at Rabkut, Oman, with a U.S. Marine with an M4 (or M27) compared to a Royal Omani Army trooper with an AUG.

RABKUT, Oman (Feb. 26, 2017) U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Aquino-Williams, an infantryman with Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 4th Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), peeks behind a corner before leading soldiers with the Royal Army of Oman (RAO) into a building while conducting Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) training as part of Exercise Sea Soldier ‘17 at Rabkut, Oman, Feb. 26. During the training, Marines coached the Omani soldiers and supervised each team execute room clearing techniques. Sea Soldier 2017 is an annual, bilateral exercise conducted with the Royal Army of Oman designed to demonstrate the cooperative skill and will of U.S. and partner nations to work together in maintaining regional stability and security. The 11th MEU is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce and enhance regional stability. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. April L. Price)

RABKUT, Oman (Feb. 26, 2017) U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Aquino-Williams, an infantryman with Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 4th Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), peeks behind a corner before leading soldiers with the Royal Army of Oman (RAO) into a building while conducting Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) training as part of Exercise Sea Soldier ‘17 at Rabkut, Oman, Feb. 26. During the training, Marines coached the Omani soldiers and supervised each team execute room clearing techniques. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. April L. Price)

Now I have shot TAVORs and X95s as well as an L85/SA80, and they are neat, but are they really that much more compact when in use?

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as GUNS.com, Univesity of Guns, Outdoor Hub, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the US federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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