Tag Archives: steyr AUG

So long Ozzie Hi-Powers…

The Australian government last week announced a sweeping new series of small arms to equip the Australian Defense Force, with SIG Sauer winning big.

As part of the Australian military’s $500 million LAND 159 Lethality System Project, the new outlay includes contracts to supply new sniper rifles, pistols, shotguns, personal defense weapons, and fighting knives to the ADF.

Replacing the island continent’s long-serving Browning Hi-Power Mk3s– one of the last Commonwealth countries still using the venerable old 13-shot single-action classic– will be the SIG Sauer P320 XCarry Pro. It is not the first military contract the XCarry has pulled down, in 2018 Denmark chose the pistol to replace the Swiss-made SIG P210 single-stacks used in that Scandinavian country for more than 70 years.

The SIG Sauer P320 XCarry Pro has been selected as the Royal Australian Army’s platform for the Sidearm Weapon System, which will replace the venerable Browning Mk3 pistol. It will be complemented with SIG’s Romeo Elite reflex sights, and a SIG Foxtrot 2 white light illuminator. (Photo: Australian Defense Force)

And that’s just the beginning….

More in my column at Guns.com.

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?

An ‘assault weapon’ by any other name…

In 1989 California lawmakers puked up one of the first assault weapons bans in U.S. history and in subsequent years added tweaked it and added such blanket restrictions as prohibitions on .50BMG (because there are so many crimes done with these…). While the California Department of Justice has tried really hard to ban anything that is AR-15ish or AK-47like, all enterprising gun owners have had to do is use devices such as ‘bullet buttons’ and low-capacity magazines to be able to own one today.

Still, between 1989 and 2001, the state allowed the registration by civilians of grandfathered guns. Well through Guns.com I did a public records request to CA DOJ and obtained their list of registered guns, all 145,253 of them. A detailed analysis found some really interesting things.

Here’s a snapshot of the top 25 manufacturers for example:

 

  •     28,259 Colt Mfg, almost all Sporters and AR-15 type rifles
  •     16,665 Chinese Norinco/Polytech/Clayco rifles, primarily AK and SKS pattern guns in 7.62mm
  •     14,797 Bushmasters, almost exclusively XM-15 series rifles
  •     9,158 Heckler & Koch firearms, with Model HK 91, 93 and 94 rifles accounting for the majority
  •     4,529 Springfield Armory rifles, primarily M1/M1A 7.62mm guns
  •     4,528 IMI guns including 179 Galil rifles and 4301 UZIs of multiple types in 9mm and .45
  •     4,199 Armalites including 291 AR-10s and 1046 AR-180s
  •     3,124 Eagle AR-pattern firearms
  •     2,924 Intratec branded guns, all variants of the TEC-9/AB-10 and TEC-22 pistol
  •     2,732 Ruger firearms, mostly Mini-14 and Mini-30 rifles
  •     2,199 FN/Browning/FNH with mainly FAL and FNC type rifles listed
  •     2,189 SWD guns mostly Cobray and M10/11/12 MAC-style pistols
  •     1,876 Arsenal made AK-pattern rifles in 7.62mm
  •     1,461 DPMs, all AR-15 variants
  •     1,457 Austrian Steyrs, almost all AUG-series 5.56mm rifles
  •     1,303 Korean Daewoo firearms in several variants, almost all 5.56mm rifles but also 16 DR300s in 7.62 and 5 DP51 pistols
  •     1,170 Franchi shotguns in the uber-scary SPAS 12 and LAW12 varieties
  •     1,132 CAI/Century guns, primarily 7.62mm rifles
  •     1,082 Hungarian FEG guns, mostly SA85 AK-style rifles
  •     914 Auto Ordnance, typically all Thompson 1927 style carbines
  •     770 Imbel L1A1 type rifles in 7.62mm
  •     693 DSA rifles, all SA58 models
  •     526 Enterprise Arms 7.62mm rifles
  •     496 Berettas including some 122 AR-70s and 60 rare BM-59s
  •     445 SIGs, including 122 P-series pistols and 139 SG550 5.56mm rifles
  •     392 Benellis, split roughly between their M1 and M3 tactical shotguns

The rest of the 3,000~ word report over at Guns.com along with a photo gallery of some of the more interesting guns here.

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