When I think of the word bullpup, I think of the Steyr AUG. It has been seen in games, movies, and in militaries all around the globe. It is arguably the most successful bullpup design on the planet. Originally I was not sure how well I would like it since it is almost 30 years old now and people constantly hack away at it by calling it old and outdated. But I noticed that many of the AUG features are still desirable, such as the quick change barrel and the ease of disassembly. Many people will bash it for not having a place in today’s market of bullpups and “Hi-Tech” rifle designs, yet people still look to the AUG for inspiration when looking to design a modular rifle that is still reliable and will not lose zero when changing barrels.
When Steyr originally designed the AUG, they intended to replace many different types of small arms at once with one system that could fill different roles by simply pressing a button and swapping out the barrel.
The acronym AUG actually translates to “universal army rifle“, or “Armee-Universal-Gewehr“. The AUG was designed to serve as an assault rifle, an LMG, and even a DMR. Steyr introduced this design in a bullpup, which was very new and unconventional to alot of people. Also, let us not forget that this rifle was one of the first rifles to incorporate a heavy use of polymers in its construction. This made it very easy to keep the design light, while also allowing the rifle to reinforce critical areas that would need to be reinforced. This gave the Steyr AUG a very weird and futuristic look back when it first came out. I believe this may be one of the reasons alot of countries adopted it initially, because it was a big deal to be up to date on the latest and greatest technology.
The most common version of the AUG is in it’s assault rifle format. This usually means that the rifle is outfitted with a 20″ barrel and a 30 round magazine. The carbine barrel length on the AUG is 16”, which is the standard length of the AUG A3 rifles. Also, the standard setup for this variant of the AUG is a receiver that sports an integrated 1.5x magnified optic or a rail that allows you to mount whatever type of optic you find desireable.
As an assault rifle, the AUG has the ability to fire fully automatic, as well as semi automatic. Instead of having a selector switch to decide between the two types of fire.
LIGHT MACHINE GUN
When you need an effective light machine gun, all you need to do is put a 24″ barrel/H-Bar(Heavy Barrel) on the AUG and insert the 42 round box magazine. The barrel can be further outfitted with a bipod for stability if you so choose. This variant of the AUG can also be further modified by adding in a different bolt and trigger system to where the weapon will fire from an open bolt. I am not to sure how useful that would be, but it is an option that was added into the design.
Now I know some of you might feel that this is pointless when you could just have a belt-fed machine gun like the M249 SAW. I think it is worthwhile to consider the current changes that the Marines are making, and why. You see, the SAW is a nice weapon when you need a weapon that can offer sustained fire for suppression over a long period of time, but fails to allow you to move quickly and lay down accurate bursts on the move. The Marines have recently been working to replace the SAW with the HK416 IAR in order to answer this issue. Basically, the IAR(Infantry Automatic Rifle) allows the gunner to deliver full auto fire more accurately, while also not being fatigued by the weight of the weapon when moving fast is the goal. Though it is not belt fed, the main goal is accurate suppression and hitting what you are firing at. In my experience, throwing a hundred rounds in the general direction of the enemy is useless when the point is to hit them. So far, the feedback from the units using the IAR is positive, and they like how accurately they are able to shoot.
DESIGNATED MARKSMAN RIFLE
Similar to the conversion process for the LMG, all you need to do to make a DMR is replace the barrel with a 24″ H-Bar. But in order to turn it into a full fledged DMR, you can switch out the receiver to one with an integrated 6x magnified optic and put in a semi automatic only trigger pack. Though this would allow you to have a real through and through DMR, I feel that the only worthwhile change, aside from the heavy barrel, would be the receiver with the higher magnification optic.
When we consider the fact that this old dog is still around in over a dozen countries, we should definitely give it adequate respect for what it has been able to do. It has filled many roles for many nations, and has continued to be an example for many rifle designers to follow and envy. In recent years, people have placed heavy emphasis on how important it is to have a modular platform, both for economic reasons, and for overall convenience. For this reason, I cannot think of a better weapon to fill that need than the tried and true Steyr AUG.