The Steyr Armee-Universal-Gewehr Alteration 3, Model 1 — also known as the Steyr AUG A3 M1 — is the semi-automatic version of the AUG currently manufactured in the U.S. by Steyr Arms. Steyr-Daimler-Puch designed the original model in the 1960s. The Australian Army adopted it in the late 70s.
People often cite the Steyr AUG as the first successful bullpup rifle; a firearm with the action and magazine located behind the trigger group, allowing for longer barrels and shorter overall lengths.
Note: When you say AUG, use the letters: A-U-G. Not speak the word, as in “auger.” I didn’t know this until recently. Thankfully, the wonderful people at Steyr gently corrected me.
Second note: It is unclear where the term bullpup originated. However, the 2014 book “The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English” says that in the 1950s the term was used to describe a “target pistol, especially one with an elaborate stock”; elaborate stock, indeed.
I recently had the pleasure of shooting the Steyr AUG A3 M1 at the 2018 Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous in October. The configuration obviously puts a lot of the weight towards the rear behind the controls, making it feel lighter than it is, helping me make fast transitions from target to target without over pushing. The trigger was a little clunky, but that is just result of the long linkage required to reach the action; there are aftermarket units that help this.
Steyr AUG A3 M1 On the Big Screen
Up until this point I had only known the Steyr AUG from movies and television. Proper example: The rifle that everyone’s favorite ballet-dancing, Soviet-defecting actor Alexander Godunov carried in “Die Hard.” His name was Karl, and even though he was a “bad guy,” we all loved him. Godunov was in “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks … c’mon man!
“Die Hard” Karl is hardly the only hollywood actor seen running around the silver screen with this iconic rifle. According to imfdb.org — the Internet Movie Firearm Database, which is a fun place to poke around when you need to kill some cubicle time — there are 52 films featuring the Steyr AUG dating back to 1983, starting with a group of soviet soldiers in the James Bond classic “Octopussy.”
Arnold and the AUG
Two years later we find the ever-sleazy Dan Hedaya as Arius, with an AUG trying his best (and not very well) to keep Arnold Schwarzenegger out of his bad-guy-filled villa in “Commando.” Two years later it would be Arnold himself carrying an AUG leading a revolution against the corrupt militarized police state, as well as a particular sadistic game show host played by Richard Dawson, in the 1987 Paul Glaser film “The Running Man.” Trivia fact: this was Richard Dawson’s last movie.
Other On-Screen Moments
Other notable films featuring the AUG platform are “RoboCop,” “La Femme Nikita,” “Point Break,” “Under Siege” and “The Fifth Element.” I would have to say, however, that my all time favorite AUG cameo appearance is in the hands of Stephen Baldwin in “The Usual Suspects.” Why? Firstly, the movie is an all time classic. Secondly, because the rifle in the movie is the HBAR-T variant; the heavy barreled automatic version fitted with the Kahles ZF69 6×42 optic.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love “Die Hard.” It is one of the best Christmas movies ever made. It is a Christmas movie, and don’t let anyone tell you different. But my second favorite AUG appearance, which I didn’t remember until doing a little research, was in the modern film noir “Sin City.” Not because of my love for the movie, per se, but because the IRA soldier wielding the rifle is riding, — get this — a T-Rex. Yes, the dinosaur. Does it make sense? No. Is it awesome? Totally.
Overall the Steyr AUG is a proven, accurate, unique rifle that stands out in a crowd. If you want to learn more Steyr AUG A3 M1, head over to Steyr-Arms.com.