AR-15s have officially been accepted as the rifle du jour for coyote hunters. And for good reason. They are accurate, quick-handling, reliable, and offer a fast follow-up shot. But what if you could have all these attributes in a shorter, more reliable, easier-to-handle package? Well, you can. It’s a bullpup…more specifically, the Steyr AUG/A3. Before you think I’ve lost my mind for carrying a bullpup afield, read on.
This is not a “battlefield accurate” rifle. From our testing, the AUG is as accurate as most good rifles on the market today, which is to say extremely accurate. Much of this can be credited to the Austrian-made, cold-hammer-forged barrel. MOA groups can be expected with a lower-powered scope, but with care from the bench, we were actually able to do better.
Shorter is Better
The biggest advantage of the AUG is that it maintains a short overall length without sacrificing any barrel. The AUG is only 28.15 inches long with a 16-inch barrel; a comparable length AR platform rifle would have to have a 10.5-inch barrel to be equally as stubby. Not only does an SBR reduce velocity by approximately 300 fps, but it also requires a federal tax stamp to be legal and is completely prohibited in several states to boot.
If this isn’t enough to deter you, just shoot a 10-inch-barreled .223 without a suppressor or hearing protection and see if you don’t agree. Anything under 16 inches is loud to the extreme. The AUG represents the best solution—more velocity, less noise and blast without a $200 tax stamp.
Unlike most ARs that are direct-impingement operated (gas is bled off the barrel and funneled all the way back to the action through a gas tube to cycle the bolt), the Steyr is piston driven (gas imparts action on an operating rod, which drives the action rearward to cycle). This means the action stays cleaner, works better with a suppressor, and is more reliable under harsh conditions.
Another advantage to the Steyr piston system is that it’s adjustable, meaning the amount of gas used to cycle the action can be tuned to fit the load or conditions, such as a winter blizzard.
The bolt swaps over to eject out of the left side, as does the ejection port. The magazine release is underneath and also goes both ways.
The molded polymer stock is nearly indestructible and, best of all, houses the entire action and trigger group with space left over for storage. Incredibly tough, the design doesn’t impart point of impact change with heating and cooling like other rifle designs. The foldable forend provides a positive grip or an improvised bipod-like rest.
Likewise, the magazines are molded from polymer, and many would argue that they are more reliable and durable than metal. Standard capacity is 30 rounds, but 42-round factory magazines are also available.
The integrated Picatinny—standard 1913 rail—on top of the AUG/A3 allows for easy mounting of a variety of optics from magnified scopes to iron sights to night vision. In addition to the integrated top rail, there is a Picatinny rail section that is ideal for mounting a second sight (like an Aimpoint Micro) or a light/laser (like the Insight WL1-AA) on the right side. This makes the AUG/A3 a versatile predator rig for calling day or night.
Tool-less disassembly and barrel removal make the AUG easy to maintain. Push one button and the barrel rotates and slips out of the front. From here the chrome-lined barrel and chamber can be cleaned from the breech (as it should be). Shoot out a barrel after lots of prairie dog action and as a bonus replace it quickly and easily with a new one.