Two years ago we reviewed and tested the AUG A3 SA USA from Steyr Arms. I liked the gun so much that I bought it and mounted a Trijicon tritium/fiber-optic reflex sight on the top rail. Equipped with four 42-round magazines, it now serves as my “go to” personal defense rifle.

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The Steyr AUG (“Armee Universal Gewehr,” or “universal army rifle”) is a short-stroke, gas-piston operated, selective-fire, bullpup carbine designed in Austria in the 1970s that fires the 5.56 NATO round from a closed bolt. The original model—the AUG A1—was equipped with a carry-handle-style, 1.5X Swarovski optic mounted integrally with the receiver. Adopted by the Austrian military as its standard service rifle in 1978, the AUG has since been adopted by a total of 40 countries, in a number of variants, either as their standard infantry weapon for use by their law enforcement, special forces or counter-terror units.
The new Steyr AUG A3 M1 is the most recent, civilian-legal, semi-auto-only version of the AUG. It’s built by Steyr Mannlicher-trained gunsmiths in Steyr Arms’ new Bessemer, Alabama headquarters and manufacturing facility. It differs from the AUG A3 SA USA in that it features a new multi-configurable optics mounting system that includes Short-Rail, High-Rail and two Integrated-Optics versions.

The AUG sitting next a 16-inch barreled AR-15 . Short of an sbr, you won’t find a more compact overall “legal” package.
The AUG sitting next a 16-inch barreled AR-15 . Short of an sbr, you won’t find a more compact overall “legal” package.

The Short-Rail version ($2,099) is intended for the shooter who prefers to mount his own red-dot, reflex or long-eye-relief magnifying optic on the 11-slot Picatinny top rail. The Short Rail ends at the back of the receiver, and its top surface lies a mere 0.435 inches above the stock’s comb. Permitting the user to employ whatever height mount is required.

Magazines are available in 42 (shown) and 30-round capacities. The magazine release sits right behind the magazine,and the bolt release directly above that.
Magazines are available in 42 (shown) and 30-round capacities. The magazine release sits right behind the magazine,and the bolt release directly above that.

With 16 numbered top-rail slots, the High-Rail version ($2,099) was designed to accommodate the widest range of optic choices—from high-magnification riflescopes, to short-eye-relief tactical scopes, to holographic sights mounted in line with separate, flip-off magnifiers. The High-Rail extends 2.57 inches back from the rear of the receiver, and its top surface sits 0.820 inches above the comb.