Two decades after it was banned from importation, the venerated and much-sought-after Steyr AUG has made its triumphant return to firearm stores across America. Now built stateside by Steyr subcontractor Sabre Defense—legendary for its tactical rifles and its unrivaled M2HB and Minigun barrels currently in use by the U.S. military—under the watchful eyes and to the exacting tolerances of Austrian engineers, the new Steyr AUG/A3 SA USA made its debut at the 2009 SHOT Show and is now available in 5.56x45mm (.223 Rem.).

After the importation ban in 1989, the legendary AUG/A1 frequently commanded in excess of $5,000, but the svelte, utilitarian Austrian bullpup in its upgraded, modern A3 configuration is now available at a fraction of that. With an overall length of 28.15 inches including its 16-inch heavy barrel, the uncompromising, clean-running AUG/A3 SA USA measures 8 inches shorter than an AR-15 carbine with a comparable barrel length and an extended stock, making the AUG the ultimate home-defense or ranch rifle. And while the AR-15’s often maligned gas-impingement system expels a large quantity of operational gas—and all the accompanying carbon and unburned powder—directly into the bolt carrier within the receiver, all gas used to cycle the utterly reliable short-stroke gas-piston AUG design exits the system within an inch of the barrel’s gas port. The new AUG/A3 SA USA also has two gas adjustment settings.

The AUG/A3 SA USA was engineered specifically with the American marksman in mind, and it incorporates all the features that AUG aficionados have always desired in the platform. An innovative muzzle brake design tames recoil exceptionally effectively, providing for accurate second shots on target. The new last-round bolt-hold-open feature provides a subtle “feel” indication that the magazine is empty, and after a magazine change, the low-profile bolt release is conveniently located on the left side of the stock. The redesigned charging handle, forward on the left side of the receiver, also serves as a forward assist.

The most obvious departure from the AUG of two decades ago is the lack of an integral optical sight. In keeping with its A3 designation, the new AUG is of a flat-top design with a marked, 25-position Picatinny rail. This makes sighting options almost limitless—from low-powered, long-eye relief optics to high-powered scopes to iron sights or even a combination of both. AUG purists need not fret; a Picatinny version of the original integrated Austrian “donut reticle” 1.5X optical sight is also available from Steyr Arms. A smaller side rail also has been added for the integration of one of the many illumination or laser devices on the market.

Of course, the AUG/A3 SA USA has all the classic features and benefits that established it as the pinnacle of modern rifle design, including expedited disassembly as well as simple conversion to left-hand operation, which requires replacement of the standard bolt with the optional left-eject bolt. It also features a quick-change barrel with a collapsible forward grip. The AUG/A3 SA USA includes two transparent polymer 30-round magazines, a cleaning kit that stores in the rifle’s buttstock, a factory sling, a soft carry case and an owner’s manual. Suggested retail is $2,295.

For more information about the AUG/A3 SA USA, visit its microsite at

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