New Zealand Defense Force upgrading Steyr AUGs


However, although the 13,000 Steyr rifles which have been in service for 20 years, would not be replaced, they would be a significant part of the upgrade programme.

The study would look at modifying about 3000 of the 13,000 5.56mm rifles so they could take more fittings on the top rail, instead of the factory-fitted 1.5 magnification sighting system

The Australians already use a mixture of the AUGs with 1.5x sights and the ‘railed’ AUGs. I have always thought that the 1.5x scope was a bad compromise on an assault rifle. The target acquisition speed is less than a non magnified red dot sight (I have no experience with magnified red dot sights) but lacks the benefits of a more powerful scope. It must be working for the New Zealanders because they are only thinking about converting 23% of their rifles.

Picture 13-12
Australian Solider in Iraq with ADI Austeyr A3 that
comes fitted with a rail.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Hmm, why not upgrade to the Steyr Aug A3 with comes with the rails?

  • I could easily be wrong but I suspect NZ buys their weapons from the same place AU buy their weapons: ADI

    ADI would probably upgrade to the A3

  • Matt

    The Australian Defence Force will be upgrading the steyr to the New A3 model by 2012, this can be found under Project 125 of the Research department of the Defence force.

  • Matt, I did some googling about “land 125” and did not find anything about upgrading to the A3 or is it another project called “125”?

  • mat

    To clear up “125” issues and confusion the A3 varient is to be upgraded to allow the firing of GLA and underslung shot gun attachment with the trigger finger. There is much speculation on INF 2012 weapon systems and the steyr will look marketly different. What is concrete is that what changes happen to the weapons system the it must have the same range or better and must not be any heavier than current weight with modifications. There is a photo around of an ugly australian modified A3, this is not the new rifle and was a test bed system and was a demo only. The ADF rumour mill is leaning more to the AUG A4 design as now Australia owns the rights of all world wide styer production and also pattened designs from Austria.

  • Matt, thanks for your interesting comment. I have posted it here:

  • Rhys

    I’ve used the NZ AUG, yes they are AUSteyrs from ADI, not austrian made ones.

    as to the comments about the 1.5x integral scope, They can be used both eyes open for rapid target engagement. It takes a bit of getting used to but it allows one to both have a wide field of view, and a bit more detail of the target. having a ring rather than cross hairs or dot also means when targetting it’s simple to focus on the point of aim within the ring, rather than covering something with a dot or centering crosshairs on the point of impact.

  • Mac

    I was in the NZ Army just after they converted to the AUG Steyrs. The original ones they purchased were the true Austrian made Rifles and there were a few cases of the NZDF purchasing their ammo off the Australians and having barrel issues. Apparently the Aussie ammo had a minutely different projectile size…slightly larger and there were a few cases of barrel explosions and even barrels leaving weapons due to this issue.

    In the end, the NZDF decided to purchase the Aussie Steyr to cut down on weapon cost and to guarantee there would be no more ammo issues.

    It is a highly overrated assault rifle and if given the choice, I would rather throw stones at the enemy than carry that stoppage prone piece of crap.

    • Mac, very interesting. A good strategy for the Australians to sell more rifles!

  • DM

    Have to agree with Mac, used the aussie steyr in the NZ Army, and couldn’t believe how many stoppages I had. The accuracy on my issued rifle was terrible too. I’d have been lucky to hit the side of a barn. Unfortunately this is just the kind of reason I became disillusioned. Sending troops out with this junk, and spending far too much on LAVs. Alot of guys wanted to go back to the FALs than use the steyrs.

  • Ben

    Yea i agree with the stoppages problem i couldnt believe how many i had and you hear people all the time saying that aslong as you clean it it will keep going and yes good maintnance is needed but when firing of from youre first 30 rounds and you getting a stoppage it is a pain ive allso seen a few new weapons that seemed to have problems with the barrel release and the extracter snapping but im sure that was just manufacturing issues. But my favourite was watching someone trying to palm the forword assist button and breaking the cocking handle clean off and sitting there with a dumb founded look on his face.

  • Dot

    Please guys, get your facts right about this weapon as 90% do not have a clue what you are talking about

  • Phil

    The AUG is a neat concept with a terrible implementation. Whoever thought of the trigger mechanism as a semi/auto selector should have been beaten.

  • S.F. Larkins

    Most of the problems with early manufacture F88 / NZ Steyrs resulted because they rushed them into service at the demand of various users, before production specs were fully settled

    Austrian made rifles have smaller gas holes – they use double base propellant in their ammo which has a different peak pressure charactersitic than the Aus ammo which is single base. The Aus barrels have a slightly larger gas hole to match the pressure/time charactersitics of the single base ammo which is used becasue it handles extreme temperature variation in storage (like on the side of an airfield in-theatre) than double base propellant. As the ambient temp gets hotter, double base propellant pressure gets higher than the Aus ammo – which by the way is more accurate and consistent than most other manufacture – certainly better than the M855 US stuff. Thats all to do with the projectile which is composite in structure and must be absolutely concentric if it is going to shoot properly.

    There were some issues where some users fired their rifles full auto for as long as they could keep up the ammo to see what would happen. They cooked off – durrrr.

    The rushed issue is also a reason why the Aus Army has such stupid and complicated drills. They invented fixes for things that were problems in pre-production rifles, and fixes for some things that are so improbable that it beggars belief.

    There is even a drill for a broken firing pin. Hands up anyone who has seen one occur? As a matter of fact I have – it was done deliberately in a trial. It was snapped in half then re-assembled with the two pieces of firing pin and it worked just fine. You have to cut the end off the firing pin so it can’t reach the primer for it to fail.

    I have fired thousands of rounds through the F88 and have barely had a stoppage. It is a very accurate rifle. Every rifle I have ever been issued with has shot pretty well. Some better than others, but all better than any but the best SLRs I ever used. There is truth in the rumour that carbines are more consistent than rifles but only marginally so. I have seen standard F88S outshoot specially prepared heavy barrel M16s with non-issue optics in international competition. The S variant offers the option of putting the optical sight of your choice for longer range shooting.

    The biggest weakness with ALL of the 5.56 rifles is the stupid multi-lug bolt head. It makes them difficult to check the chamber is clear and it makes them vulnerable to sand and crud ingress. M16, SA80,AUG and just about any other Western rifle you can think of all have the same bolt head design. The M16 is the only one that has a half reasonable bolt-assist, which was added against the recommendation of the designer, Eugene Stoner.

    The tipping bolt of the FN / SLR and the Czech VZ 58, or the tri-lug bolt head of the now defunct AAA (closed down by the Howard government)AR18 knock-off are much better designs.

  • James B

    Would just like to point out that rifle pictured in the photo is NOT an AUSTEYR A3. It is an F88 GLA or as ADI call it an AUSTEYR A2 w/ attached M203. It also has non-standard optics and an NAD (Night Aiming Device) fitted. JB

  • Oswald Bastable

    We had a real rifle in my day,not a stinkin’ LPTG 😉

  • JW

    I was also in the NZ Army for many years, and used the SLR and M16 for a short time. At each new unit I was lucky enough to be issued an Austrian made IW Steyr everytime. I used both the rifle and carbine barrels and put thousands of rounds through them in NZ and overseas. I never once had any trouble or stoppage of any kind. At times my weapon has been severly abused and although filthy and crappy it would still never miss a beat while pumping out the rounds.

    As far as DM’s comments about not being able to hit a barn door….perhaps it was your marksman skills rather than the weapon. The weapon was a sound choice made by people who know what they are doing. And the LAV; money well spent, just ask the boys in AFG at the moment.

    And Mac, perhaps you should throw stones and leave it up to us to do the buisness.