The F88T Austeyr (.22 Training Steyr AUG)

I was incredibly surprised to open an email a few days ago and see photos of the mythical Australian F88T Austeyr. Quite a long time ago I had scoured the internet searching in vain for photos of this gun.

The F88T Austeyr
Note the subcaliber magazine insert – the only giveaway that it is chambered in .22 LR

Almost no information about this rifle is available online. This is very surprising because the rifle is currently in service with a major defense force.

The F88T Austeyr was developed by ADI Limited (now known as Thales Australia). It is, as far as I know, the only variant of the Steyr AUG chambered in .22 Long rifle. A page on the, now offline, ADI website described the weapon as:

ADI has developed a .22 calibre training rifle for use by the Australian Army. The weapon provides an economical training alternative, with very low ammunition cost, which can be used in environmentally sensitive training areas and indoor areas for special force training with reduced risk to trainees and instructors.

This paragraph sums up just about all the information available online! Because of the lack of information I was convinced that very few of these had ever been built, but I stumbled across the minutes of a meeting from an Australian Air Force conference where they discussed an order of 200 F88T’s which were going to be used for cadet training. Presumably there are more than 200 in existence.

Australian cadets also train with .22 single shot bolt actions rifles.

I do not have any technical information about the gun. Most .22 semi-automatics share similar features. The gas system will be non-functional because a .22 LR cannot generate enough case to cycle an action. The action will be a standard blowback system. The barrel is probably the same as the regular Austeyr. While this is not optimal for accuracy I can’t imagine it would have been worth the cost of producing dedicated .22 Long Rifle barrels.

I am sure that the owners of the civilian Steyr AUG SA, which went on sale this year, would love to have a .22LR conversion kit. Realistically, a third-party American firm is much more likely to develop a conversion kit than Steyr is too either develop their own or license the design from Thales Australia.

Many thanks to Jon for the photos.



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.


Advertisement

  • jdun1911

    The .22lr is fun to shot and a great round to train with. By far my favorite, caliber.

    Conversion kit at first glance to most people aren’t worth the price. In reality they are a great cost saving product.

    I have a Ciener kit for my AR15 and it save me a ton of money. I’m able to train at the range without worrying about ammo prices.

  • AB

    That’s a pretty neat conversion setup. You can get 500 rounds for the same cost as 20 so your savings are right there. Granted, it won’t have the feel and handling as a fully armed weapon, but that training would come later after people are familiarized with the weapons system.

  • j5

    I’m not entirely sure that is the F88T. The 88Ts I trained with as an RAAF cadet and later saw in the RAAF were all converted A1s, with the older Swarkovski sights. That weapon looks to me to be a converted A2, or what we call an F88S.

    I’d be suprised to learn that they’d initiated an upgrade program on the old 88Ts.

    Either way, the 88T was a great weapon, especially for Cadets and recruits who might never have used a firearm in their lives to train on something as fun as a .22 Steyr.

    There is one even more obscure F88 variant that I’d love to see a photo of: the F88 HBAR. When the Australian Defence Force initiated the purchase of the Steyr, or what was to become the F88, they did so on the proviso the weapon system could be converted to suit every role. They ditched the 9mm Aug Para early in favour of the F88C carbine as a tank crew weapon, but somewhere, out there, were Light Machine Gun conversions that were supposed to replace the FN Minimi.

  • M. Wild

    Thank you to whoever found that photo! For half a year now I’ve been looking for one. I found out about it on my F88 Austeyr course with the Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC) and was told how they were made originally for us (ADF Cadets) Except something happened and we never saw them, Since then I really wanted to see what it would look like, especially the Mag.
    I was told the the Airfield Defence Guards are issued with them, because they can injure someone as much as a 5.56 to a human (bull***t) But if it accidently hits an Aircraft It wont do the same amount of Damage a 5.56 would.

  • S.F. Larkins

    The F88T was an on and off requirement as part of the Small Arms Replacement Project. It was abandoned early in the project (1991-3) because of difficulties coming up with a reliable system, and the fact that the 1:7 twist barrels of the F88 chewed up the lead .22LR projectiles, which are normally fired out of 1:14 twist barrels and there was only ever a limited requirement anyway.

    The real reason for their development was to enable their use in environmentally sensitive tropical ranges were full calibre ammo rapidly shreds the vegetation.

    I was surprised to see the requirement resurrected. I saw and handled one in 2005. It was unreliable and I’ll bet anything you like they would cost a lot more than the real thing becasuer there was so few of them made. The advent of WTSS means there is no real need for them.

    HBARs were trialled but never purchased in quantity and there was no notion that they were going to replace the Minimi. The Aus spec called for a belt fed LSW and that’s what we got.

  • EarnĂ¡n

    The magazine looks very similar to that of the Heckler & Koch HK270, which was used (inside the shell of a full-power magazine) in the H&K .22LR conversion kits for the H&K G3 and HK33, FAL and L1A1 rifles. I would not be surprised if it isn’t in fact an HK270 magazine mated to an sleeve to fit the magazine well of an F88; that was precisely how the 22LR conversion kit magazine for the HK33 was configured.

  • jimmy

    i get to use this when i join cadets next year

  • chris b

    When the Australian government decided that Australian civilians weren’t to be trusted with semi auto shotguns and rifles, there was a time the ADI Factory was allowed to sell to civilians. I remember paying $600 in the 1980’s for new “in the styrene” L1A1’s.

    A few flat top Aus steyrs in .223 were sold to dealers, along with a few
    unfitted heavy barrels which i believe were to be LMG versions at the time before the Government decided it was not going to allow sales out of any government facility. All the old .223 was destroyed rather than sold to us. The few F88’s in civilian hands here have rather crudely engraved serial numbers on them.

    I heard of only 1 .22lr cadet rifle and the guy was asking $10k + for it.

  • S Larkins

    Just to set the record straight.

    1.ADI were never going to be allowed to sell F88s to the public. They are full auto capable unlike the old L1A1s – which could easily be rendered full auto by putting half a match stick under the sear. But why would you? The L1A1 was not an assault rifle in the same sense as an AK47. The 7.62×51 (NATO) round is effectively a full power round and is not controllable in full auto.

    The F88T is not a reliable rifle. The one I handled had stoppages constantly.