New Thales F90 5.56mm Assault Rifle (Next Gen Steyr AUG)

Thales Australia has unveiled the new F90, their latest version of the Steyr AUG. Steyr may have given up development of their AUG, but the Australians continue to evolve the design. The F90 is the commercial/export version of the EF-88 which Thales have been developing for the Australia’s LAND 125 upgrade program. Thales and Steyr will be entering the F90 in the French FAMAS replacement competition.

F90 Carbine

The F90 will be available in 5 versions, all of them chambered in 5.56mm NATO …

  • F90 Carbine : 16″ barrel, 27.5″ overall length, 7.1 lbs

  • F90(G) Grenade Carbine: F90 Carbine with 40x46mm grenade launcher, 9 lbs

  • F90M Marksman: 20″ barrel length, 31.5″ overall length, 7.5 lbs.

  • F90M(G) Grenade Marksman: F90M Marksman with 40x46mm grenade launcher, 9.57 lbs

  • F90CQB Close Quarters Carbine: 14.17″ barrel, 25.7″ overall length, 6.9 lbs.

Thales is bucking the barrel length trend. Most new rifle designs are featuring 14″ barrels as the carbine/standard length, 16″ as the marksman length and 10″ as the Close Quarters/PDW length. The extra length may be because of the need to attach a grenade launcher. I don’t think that the F90CQB would only expose the flash hider and the two or three inch forward picatinny rail is not enough on its own to securely mount the launcher.

It looks like a decent, mature modern design to fill the bullpup niche abandoned by many manufacturers.

[ Many thanks to Zarko & Lance for emailing us the info. ]



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.


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  • Giolli Joker

    “Most new rifle designs are” conventional designs, the main bullpup advantage is to give you more barrel lenght in the same (or less) OAL, I see it completely natural that this Thales offers longer barrels (and slightly better ballistics) in any package.

    • Chase

      This. There’s no reason not to take advantage of a bullpup’s opportunity for a longer barrel, in order to gain more velocity for your bullet.

      • Tim

        The reason not to is that it will make the rifle longer and clumsier.

        Bullpups are meant to be shorter. When a 10″ barrel gives you 91% of the velocity of a 16″ gun, there’s no reason AT ALL not to shorten the bullpup by 6″. You already are running the shitty bullpup platform, why not make the best of it? Who the hell is actually taking advantage of that 9% increase in velocity more than they’re taking advantage of a rifle that’s 6″ shorter? I wouldn’t be.

        Long barrels are a thing of the past. If you want more energy out of your gun, run a different cartridge, not a barrel that’s twice as long as it needs to be.

        You could use the extra lost length to add a suppressor, as well.

  • Reverend Clint

    Nice to see other than Ar-s and AK’s getting attention

  • 15yroldgunman

    Good lookin upgrade but is there any mechanical difference

    • noob

      If this is similar to the EF-88, they deleted the vibration/ultrasonic welded stock for a 2 piece bolt together stock so you could more easily install electronics.

      Also the EF-88 has an enlarged “triggerguard” (which engulfs your whole hand) that puts the grenade launcher trigger inside the triggerguard, rather than infront of it.

    • Alex-mac

      From the wiki here’s a list.
      Modified gas system for increased reliability and increased interoperability with U.S ammo.
      A longer Picatinny Rail on top of the weapon, a bottom rail and a detacheable side rail, optional compatibility with STANAG magazines, weight savings over the F88SA2 with a base weight of 3.25 kg (7 lb), the large trigger guard has been reshaped to serve as a vertical foregrip and the polymer body now has a different matte texture.
      Length of Pull has been shortened by 15mm 4. Modular Lower Fore End 5. Floating Barrel – increases accuracy. 6. Fluted Barrel 7. Folding Cocking Handle 8. Improved Butt design – increased strength, ejection port cover recessed to improve reliability. 9. Provision for Electronic Architecture – to allow centralized control and power management of ancillary devices. 10. Bolt-together Butt – for easier dis-assembly. 12. Improved Grenade Launcher Mount – improves balance of the weapon 13. Side-opening Grenade Launcher – can fire all currently available 40mm low velocity grenades 14. Improved Grenade Launcher safety. The KORD RIC (Rifle Input Control) is Thales new electronic control system, and will also be integrated into the rifle.

      • 15yroldgunman

        Sweet it’ll be interesting to see a vid of a torture test on it some day

  • Trev

    Unless they figured out how to stop the rifle from ejecting brass into your face when taking a left handed corner, I’m not seeing a breakthrough.

    • Merc

      While an attractive rifle, I’d have some serious trouble operating that weapon at any point. I’m primarily left-handed due to vision problems, and without a full conversion it would be an all-you-can-eat brass buffet.

      • Laingatang

        It only takes about a minute to switch it to left hand fire, put a lefty bolt in, change ejection port cover to the right side and done…

    • noob

      You want the Manticore Arms Brass Buster for AUG

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-v-QT6WdvU

      http://manticorearms.com/Brass-Buster-brass-deflector-MA-200BK.htm

      No permanent mods to your rifle, and you can do switch shoulder shooting.

      Current Aussie doctrine is that you should slice the pie on a left hand corner (as usual) and buttonhook a right hand corner then advance to better concealment or cover.

      In fact the aussie doctrine is all about advancing. Even if you have decent cover, they want you moving forward.

      • Merc

        Cheers, not had any hands-on experience with the AUG, but I plan to in the near future. I’ll track down a lefty bolt as soon as time permits.

    • Tinkerer

      Two points. One: in order to make any austrian Steyr AUG -I don’t know about australilan versions, I assume they function the same way-, you only need to remove the rubber ejection port cover from the left ejection port, reattach it on the right ejection port, and replace the bolt face with a left-ejecting one. And two: not all militaries train their riflemen to switch shoulders when clearing a corner. Google “Israeli Lean” -which, while meant mainly for handguns, can be used with rifles as well.

  • David/Sharpie

    Looks a hell of a lot like the A3 AUG.

    Looks like a nice rifle though.

  • BombedCarnivore

    I can has?

  • Lance

    Not bad. I think dropping the crappy 1x AUG optic for Trijicon optics is the best improvement. Maybe make them take AR Mags would be great too.

    • lolinski

      I would like to disagree there if it used AR mags it might make it less reliable and the fact that Steyr AUG magazines are much more reliable than any AR magazines gives them another reason to stay. If anything they should make a AR that takes AUG magazines.

      PS the conversion to AR mags exists for the AUG A3

    • Tinkerer

      Steyr has offered a STANAG-compatible receiver -complete with open-bolt hold device- for many, many years. Nobody wanted it, because the users that managed to break free from the political imposition of ARs or AKs in order to acquire a rifle better suited for their needs, also broke free from the political imposition of the aluminum GI magazine.

      Now, there is this thing: many people dismiss polymer materials in firearms and call them “plastic”. In reality, “Plasticity” is a property of matter: the capability to deform without breaking when subjected to a force, but without returning to the original shape. In contrast, “ellasticity” is the capability to deform wihtout breaking when subjected to a force, but then returning to it’s original shape when the deforming force stops.

      And here’s the thing: Aluminum doesn’t return to it’s original shape on it’s own after deformed, while a lot of polymers do return to their shapes.

      Conclusion? Aluminum is plastic, while many polymers aren’t.

  • WhatsHisFace

    Ah, so this is the gun I will be seeing in sci-fi movies for years to come.

  • Brandon

    I don’t understand the F90M(G) variant. Why does a designated marksman need a grenade launcher? Could you mount a bipod with the grenade launcher on it?

    • Doug

      Because DM’s are still right there in the heat of the fight with the non-DM’s. No reason they shouldn’t be able to lay down some extra ordnance.

    • Charles222

      A DM isn’t necessarily all about long range; it’s more about standard-range precision capability in a non-specialized rifle. A grenade launcher isn’t necessarily an odd accessory when you consider that the XM25 is basically a designated marksman’s grenade launcher.

    • Scorpy

      I believe the “Marksman GL” designation has more to do with the barrel length and the fact that it’s GL capable, not to actually issue a designated marksman with a grenade launcher. It’s just a name for the long version.

  • fisle

    Only three ‘western’ bullpup out there – F2000, AUG and Tavor.

    Thales, a French company might have a leg up in the French FAMAS replacement.

    20″ barrel (marksman) is the standard in the Australian Army. Marksman grenade variant makes sense.

    • Lance

      With the way the European economy is I doubt there be any BIG buys in France.

      • Wosiu

        Oh, really? How about of Croatian VHS rifle? Or coming Polish MSBS-5.56?

      • Komrad

        France has one of the largest economies in the EU. Only Germany and Great Britain (maybe) are larger. France, Germany, and Britain are essentially funding the bailout of the EU themselves.

      • Paul

        France isn’t the one in austerity… now if it was Spain, Greece, or Ireland doing the buying, I’d have my doubts.

      • GreenPlease

        @Komrad

        Britain isn’t putting up a dime in bailout funds. It all rests on France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

      • W

        France is the number 4 arms exporter in the world.

        Germany is 3rd and the UK is 5th with the netherlands, sweden and italy at #7th, 8th, and 9th. Europe as a whole is a large arms exporter.

        The US economy is worse than Europe’s, though is the largest arms exporter and has the largest military budget in the world.

        The EU’s most reliable contributor to austerity is Germany, who’s economy is comparatively more robust than the economies of Britain, France, Italy, etc…In fact, if anybody should leave the EU to save their economy, its Germany.

      • Avery

        @Wosiu

        MSBS-556 is going to be a strange puppy, since it’s convertible. From the ACR photo article a week or so ago, the Polish military haven’t yet formally adopted it and just because it has the ability to be converted to a bullpup doesn’t mean that feature may be adopted by the Polish army as well. While it uses a majority of the same parts, it still uses a separate upper and lower receiver, something that its developers tried to stay away (initial concept was that swapping the lower receiver was all that was needed) from and failed.

        That said, I do hope the bullpup is chosen along side the traditional carbine rifle format, for the sake of vehicle crews, logistics support, and rear echelon types.

    • Jake Barnes

      I think you’ll find this is produced in the Lithgow Plant in Australia.

    • bbmg

      It would be interesting to see Keltec make an attempt to enter the market with their RFB design.

  • Sian

    I like the length there and the super-low gloss body.

  • Avery

    Did they make the stock a bit bulkier? The stock breaks forward 20 degrees or so from the original Steyr AUG design. Maybe they did that to make it easier to grasp as a firing support, but it makes the stock seem really huge.

    • Alex-mac

      A little bulkier at the bottom, to make room for the power and electronic control module that will be put in later. Also the buttstock has been shortened by 15mm and now bolts together instead of having the two polymer halves vibration welded together.

      Here’s a better picture of the Australian version of the F90. (The black one clearly the export international version)
      https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/538149_325123810896368_1054369143_n.jpg

  • Alex-mac

    Hmm, let’s hope they improved the trigger!

    (considering they have a DMR version and the extent of the modifications, they probably did)

  • Chris B

    Blow me over – Australia producing weapons when they are still supporting the anti gunners who are constantly pushing to ban all firearms.
    When we were a real democracy we could buy from Lithgow.

    • David/Sharpie

      They’re fine with governments having guns.

      They’re like the UN or HK, if you’re military, we love you, if you’re a civvie, we hate you.

  • Shuggie Ballantyne

    At last a picture! Now this has been worth the wait, at 3.25kg and 700mm long this is a serious contender – welcome back a serious bullpup! Funny that the picture shows the same bird cage hider as I was told Thales had one on display in Paris with a 4 prong hider and quick attached can. Seems like they’ve got it together, do you think we can buy then here in the States soon?

    • Alex-mac

      Interesting that you mention the flash hider, that’s an Australian flash hider the one they use on the F88.

  • GreenPlease

    Man I hope they start importing AUGs into the U.S. again. If they sold them for around $1500 they’d fly off the shelves. The ability to have a 20″ barrel in a 30″ package is huge.

  • John Doe

    I’d like someone make a time machine, and go flip STANAG around and make AUG mags the standard. Far more reliable.

    • Laingatang

      No doubt the Steyr Mags are more reliable and tougher (I have scrapped hundreds of the damn things). But STANAG mags offer a far superior reload time. I dont think a Steyr Mag AR-15 would be anywhere near as fast as the standard STANAG.

      My humble opinion though, I would like to hear what others think because switching Steyr and STANAG mags is something I have wondered about for quite sometime.

      • FourString

        I kinda think it would depend on how trained you are on the mag changes themselves? bah

      • Laingatang

        Well that’s the thing, I have been formally trained in all drills including mag change of the steyr but not the M16 yet I can mag change an M16 magazine a good few seconds quicker than a steyr magazine, just better design overal IMO.

      • FN Mag 58

        Stanag mags desinged to be a non interference fit in a loose mag well so if you don’t put it in right it falls out, Steyr mags designed to be an interference fit in a tight magwell so it don’t fall out if you didn’t put it in right.

    • noob

      http://www.thalesgroup.com/Press_Releases/Markets/Defence/2012/Thales_debuts_new_assault_rifle_%E2%80%93_the_F90/

      it turns out the F90 is offered in both “NATO” and “AUG” magwell stocks.

  • Other Steve

    Auggy…. Oh Auggy…. What have they done to you!?

    Not a fan of the bulkier/swoopier new look. Or the 4″ long flash hider. Or that horrible folding grip. None of those things are improvements over the original A1.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing real A3s or something derived show back up in the US though.

  • Laingatang

    Is it just me that thinks that that optic is mounted awfully high? It looks like it is around 2″ above the bore.

    • David/Sharpie

      That’s where it needs to be.

      Do you react the same with M16 sights?

      • Laingatang

        No I do not, but M16 sights are no where near this high above the bore.

        At least in my experience they are not.

      • David/Sharpie

        2-3 inches over the bore?

        How high so you think this scope is?

  • myernkir

    I like how they’ve realized most soldiers dont use the foregrip when shooting and have redesigned the hand guard. Foregrip though still useful when on patrol.

  • snmp

    The money is dry in France, in plus French Army buy more and More FN SCAR over the the HK 416/HK47 that’s they found more ambi

    The old evaluation by French Army about the STEYR AUG :
    * could not have an rifle grenade,
    * Ambi of the weapon is not relay nice like for change the side of ejection
    * Not build by a countrie with native population who speak french that’s you could found in Belgium, Swiss & Italie

  • Laingatang

    Well that’s the thing, I have been formally trained in all drills including maf change of the steyr but not the M16 but I can mag change an M16 a good few seconds quicker than a steyr.

    • Laingatang

      *mag change instead of Maf change.

  • Brendan

    The firing position in the photo looks to be a lot more comfortable than the current basic prone position. This is welcome news to the shorter people out there who had problems reaching the old F88 foregrip when folded, since they’d often have burnt fingers from having to support the weapon under the gas port.