Australian EF88 Details/Tier System

During the adoption of the Thales EF88 rifle by the Australian Defense Force, one of the operational requirements for the EF88 was to produce a tiered system for combatants. There is nothing new about this “system” when it comes to small arms throughout military history. Most militaries prioritize troops at the front over troops in the rear when it comes to small arms and equipment. Although support troops are essential to the mission, they most likely won’t be actively engaging the enemy, and thus have less of a need for superior fighting equipment.

As quoted from a former Australian military official-

“Tiering” combatants was a method we made out projects affordable. Rather than give everyone the same “affordable” piece of equipment, we divided the force into three tiers. By doing this, the best equipment could be bought for the close combatant, which could consume most of the budget, but there’d be enough to equip the remainder with appropriate & adequate gear.
Tier 1: Specialist Roles. Specialist individuals that required specific-to-role equipment, usually in addition to their base role equipment. Example: EOD techs.
Tier 2: Close Combatant. Primary role is close combat. Includes Special forces, infantry, elements working integrally with the above (eg. Joint Fires Teams), Air Force security forces, navy boarding parties.
Tier 3: General Combatant. Have a requirement to defend themselves, but have another, primary, role. Examples include: artillery gun numbers, transport drivers, headquarters’ staff.

Although not listed on the chart, the Tier 1 users would probably be very specific to a mission set. What this realistically might be is different optics as opposed to standard issue ones, possibly even non-standard ammunition.

If you aren’t familiar with the EF88 LAND 125 3C upgrades from the F90 rifle, this infographic provides a good visual and case by case summary. It appears that the Trijicon ACOG was replaced with Raytheon’s 1-4 power Elcan Specter in some units (or overall)

Apart from the Tier system, the earlier chart gives a look at just what the Australian Defense Forces are using for the modular additions. Daniel Defense makes the 45 degree canted rail, Steyer contributed the SL40 F9 grenade launcher, Inforce the visual light, Elcan F2 Specter as the optical sight, Elbit Systems the thermal sight, while Quiptiq Ltd produces an IR clip on attachment, Thales produces the Grenade Launcher sight (essentially a Trijicon RMR in an elevation adjustable mount), Knight’s the forward grip, Grippod System’s the grippod, and Harris the conventional bipod.

Inforce Light-

Grenade Launcher Sights-

Not listed is the Squad Laser Range Finder or LRF. This unit appears to be different than the ones we’ve reported on before from L-3 that the ADF adopted.

Not mentioned in the poster or elsewhere but it appears that a number of Australian soldiers are working with a single point, multi origin sling. I’ve personally set up a One Point sling like this, where the sling is threaded through your shoulders to connect at the center of the chest with a clip. It has personally been my favorite sling attachment system when working with body armor on.

Something else that appears to be in the works is the experimenting with different camouflage schemes on the rifles-


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at


  • EdgyTrumpet

    “experimenting with different camouflage schemes on the rifles”
    Kryptek, meme camo to go with your meme gun I see.

  • BattleshipGrey

    Is Australia finally phasing out the WW2 US Marine camo? Looks like some interspersed multicam in there.

    • UWOTM8

      They appear to have made their own Multicam using the jelly bean color scheme.

    • Tassiebush

      Although it looks similar to the US Marine Cam from ww2 from what I’ve read it was inspired by an Indonesian Marine camouflage pattern. I believe the new one was developed by crye precision under contract to combine aspects of auscam colours with the multicam pattern. This is all just going off memory. Someone else might know more.

  • UWOTM8

    I said I didn’t need one of these. This article determined that was a lie.

  • James Kachman

    If I recall correctly, the Aussies were developing a new cartridge as well, any idea if this system is tweaked to make better use of it?

    • I’d be curious to know as well. Are other NATO forces allowed to use M855A1?

      • James Kachman

        I don’t think there’s anything explicitly forbidding it per-se, just that it hasn’t actually been standardized, adopted and procured by any other nations. These things seem to move slow; M855A1 got started in ’05, first shipped in 2010, and is still being implemented. We’ll hopefully see a completed move to the next gen of 5.56 soon.

      • Just Say’n

        Australia isn’t NATO (NORTH ATLANTIC Treaty Organization) , they are ANZUS though..

        • dave741966

          Australia might not be a part of NATO but they abide by NATO standardisation like all western countries.

      • lostintranslation

        That is a very good question, for a legal expert.

        • SCHV

          The thing is, its not Hollow Point, not even OTM. Its just a steel penetrator head that has to be hold by the copper jacked to stay in place, which has the “side effect” of fragmenting.

          • SCHV

            + fast and tumbling M193 and M855 (and some thin jacketed 7.62×51) fragment too anyways… ,and contain toxic lead. So M855A1 EPR has far better penetration, reliable instead of %change fragmenting, and produces well sized copper fragments, instead of really small toxic lead fragments.

          • Al Wise

            Toxic lead? What PC nonsense. What lead is non-toxic?

          • James Kachman

            It’s “toxic lead” in comparison to M855A1, which is lead-free.

          • James Kachman

            The question is less “are they able to use it”, rather, “are we able to export it to them”. The F-22, for example, was blocked for export by Congress.

    • Dave Buck

      ADI/Thales have developed their own version of M855A1.

  • Uniform223

    I’m still seeing some kind of duck hunter pattern. I thought the Australian Army went to a modified multi-cam

    • Hoplopfheil

      Looks like some multicam and some desert blob camo that I’m unfamiliar with.

      • VanDiemensLand

        It’s DPCU or AUSCAM developed on the 80’s

  • Looks like a great setup.

    31″ long rifle with a 20″ barrel for full 5.56 velocity, and each soldier is equipped with both a Grip Pod and 1-4x optic, to take full advantage of both the close quarters and intermediate range offered by the system.

    This is probably the most versatile “standard issue” rifle setup currently being fielded.

    • SCHV

      Well but the used projectile could really downgrade things. Because they dont use M855A1 EPR right?

      • That of course, is the question. A 10″ rifle with M855A1 likely has a longer fragmentation range then a 20″ with M855.

        It would be tragic if they had the ultimate 5.56 universal rifle, and then fed M855.

        Or worse, created a cold war era round like the Brits with their new L31A1: a 62gr solid steel core projectile that appears incapable of either fragmenting or rapidly tumbling.

        • James Kachman

          The “new” L31A1 is that bad of a flop? A shame.

          • Well this is me playing armchair ballistician, as I haven’t seen any gel tests of it. Hopefully I’m completely wrong and it’s awesome.

            But based on the little diagram and info they provided – a 62gr hardened steel core with minimal airgap in the nose (unlike 7n6) makes me believe that it would be as poor as I described.

            The projectile is basically very similar to the Chinese 5.8×42 solid steel core, and that is known to have much less wounding then even M855 in order to enhance armor penetration.

            If it was an actual, tungsten core AP round it would make a ton of sense, as that would defeat ceramic rifle plates. But steel cores only pierce steel armor – and no one other then budget bubbas is using steel armor.

          • SCHV

            Yes it wont react that great in tissue. The pdf says it has a lead base which really decrease penetration because the lead spreads sideways on impact waisting a ton of energy.

            And its ok but no its far from “ultimate”.

        • n0truscotsman

          I have my doubts about that round as well, and if the US military procurement is FOS on any level, the UK MOD is *even worse* when it comes to acquisitions. Im sure they claim its the greatest 5.56 ever made, right alongside the L85 being the most reliable military rifle in service.

      • 2805662

        Operationally, yes, the M855A1 EPR is issued. Otherwise it’s the Australian-made F1 ball round.

        • SCHV

          What do you mean with operationally? For more special groups/ or general main frontline troops, and the rest reserve get F1?

          • 2805662

            Operationally = deployed. Special guys get special rounds, most likely.

        • James Kachman

          Asking out of curiosity, not doubt – you got a source for that?

          • 2805662

            F1 since about 1988, EPR was announced (open source) in the Army News(paper) in 2012/13.

          • 2805662

            EPR source: Army News, November 21, 2013, page 26, response by Lt-Col Chris Gates, “Principal Ammunition Technical Officer”.

          • lostintranslation

            AHQ Lt-Col Chris Gates responds:
            ARMY will continually review its use of the most effective and appropriate ammunition in meeting capability requirements. These reviews will always consider the impact of ammunition remnants, such as lead, on the environment.
            Army is currently reviewing the M855A1 as a possible replacement for the current F1 5.56mm round and has conducted significant testing in Australia and the US to confirm the effectiveness and interoperability of the round in the current fleet of F88 Steyr weapons.
            The consideration of the M855A1 round is expected to be tabled in early 2014.

            Unfortunately, I could not find any further references.
            Can anyone add to this?

    • iksnilol

      16″ barrel and a short Brevis suppressor would’a been better.

      • ^

        Interesting idea for sure.

  • Ace of Lances

    I have never held a bullpup, either rifle or shotgun; what is their benefit? Is it a recoil thing, balance, handling, or something else?

    • CommonSense23

      It’s short for the barrel length.

      • Ace of Lances

        Oh; much simpler than what I was thinking 😉 thank you!

    • It’s primarily length – a 20″ bullpup is as short as a 14.5″ M4 carbine with the stock collapsed. Meanwhile, a 16″ bullpup is as long as a MP5 with the stock extended. So you are getting a very compact rifle, with full size ballistics.

      But the other huge benefit is the rearward weight distribution. This allows the rifle to have a much less fatiguing balance, as the closer the weight is to the body, the less mechanical leverage it can exert on the arms. (for example, hold a 5 pound weight close to your body, vs at full extension.) Bullpups can actually be shot with one hand supported from the shoulder with decent accuracy.

      This rearward balance is especially important when a 2.5lb grenade launcher is mounted to the front of the rifle. Its still going to be heavy, but not as horribly front heavy as a M4 with m203 mounted.

    • Just say’n

      Those are good answers below. Now ask why everyone hates them.

      • SCHV

        I dont hate them, but the reason is the available Bullpups always had theyr individual flaws, there never was one without that. And even if, then they would kick burning hot brass in your face.

        Where bullpups shine much more are CT Rifles (Steyr ACR/ Stoner Ares ACR), due to theyr better ejection and insane mechanism space efficiency.

        • I would love to see the Steyr ACR make a return for the LSAT program.

          But in the meantime, the F90 features a nice integral shell deflector in the stock, so the brass to the face issue has been fixed. Combined with the improved railestate and reduced weight, there’s not too much to dislike about this bullpup.

          • SCHV

            It actually currently does, but in an insanly better and way diffrent version, even though not by Textron.

            And yes the shell deflector is a big pro. What i dont like is the front where you grip, you need an extra grip because otherwise you burn your hands on the barrel and gas tube. Also the charging handle is at a bad angle, and can get caught up in the forward position under stress.
            How is the trigger? Still as bad as on the AUG?

          • Richard

            I agree, it could really do with a front handguard like the Steyr AUG A3 prototype.

            The trigger looks like the same, still all plastic – Geisselle are making one for the ATRAX though apparently.

            I’m pleased to see an excellent optic system, finally.

            Wonder if they will commission ELCAN to make a version with just a massive thick circle and no central post or dot so people feel at home.

          • Curious to hear more if you can share about the ACR 2.0.

            The F90’s grip is not as comfortable as the original AUG vfg (which I find is one of the more comfy vfg’s ever designed, at least for my hand.) And they deleted the quick change barrel feature of the AUG to give it that rail. That’s a bummer, especially since Steyr has recently developed a .300 BLK quick change barrel and 7.62×39 AUG. If you check out Corvus Defensio and their upgrades for the AUG, I think thats a slightly cooler setup then the F90, especially for the private citizen.

            But where the F90 crushes the AUG is in how they have integrated the grenade launcher, and that required ditching the VFG. And, while hideous, the Grip Pod is a much more useful foregrip.

            I only dry fired the F90 a few times at SHOT, but its pretty similar to the current AUG. The current AUG, at least semi auto, seems to have improved the trigger. I would compare it to “if Glock made a 1911” trigger – sliding trigger with 8lbs resistance, and about 3mm travel before a crisp break. Perfectly usable, and better then many milspec triggers.

            And of course, both the AUG and F90 use the excellent “progressive trigger” design, where pulling halfway is semi auto, but a hard yank in an emergency situation automatically engages full auto. This allows the operator to have semi and full auto on a moment to moment basis, without committing to one or the other with a selector. I think that system is well worth having at the expense of a slightly heavier trigger pull.

          • SCHV

            Im not sure, i could ask him if he could give you more info, but i think waiting a bit is the better option, im also not sure how he should contact you. Also its not a 2.0, what it has in common is beeing a CT Bullpup, but its vastly diffrent and an insanly good system, in my opinion absolute impossible to overcome as far as ive seen.

            And in therms of vfg, i took mine of (AUG), and build a costume cylindrical handquard (with mlok slots), with smooth transition to the angled gripquard, basicly as an angled grip. It holds much nicer.

          • That sounds awesome, would love to see your AUG hangaurd.

            I’ve seen a Mlok one from Clawgear, but it’s more a traditional straight hangaurd.

      • Al Wise

        “…everyone hates them.” is far from the truth. The AUG has been successful for many decades, as has the FAMAS. The reliability issues with the SA80 aside, the troops like the design. And the Tavor is very popular with the IDF and allies.

      • Sid Collins

        I trained with the Brits who were using the L85. They did not like it because the manual of arms is not intuitive. As they said, try fast reloading when the mag well is in your armpit.

        • Richard

          Yes, the bullpup platform is pretty unpopular with regular users.

          Be like designing a car where the gear shift was behind the driver between the rear passenger seats.

          Car enthusiasts would declare it the cleverest design ever, people that actually had to drive it would say how bad it was.

          • Sid Collins

            Yes. Now, the unit at that time had some Falkland veterans but most of the soldiers were trained initially on that rifle. They did not have a prejudice based on transitioning from a traditional rifle to a bullpup. The soldiers who only had a frame of reference of using bullpup rifles did NOT appreciate the design of the rifle. They could readily appreciate that there were drawbacks to reloading a bullpup, the manual of arms was awkward, etc…

    • jono102

      If you spend a lot of your day climbing in and out of vehicles and expect to be able to have effective range hit it becomes pretty bloody useful.
      If you are raised in the Youtube generation of “expert” reviews who will never have a need to operationally carry a rifle who will cry about an apparent trigger pull they can’t train around, not much use at all apart from pose downs at the range with your latest and greatest loadout.

      • Ace of Lances

        That makes sense too. I cut trees up here in Canada for a living, usually carry my saw on my lap riding fourtrax between cuts and grub. Easier with a 16″ than a 22″. But during deer season I keep the Plano strapped on, a cartridge in pocket; hard to get geared up for a decent shot anyways.
        Seems great for army folks getting in and out of lavs, or walking down a crowded camel-jockey row.

  • abecido

    The detail I want to know is when the Atrax will be available.

  • Chris Schmidt

    They’re gonna be breaking a lot of those Inforce lights.

    • A Fascist Corgi

      Noobs should have purchased the latest gen.

    • Blaine

      That’s the first thing I thought when I saw the way the lights are mounted. I imagine those things shearing off all over the place.

  • alex archuleta

    Optics wise it also looks like some use the
    Trijicon 1.5×16 ACOG.
    I have the Trijicon 1.5x16s ACOG and I love it! Great optic and being that I love a good deal when I was shopping for a new optic for my new PoF renegade + I found it for $600. Love a good deal!

    • 2805662

      The TA44 1.5x was the trial optic. The Elcan is what’s been purchased as the standard for all EF88.

  • Gun Fu Guru

    This makes me rethink the horrible design of the Inforce WML.

    Nope. Still sucks.

  • Budi Utomo

    They will still lose the next Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting to Indonesia. Australian military should focus on range time not gadgets and gender studies.

  • Sense Offender

    How about they stop experimenting with it and finally bring it to the US market. I have AUG mags for an AUG I don’t have because now I want the new super AUG that they’ve been promising for almost 2 years now!

  • lostintranslation

    Much appreciated…….interesting references, but not quite definitive.