The F88T Austeyr (.22 Training Steyr AUG)

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

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
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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  • Chris b Chris b on May 04, 2012

    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 S Larkins on May 04, 2012

    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 7.62x51 (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.