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.
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.
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.