Worst Pieces of Crap That Have Ever Been Issued: 1. Rifles

F88 Austeyr rifle - Steyr AUG

My comments may enrage our Australian members, but I view the Steyr bullpup rifle in caliber 5.56 mm as a poor weapon. i speak from some experience having been an instructor and armorer on the Steyr AUG carbine, a model very similar to the Australian F88. I have shot this rifle for years and don't like it.
The good points of this weapon:
1. Optical sight - excellent, provides very high hit probability
2. Compact length - very useful in helicopters and armored vehicles
Bad points:
1. Horrible trigger and little can be done about it. The worst trigger I have ever experienced on any rifle. It is so bad, you can't believe it.
2. Can't be used by a left-handed person without re-configuring the ejection set-up. It requires switching the bolt and the ejection port cover.
The weapon is awkward to use. Nothing is where it feels like it should be. The trigger controls the way the rifle fires. The first trigger pull is a semi-automatic shot. Continue the trigger pull to obtain either a three-round burst or full automatic fire depending on how the trigger pack is configured. The muzzle climb is severe because all the weight of this weapon is in the rear.
In my opinion, there are a number of other weapons that would be better than the Steyr if simply provided with an optical sight.
Australian members may have other views on this firearm, either more or less favorable. I would prefer to hear from those who have actual experience with the F88 in Australian service.
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The AUG was chosen by Australia for a few reasons. It's a mixed-up story that includes wider national strategic concerns and it bears repeating to explain the situation a little.

During the search for a rifle to replace the SLR, there was some interest from Australian companies and one company, Armtech, submitted its caseless 5.56mm C30R bullpup rifle (they'd also had a fallback design, the C60R which was the C30R but designed for 5.56mm NATO). It was also considered desirable by some elements of the government (for prestige as much as anything else - if adopted, we would have been the first nation in the world to issue a caseless ammo rifle on a mass scale) as well as the military, in having a high-tech, Australian designed weapon like the C30R for Australian military service.

Unfortunately, the C30R was not mature enough, it was rushed to completion for the trials and it suffered a catastrophic ammo explosion during one of the firing phases and while initial interest was quite strong, this failure caused a loss of faith in the entire project by the small arms committee. Armtech sold the design for the C60R to Edenpine (another Australian company that sought to enter the military small arms market) who made the ART30 and SAK30 rifles from the design but they too sold the design, this time to the American Bushmaster company who went on to use it for their M17 bullpup.

So if anyone owns a Bushmaster M17 bullpup, you have the grandchild of an Australian design that was a contemporary to H&K's G11.
You're connecting to a little bit of obscure military small arms history every time you touch the M17 :m1:

Steyr, Colt and some others submitted rifles for the trials and after the failure of the C30R, the trial was conducted with purely conventional ammo designs.
I believe the L85A1 was included but it was still suffering all the problems that caused its update to the L85A2 model and as such, was not considered as a serious contender. The Colt M16A2 was selected as overall winner as much for the low cost per unit and proven design as much as for any good shooting qualities of the weapon. The proven design idea took on greater significance than perhaps it should have because after the failure of the C30R, the small arms committee solidified itself into the conservative, orthodox mindset such committees typically display.

Part of the conditions associated with selection however, was that a licence be granted to allow manufacture in Australia. With the loss to FN for the contract to supply M16A2s to US forces, Colt wanted to make the rifles in the US and sell them to Australia. Australia wanted the ability to make the rifles itself - we still remember the problems our isolation from the UK caused during WW2 when they couldn't supply sufficient vehicles and aircraft to us and although the USA was able to fill that role soon enough, our government still wishes to maintain the ability to produce unarmoured vehicles and standard small arms locally.

With Colt refusing to allow licenced manufacture in Australia (which was a perfectly good and sound business decision - why the hell would you want another company making your rifle and taking potential sales away from you when there was already one big name manufacturer doing so) and the Australian government wanting the ability to make our issue rifles in Australia (a perfectly good and sound strategic decision given that we rely on ships for bulk supplies of anything from out of the country), we dropped Colt from the list and went to the runner up - the Steyr AUG, to be built in Australia with a few minor modifications to materials and design and known as the F88.


Having used the L1A1 SLR, L2A1 AR, M16A1 and the F88 & F88C rifles while I was in (plus having the opportunity to use the M14, M16A2* and L85A1 and during rifle matches, the venerable SMLE No.1 MkIII*), I can say four things about the F88/F88C: -
1. it does have a terrible trigger pull compared to conventional rifles but you do get used to it, it's much more of a strong "pull" than a gentle "squeeze" of the trigger to me.
2. it pulls up & right quite badly when firing bursts, worse than the M16A2* because as mentioned by Remington 1858, much of the weight is to the rear and there's very little weight to the front to help keep the muzzle down. You get used to it and learn to compensate for it but it takes practice.
3. the two-stage trigger/fire selector takes some getting used to when you've been used to conventional fire selectors, probably because of the longer trigger pull required compared to conventional designs with two-stage triggers.
4. the crossbolt safety is all fine and well but don't make the damned thing out of plastic that will wear down and become loose or make the hammer out of low strength plastic that will fracture and break (all of this has been rectified so it's more a rant by me about the attempts by penny-pinchers in the government to make the F88 cheaper by using low cost parts than a valid current criticism).
* British issue with the Safe-Single-Full Auto trigger rather than the US forces Safe-Single-Burst trigger.

Points 1,2 and 3 are more of a concern for people experienced with conventional designs however a lot of people who joined the Army during/after the 1990s had little to no experience with firearms, let alone military rifles, when they joined so these points are not anywhere near as much of an issue for them as they are for the rest of us. For many of them, it's the first rifle they've ever been trained on, so points 1,2 & 3 are the "normal" state of affairs for them.

When I was still in, doctrine was that firing from the off-shoulder was not advised nor encouraged and thus, no training was officially conducted in it and this was back in the days of the SLR, before we got issued the F88. Unofficially, many units taught firing from the off-shoulder with the SLR and M16A1, some units also tried it with the F88.
It's no fun firing the F88 from your off-shoulder, the empties get too damned close to your face and unless your firing straight ahead, they can go down your shirt front or hit your supporting arm or face and frankly, "f**k that for a game of soldiers". It's something I would never advise unless wearing ballistic glasses (and preferably a face shield!).

Originally, when declaring the rifle "clear", we had to remove the barrel and display the chamber end to the inspecting NCO/Officer but this was discontinued because the steel barrel was wearing the aluminium upper receiver when repeatedly removed/fitted to the rifle. Again this was a consequence of using low cost parts and a better alloyed metal would have mitigated this somewhat. This was changed to leaving the barrel attached and the inspector would use their finger to check if the chamber/barrel was clear. This occurred during the early 1990s and I was out by 1995 so I don't know if anything has changed in this regard (either to the conduct of the "clear" state or the metal of the receiver).

Simple fact is, there are still times when you'd like to be able to fire from the off-shoulder but any bullpup with side ejection is not a good choice for this and even though the AUG/F88 design can be changed from right- to left-side ejection by pretty much anyone with simple tools in a few minutes, you are not going to bother doing that in the field (and I'd also heard the rumour that in some units, the cover plate for the unused ejection port was glued into place).
Despite all of that, I had no serious dramas with the F88. Given the vast distances of the Australian outback and the consequent increased range of detection/engagement, I would have preferred to have the SLR but in close quarters the size of the F88 makes it very handy. The F88 is evolving however, and these later versions are trying to improve on some of the lesser aspects of the parent design.
Thank you

Thank you Kevin for your very thorough and knowledgeable reply.
I predict the F88 will not be around much longer. With the reduction in size of the U.S. Armed Forces, Colt M-4s will be available on Foreign Military Sales (FMS) from the U.S. Department of Defense at bargain prices. Prices so low, it will make no sense to continue to manufacture and support a locally made weapon.
This would serve U.S. policy objectives and well as assuring commonality with Australian forces.
Thank you Kevin for your very thorough and knowledgeable reply.
I predict the F88 will not be around much longer. With the reduction in size of the U.S. Armed Forces, Colt M-4s will be available on Foreign Military Sales (FMS) from the U.S. Department of Defense at bargain prices. Prices so low, it will make no sense to continue to manufacture and support a locally made weapon.
This would serve U.S. policy objectives and well as assuring commonality with Australian forces.

I wouldn't underestimate the Australian government's desire for self sufficiency in military small arms manufacture.
While I agree that the "F88" won't be around for the long term, it's only because the replacement is slated to be the evolution I mentioned earlier, the EF88.
The EF88 (literally "enhanced" F88) is being developed in two major versions, the EF88 (it may get a more relevant name in the future) will be issued to Australian forces while the F90 is an export version of the EF88. The F90 is being marketed already while the EF88 is projected to be ready for mass manufacture this year.

It's certainly possible but very highly unlikely that the Australian government will give up the ability to manufacture our standard military rifle. We've been doing it since before World War One and although we've severely reduced our ability to make aircraft, ships and heavy vehicles, military small arms is the one area the government has never actively restricted irrespective of the costs involved.
There's certainly been cutbacks, down-sizing and so on and the small arms factory was eventually sold to private business but no matter what rifle we chose to equip our forces with, the current and projected-future thinking is that the rifle will always be manufactured in Australia irrespective of the designs origins. The attitude is, simply put, if we can't get a licence to make it here, we will not buy that design.
There is little chance of giving up the manufacture of our small arms in the near future with the current push for more defence manufacturing industries in Australia.
I like the SLR when we had it, took a while to like the F88 but am used to it now and rate it well. Whilst the M4 is popular I can't see the ADF going over to this design anytime in the future for the whole of the ADF. Specialist unit inventories aside.
I think one of the worst things I ever had to use in the Army was the Sten Gun, it was cheap and nasty. I would never put a magazine into the gun unless I was going to fire the dam thing. There was no safety catch on it and if you jumped over a wall and came down on the other side with a bit of a jar, then this could be enough to bring the bolt back a couple of inches and collect and fire a round, which was always worth 28 days inside. If dropped it it could off firing a whole magazine with out you touching it. I think that this gun must have killed or wounded as many British troops as it did the opposition.
On the early days the barrel was that short it made it very inaccurate so you just hosed an area down hoping to hit some thing.
As far as I can remember the only safety on the Mk 2 STEN was a notch cut out in the receiver where the bolt could be set, but was far from fool proof. I agree the STEN was a nasty bit of kit, but the French Resistance loved the gun for some reason, the later Sterling that took over from the STEN was like comparing Chalk to Cheese, its was a good weapon. It was the last personal weapon I was issued, I loved it.
Most all those blowback smgs were dangerous like the Sten.
The venerable MP 40 as well.
The exposed bolt handle and safety notch were simply accidents waiting to happen.
I know of 2 fatalities in VN from dropping a SMG.
One a Swedish K and a M1 Thompson.
Crapiest rifle

I totally agree with LeEnfield. You can really abuse an AK 47 and it will still fire. But he is correct about the AK's accuracy. Pray and spray IMO the 5.56 round (M16 ) was a better knock down bullet.
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