Steyr AUG 9 Para: One of the best bullpup assault rifles in the world

Eric Sof

The Steyr AUG 9 Para rifle was the first “modular” design: the barrel, receiver, and firing mechanism can all be changed to configure the weapon into whatever rifle is wanted. By an extension of this principle, Steyr pioneered a trend that is now becoming more common: converting what is a locked-breech rifle into a blowback submachine gun.

WHEN IT WAS INTRODUCED, the AUG was an innovative rifle, and I think it is a credible rifle for a nation to choose for its Army. So it is still used in the Austrian Army and police, including EKO Cobra.

Difference between standard AUG rifle and AUG 9 Para

The Steyr AUG 9 Para is based on the standard AUG rifle by changing the barrel for one of 9 mm caliber, changing the bolt assembly for a simple blowback unit, and changing the magazine housing by fitting an adapter to take a narrower magazine holding the 9 mm Parabellum pistol cartridge.

The result is a submachine gun with a longer barrel than usual for this type of weapon that fires from a closed bolt. Both these features improve accuracy, and the longer barrel produces a relatively higher muzzle velocity than is usual in this caliber.

The Steyr AUG 9 Para has a “closed bolt” feature. It means that when the magazine is inserted, and the cocking handle pulled back and released, the bolt runs forward and chambers a cartridge, leaving the hammer cocked, ready to fire. Pulling the trigger in like in the standard submachine gun, the bolt runs forward, loads the chamber, and then fires.

There is, therefore, a sudden shift of balance due to the movement of the bolt, and, as a result, a first-round hit is unlikely. With the Steyr AUG 9 Para, pulling the trigger releases the hammer; nothing else moves, and the weapon stays steady at the aim, so first-round hits are the rule rather than the exception.

Convert Kit

The company initially marketed a conversion kit, allowing anyone with an AUG to convert it to a submachine gun. Later, however, this was withdrawn, and Steyr sold only brand-new weapons since it appeared that even a simple conversion was beyond the skill of some users.

EKO Cobra operators armed with Steyr AUG assault rifle
Steyr AUG 9 Para is one of the service rifles used by EKO Cobra (Photo: Austrian Police)

A separate barrel fitted with an efficient silencer is also available; this can be exchanged for the normal barrel by simply pressing a catch and twisting the front handle sideways to unlock the interrupted lugs of the barrel from the receiver.

As with the rifle, the basic model has a carrying handle with a low-power optical sight, but it is possible to change the receiver to one with a sight mount and thus fit night vision or other specialist sights.

Steyr AUG 9 PARA, Aimpoint on a Bobro Engineering Mount, Hexmag with a Springer Precision Mag Extension
Steyr AUG, Aimpoint on a Bobro Engineering Mount, Hexmag with a Springer Precision Mag Extension (Photo: Imgur/AUGret)

User experience

I believe it’s probably the best of the bullpup assault rifles/weapons out there. It’s pretty light even with an HBAR mod. I don’t mind the standard optics of scope either. It’s just the right size and allows me to still focus accurately without it.

Steyr AUG 9 Para with cleaning kit parts featured
Steyr AUG 9 Para with cleaning kit parts featured (Photo: XY)

I know many people are excited about the Tavor, but the Steyr AUG 9 Para has been around a good while; it’s battle-proven, and the Australian military has thought enough of it to adopt a second-generation version. The Aussi infantrymen I’ve spoken with thought it a decent weapon. The IWI Tavor, by contrast, is a relatively unproven design.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Austria
Manufacturer:Steyr-Mannlicher GmbH, Steyr
Type:Blowback, selective fire
Caliber:9 mm Parabellum
Barrel:16.5 in (420 mm)
Weight (empty):7.25 lbs (3.3 kg)
Magazine capacity:25 or 32 rounds
Cyclic rate of fire:650-750 rounds per minute

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2 thoughts on “Steyr AUG 9 Para: One of the best bullpup assault rifles in the world”

  1. Sorry to bother you but, what is the source for the AUG 9mm going from just a conversion kit to a standalone gun? Just trying to solve a dispute with a friend :P

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