At first glance, everyone who looks at the MSAR STG-556 confuses it for the Steyr AUG. This is understandable, as it is closely patterned off the AUG – but it is not an AUG. 

That said, the concept of cloning an AUG in the States was sound, because when the STG-556 was first introduced in 2007 at SHOT Show, civilian-ownable Steyr AUGs were all but non-existent.  

Wall Hanger or Target Banger?

 

MSAR STG-556 Bullpup Rifle
WIth its unmistakable similarities to Steyr's AUG, the STG-556 has plenty of supporters and detractors on the internet. (Photo: Samantha Mursan/Guns.com)


If 100 STG-556 owners were in a room, there would likely be a 50-50 split on whether this rifle sucks or not. It’s fascinating to read through forums and watch reviews on this rifle, because for every review that says, “It’s as good as the original,” there is another insisting it is an unreliable turd.

Despite the jury still being out on whether it is good or bad, here is what we know for sure. First off, MSAR stands for Microtech Small Arms Research, and if you are thinking to yourself, “Microtech! Like the high-end automatic knife brand?” you are correct. But just because you can make phenomenal knives, that does not necessarily mean you can make firearms. 

Whether it be quality control issues, pre-mature parts wear, or too challenging of a clone – a lot of critics believe that Microtech should have started with an AR-15 to dip its toes in the gun industry – the STG-556 never really caught on, and production ceased in 2015 when MSAR closed down. 
 

Design

 

MSAR STG-556 Bullpup Rifle
MSAR made a strange choice in including a forward assist button on the STG-556. (Photo: Samantha Mursan/Guns.com)


Some design elements range from laughable to problematic, long-term. Let’s start with laughable, the forward assist. The decision to add a forward assist just boggles the mind. The forward assist can be tapped to “assist” the bolt into battery if it is not fully seated. The forward assist in itself has a long and heavily debated history. 

Eugene Stoner designed the original AR-15 without one, but the Army insisted on having a method to close the bolt if it is not fully in battery. On the other side of that coin is the mindset of, “If this round didn’t want to go into the chamber in the first place, perhaps it is not the best idea to jam it in there via force.” So, to go out of the way to add a forward assist, especially when a real-deal Steyr AUG does not have one, is confusing. 
 

MSAR STG-556 Bullpup Rifle
Even the mags are proprietary, so you can't run any that weren't made by MSAR. (Photo: Samantha Mursan/Guns.com)


Plus, it is worth mentioning that parts are all proprietary, including the magazines. They are well-built, but you can’t simply pick up some AUG mags and run them in the STG-556.
 

Conclusion

 

MSAR STG-556 Bullpup Rifle
An AUG clone with a cult following, the STG-556 isn't likely to win a popularity contest. (Photo: Samantha Mursan/Guns.com)


Overall, the MSAR STG-556 is not going to win any popularity awards. It never really caught on, and once real AUGs hit the U.S. market, the writing was on the wall for the STG’s demise. But there is still a bit of a cult following for this clone. 

While this might not be as good as a Steyr, these guns are certainly much more rare and will continue to progress down that road. Collectors who love the rare and weird will likely be the future owners of the almost-great MSAR STG-556.  

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