Hands-On with the Beretta ARX-160

ARX160-1

While touring the Beretta factory in northern Italy, I was able to handle a Beretta ARX-160, their newest 5.56mm carbine, and a weapon that could be considered comparable to the FNH SCAR-L. I was impressed with a number of its features, including a toolless quick-change barrel and the ability to switch both the charging handle and the ejection pattern from side to side in seconds, again, without tools – or even breaking the weapon down at all.

Beretta ARX-160

It was fairly light (3.2 kilos) and very well balanced. The ambidextrous magazine release was easy to use, but that’s not really a very unique feature in this day and age. What I did find unique was the centrally located (in the bottom of the trigger guard) bolt catch, which also doubled as a magazine release.

This was intended for use with gloves and seems quite easy to use, but I don’t think accidental activation would be a problem, as it required a bit of force to activate the magazine release. I’m not completely sold on pressing down on the center of the trigger guard to release the bolt – this is a bit different than other rifles which feature a bolt release near or on the trigger guard. However, it did seem easy to use after I worked with the weapon for a few minutes.

Beretta ARX-160

The charging handle placement was quite good. It wasn’t so far forward that it might interfere with the support hand while reciprocating, but it was forward enough to allow for easy manipulation. The side picatinny rails are removable, but I didn’t really like their location.

Beretta ARX-160

Barrel removal is dead simple. Lock the bolt to the rear, then pull small levers on either side of the weapon down – think Glock disassembly – while pulling the barrel forward. Installation requires only that you put the barrel in place and then press down firmly. Whether this is needed at the end user level is a topic for discussion, but the simplicity of this design is very impressive.

Beretta ARX-160

Beretta has conducted extensive environmental testing of the ARX-160, and it’s been in use with Italy’s armed forces since 2008. We’ll have more information about the ARX-160 and other Beretta products, including videos and photos of these items being manufactured and assembled, over the next few days.

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Andrew Tuohy

Andrew Tuohy was a Navy Corpsman with the 5th Marine Regiment. He makes a living by producing written and visual content within the firearm industry, and he also teaches carbine courses. He prefers elegant weapons for a more civilized age, and regularly posts at Vuurwapen Blog.


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  • http://www.thestingerreport.com editor

    Great coverage as always Steve – just one question – that barrel looks think profile and a little weak – any chance of a shorter profile or sturdier design?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      editor, Andrew wrote this post, not me. I am sure he will answer questions.

  • AnointedSword

    Interesting. If this is the firearm I think it is, I might want one.

  • Vitor

    I really, really find this gun fascinating and extremely well designed. I remember reading that Beretta took plenty of input from italian special forces.

  • Vitor

    By the way, given how easy is to change barrel, this gun seems to make a perfect couple with the .300 BLK.

    In 10 seconds one could make a 5.56mm shoot 7.62 without changing bolt, carrier, etc. This gun is what the ACR tried to be but couldn’t quite make it.

  • http://vuurwapenblog.com andrew

    [ Steve says: the below comment is by the author, who can't login because of the poor cell phone reception ]

    Editor,

    I don’t believe that they intend to change the profile. This type of profile has been in use in Afghanistan on both the SCAR-L and ARX-160 without reports of problems, as far as I am aware of. If it came to the civilian market, such barrels might be available, but that is entirely speculation on my part.

    Andrew

  • http://elfishingmusician.blogspot.com/ El Fishing Musician

    Great post and see what you can find out about the PX4 Storm Subcompact.

    Also, how much does this rifle go for on the civilan market, retail and street? Is it available as a semi-auto only in the USA?

  • CMathews

    I would still very much like to have a select fire RX4 Storm, I think they look neat.

  • Wotan

    Well designed and functional, but ugly as hell.
    Too fashionable and stylish for a military carbine. When you want to put style at any cost where you don’t need it it’s not the best italian design way, to me.

    W. from Italy

  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys

    I am as always impressed with the Beretta ARX-160! I have devoured any vid I could about this weapon and I keep getting baffled each and every time!

    Couple of concerns though: the return to 0 of the barrel (I am both amazed and concerned about the barrel retention system!) and the polymer outer shell! On the Nutnfancy video at ShotShow 2011, the Beretta guy claimed that it had a ‘ceramic resistor’ on the inside, stating, and I quote, ‘you would melt your barrel before you could melt the polymer’… So…could be propaganda, could be true…Can’t tell…

    Another concern was about what Andrew said regarding the SCAR-L still being deployed…I was under the impression the SCAR-L (Mk 16 SOCOM) was discontinued and also returned to the armory! So, I would like very much if Andrew could elaborate on that!

    One thing is for sure, Beretta could have a winner here if it makes to the US…Nutnfancy and PFIDude (don’t know if you guys are familiar with the Nutnfancy Project!) If not, check it out their page on Youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/nutnfancy

    They have the piece on the Beretta (amazing) booth about the Beretta ARX-160, with very hopeful information to the US civilian market regarding pricing and availability… and it is kinda weird, now that I think about it, that on that segment, the barrel shown is a medium profile one, not the pencil barrel showed on the video above…! Maybe there will actually be multi profiled barrels available both to the Army forces and to the civilian market as well!

    In a word, Beretta usually lies low but when it surfaces, it blows our minds! I know it blew mine!

    Great weapon system, great original features (the dual-ejection system is a must!), the XM8-like bolt hold open device is awesome (though the reviewer on the video above made a mess of it!) and the gun is not as bulky as it looks! It is very light also…

    Cheers!

    I should say th

  • snmp

    * The quick change of barrel is nice feature when the weapon is new but not so nice when weapon are hold.

    * In plus, I want to know if the ARX160 have the same problem than the HK G36 with overheating of the handguards during the sustained fire and the loose of zero.

  • subase

    Personally the more impressive new rifle designs are the Russian AK recoil reducing mechanism (AK-107) and the Russian and Mexican rifles that can fire 2 and 3 bullets in the same place for armor penetration. (AN-94 and FX-05 Xiuhcoatl) The latter has both a recoil reducing system and is able to fire three bullets in one recoil impulse. Incredible.

  • Other Steve

    At least the barrel isn’t M4 profile with an M203 cut… Looking at YOU ACR.

    It looks a bit clunky because of the magwell riding up into the handguard. The stock doesn’t look as refined as the ACR or SCARs either. But overall, I’d still like to see it available in semi for the states.

  • Stefan

    Thanks to the M-9, I hate anything Beretta.

  • cc19

    I’d love to see civilian variants of this as well as the CZ 805 for sale on local shelves in the near future.

  • rootman

    Nice.
    Quick change barrel is very useful in the field.
    Quick change ejection is also very useful in the field.
    If it performs well lots of folks may buy..

    rm

  • Bandito762

    The weapon looks a little tall and and chunky. Can it fire with the stock folded over?

  • Aurelien

    Had my hands on it quite a few times. It’s a handy (and pretty lightweight) weapon, perhaps a bit to cumbersome. It is not as streamlined as the ACR, but it’s clearly built for the comfort of the user.

    The French army did test the ARX-160. No word yet on how it performed.

  • Lance

    Looks nice I thought like the Korean K11 this was to supplement AR-70 in Italian armed forces.

  • SleepyDave

    You know, that solves some of the problems of the IAR. If changing out barrels takes seconds flipping two levers, thats easy. Adapt it to the open-bolt-on-full-auto, and thats another problem dealt with. The new Surefire mags solve the last problem, and boom-done. It only weighs a little more than an M4 anyways, takes STANAG mags, and they have a couple different barrel options for the sneaky-beaky types. Politics aside, its not a bad idea.

  • andrew

    Rijoenpal,

    I said that the SCAR-L had been in use, not was in use. It may be in use, but anything we hear on the internet is likely just hearsay.

    Also, keep in mind that that weapon was not even off the assembly line yet. All of the controls were stiff, unlike a display rifle that has had every control manipulated thousands of times. Even the Beretta engineer was having trouble with that when he showed me how to use it.

    Bandito,

    I do believe that it can fire with the stock folded, especially with the charging handle on the left. It did not feel as unwieldy or chunky as it looks.

  • andrew

    Subase,

    I do not think that AN-94 production has been very successful, for the vast majority of the Russian military still uses the excellent AK-74.

  • Stephen

    To the author:

    Is this confirmed for the US civilian market? I’ve read conflicting reports.

    Thanks so much!

  • JonMac

    I’m a big fan of the ARX, though it’s based on handling only. I’ve yet to fire one.

  • michael

    I’m buying one as soon as they hit the market. Hands down nicer and more innovative than the scar and from what I’ve heard from my boys on the boot, it’s fantastic!

  • snmp
  • http://www.thestingerreport.com editor

    Thank you to Steve and Andrew for the answers.

    Just a comment – a number of weapon systems are being used in AF but this dose not mean they will continue in operation (the SA80 being one example).

    I am still unsure regarding egress concerning this barrel profile (especially when the rail is loaded) – I would like to see 2inchs off that – also add a question about the fire when stock is locked in?

    Regarding special forces – I think the Italians reverted too HK?

  • SoulTown

    I like the control placements. The handguard? Not so much; looks too tall and thick.

  • Lance

    Like the M-9 Berretta is a great brand. This will supplament the AR-70 very well in Itilaian armed forces.

  • snmp

    Beretta AR-70/223 & AR-70 /90 are proven weapon like his cousin the SIG 550 (both base are on Berretta-SIG 530)

  • http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/ Tony Williams

    The switchable ejection side is clever but seems unnecessary in a traditional design. On the other hand, it would be great in a bullpup. Link the switch to a cheekpiece which can be flipped instantly from one side to the other and you’ve solved the bullpup’s ambidexterity problem without the potential issues of the forward ejection tube used by the FN F2000 and Kel Tec RFB.

  • Aurelien

    Tony : the guys at Beretta argued that the switchable ejection makes it easy not to have empties bouncing on walls right back in your face. It’s mostly for indoors/CQ combat.
    But i’m thinking the same thing, they should put that on a bullpup design.

  • Theodoric

    it really is the most modern-looking assault rifle I’ve seen.

  • http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/ Tony Williams

    What I don’t understand about the design is why it has to be so enormous. Just compare the vertical distance between the trigger and top P-rail with that for an M16; appearances may be deceptive, but it looks to be almost twice as high.

  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys…

    Andrew, I apologise…Didn’t know it was a new rifle right off the assembly line… My bad…!

    Also, what you said about the SCAR seems to go along what has been said…
    The pitfalls of Internet (rumors and hear-say)…!

    By the way, Andrew, are you the guy behind the Vuurwaapen Blog? You look very familiar…!

    Cheers!

  • Lance

    Some FNs might still be in use but no US military SOCOM unit is buying the Light design except for some Heavy the FN is not going anywhere.

  • Spike Bardowski

    Ask any man\woman who has ever owned a FIAT if he wasn’t his weapon to be executed via Italy.
    Last worthwhile weapon out of the Boot was the Gladius.

  • http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/ Tony Williams

    I’ve owned a Fiat for the past three years. It’s been faultless.

    Beretta has a long and honourable tradition of firearms design and manufacture. This is an extract from the forthcoming book Sub-Machine Gun, by Max Popenker and myself:

    “…the Moschetto Automatico Beretta Modello 1938A, or MAB-38A in short. This weapon was among the best sub-machine guns of World War 2. Originally designed and manufactured to high standards of fit and finish, it was durable and reliable and served with the Italian army through WW2 and for quite some time afterwards.

    During the war the initially complicated and expensive design was gradually simplified to make the guns lighter and significantly cheaper to produce; nevertheless, these weapons were still effective and reliable, and well liked by troops. In the post-war period, a slightly modified version of the original weapon, known as the Model 1938/49 or Model 4 (in post-1956 Beretta nomenclature) was produced until at least 1962, and remained in Italian service for a much longer period, probably into the 1980s.

    It also was widely exported, with customers of various versions including Syria, Iraq, Indonesia, Morocco, Yemen, and, last but not least, Germany, which received the M1938 and its later versions during WW2 and purchased some M1938/49 (M38/49) in 1951 for its Border Guard (designated in post-WW2 German service the MP1).”

  • BADDFROGG

    I can’t wait to pre-order this rifle. I have waited on the Bushmaster ACR for 6.8mm for a very long time. Finally was tired of waiting and bought a Robinson XCR 6.8 and it is awesome. I also bought several ASC mags and no problems. This rifle will be my range gun. I mostly collect. Cheers

  • http://www.securityarms.com/forums Pierangelo Tendas (PT-The Italian Commie)

    I’ve fired rounds after rounds on the ARX-160 during my job as a gunwriter in the past two years, and I have to say, the rifle is definitely flawless, a total improvement over the currently-issued 70/90 weapon system (them don’t even look like being made on the same *planet* at all).

  • Peter Reynolds

    Any idea when the Beretta ARX 160 will be accessible to the Civilian market?

  • George

    I talked with Beretta today and I was told the civilian version will be avalible in late 2013 or early 2014.