Last August, we told you about the powered rail system for the AR-15 rifle that would allow accessories to draw power from a single battery back in the buttstock. I had a chance to talk to Beretta Defense Technologies about the Intelligent Rail System at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, FL.
As was seen at the SHOT Show in January, the specifications of the original concept have changed slightly as Beretta is developing the system for their ARX-series rifles. Here is some of the latest information.
battery pack – Per the Beretta rep I spoke with, the US Department of Defense (DOD) has been working with Prototype Productions Inc (PPI), Beretta’s partner in this project. I was told that DOD has strongly insisted the battery power come from AA batteries – not a rechargeable pack or CR123 et, al. The current ARX prototype has the batteries mounted on the left side of the rifle’s buttstock.
two-way flow – While the battery pack can send juice down the rail to flashlights, lasers and other gizmos, those same accessories can send information back. A controller is being developed that will coordinate the flow of information between accessories and off-gun items. For example, a gun mounted range finder could display target distance in a heads-up display in a soldier’s eye pro. Or, that same information could be relayed to a scope that is designed to automatically adjust the reticle.
accessories – Beretta is working with its sister companies like Steiner to develop a variety of accessories for the system.
civilian sales – Currently, civilian sales are a secondary concern for Beretta. The project can obviously be adapted to the civilian market, but the entire focus is on military channels. So, even if Beretta was to ship a 100% reliable system by the end of this year, I would not expect to see a civilian version prior to the 2016 SHOT Show. Also, the Beretta rep suggested the pricing on the system might be a problem for the civilian market.
note: The Beretta rep repeatedly referred to the company’s partner as PPI. However, some Beretta literature refers to T. Worx Ventures. On the T. Worx Ventures website, it states T. Worx Ventures is a subsidiary of Technology Worx, Inc. and that Technology Worx, Inc. was formerly PPI. Based on the information on the T. Worx site, it appears that company is continuing to develop a system for the M-4 that would used a rechargeable batter pack.