What happens when you are Beretta, one of the most storied gun makers in the world, when you are rejected by Colt? Why, you go off and make a competing rifle, partially co-developed by Sig!
In all seriousness, realizing that the M16 was a true revolutionary leap forward in shoulder-fired small arms, Beretta did try to get a license to manufacture and sell the M16 internationally. Colt rejected this, seeing that they could sell to the same customers. Perhaps the joke is on Colt, as Beretta was indeed successful at selling their new AR-70 rifle to the Italian military, first to the special forces as the original AR-70 and later to the general ground forces with the updated AR-70/90.
The weapon is basically a piston driven, stamped design that combines many of the well-known and liked features of the M-16 and AK-47. The original AR-70 used a forward lipped rock-in magazine, but opted for Stoner-inspired bolt holt open and release. The charging handle is reciprocating on the right hand side (ala AK) and the safety/selector is on the left hand side similar again to the Stoner design. The bolt is distinctly AK-like, but retention of the firing pin is AR.
A few AR-70s made it into the US, but none of the new AR-70/90s made it in due to the Bush “Assault Weapons” Ban.
Enjoy the video from Forgotten Weapons!