I somehow missed the Beretta ARX100 at the company’s NRA Show 2013 booth the first few times I visited – I saw the Pico due to word of mouth, but no one really seemed to talk about the ARX100, the US-made semi auto version of their ARX160 select fire 5.56mm assault rifle. It might also be due to the fact that half of the ARX100s at the show were in camouflage.
The ARX100 will hit dealers in August of 2013 at an MSRP of $1950. Beretta plans to make about 5000 rifles this year, then ramp up production significantly next year. If you’d like to see some of the technical features of the ARX160, such as the charging handle and ejection switching from left to right and the quick change barrel, check out this video I made while at the Beretta factory in Italy back in 2011 (please forgive the fact that I had a total of about 5 minutes of hands-on time with the rifle before that video was shot). While that video was with the 160, not the 100, the functional demonstrations remain the same.
For US consumers, the ARX100 will represent another option in the semi-auto rifle market, albeit one that can quickly swap from 5.56 to .300 Blackout – their first available alternate caliber, with barrel assemblies for the swap retailing at $500 – in a matter of seconds. They do plan other calibers, such as 7.62×39 and possibly 6.8 SPC, although they’d require bolt swaps.
I like the ARX160/ARX100 in part because I have respect for Beretta and the products that come from their Italian designers. The ARX, while not as visible to US gun consumers, is a platform that’s seen some serious (military-oriented) development over the past few years. I also like it because it is meant for both right- and left-handed users and offers a tool-less quick change barrel. I do wish the handguard was a bit longer, though.
Whether it will make a dent in the crowded US market, dominated by the AR-15, remains to be seen.