Tim of the Military Arms Channel recently took a trip to Beretta USA’s Accokeek Maryland facility. Beretta is the oldest major firearms manufacturer in the world with over 500 years experience making guns, but has only had a presence in the United States for 35 years. The Accokeek facility was set up to support production of the US military’s M9 service pistol, based on the Beretta 92 handgun. The video overview of MAC’s tour is embedded below:
One of the things highlighted in the video is the Old World-style hand-fitting that is used to finish each model 92 handgun, including the M9. These techniques, though they have a very long history, are still very viable for weapons manufacture today.
Beretta has begun an initiative to create a powered rail system. The powered rail concept migrates the current distributed power sources for accessories on the rifle from each individual attachment to a central power bank located on the rifle itself. Beretta’s rails are integrated not only for power, but also data, as well, allowing removable accessory control panels to be attached to the rail wherever the user decides is appropriate.
The powered rail concept is one that NATO is highly interested in standardizing among its member nations. A powered accessory rail would cut bulk and weight while reducing logistic strain by standardizing battery types, as well as improving configurability. Whether such a rail will be standardized by NATO, and the degree to which retrofit will be possible for existing rifles remains to be seen.
Beretta is demoing this powered rail system on their ARX-100 polymer framed rifle. The ARX-100 is a relatively lightweight design featuring a toolless-detach barrel, accessory compatibility, and – most oddly – reversible ejection. As Tim notes, each ARX is test-fired with a high pressure proof load before shipping, an unusual practice in civilian rifle production.