By Lars Dalseide | June 28 2014 15:08

Built in America, the Beretta ARX100 derives most of its features from its military counterpart

Gary Paul Johnson dives deep into Beretta's “technopolymer” torture-tested ARX100 rifle ...

Beretta ARX100
Beretta offers high-tech, ambidextrous design developed for the Italian military to U.S. consumers with its new ARX100.

Ten times better than the M16? That was the point Beretta boasted in the naming of the ARX160, the company’s new 5.56 NATO, selective-fire rifle introduced in 2008 as a possible replacement for its AR70/90 platform in service with the Italian armed forces. Arguable as that claim might be, the ARX160 certainly embodies a number of characteristics that can only be described as advanced and outside-the-box.

The same polymer construction, engineering and racy lines that make the ARX160 a standout are now available in a semi-automatic-only version of the rifle. Built in America by Beretta USA, the ARX100 derives most of its features from its military counterpart, including a short-stroke gas system, side-folding buttstock and quick-change barrel mechanism.

Continuing with modern enhancements, Beretta developed the ARX100 to be fully ambidextrous by placing fire controls and sling-attachment points on both sides of the rifle. In addition, shooters can easily switch the charging handle from the left side of the gun to the right, and they can choose right or left ejection. Neither of these changes requires disassembly, and conversion takes seconds. A closer look reveals the adaptability and futuristic design of the ARX100 make it a cutting-edge defensive rifle—no matter from which side shooters operate it.

Polymer Progeny
Vast improvements in polymers spurred Beretta to use these materials wherever feasible when developing the ARX160. The success of the company’s efforts is readily apparent in the ARX100, as the rifle’s upper and lower receivers are molded from what the industry has come to call “technopolymer.” Thorough torture-testing showed the state-of-the-art material to be highly resilient, and Beretta was able to rely on polymer extensively to keep the weight of the ARX100 at less than 7 pounds.

The bolt group—together with an improved AK-style recoil-spring system and a sliding polymer dustcover—rides mostly along polymer tracks. Close tolerances keep out debris, while the properties of the polymer provide oil-free lubrication. In the long run, the design just may prove superior to traditional systems that use aluminum-alloy receivers.

Both the buttstock and the fore-end are integral to the monolithic upper. (The ARX100 upper will not accept the ARX160 lower, preventing the commercial version from being converted to selective fire.) A push-button release near the rear of the receiver on its left side allows the stock to fold to the right. Below the ejection port, a triangular-shaped projection retains the stock in the folded position. All operating controls are accessible The ARX100 can be operated with its collapsible, folding polymer stock stowed or deployed. when the buttstock is folded, and the rifle can be fired in this state. Simple to adjust, the four-position stock has a trigger-like lever beneath its cheekpiece that, when pressed, permits extension or retraction. A nonslip rubber buttpad provides added purchase.

The full-length, aluminum-alloy top rail appears to follow MIL-STD-1913 specs and provides ample room for optics. Near the front of the fore-end on each side is an alloy rail for mounting lights, lasers and other accessories. A fourth, molded rail runs along the bottom edge of the fore-end. While the front portion of this rail is exposed and looks like the others, the rear portion is hidden by a removable cover. Sliding off the cover reveals a mounting platform for a 40 mm grenade launcher, obviously a carry-over from the ARX160.


Read the rest of Shooting Illustrated's review of Beretta's ARX100 rifle.

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