Imagine my surprise. I had gone up to the Beretta factory in Accokeek, Maryland to talk politics and the future of Beretta in Maryland, when Matteo Recanatini, Beretta’s Web & Social Media Manager, asked if I wanted to test drive something new.
He was holding an ARX 100, Beretta’s civilian version of the ARX-160, a tactical rifle that’s in service in Italy. Until now, the semi-auto tactical rifle has been optimistic rumor. But Recanatini was holding one in his hand.
Did I want to shoot the ARX 100? Yes. Yes I did.
I’ve been waiting on this gun for a while now. And when Beretta sent us an ARX 160 .22LR last month to review, I wanted one even more. The ARX platform is lightweight, incredibly versatile, and intuitive.
The ARX 100
The ARX 100 is a sizable gun. Yet it is deceptively light for a tactical rifle: 6.8 pounds. The polymer upper has a full length rail, and there’s rail on the sides and the bottom. The rifle comes with flip up back-up sites, which are removable.
The barrel is easily removed for cleaning, or to swap it out for longer lengths (or other calibers, .300 Blackout soon). And it is a piston driven gun.
The lower has a fixed AR style grip. The folding stock telescopes out. There are sling mounts at several positions on the rifle for every concievable sling configuration. And everything on the gun is ambidextrous. The safety, the charging handle, ejection, magazine releases….
The 30 round Beretta magazines are steel, and some of the most robust AR style magazines I’ve seen. And the ARX will work with any typical AR magazines. But I’m not exaggerating. These mags are rock solid.
The controls on the ARX 100 will be familiar to fans of the AR, and fans of the AK, too. There are three magazine release positions for exactly this reason. And take-down is easy and efficient. The gun breaks into two main groups, and all of the various pieces are captured so nothing will get lost during a basic field strip. No tools needed for take-down.
One of the highlights of my visit to Accokeek was seeing Beretta making barrels for the ARX 100 in house. The cold hammer forged barrels are being made in Maryland, with the rest of the gun.
Shooting the ARX 100
Shooting a rifle at an indoor range is an experience. Beneath the factory floor is a 100 yard tube of concrete. The reverberations make for some interesting acoustics. And the brass tends to bounce around. But who’s complaining. We had an ARX 100 and 500 rounds of 5.56. It was a good day.
The gun shot well. It is meant for use with an optic, and the black polymer back up sights in the dark concrete tube weren’t ideal. But the gun shoots well. It ejects cleanly. The recoil is typical for a 5.56, but the muzzle flip is negligible.
One of the most amazing aspects, though not one I’d be inclined to use often, is the ambidexterity. The gun can be converted very easily, in just a matter of seconds.
While this isn’t as important as many of the gun’s design features, at least not for individual shooters who will set it up how they like and rarely ever mess with the orientation, it will make the gun attractive for those considering duty rifles for agencies.
The ARX will have an MSRP somewhere around $1950, but it should settle in around $1700 retail, if sanity ever returns to the market. Even at $1950, or the premiums the gun will bring on its release, the ARX 100 is worth it.
The real selling point of the ARX 100 will be the features that come standard. While you can buy an AR-15 for less, the cost of customization will quickly add up. The ARX 100 comes with many of the extras standard. And when the new calibers come out, the ARX will be even more attractive.
We’ll have on in for a full review soon. And when we do, we’ll bring you all of the details. But for now, check out Beretta’s new ARX 100 video, which just went up last night. Much more exciting than our range demo.