Sometimes a gun company hits a home run, and this might turn out to be one of those times. The ARX-160 is as hard to obtain as it is good looking. Beretta, in my personal opinion, usually releases aesthetically pleasing firearms. The Beretta 92 has some shortcomings, but it is still a very accurate, usable, and beautiful handgun. Given their reputation, it was no surprise to us that the ARX-160 came out looking amazing. Beretta recently released information on the .22 LR rimfire version of the rifle, which the designers intended for training purposes. Both rifles will soon be available in the United States for the consumer market, and that is news that we were glad to hear.
Beretta has made good use of the lessons learned by Italian soldiers in the field. In order to be more reliable in sand and dusty conditions, the ARX160 functions with minimal lubrication. This gun can also be field stripped into a bare minimum of components without tools, to facilitate maintenance. There are also no small parts or pins that can be easily lost. The Beretta ARX160 can switch its charging handle to either the right or left side in a matter of seconds. The shooter can also change the direction that spent cartridge casings eject. An adjustable four-position collapsible stock is a standard feature. The rounded butt plate features a checkered, slip-resistant surface. During transport in tight spaces, or for use during actions such as fast roping and parachuting, the shooter can fold the stock forward along the right side of the receiver. Folding the stock forward does not block the right side ejection port either, so the gun will still function in that configuration.
Both the safety/fire selector and the magazine release controls are ergonomic and ambidextrous. There is a fire selector switch on both the right and left side just above the pistol grip. This location allows the shooter to easily manipulate the selector while still keeping a positive grip on the weapon while held in the firing position. There is also a magazine release control on both sides of the receiver located just above the trigger and magazine well. The magazine release can be operated using the index finger, and like the selector switch, it can be done while holding the rifle in the firing position. As a bonus, there is also a third magazine release along the bottom, forward section of the trigger guard. All three magazine releases are fenced to minimize the chance of an unintentional magazine ejection.
As far as next generation combat rifles are concerned, there isn’t too much that I can see wrong with this weapons system. It has some of the best ergonomics and features of any modern combat rifle we’ve come across recently. If I was forced to pick a design feature that I don’t like, it would be the size of the weapon, it only weighs .44 pounds more than a standard M4 carbine, but it looks somewhat large. The weapon’s apparent bulk aside, I can’t wait to get my hands on one at the range and really see what this baby can do.