Beretta ARX 160 Test Shoot

Our friends at Tactical-Life sent us a tipper on a first-person evaluation of Beretta’s new assault rifle.

We posted a story back in July about the Italian army fielding the modular ARX-160 rifle in Afghanistan. But it now seems that Beretta is flacking the rifle for potential entry into the Army’s improved carbine competition.

From the looks of TL’s test shoot, the rifle fires smoothly and controllably and comes in a futuristic package without being too Starship Troopers.

One of the features that sounded really interesting was the ability to switch which side the shells eject from with nothing more than a bullet tip. Many have done this but it has always been awkward and anything but easy in the field.

There are a ton of innovations in this system, too include taking it down to the bare parts with zero tools. The attachment of a 40mm grenade launcher with one pin, other ambidextrous controls and many more.

Be sure to read the entire post in the next issue of  Special Weapons for Military and Police.

  • Jeff the Baptist

    “One of the features that sounded really interesting was the ability to switch which side the shells eject from with nothing more than a bullet tip. Many have done this but it has always been awkward and anything but easy in the field.”

    This would be a great feature… on a bullpup. You don’t need this functionality on a standard layout rifle unless extraction and ejection patterns suck.

    • Donny64

      “There are a ton of innovations in this system, too include taking it down to the bare parts with zero tools. The attachment of a 40mm grenade launcher with one pin, other ambidextrous controls and many more.

      Not to mention this functionality has been available on the AUG for nearly 40 years.

  • dshea19

    The biggest thing for me with this system is that when they do release it in the US (supposedly 2012), it will be cheaper than the SCAR or the ACR. I don’t need to change ejection ports or super quick barrel changes, but having a more modern rifle in a light weight package and a sub $2k MSRP (as the Beretta reps are saying) is very inviting. Does it throw 5.56 down range better than an M4? Extremely unlikely. Is it another cool toy to have, and maybe a better purchase than the SCAR and ACR? Extremely possible.

  • Lance

    BY the way im not surprised the author is again championing another M-4 competitor he has a bias against the M-4 for some reason.

    • Stormcharger

      Since the Army is requesting yet another competition for possible repacement of the M4, is that not in itself a reason to have a bias and hence an actual opinion on a particular weapon? And since the author has brought so much cool stuff to our attention, I’d say his bias, whatever they may be are adequate to the task of this blog. Keep it up Christian.

  • Moondog

    Seems like the M4 is a viable platform, it just needs one maybe two serious upgrades: One, chamber it either in 6.5 or 6.8 caliber (either one would be a big improvement on the 5.56); Two, if necessary change to a short stroke piston upper (I am not sure how necessary this is). Other upgrades would be more minor, like better steel for the bolt and barrel, lengthen barrel to 16″, etc.

  • Whoa there Lance…I have no bias at all against the M4…I might prefer a gas piston operating system, but the M4 is gosh darn good and will be a tough standard to beat for many reasons…

    • SkyMan

      I keep reading that people need us to have a better rifle. Not sure why, as an 11Bravo that started with the original M-16A1 back in 1971, I have yet to see a reason even a remote one to change. Maybe a larger caliber in open terrain like a desert, but then again really? the M-16 is easily good to 500 meters, how many grunts can shoot better than that. There is a point where you are close enough to perfection where you start compromising when you screw around. The M-16 is at just such a point. Maybe a 25-06 caliber for the M-16 will make it a perfect weapon, but then again do I think I’d need it for real, I think the answer is no, if I really need to reach out and touch someone at 1000 meters we got rifles that can do that already. What would be good is better sights with laser range finder and an auto aimer so that all you gotta do is place the reticle on whatever and it will adjust it automatically for you and in a small package.
      I suggest people live the M-16 alone its way more than just good enough.

  • dshea19

    The only time an AR style weapon benefits from a piston is when you are running short uppers. There is no benefit for a 14 or 16 inch barrel when using a piston. Throw a suppressor on a 10 inch upper and a piston is really handy in an AR.

    Complaints against the M4 lethality have more to do with the round and really nothing to do with the weapon itself. The US military will not be dropping 5.56 any time in the near (or even distant) future.

    Most of the complaints against the M4 are either garbage, are really issues with faulty mags an improper maintenance (not talking about cleaning but about changing springs and such when needed), or trying to use it in a manner that it wasn’t intended for (constant full-auto fire).

    • Johnny B

      The 5.56 we use in LE is effective – I have no complaints with it. Would I like to see 6.8 or even 7.62 in the M4? Absolutely. But I won’t burst into tears if I don’t.

      • Robert

        Are you using military spec ammo? Or, are you using a round that expands?

  • fxdidan

    if it’s like their pistol,this rifle is a big stinky pile of poo!

  • Ahhh shoot

    Maybe it is just my Italian heritage but I like this gun. It looks really ergonomic (besides that ugly 2 by 4 they call a butt stock) and user friendly. It seems to have all the features the ACR does at a lower priced. I’ll take one!

    • Ahhh shoot


  • Dave

    Does it have the gas piston system? The buttstock is consistant with that config. The three letter agencies were carrying the gas piston HK’s. Smooth and reliable up to that point in the fight. I never had trouble with any of my M4s during a fight. I did not like dropping hot casings down my drivers neck in a firefight, so switching the ejection port would be helpful if you could do it before the fight. M-4 is a great piece of gear. 450m shots 14″ barrel and green tip ammo with an ACOG and dropped targets. I was on target faster than the RWS could get there, but he did range the target for me. I would rather have it chambered in 7.62 though. Mk25 was a sweet piece of gear too.

  • Roger

    This video sucked. Who wants to see a video of some fat guy firing at nothing? But it’s been a while since you posted a Larry Vickers video.

  • brian

    for being a future weapon it sure looks awfully heavy. how much does it weigh?

    • Vitor

      A bit less than 7lbs, still awfully heavy for you? =P

  • Stefan

    Please not another Beretta fiasco in the Army? Sorry the M-9 is garbage. Can we get an American weapon for a change?

    • Ron

      Yes they should have stayed with the 1911 or if they needed an update the 40 cal Glock

    • Moondog

      There are a lot of 1911 clones chambered in 40 S&W, and the Glock 22, is a proven platform, in 40 S&W. The 40S&W itself in 180 or 175 gr. hardball is as effective as a 45acp hardball round. I never did understand why the U.S. went to the 9mm to start with. Its neither a stopper or killer in hardball form. Its pretty effective in hollow point, but the military refuses to use hollow point.

      • Josh

        9mm is the standard NATO sidearm round. That’s why it was chosen.

  • Ricardo Almeida

    I agree ith Stormchanger… At ShOT SHOW, for instance, all the new M4 clones have more and newer perks to clear malfunctions and etcetera… The XM8, the SCAR, this new competition demonstrate clearly that there is a growing sense of need to replace an aging weapon… The lubrication needs to be reduced to a minimum, the materials need to be lighter, the weapon needs to be lighter altogether, with lighter rails, lighter components, etc… I don’t believe in the hyper-burst and the sheer costs of it, and I believe the only way to make a wepon more effective is a better caliber, with more stopping power and being able to keep that stopping power for increased distances, more ergonomic designs to increase the comfort of the shooter, such as folding stocks, to enable getting in and out of vehicles and make it easier to carry and move through tight places… All these can imcrease the potential of a weapon… The problem with the M4 is that though very combat-proven, it is a DI system, with the need to have a buffer that increases the length of the weapon, with the DI system which increases the temperature in the chamber, therefore risking a cook-off round, and requires double the lubrication a piston weapon requires, therefore making the opeartive waste time doing chores when he could be using that time to train, for instance… I think the DI is obsolete and teh Army does to, hence the piston kits and all the augmentations which render the M4 heavier than it had to be! I mean, the rails the troops carry are still metal and not polymer, the M4 is too short for all the optics and attachments that a soldier needs in the battlefield… And those optics on top of the weapon (Scope, IR system, flashlight, etc) make that weapon heavy… And we all must bear in mind all the weight the soldier is already carrying, with all the mags, the cantis, the armor plates, etc…

    So, the M4 needs to become lighter, more reliable, less maintenance-heavy, durable in all sorts of environments (especially sand) and piston, no longer DI…

    I think the ARX-160, being mostly high-resistant polymer with a ceramic resistor inside, has the weight issue taken care of… It is a piston-driven weapon, with dual ejectors not just for the lefties, but also for changes of stance during battle… shooting around corners, shooting above head and not having to have the sheels falling on our faces, and such… Also, the hyper-fast quick-change barrel is a plus, as well as the weapon being pin-free… The folding stock is good for tight places and getting in and out of vehiclesand also firing from within vehicles as well…

    So, in a word, the ARX-160’s only mistake is the caliber… Still 5.56, with it’s weak first-bullet stopping power, requiring almost full mags to be wasted on targets, with little penetration through walls, all at the expense of weight and amount of bullets a soldier can carry…

    Regarding the American weapons, the ones in the pole position to replace the M4, the ACR and the Robinson XCR, for instance, the non-M4 clones out there, are proven unreliable and not fit for duty! The ACR is nose heavy, is too heavy especially bearing in mind the attachments a soldier will be carrying, and is unreliable in terms of barrel safety with a lot of examples of repeated malfunctions, double feeds, way too many to not get the soldier killed! The XCR is heavy, not impervious to water nor mud and sand… Namely, not the best weapon for sandy environenments like Afghanistan, for instance!

    So, all we get are M4 or M-16-clones that are mere improvements or patches to the original, with lighter stocker, lighter barrels, polymer handguards, polymer lowers, etc… in attempts to lighten the weappon or facilitate clearing malfunctions or facilitating faster reloads and quicker bolt hold-open and releases…

    The weapon needs to not be cumbersome to the soldier in terms of weight and design, needing to be more compact while maintaing barrel capabilities (bullpup), needs to be lighter to an already heavy soldier, etc…

    So, there are some things than can be done to the existing M4, but the M4 was not meant to have a piston in it, given it ws built with DI in mind, so mere conversions will make more harm than good…

    The polymer rails or rails made from lighter materials or thinner rails and barrels can be achieved and be placed inside the M4 with no loss of performance…

    The folding stock is impossible, given the need for the unavoidable DI buffer, and therefore, compactness is sacrificed… also the barrel in 14 and 10 inches sacrifices the accuracy, with the need of special bullets being maniufactured to overcome that problem… Not just to compensate for the length of the barrel, but for the shortcomings of the caliber itself!

    So, all this to say that there are a lot of problems within the M4 that should have been dealt with by now, almost 60 years or so after the first M-16!

    And the additions/augmentations of late that the Army and the manufacturers have proposed clearly show that the M4’s shortcomings became more apparent than not fromthe Afghan experience!


    • dshea19

      I would pretty much agree with all of that. I still am a firm believer that DI is the best solution for the AR platform. If you are going to run a piston weapon, you should design the weapon to use a piston from the beginning. Putting a piston on an AR just makes it nose heavy unless you are using a 12″ or less barrel and running suppressors on those barrels. A piston on an AR is really a band-aid.

      I think there is a tremendous amount of merit to the ARX. It is already being used in combat. And does the things that the ACR and SCAR want to do and seems to do them better. Apparently, the heat shield in the hard guard is so effective that it will cause the barrel to fail before the polymer handguards will fail… and the weapon is also purpose designed to be used in full auto, unlike the AR family.

      So, I would agree with you on just about everything. I still think the biggest problem is that the military uses the 5.56 round. I would have no problem with the US military adopting the ARX, but that won’t make soldiers more lethal. The move to a 7mm-ish round would go a long way to solving the lethality issue. However, the love affair with NATO is going to prevent that for some time to come. Not to mention the fact that a caliber change is hugely expensive and will take years to fully change over.

    • doc

      i dont think the m-4 is too small for all that needs to be attached to it. i dont know anyone who had a problem mounting an ACOG, surefire, and PAQ system. even our 203 man had everything he needed on it without much of an issue. also keep in mind that more moving parts=less accuracy.

    • SkyMan

      Another pontificating theorizer talking about his fantasy. The M-16 has plenty of shock power, when that hyper velocity gets into a body its lights out. Shooting into gel (ballistic gel) to get ones jollies off with the wow thing is little boy fantasy going wild. If you get a 5.56 into your belly you are done! Its goodnight Irene baby.
      Not sure why we have all of these rear echelon Mess kit repair battalion types always talking about guns and macho stuff. If we needed a heavy caliber the M-14 is way more than enough to satisfy any little boy fantasy.
      I would not want to carry an M-14 its heavy it kicks too much and it gives me nothing over my M-16 in places that I would be 99% of the time. The other 1% we do have the M-14 and we do have other weapons.

  • MarkM

    While there’s certainly room for improvement, some of the perceived complaints about the M4 are more internet myth than fact.

    The combustion chamber temps are no different in DI than they are for piston. It’s complete baloney. In fact, IR temp gun readings – which have been posted by numerous sources the past two years – show temps to be equal. Bolt carrier temps are only 40 to 60 degrees higher, you can run a full mag thru and still shotgun the weapon and handle the BCG with bare hands. Soldiers have done this for decades.

    It’s the kind of repeated misinformation that constantly muddies a real understanding of the DI system. Those same posts of IR temps show the internal piston of DI runs much cooler than the barrel mounted piston on other guns. The history of piston guns also shows you have to maintain them just as much, or risk seizing them in the gas cylinder. And don’t even argue they run cleaner, the whole point to the adjustable port is to increase gas flow as they clog up, to force operation in extended combat. Turning them down for suppressor use is a very recent innovation.

    There are lots of anecdotal comments about suppressed piston guns running with less blowback, but the majority seem based on a 10″ barrel, not 16″. It’s apples vs oranges at that point, and obscures the fact that most of the gas on suppressed guns is discharged into the action when the bolt unlocks and the cartridge is no longer sealing the chamber. The .061 – or smaller – gas port of the AR isn’t moving the captured gas as much as a .223 barrel can, and as long as the suppressor wipes are doing the job, you will always have blowback from the barrel.

    If anything, the suppressed piston users aren’t really explaining they chose piston for the more consistent functioning in extremely short barrels, not gas blowback reduction. There aren’t any known empirical reports measuring the difference.

    As for the ARX, some of us have been posting on it for at least a year, and what do you know, at the last minute, people are paying attention. We very well could see this a winner (as much as any IC competitor can demonstrate a great leap forward.) Italy played the Med Bases card before, and look what happened. It wasn’t about whether a single stack single action could stay in the game, but which double stack double action would be the accepted design, as most combat handgun users in the field knew it would be.

    Same with the Improved Carbine, it’s going to have the following, whether selected now or in five years: a polymer lower, totally amibidextrous controls, charging handle, and ejection, be able to run suppressed (Korea is issuing one per every soldier right now, we will follow on just for hearing protection,) have an extruded aluminum monolithic upper, user changeable barrel, and modular rails. Ammo? A minor side show at the strategic and tactical level, most decision makers are far from convinced any change at all is worth the bother, except for one: The LSAT caseless. That one improvement doubles the ammo every soldier can carry, and that alone will deliver as much as a 50% hit probability improvement. Nothing else comes close. DRT is not the goal, it’s incapacitation, and a hit does that. More hits, less combat power, and the effects are immediately seen on the battlefield.

    There are much bigger issues at play in this competition, the myopic view of one soldier and their rifle is too narrowly focused to see much bigger issues that will be the actual factors that tip the decision. Changing the ejection pattern side to side won’t be the major player, although some could use it as a distractor from the real politics going on in the background.

    We still need that Med refueling station, and the airborne units in Italy are a lot more forward deployed than North Carolina.

    • Ricardo Almeida

      I beg do differ… An exhaustive study was conducted by an idoneous guy and he showed by using thermal vision that the DI heats a lot more in the bolt area whereas the Gas piston systems eat up at the gas ports!

      This is the link to that test:

      Also, many people from the weapons industry have stated the different heating spots and also the cooling of the barrels, including the reps from HK, during a presentation of the HK416… I think it was in the last portion of a TV program revolving around the evolution of the M-16…

      Regarding the integrally suppressed requisite, I missed that one…Wit h AAC already making integrally suppressed barrels, as it was shown in Shot Show 2011, that could become a reality pretty soon…

  • doc

    is anyone going to rapidly change barrels for different calibers or change ejection ports in the field? how bout a quick mounting/dismounting of a 40mm grenade launcher? anyone? nope… what i want to know is compared to the m-4:
    is it more accurate?
    does it have a longer point target range?
    does it jam/have issues less?
    is it more lethal with the current round being used or does it use a round that is more lethal than the 5.56×45?
    can it be used for both long range firefights and close range combat better than the m-4 can?

    if the answer to any of those is “no”, then we need to keep looking for a better gun. neat features look nice on paper but they dont do sh*t down range.

  • CavScout62

    Same old Equine Excrement. Incapacitate my ass! KILL! As such, Barrett REC-7, 6.8 SPC.

  • donald

    why are we still trying to use 5.56?! how about some firepower? say a 30.06? for you wimps are afraid of the heavier recoil . i say dont join the military! i have been in the military and have never liked the 5.56. no stopping power!

    • Vitor

      Have you been hit with one to be so sure about that?

  • bib

    @donald, I bet you’ve never been in the military. Stop playing games and shoot a real gun.

  • Johnny Quest

    The 416 or any piston conversion – the ALL are conversions – are answers to a non-existent problem. The IC is going to be some version of the M4A1 for the forseeable future, and deservidly so. It won’t be a piston AR. IF a piston rifle is ever adopted, it will be designed to be such from the onset. My .02

    Oh yeah, the another myth is the “dust test”. For all you guys that talk about reliability in the “sandbox”, a piston driven AR/M rifle does nothing different about sand in the action than a DI weapon. Nothing.

  • Ricardo Almeida

    OK, Markm…The fanboy issue you state is actually a business ethics 101: the SCAR was intensively tested and with constant input from SOCOM officials and operatives. It went through 4 prototype stages, 4 User Assessments, it was greenlit for full production on April of last year and then, just two months after, they suddenly realised the SCAR did not offer much improvement over the issued M4?!!?

    If that makes sense to you, it surely does not make sense to a lot of people, especially given the millions spent in all this monkey business! That is why I could give the budget cuts some credibility, but not the ‘after all, the SCAR turned out to be not better than the M4’… Shouldn’t that have been realised during the various test stages? If they thought the SCAR was not better than the M4, then why greenlight its full production? THAT is what makes little to no sense in all this! So, this is not fanboyish bravado, but actually decisions with very poor explanations given!

    The polymer in DI systems is a potentially hazardous affair for soldiers… We all know that on a DI system, the part of the weapon that heats exponentially is the bolt and bolt carrier… Now, we also know that polymer’s greatest enemy is heat! So, that is probably not a good idea… In a piston driven weapon, yes, because on it, the heat concentrates more in the front, at the gas regulator level, leaving the bolt area clean and fresh…! Regarding the caseless ammo, it requires complex burning systems that only the HK G11 adressed and it was dropped for the sheer costs! In a feeble economy, I don’t think it’s doable!

    The best way to increase hits, not counting of course the expertise and skill of the operator himself, is to make a weapon lighter to compensate for the attachments, more maneuverable (folding), more ergonomic, with lesser recoil to allow for quicker target reacquisition, with less risk of fouling up in extreme combat environments, …

    These things can be improved right now, and many already have been, but on other weapons! The SCAR, the ACR, the ARX-160…

  • Roger

    A Larry Vickers shooting video. Oops, wrong fat guy.

  • out standing. but needs a larger caliber

  • pook

    So, what you’re saying is, the US armed forces should pick up the AK.

  • Lothar

    6.5 lbs

  • Joe

    Your are mistaken, whatever replaces the M4 will be in a 7.62 nato round. Thats is 110% for sure. Even the CQB weapons will be 7.62 and be able to be switched by a barrel into a field weapon. We are ramping up ammo manucfacturing also for the 7.62 and have been for some time. No more wepons that ship new to Afghnaistan will be in 5.56. The M14 EBR, Colt CM901, MK17 and MK17 Heavy are being sent over as we speak to replace every M4 that we can. Assupmtions are funny, facts are fact and i have the facts.

  • Joe

    whatever replaces the M4 will be in a 7.62 nato round. Thats is 110% for sure. Even the CQB weapons will be 7.62 and be able to be switched by a barrel into a field weapon. We are ramping up ammo manucfacturing also for the 7.62 and have been for some time. No more wepons that ship new to Afghnaistan will be in 5.56. The M14 EBR, Colt CM901, MK17 and MK17 Heavy are being sent over as we speak to replace every M4 that we can. Assupmtions are funny, facts are fact and i have the facts.

    Read more:
    Kit Up!

  • Trail

    unfortunately the military is not using the right ammunition to make the 223 effective becaus of NATO and the Genova convention. Plus the m4s that the military uses are not as good as some others such as the bravo companie m4s

  • Nick

    This is the best new asault rifle in the world.
    You must test and you will see all the advantages.
    It weight is around 3 kgs
    The Arx does come in 5.56, 6.8 and 7.62 calibers which can be change in the field under 30 seconds

  • Nick

    This is the best new asault rifle in the world.
    You must test and you will see all the advantages.
    It weight is around 3 kgs
    The Arx does come in 5.56, 6.8 and 7.62 calibers which can be change in the field under 30 seconds

  • Yates

    The ability to switch which side a shell ejects from can be pretty valuable for lefty shooters, or in some very particular cases such as shooting next to a wall or other obstruction that could cause the shell to bounce back on you. Anyone who has ever caught a hot shell around their collar can attest that it ain’t comfortable.