|Beretta ARX 160|
The ARX 160 is a polymer rifle that is similar in concept to the Bushmaster ACR. When I say "similar" that's about as far as I would go in comparing the ARX 160 to anything else currently on the market. But like the ACR it's mostly crafted from polymer as both the upper and lower assemblies are based on this modern material.
Here are a few of the impressive features of the ARX 160.
- Polymer construction
- Ambi-mag release
- Ambi bolt release
- Ambi ejection port (configurable)
- Quick change barrel
- Folding stock
- Adjustable stock length
- Ceramic heat shield
- Pin-free disassembly
- Full length top rail
First, the rifle is fully ambidextrous. You can easily hit all of the controls from either side of the rifle. You can also quickly change the location of the charging handle without actually disassembling the rifle. You can also quickly change the ejection side from either left or right, again without disassembly.
|Button for changing ejection side|
Once you do this, the rifle immediately starts ejecting from the opposite side of the rifle. No other action is required.
Next, a nifty feature is the ability to quickly change which side the charging handle is on. To accomplish this, simply lock the bolt to the rear and push the charging handle through the ejection port with your finger until it locks on the opposite side of the rifle. The rifle has ejection ports on both sides of the receiver. It's amazingly simple. Again, no disassembly is required.
While rifles like the ACR and SCAR boast user changable barrels, Beretta takes simplicity to a new level. The ARX 160 has a lever just in front of the magazine well that is similar in design to a Glock disassembly lever. To remove the barrel, lock the bolt carrier to the rear, pull down on the lever (like a Glock) and pull the barrel free of the rifle. That's it.
One of the biggest concerns regarding polymer rifles with polymer uppers (where the barrel mates to the rifle) is heat. Rifles like the G36 have struggled with this issue since their introduction. I've personally seen G36's damaged by heat. With the ARX 160, a ceramic heat shield protects the rifle from damage and from what Beretta says, you'll melt the rifle barrel before you damage the polymer.
The good news is that Beretta plans to sell a semi-auto version of this rifle to the American public. There's no release date as of SHOT Show 2011, but the rep at the show tells us that it will take place in "months not years". Let's hope it makes it to market before any new gun laws are passed. The Beretta rep at SHOT Show also told us that it will be "well below $2,000".
At first I wasn't excited about this rifle based upon only seeing pictures of it. Now that I've learned the details, I can honestly say this looks like one very exciting rifle.