What Can Beretta’s AR Competitor, the ARX-160, Do?

Like any other gun, depends on who’s shooting it, eh? Here’s Jerry Miculek.

Your mileage may vary. (Hat tip, Guns.com). One of the best parts of it (for us) was at about 5:20 into the video where Jerry comes in from the rain and compares the ARX’s features to the Bushmaster ACR; IWI Tavor and the FN SCAR.  Here, Jerry’s millions of rounds of experience is interesting, although a service rifle needs to shine off the range, too. (And all of those, except the ACR, are proven military rifles; so, of course, is the competitor that Jerry admits all of these are striving to beat, the AR-15 series).

A few years ago we played around with a Beretta pistol-caliber carbine (CRX) and liked it. It took M9 magazines, which we have in great profusion, and was easy and fun to shoot, and like most Berettas throughout history, attractive to look at.

The pistol-caliber carbine was a fun plinker, but not a great defensive gun. A 5.56 will always be a better defensive round than any handgun round. And we recall thinking, “If they put some of this engineering into a 5.56 carbine, they’d be on to something.” Looks like Beretta may have been thinking along the same lines.

The Beretta is sold as the ARX-100 and the ARX-160 in 5.56 (we can’t explain the two names, although it might be European arms export laws). In addition, there are low-quality licensed .22LR knockoffs out there, which makes searching GunBroker a pain in the neck.

The ARX has some interesting features. (For another video with a review of it, check out this page, again at Guns.com). It’s all-ambidextrous (convertible left or right-handed), which should get a left thumb up from 10-15% of you. It has a slightly-AK-ish short-stroke piston system, but with an adjustable gas cylinder that lets you up the impulse if you have a temporary problem with anemic ammo or a fouled, sluggish gun. It has a quick-change barrel that should let you change caliber, but none of the promised conversions are shipping yet.  The box markings show that Beretta plans to ship this rifle in .300 Blackout as well.

Beretta 5.56mm ARX shows that the .300 Blackout version is coming... of course, so's Christmas.

Beretta 5.56mm ARX shows that the .300 Blackout version is coming… of course, so’s Christmas. From an over-list-price for-sale ad on GunBroker.

It also has some limitations. As Jerry notes, the flip-up sights don’t cowitness with an EOTech (they do, with an Aimpoint Comp M2). The magwell is a strict STANAG well, so it doesn’t always play nice with aftermarket magazines; specific mags that are known not to fit are Gen 3 PMags and Surefire large-caps. If you really love your X Products drum (and who doesn’t?) then you probably want to check it out before dropping coin.

In fact, however much you think you want this example of Italian style, or just to add the neutered civvy version of the current Italian Army service rifle to your collection, it might be strategically wise to hold off for a while. The current sales in GunBroker include a lot of sellers that look like they’re hoping to make above the manufacturer’s recommended list price, suggesting that pent-up supply is still excess of demand.

We do note something interesting about the Italian Army’s adoption of the ARX, and that’s that it’s one more announcement of a military power going to a compact carbine rather than a long (20″ or so) barreled rifle. The ARX comes standard with a folding and telescoping stock, so it fulfills the long-promised potential of a single weapon for crew members, technical troops, assault troops, and line infantry. This is something that’s on our mind with the USMC finally announcing that their riflemen’s M16s are going to be replaced with M4s. (They’re also replacing M16-based Designated Marksman’s Rifles, sort of, by assigning that task to the Auto Rifleman and his HK M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle).

Of course, while the Marines don’t leap till they’re sure, some armies have used carbines for a long time. Russia (then the USSR) went to a carbine in 1944 in the middle of the Great Patriotic War, replacing long rifles, and their postwar semi- and select-fire rifles were also in the compact carbine format with roughly 16-18″ barrels. Indeed, they’ve never gone back to a long barrel except for crew-served and support weapons.

In Italian service, the ARX replaces other 5.56 rifles (the AR 70 / AR 90) and also some submachine guns (PM 12S). It is part of a mix with 5.56 and 7.62mm machine guns and precision rifles.

23 thoughts on “What Can Beretta’s AR Competitor, the ARX-160, Do?

  1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

    i had a long paragraph but it came down to meh.

    Cool answers to the respective country’s need to have new toys that do not significantly improve on old toys.

    Shorter barrel is not going to help any with the “Overmatch Gap”.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Shorter barrel is not going to help any with the “Overmatch Gap”.

      No, but integrated rails system is, and the folding/telescoping stock works with armor. The short barrel is long enough within the lethal range of the round. The “overmatch gap” is an attempt to sell a larger rifle round, but the problem there is that the overmatch isn’t an “individual rifle” problem but a “light crew-served” and “specialty weapon” problem.

      As far as new toys are concerned after 20 years or so any army needs to buy something — either new toys or replacement copies of worn old toys.

      1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

        I’m with you. Sadly though it looks like actuall training will not soon overtake technology as Big Army’s answer to everything. Liked Kirk’s ideas yesterday, especially issuing Joe a rifle in basic and having him keep up with it. With a little less time spent on diversity or SHARP training Joe could learn to service and maintain it, you know like his life depends on it.

      1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

        Thank you, (Bows spectacularly) thank you very much!

        Gotta get into that meme generator thing.

  2. Red

    Is it just me or is that one ugly looking gun?
    There probably isn’t a gun out there that Miculek couldn’t perform well with.

    1. Brad

      Yeah that big boxy look doesn’t work for me either.

      What really bugs me though is the 10+ pounds trigger pull. Yuck.

  3. LFMayor

    Question boss. Why is co witnessing such a big hairy deal? I thought that the great gain from a red dot or even a plain old Ho-Chi-Mihn brand 4x scope was that it’s still a single focal point.

    1. Torres

      Co-witnessing means that you can look through your scope and use your iron backup sights if your red dot fails without having to remove it from the rail.

    2. Hognose Post author

      Yep. But having iron sights live if the scope were to go down is belt-and-suspenders. It doesn’t work with actual scopes (like my usual preference, the 4x ACOG) because the sights would be hopelessly blurred, but is used with nonmagnified sights like the M68 (Comp M2) or EoTech.

      Frankly if I had to choose one or the other I would pick the dot over the irons for close in work. I have a Comp M2 on one indoors AR.

  4. oberndorfer

    …a 5.56 will
    always be a better defensive round than any
    handgun round…

    not always, let me be the devil’s advocate here, as i’m born less than a quartermile away from where many significant loads were developed.

    9×19, subsonic, 21st century bullet.
    less bang, less flash, less recoil, less overpenetration in yer wooden or drywalled sheds you call houses (here: bricks and mortar or concrete walls).
    plus cheaper guns, cheaper ammo, cheaper range fees.
    for home defense at least,
    not for teotwawki, a local zombie outbreak or a widespread anomie situation.

    1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

      9×19 subsonic was the 21st century bullet for a couple of years in the early nineties. Then due to it’s magical popularity a lot of rounds got shot and performance had to be explained. The heavy and slow relatively well constructed bullets will penetrate intermediate barriers better than fast lightly constructed bullets. Layers of drywall stop 5.56 much better than 9mm subs. It’s been done in the lab and on the street. It’s truly apples and oranges, 5.56 subs have never cought on because they don’t perform any better than 60gn 22lr, not to mention getting a 5.56 platform to run super and subs is problematic, so if you are going for quiet your 9 wins but at subsonic speeds even with newer bullet designs you won’t have the kind of energy transfer as you will get with M-193. The near universal use of suppressors mitigates the flash and blast. For sentry removal that MP-5SD with 147 or 158 subs making calculated headshots is awesome but there are newer rounds/sustems that let you continue to contribute to the fight once things get less surgical without switching guns.

      1. oberndorfer

        tim, thanks for your wellmeant comment.

        you say

        “layers of
        drywall stop 5.56 much better than
        9mm subs”

        can i ask you for a credible source?

        as a 9mm 147 gram slug might have better terminal ballistic effect @25 meters, compared to a 6mm 62gr spitzer.

        says fackler, says rheinmetall, says kneubuehl, says https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_ballistics

        thanks for a reply

        1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

          Go with Al T.’s link below, search some Patrick Sweeney if that helps. I honestly have no links due to the fact this has been “Settled Science” for close to fifteen years.

          Basically the 5.56 starts to yaw, as was intended on the first inpact, even with a ninty degree impact angle. If it has time to turn fully sideways before it hits the next obstacle it may, since it’s going fairly fast still, blow the fuck up. Pistol rounds being generally larger and having thicker jackets tend to just plow through sheet after sheet untill they drop. JHP pistol bullets seem to be prone to clogging with sheet rock an act like ball.

    1. oberndorfer

      al, we all know,
      opinions are like belly buttons.
      can you provide some hard data ?

  5. Trone Abeetin

    Love me some Jerry, it seems that despite shooting millions of rounds he still genuinely gets a kick out of it. That’s contagious.

  6. Brad

    Well the Soviets certainly designated the SKS a carbine, though its barrel isn’t that short. More like 20 inches long than 18.

    I don’t know if it’s true, but I long time ago I read in interesting history of rifles around the end of the 19th century which claimed an attempt to create a universal rifle which replaced carbines and rifles in service. British experience during the last Boer war supposedly lead to the introduction of the SMLE. The thinking was conventional length rifles were too inconvenient for the modern scrambling needed moving from cover to cover, and carbines were too inaccurate for the long range fire needed against modern rifles. This mid-length rifle was judged suitable for replacing all rifles in service, creating a universal rifle class. Other nations such as the U.S. also followed this trend.

    1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

      The universal thing keeps going round and round. Changes in technology shortened the rifle barrel, the first generation breechloaders were long as hell because, well the last generation muzzleloaders were long…the fact that they were less expected to be used as a lance after firing the first few vollies helped shorten things down. Then someone decided the Red Legs really only needed something handy, to keep the (insert derogatory demonym of the day for the enemy) off the guns, that used the same “real rifle” ammo, usually., 45/70-45/55 not withstanding. Then the Cav had another version… Then another wise beancounter says it would be way cheaper if everybody had a universal rifle-ish, carbine-ish rifle…and the special units who have more training, leeway and superior CM/FM skills continue to carry whatever they think they need…

  7. Brad

    “This is something that’s on our mind with the USMC finally announcing that their riflemen’s M16s are going to be replaced with M4s.”

    WTH? How did I miss this? A little quick googling fixed that. Thanks for the tip.

    I am surprised though. I thought when the USMC first adapted the M16a4 they had looked at switching to the M4 instead and decided against it because the M16a4 was more reliable. Guess times change.

  8. oberndorfer

    tim, thanks for your wellmeant comment.

    you say

    “layers of
    drywall stop 5.56 much better than
    9mm subs”

    can i ask you for a credible source?

    as a 9mm 147 gram slug might have better terminal ballistic effect @25 meters, compared to a 6mm 62gr spitzer.

    says fackler, says rheinmetall, says kneubuehl, says https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_ballistics

    thanks for a reply

  9. Calimero

    The ARX-100 is the semi-auto only version we’ll get as civilians while the ARX-160 has the fun switch.

    I don’t know whether there are further changes to comply with our patchwork of stupid European laws.

Comments are closed.