Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Rifle That Doesn't Know Left From Right

The Beretta ARX160 Assault Rifle is part of a new breed of automatic weapon.

Developed in 2008, it is part of the Soldato Futuro program and is the result of joint collaboration between the Italian Army and and Italian company Beretta. Beretta are famous for their type 92 pistol and their tactical shotguns.

Umarex are now selling an Airsoft AEG version of the weapon, which is made for them by S&T Arnament.

The real steel version is still quite new to the arms arena but is slowly gaining ground outside the Italian military. The ARX160 has some interesting features which set it apart from the other kids on the block.

Weighing just over 3Kg, this largely polymer rifle has dual ejection ports, which means the user can determine which side the spent cartridges are ejected from. Similarly, the charging handle can be operated on either side. Together with an ambidextrous magazine release and fire selector, the ARX160 is ideal for either left or right hand shooters, as the standard rifle can be adapted in less than a minute by the user.

In addition, barrels can be swapped by the user in a similar time frame which makes it possible to quickly switch between the shorter 12" barrel for close combat and the longer 16" barrel for more open engagements.

The rifle needs minimal lubrication and can be stripped down without special tools. There are no retaining pins to fall out or get lost.

The iron sights are spring loaded so flip down when not needed or to avoid damage when struck and the stock is retractable and can be swung to one side for CQB work.

Available in 5.56 x 45mm or 7.62 x 39mm NATO calibres, the ARX160 comes with four mounting rails and a wide range of accessory and mission options including the underslung Beretta GLX160 Grenade Launcher, a bayonet and what Beretta call their Tricompensator. This is a suppressor-looking device which is attached to its own barrel section and is fitted when needed just like a new barrel. As the name suggests, it has three purposes - that of suppressor, muzzle brake and flash hider.

The Umarex Airsoft version is officially licensed by Beretta so it has the trades and is available in black only.
It is currently being offered by eHobby Asia in the longer barrel version (which takes 14mm CCW attachments) at USD 325. Lets hope it makes it to the UK retailers.

The Airsoft version

Demonstration of the real thing on You Tube