Beretta ARX160


This Italian soldier is armed with a well camouflaged ARX160…

This Italian soldier is armed with a well camouflaged ARX160 during mountain operations in the Alps. After rigorous testing in extreme conditions, the new Beretta has proven that it can operate reliably in any environment across the globe.

Since the turn of the Century, many of the world’s armies, especially members of the NATO Alliance, have initiated programs to enhance the effectiveness of their combat soldiers. The focus of all of these programs is the fusion of technology in the fields of sensors, communications, and infantry weapons. When melded, these different technologies make the soldier more aware of the battlefield situation and more lethal at the same time. These technologies also allow individual soldiers to be part of a network across the full spectrum of combat, and interact more efficiently with assets such as armored forces, artillery fire support, close air support, and combat medical assistance, and allow the information to be integrated at all levels of the chain of command.

Italy launched such a program in 2001 known as Progetto Soldato Futuro or Project Future Soldier. A remarkable fact about this futuristic program is that the world’s oldest continuous firearms manufacturer, Beretta, is responsible for the development and production of the system’s rifle and grenade launcher. These two weapons, the Beretta ARX160 automatic rifle and the GLX160 grenade launcher, were engineered to be the most ergonomic, ambidextrous, lightweight, accurate, adaptable, and reliable infantry combat weapons in the world.

beretta-arx160-rifleThe Beretta ARX160 Rifle with the GLX160 Grenade Launcher mounted. Feature-packed battle rifle! Besides its folding stock, the ARX 160 sports a quick-change barrel system. A simple pull on the two side latches (similar to Beretta’s Px4 pistol disassembly latch) allows the operator to pull the barrel assembly forward and out of the top receiver. It literally takes a few seconds.Photo Courtesy Beretta.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of both weapons, they will be integrated with the latest in electro-optical sensor and fire-control systems developed by the Italian company SELEX Galileo. These systems include the ASPIS Day/Night Miniaturized Combat Weapon Sight for the ARX160, and the SCORPIO Grenade Launcher Fire Control System for the GLX160. Both of the Beretta-produced weapons and the SELEX Galileo-produced electro-optical fire control systems will be integrated with a host of other equipment made by different contractors. These sub-systems will include such gear as a body-carried personal computer, individual radio, GPS, body armor, camouflage ensemble, and protective clothing for various threat environments.

selex_over_-parapet_shot-300The SELEX Galileo ASPIS Combat Weapon System allows soldiers to aim the ARX160 using a helmet-mounted display so that soldiers will be able to engage targets around corners or from positions of cover while minimizing their exposure to enemy fire.

As Italy’s leading firearms manufacturer, Beretta is no stranger to military small arms. The succession of modern battle rifles began with the U.S.-designed M1 Garand, which Beretta produced under license for the Italian military as well as for export. Following the NATO adoption of the 7.62x51mm cartridge, Beretta developed the select fire, magazine fed BM59 (Beretta Model 1959) from the Garand action. In the 1970s Beretta introduced the AR70, in 5.56x45mm caliber, which saw limited service with Italian special operations forces. In 1984 the Italian Government announced a competition to select a new 5.56mm service rifle. Beretta entered their AR70/90 rifle, which was a highly refined and improved variant of the AR70 design. The Beretta AR70/90 won the competition and has served the Italian forces well since 1990.

21st Century Firepower
A number of factors have influenced the development of Italy’s newest battle rifle. Experience gained from years of operational service during missions in places like Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the former Yugoslavia, as well as domestically in Italy, highlighted the importance of having a rifle that could operate reliably in any environment across the globe. The 1990s saw the emergence of accessories such as red-dot and holographic sights, flashlights, laser devices, vertical grips, and night vision equipment for military small arms. This meant that the ARX160 must be modular in order to accept any current and future accessories. Finally, the ARX160 had be soldier friendly and be easy to use and maintain in combat conditions.

Bred From Battle
arx160-and-glx160Both the ARX160 and GLX160 have been used operationally in Afghanistan by Italian Forces. These Italian paratroopers are armed with the new rifle and grenade launcher while on patrol in an Afghan village.

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 has been designed to function with minimal lubrication. The ARX160 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. Ambidextrous, the Beretta ARX160 can switch its charging handle to either the right or left side in a matter of seconds. The direction that spent cartridge casings eject can also be easily changed. An adjustable four-position collapsible stock is a standard feature. The butt plate is rounded and features a checkered, slip-resistant surface. During transport in tight spaces or for use during actions such as fast-roping and parachuting, the stock can also be folded forward along the right side of the receiver.

Both the safety/fire selector and the magazine release controls are designed to be 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 selector to be easily manipulated by the shooter’s thumb 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.

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