Beretta ARX 100: The Ultimate Tactical Rifle-Review-VIDEO

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After what feels like an absurdly long wait, Beretta is shipping the ARX 100 in 5.56. This is the civilian version of a battle rifle that’s currently in service in Italy and a handful of other countries. The rifle combines the operational familiarity of both the AR-15 platform and the AK platform into a versatile rifle that’s built for active service. Every detail of the gun is adaptable. Controls can be switched easily, without tools. Even the various calibers of barrels are interchangeable, on the fly. It is an impressive rifle. Beretta is calling the ARX 100 “The Ultimate Tactical Rifle.” Is it true?

I’m not ready to answer that question. This is our first look at the rifle. I picked the gun up from my FFL this morning and had it on the range by noon. The sun has set, and I’m in front of the computer trying to make sense of my first impressions. Is it the Ultimate? Making that assertion is forcing us into a game of comparisons, a game gun reviewers (most shooters, really) are well equipped to play.

Beretta ARX 100

The barrel isn’t as thin as it looks when compared to the rest of the gun.

So let’s look at the competition. One of the defining features of the AR-15 platform is its modularity. Stocks, grips, forends, switches, levers, even uppers—all can be changed to fit the preferences of the user. But that isn’t the root of modularity. Modularity, as a concept, was conceived so that (in this case) rifles could be built on the assembly-line process. No hand-fitting pieces together, just snap them in place. What now passes as tactical fashion only appeared as an afterthought.

We switch out grips and forends, seeking slight improvements in a gun that works quite well in its stock configuration. Changes that make a gun “custom” go against modularity. And a lot of the changes made to the AR platform require special tools. Changing out a barrel takes time. It is almost impossible to really alter the ways the controls work, unless you redesign the gun itself or add extra parts.

Beretta ARX 100

The flip-up rear sight has a six-position aperture to accommodate targets at distances.

The ARX changes some of this. You can still dress it up with accessories, but you can’t change out the stock, or the grip, or the forend. At least not yet. Instead, you can decide which of the three mag releases you want to use (left, right, or bottom). Within seconds, you can move the charging handle from the right to the left side. It is even easier to change ejection. A simple lever close to the stock switches the extractor from one side to the other.

Beretta will eventually have more calibers available, all of which will be interchangeable. And they won’t require any advanced modification by a gunsmith or armorer to be adaptable. Left-handed shooters can pick up any ARX and make it fit their needs in seconds. You can see why a platform like this would be appealing to a department that may want to equip a number of shooters.

The ARX 100 has one big leg up on most of the 5.56 competition. The rifle has a “constant contact/short-stroke gas piston system” that keeps fouling gases from emptying into the chamber. Even after shooting several hundred rounds this afternoon, the rifle remained incredibly clean. Though I can’t yet confirm this personally, I would imagine that this rifle won’t need to be cleaned as often as the typical AR. And when it does, cleaning the chamber will be much easier.

Beretta ARX 100

Even though the forend is wide, you can still hold the ARX thumb-over-bore.

The polymer chassis and stock make it light: seven pounds. This can be almost disconcerting. It looks much heavier than it is. When I picked it up, I was a bit shocked at how light it was. That’s a really attractive feature in a gun you may have to carry all day. And after you pull the trigger a couple of times, any misconceptions you may have about its ability to handle the recoil begin to fade. It is light, and the gun moves during recoil, but it is comparable to other 5.56s. When I was looking back at the video we shot on the range, I can see just how flat it shoots. There’s almost no rise at all.

Shooting the ARX 100

We shot a couple of different types of 5.56 and .223 through the rifle, and only one flavor gave us any issues. This rifle will not cycle steel-cased ammo. The steel-on-steel in the chamber was too much for the gun, and it couldn’t pull cases free. The extractor never popped off, which left an empty on the extractor. Clearing the jam wasn’t an issue, but you had to really muscle the bolt back all the way. After we’d gone to the range, I read some reports of issues with gen 3 PMAGS, but that isn’t something I can confirm yet. I’ll test it soon.

The ARX 100 is much more intimidating from this end.

The ARX 100 is much more intimidating from this end.

The rifle shoulders easily, and the irons are easy to use. The rear sight has six different apertures that will allow for target engagement out to 800 yards. Maybe. I had no problem with the irons at 25 yards, or 100, but I can’t image pulling the trigger on a target 800 yards out with only iron sights. I know it can be done, but it isn’t something we often ask of our tactical rifles.

The trigger on this rifle breaks somewhere north of 10 pounds. That’s where my scale stops. I would guess 11 pounds (and that is a very educated guess, thanks to the fact that the scale stops at 10 pounds). There is hardly any take-up, though. The break is clean, but heavy. Pull it like you mean it. I’m not sure what’s behind this. I’ve read that the trigger breaks closer to six pounds. I tested and retested, though.

The ARX 100 is going on sale this week, and the price is $1,950. This isn’t out of line with a lot of piston-driven 5.56 rifles. And if you consider how much most of us spend on our ARs, getting them to fit and run just right, it is a competitive price.

Beretta ARX 100

When the stock is folded, the BCG can be removed from this opening, but the lower has to be removed first.

I first shot the ARX at the Beretta factory in Accokeek, Maryland, almost two years ago. I shot it again at the SHOT show. I’ve been impressed by the basic performance of the gun and have only just begun to push it through the rigorous testing that we will do for this review. But so far, everything is running smoothly. I wish I could say that about all of the guns we get in here. I can’t. But I do expect civilian versions of tactical rifles to function, flawlessly, with absolutely no break-in period. And the ARX has met those expectations, except for the steel-cased .223.

Is the ARX 100 the Ultimate Tactical Rifle? I think we all recognize the obvious exaggeration. I will say this: the ARX 100 is forcing some new topics into the tactical conversation. The interchangeable calibers will be one area that the competition has to match. The ease of use, especially for lefties, isn’t easy to dismiss. The functionality-to-weight ratio makes other rifles in the same category seem unnecessarily heavy. And then there’s this—this gun may appeal even more to agencies than it will to individuals. If Beretta knows anything besides sporting shotguns and service pistols, it is contract competition. The ARX 100 may not be the ultimate, but it is going to change the game, and a couple of hundred AR-15 makers have just lost a bit more traction.

Beretta ARX 100

The ARX comes in a nice case that will hold the rifle, even with the stock extended.

Beretta ARX 100

The extension of the stock is secured by two interlocking points.

Beretta ARX 100

The two-sided ejection port allows for true ambidextrous operation.

Beretta ARX 100

The front post is also spring-loaded and comes with an adjustable post.

Beretta ARX 100

This incarnation of the rifle is being branded as the ARX 100 instead of the 160, which is the rifle in service with the Italian Army.

Beretta ARX 100

The safety selector is clear and easy to read, and the same on both sides of the gun.

Beretta ARX 100

The grip on the ARX is built into the lower, so there’s no way to change it out.

Beretta ARX 100

There’s a bottom magazine lever that can be used like an AK’s mag release.

Beretta ARX 100

The muzzle brake may be the only piece of the rifle Beretta didn’t try to reinvent.

Beretta ARX 100

The short-piston gas system keeps everything very clean.

Beretta ARX 100

If you have a grenade launcher, this is where it goes.

Beretta ARX 100

To switch the charging handle from one side to the other is easy. It pulls out and swings through.

Beretta ARX 100

The barrel can be removed in seconds. A simple lever holds it secure.

Beretta ARX 100

This button changes which side the rifle ejects from, and it is easy to change with the point of a bullet.

Beretta ARX 100
Beretta ARX 100

While the ARX 100 feels bulky, it is actually quite thin. This is the top view of the receiver.

Beretta ARX 100

The magazine well has just a bit of a flare, and magazines are easy to insert and extract.

Beretta ARX 100

The hammer is narrow, but the springs in the trigger look incredibly robust.


{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Jeremy Argent July 22, 2015, 9:26 pm

    Shot 1000 rounds and i luv it. No problem with steel ammo. Just because you cant afford it doesnt mean its bad. Was gonna get a SCAR but this gun did more for 1000 less.

  • Vic Krese September 14, 2014, 10:21 pm

    ONLY 10% of the population is left handed? That is a very short sighted comment. Why would you leave out 1 out of every 10 potential customers? That said, you may be able to corner the LH market. Try to put together an ambi AR-15 with a folding stock. $80 for the ambi mag release, $30 for the ambi safety selector, $70 for an ambi charging handle and good luck with some form of lefty friendly bolt release. What’s it cost for a folding AR stock? How much more does a piston AR run. Street price on these are under $1,600 out the door, so it’s in the ball park.

  • hj June 12, 2014, 2:21 am

    No accuracy test because other reviews of the gun report on a completely horrible degree of accuracy compared to all other 5.56 tactical carbines. This gun is sadly a day late and many dollars short.

    BTW, less than 10% of humanity is left-handed. Why all this constant obsession about accommodating left-hand shooters??? Focus should be placed on is the firearm simply a good design, PERIOD!

    • Dave Higginbotham June 12, 2014, 11:45 am

      No accuracy testing had more to do with the VERY limited time I had it in hand before I needed to get the post up. I’ve still got the gun, and I plan on pushing it to its limits. We’ll have a full review up soon.

      • Sean Moore June 15, 2014, 4:05 pm

        Not sure where you’re getting your pricing but i’ve had mine for over a month and just ordered 3 more for the shop yesterday. LE / Military pricing is $1399.00. Civilian pricing is $1800. Also i have fired over 600 rounds through my gun and never one time have i had ANY issues with steel case ammunition. My gun cycles everything i have thrown at it.

  • Kenneth Heavrin June 10, 2014, 12:58 am

    Steel cased ammo is a fact of life these days. I see no reason why that type of ammunition should not be accommodated in a modern design.

  • Don June 9, 2014, 2:49 pm

    It looks and sounds good. For that kind of $$, just pony up and get an LWRC !

  • Doc June 9, 2014, 2:04 pm

    I’m with most of the rest. A friend once quoted an oft quoted SEAL saying “You ain’t a SEAL ’till you’ve eaten Italian Steel.” I’m afraid the same ‘thought process’ is engineered into this rifle. For $2K you can get one damn fine 16, 15, or 700 all of which are ‘custom’ for the shooter. (The only thing that would drive the price above $2K is what ever kind of high-end glass you’d prefer to use). For a ‘fun-gun’ this is a complete wash. There must be a reason the Italian Army uses it — I wonder how many wars they’ve won in the last couple of hundred years…..?

  • Larry June 9, 2014, 10:41 am

    It looks like a very interesting design. I hope that someone can come up with a way of lightening the trigger pull weight. It is kinda pricey to me, but I am sure that the price will eventually come down some. It is another option for consumers and that is a good thing. I really like that it takes standard AR mags. I never could understand why some companies, such as Ruger, felt the need to create a different magazine system for their Mini 14’s. The Mini 14 should have always taken AR mags and the Mini 30 should have been designed to take standard AK mags. Both of those rifles would have sold a whole lot better if that had been the case.

  • Matt June 9, 2014, 10:24 am

    Did you change the gas setting on the gas block for the lower grade ammo? They have a standard pressure which is the setting out of the box, then a setting for Wolf and other lower pressure ammo…

  • Evan June 9, 2014, 9:53 am

    Any AR is easily usable for a lefty, provided it has a brass deflector. I actually don’t know how righties change mags with the magazine release being where it is, it’s a natural and intuitive operation for me though.

  • Kevin Calongne June 9, 2014, 9:52 am

    First, ambidexterousness (wow, that’s a big word) means a lot more to a military armorer than to a civilian, who is either right or left handed (tactical handedness changes noted, but that can be addressed on most current semi-autos, including much less expensive AR-15’s). Second, there is no true accuracy test in this review. AR-15’s, for all of their perceived shortcomings, are generally very accurate, and that seems to be where most of these “modern” tactical carbines fall short. Color me unimpressed with this and virtually all recent Beretta products. They seem to be far more motivated by making their products look cool than actually producing something that is competitive in a functional way.

    • Muhjesbude June 9, 2014, 10:51 am

      Good article and Video, but why no accuracy test?

      I’m glad Kevin said ‘perceived’ shortcomings of the AR-platform. Because there really aren’t any real ones when it comes right down to it and you customize it–for far lesst than two grand–to suit your specific ‘needs’.

      When the Storm came out and we tested it the first thing i said was that it’s too bulky for a 9mm carb but if they ever could make a 5.56 into this platform it would be cool. And looks like that’s what they did and it seems to work! Some good technology there. Especially the Stock.

      Seems compact and handy enough, but it looks a bit porcine to me, not sleek and tight, like say, a nice carbon furniture AR-15 SBR commando weapon around 6 pounds.

      But for over 2 grand with tax it should be lighter, shoot sub moa, and definitely be able to NOT choke on any thing you shove down its throat, (that’s a huge negative IMHO) like my 6 pound AR can do also with a piston action, And for only about a grand.

      Like Meme said, for 6 or 700. maybe it would be temporary summer plaything just for comparison purposes, but it looks like Beretta is joining the feeding frenzy of Gouge Sharks now trying to take advantage of the ‘Largest Standing Army’ in the world. The Free and well armed American Citizenry.

      • DangerMouse June 10, 2014, 6:56 am

        To be fair, he didn’t cover the “extra power” setting on the gas block that might have let it run with that cheap ammo.

        In fact, on the “civilian version” that’s what that setting is there for.

  • JCitizen June 9, 2014, 9:49 am

    Removable barrel? Me want!! It would be cool of someone would do an accuracy test some day. I probably won’t be able to afford it for a while anyway.

  • meme June 9, 2014, 9:20 am

    What an overweight piece of crap. Reminds me of my airsoft gun. I was reading through and thought to myself maybe for $600-700 I would buy one. $2K after taxes LMAO. I can assemble a rifle that kicks its ass for half. Good job Beretta!

  • Diego Blanchard June 9, 2014, 7:24 am

    Nice, Very good operating featchers. Going from L/R Discharge and so on.
    However, Diamond sights would have been a better choice although most are going to spend 500.00 for ECO TECH!
    1,950.00 ???
    I would rather have a SOCOM any day.

  • Charles Laycock June 9, 2014, 7:19 am

    So what youre saying about this gun is it’s as heavey as most AR’s way heavier than my lightwieght. It won’t handle cheap ammo therefore unreliable, its heavy trigger is crap and it’s crazy expensive for a base gun? As you can get 3 1/2 base AR15’s or a sligtly used LWRC or POF for the same price. Plus almost no aftermarket change out for grip or trigger… Sounds like a dream…. nightmares being dreams.

    • Army15T20 September 2, 2014, 8:53 am

      It’s the same weight or lighter than most AR’s! And if you read the review carefully you will see that there is more on the way, as in caliber and barrel changes with zero tools, which no AR can do! It’s also the Italian Army service weapon made by Beretta, and that works great, is completely ambidexterious, with the changes to left hand operation made in seconds with no tools, and it can hold a grenade launcher(which we will never see but still a point). This weapon just came out a month and a half ago so how do you expect with a totally new system that there would be all of these accessories etc. SERIOUSLY! Are you dense? Look at every high quality piston rifle, they are all expensive and in that 7-8lb weight range due to the piston system. I am sure there will be after market triggers available soon so settle down and learn to read and watch videos properly and you may learn something! Oh by the way I have seen the military version in action in Iraq and its a great rifle!

  • AnointedSword June 9, 2014, 4:54 am

    Just the fact that there is has to be a “civilian” version should have caused a revolution years ago! With that said, thanks for the review.

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