So, as many of you know, I'm a big AK guy. I prefer it to the AR, and I've been running them for perhaps the last 4-5 years. I only have 10-15K rounds down range with them, but I genuinely love the platform. With the right parts and aftermarket modifications, I think the AK can easily hit 85-90% of the functions of any current issue rifle (particularly that of the AR).
Just as an Austrian named Gaston helped throw the firearms world on its ear with the introduction of mass produced reliable polymer framed semi-auto fighting handguns, several companies today are trying to push the firearms world kicking and screaming into the new generation of rifles. Most militaries are fighting tooth and nail to retain their Cold War rifles...but the winds of change are blowing harder than a wolf smacking his lips for bacon fat.
To this end, we've seen the well received SCAR models...the poorly received ACR models...the oddly received FN2000 super guns, new fancy AUG based rifles, and a variety of wannabes hanging out in the wings (I'm looking at you Cz805 BREN!).
None of these really interest me. If anything, some of the weapons make me laugh. The US military has gone from hating side-charging handles, and piston operation...to loving side-charging handles, and piston operation. In fact, if there is one thing our admittedly great military does horribly it's small arms. To get a firearm into the hands of a US infantrymen...one must first conquer a red-tape trail the size of the Tour De France (roughly 2185 miles on average). Congressional bickering, financial nonsense, and political disasters await every single firearms design.
So, as I look at the future of my current life I realize I can likely no longer afford to buy overly expensive AKs and then spend way too much money trying to build them into proper fighting guns. I have two, and they work...but if I calculate the cost spent getting them to where they are, I may put one of those barrels in my mouth.
So when I stumbled upon the Beretta ARX-160...I expected little. I expected another gun built around an AR platform, with nothing genuinely new or innovative. A lot of hot-air promises, and a price tag which would make an HK sales rep baulk.
The more videos and reviews I looked into, the more my curiosity was piqued. Sure, it's a side-charging piston gun...which is comforting to an AK guy like me. But it has some genuinely unique and forward thinking looking design aspects. I have decided that I will be buying one if/when they are released in the US. Current theories are pointing to a likely release...albeit in 1.5-2 years time.
Things I like:
+Ambi...everything with little to no sacrifices to make it happen.
+A slightly AK-friendly magazine release which will help me transfer back to AR style mag releases.
+Folding stock (no reason for a modern fighting gun to not have this...makes carriage/stowage much easier!)
+Tool-less break down to almost its component parts.
+Quick release barrel. While something I "may" not use, if I end up liking the rifle enough, it would make SBR'ing it much more simple...also possibly giving me an option to run the gun in various configs.
+Short stroke piston operation.
+Single railed top, which accept AR folding sights or any normal combat optics.
+A "hinted" at price of $1500-1700 for a "basic" model...we'll see.
+One of the best aspects...a charging handle, which is NOT super close to the top rail. This is a huge issue with SCARs, ACRs, 556's etc. The charging handle is very near the top of the rifle, which starts to interfere with optics, and railed accessories....which is a stupid mis-design.
+Supposedly lightweight (rumoured under 7 lbs. empty?)
+Beretta is a well respected firearms manufacturer...and I'd have no problems buying from them.
+Been tested and now serving in the Italian armed forces since 2008. Any combat proven firearm is definitely confidence inspiring unlike something like a Bushmaster ACR etc.
Things I don't think I'll like:
-Stock folding to the right...I like mine folded to the left. I'll be running the charging handle like an AK, on the right side of the rifle.
-Relatively short front end grip/furniture...which will (just like an AK) hinder you if you prefer a long-armed approach to shooting.
-Ugly. I already own ugly guns, so this isn't a huge deal, but the rifle is freakin' hideous!
-The bolt-latch hold button is in/under the trigger guard...and seems like a bad idea. I could be wrong though.
So...here's hoping it actually happens. Please feel free to post any ARX-160 info here (good or bad!). I'm cautiously optimistic.