One of the forgotten modern rifles that never did well here in the United States, the ARX-160 (ARX-100, semi-auto) was an interesting entrant that competed against the likes of the FN SCAR and Bushmaster/Remington ACR for space in the modern service rifle field.
It is a modular and configurable platform, like its competition, and it’s operation is a well designed short stroke piston system with a very solid take on the ambidextrous and configurable concepts. Where it failed in the US market was two major points.
- The thing looks like a tuna with a goofy looking stock and chonky main body.
- Zero aftermarket reconfigurability. Can’t even change the pistol grip out (and they kept the A2!)
It also had some accuracy issues in the US market with the way the top rail was mounted, optics had quite a bit flex that they should not have. This is the type of thing that happens when a military rifle, which has a specific set of accesories it is going to be working with, gets let loose on the open market where the interfaces and options are nearly incalculable.
It also lacked the ability to take or be converted to the longer handguard styles preferred by US markets on 16″ and 14.5″ guns. The ARX-160, like the SCAR and HK416, were natively designed to be able to run shorter barrels in more compact configurations.
It wasn’t just ‘one thing’ that sank the Beretta on the US market, it was a small series of things that made an otherwise excellent running rifle into a non-starter. The awesome features of the Beretta action and the ability to pop and swap a barrel as easily as you can take apart a glock were excellent, and the control scheme was well done from an integration standpoint as they were merging some ergonomics and training.
There is a lot to like on the ARX… but it had just enough to dislike that it could not play on the US market. European companies run into that. A lot. They lack an understanding of the US market’s love of modularity and the ability to change things up and then are curious why there $2,200 rifle only started moving when they were offered for $900 while $900 AR’s started becoming quality enough to smoke most competitive options in the practical range.
In short, the ARX-160 is a good rifle and a piece of small arms history with an earned position, but it is (in its current iteration) never going to be something that threatens the AR-15’s supremacy as the everyman’s long gun of choice.