By Paolo Valpolini
The Beretta Defense Technologies booth at the World Defense Show hosted the products of the four brands, Beretta, Benelli, Sako and Steiner, which form BDT. Among the handguns and rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and optics, a sharp eye could notice the presence of an ARX200 assault rifle in a peculiar version, the most distinctive features being the longer barrel and a more complex buttstock. It was the prototype of the ARX200 DMR, the Designated Marksman Rifle version of the 7.62×51 mm assault rifle developed by Beretta and currently in service with the Italian Army.
The work on the new version began around three years ago and was finalized in mid 2021. It retains most of the features of the ARX200, such as the multi-lugs rotating bolt, but accuracy being the priority a number of other elements were modified or replaced.
First and foremost the barrel, which is 20-inch long (508 mm), 4-inch more than that of the standard ARX200. Not only, it is slightly heavier and its profile was modified and optimised for increasing accuracy. The barrel features four grooves and has clockwise rifling with an 11-inch (279 mm) pitch. The other major element which differs from the ARX200 is the trigger mechanism; the selector has only two positions, safe and single shot, the safety mechanism locking the trigger. The DMR is obviously a semi-automatic weapon, hence it does not feature the automatic fire mode of the ARX200. The trigger is of the double-stage type; the trigger pull is fix and is of 2-2.3 kg.
When accuracy is required one of the key elements is ergonomy, the shooter needing to have a relaxed posture in order to maintain aiming for extended periods of time without tightening muscles that would induce errors when shooting. Beretta purposely designed a multi-adjustable stock that maintains the folding property, allowing to reduce the weapon length from the maximum of 1,100 mm with fully extended stock, 1,040 with retracted stock, to 820 mm that allows the designated marksman rifleman to jump by parachute while carrying his weapon.
As seen previously the stock can be adjusted in length, while the cheek rest height adjustment is of 26 mm, the cheek rest position adjustment is of 30 mm and the rubber-made butt stock can be adjusted in height by 60 mm. All adjustments are micrometric and can be done without using any tool. A short Picatinny in the lower part of the stock allows installing a monopod. Another element that allows a better ergonomy is the pistol grip, which is removable and can be adapted to the shooter’s hand, and is fully compatible with the AR15/M4 standards.
The ARX200 DMR is fitted with a full-length 54-slot STANAG 4694 rail on top of the receiver, allowing to host a daylight scope; Beretta choice goes to the Steiner M5Xi 5-25×56/MSR-2 but the customer can obviously select it among the numerous scopes available on the market, which is the case also for other accessories such as night vision clip-on systems, bipod, backup iron sights, etc. Seven M-Lok slots are located at 6, 3 and 9 o’clock of the upper receiver group, which permit installing further Picatinny rail elements. Two flush cup swivel attachments are integrated in the upper receiver, forend and stock group, for a total of six, allowing installing the three-points sling provided with the rifle.
The ARX200 DMR is 215 mm high, with magazine and folded sights, 88 mm wide with extended stock, and 123 mm wide with folded stock. The main features are similar to those of the assault rifle version, hence it maintains the reciprocating bolt handle, which can be reversed without using tools, the right side ejection, the ambidextrous bolt release and the magazine release buttons. The Beretta DMR can use 10- or 20-round SR25 standard steel magazines, however removing the SR25 interface allows using Beretta 20-round polymer-made proprietary magazines.
Maximum engagement distance is estimated at 800 meters, the ARX200 DMR having 1 MOA accuracy when using Match rounds with a 175 grains bullet. When using a standard NATO 7.62 mm round with a 147 grains ball muzzle velocity is 800 m/s.
A sound suppressor can be installed as option, muzzle thread being M15x1. A suppressor position is available on the gas valve setting, which differs from that of the assault rifle; it has two further positions, the standard one and that for training ammunition or adverse conditions.
Without magazine and scope the ARX200 DMR weighs 4.8 kg. The rifle is available in black, flat dark earth, olive drab green and coyote brown, however other colours are available at customers’ request.
Although no major unveiling ceremonies have been organised for this new rifle, Beretta and the BDT team are probing the market around the world, the designated marksman rifleman role becoming of increasing importance in the military, among Special Forces as well as in the Green Army.
Photos P. Valpolini