Posted: 6/24/2014 8:18:45 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/24/2014 8:31:03 PM EST by Conqueror]
So... It's here. I have been playing with it for a couple hours now and have some initial thoughts. I'll run through the rifle from front to back:
The Barrel: Hammer-forged 1:7, chrome lined and appears to be MP tested. It is a slightly thin profile ahead of the gas block but a fairly heavy profile under the handguard. I wish they had stuck with nitriding as initially planned but I have no problem with the barrel. The barrel flares at the threaded end which makes me worry that there might not be enough meat to chop and thread it once I SBR it.
the gas block: there is a normal setting and an "adverse" setting which has a larger port. No suppressor setting. This is a bit disappointing but is in line with what beretta had said previously, that they would rather sell a separate quick-change barrel that comes pre-tuned for suppressor use. We will see if that ever comes true. That being said, it looks like someone could make a replacement plug for the gas block with a smaller port without too much effort.
The piston: looks well machined. Beretta reps claim it stays in constant contact with the bolt carrier during the cycle. This is utter bullshit. It only has about 1/3 as much travel as the bolt carrier, and you can see the piston lose contact with the carrier through the handguard slots as you cycle the weapon manually.
The handguard: it really does feel much slimmer than it looks in photos. It is a bit tall, however. Overall it feels OK in the hands. I don't love it but I don't hate it; it's not as good as the best AR hand guards but is far better than the worst AR hand guards. The side rail sections are removable but it looks like the plastic nubbins that hold the screws would still be sticking up from the sides of the handguard, so I'm not sure they should really be called "removable." The plastic nubbins look like they would be uncomfortable to hold.
The QD barrel: works exactly as advertised. The tabs are a bit stiff to depress, which is probably a good thing. The barrel slides right out and slides right back in with minimal effort. It latches firmly in place. MAC is planning a return-to-zero test.
The T-rail: this is the rail under the removable plastic guard underneath the handguard. I have no clue why beretta left this proprietary for the ARX-100; the only thing that will mount to it is the GLX grenade launcher which they don't sell to civilians. I will be leaving the cover on, most likely. The rail is plastic, not metal, unlike the other rails on the gun.
The sling mounts: they are basic and work fine. QD would preferable but I don't hate these.
The magazine: this has been covered elsewhere. Generation 3 pmags wont work, but pretty much everything else will. Generation two works fine, as do the Lancer L5 magazines. Emags also work fine. In short, there are plenty of excellent magazines that will work with this rifle, I'm not worried about the compatibility. He included magazine is a basic but good-quality steel USGI mag.
The charging handle: the side swap feature works as advertised. However, the handle is extremely small, and difficult to fully grasp. It is also a bit short; my index finger knuckle drags across the brass deflector every time I charge the weapon. Even considering the swapping feature and the field stripping method, I think they could have given us a larger charging handle to grasp. I hope someone introduces one that is slightly larger on the aftermarket.
The controls: fully ambidextrous, as advertised. The safety is very stiff, but I imagine this might loosen up with use. The trigger is slightly heavy, but short and crisp, and it doesn't bother me. The bilateral magazine releases work well but are fairly small. The bottom magazine release does not appear to work well. It is connected to the bolt catch/release, and it is extremely difficult to press it far enough north to release the magazine. I am not an AK-47 user, so this doesn't bug me much, but it is important to know.
The grip: I really hate the A2 bump. It has to go. There is a nice storage space in the grip.
The stock: there are four positions. It is actually a lot better than people have theorized. The cheek weld is decent and wide, and the plastic does not feel cheap or flimsy. The butt end is checkered and grippy.
The sights: cheap and plastic. They are easily removable, so it is easy to replace them if you like. The height of the rail over the bore is slightly high, but the upside is you won't need a $100 riser to attach your red dot sight of choice.
The springs: everything is slightly stiff, and takes a lot of effort. I'm hoping this improves with wear.
Takedown: is not intuitive, and takes some practice, but works as advertised. Once you have done it a few times, it is relatively simple to take apart with no tools. Even the ejector/extractors disassemble without tools.
The ejection: the switch works as advertised, and is easy to push with the tip of a bullet or ball point pen. I have not yet fired the gun, so I can't comment on how well it works, but others have, and it seems to work well in their reviews.
The "rail wobble": mine has this to a very slight degree, but I am having a lot of trouble imagining how it would affect the gun's function. Have you ever watched a slow-motion video of an AR-15 or AK-47 firing? They flex like crazy, all over the place. The wobble on mine is less than a millimeter, and seems to always return to the center when I stop fiddling with it. I can imagine that this might affect the gun's precision if it was capable of benchrest accuracy, but this is a combat rifle. If I get 2-3 MOA, that is more than enough.
So far, overall, I am impressed with it. There are certain features that I really like, and there are others that I prefer the AR-15 or ACR. I think it's a worthwhile addition to the stable for anyone who is bored with ARs, is left-handed, or just wants to try something new. With some additions (better sights/optic, broken-in springs, a larger charging handle, and a short barrel) it could really be a star.