Beretta’s first-ever hunting rifle, the BRX1, is a fast-shooting and well-built straight-pull, switch-barrel design built to NATO military standards, and it’s now on sale for $2599 in Australia.
The BRX1 marks an entirely new chapter for the 500-year-old arms maker that has until now has been famous for its sporting shotguns and pistols.
But Beretta also has a long history of making military weapons, including assault rifles and machine guns, and it has put much of this experience into its new civilian rifle.
The 3.3kg BRX1’s major features include a five-round, double-stack detachable box magazine, a polymer stock whose length of pull can be adjusted using spacers, an adjustable trigger, and cold hammer-forged barrels.
The switch-barrel design allows use of five calibres for now: .243, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308, .30-06 and .300 Win Mag, though more may be added to the range later. Barrels initially offered are 51cm (20in) and 57cm (22.4in) long, with a 62cm (24.4in) option mooted for later.
The rifle has a truly ambidextrous design, in that its bolt handle can be installed on either side. By rotating the bolt head, your can select which side the spent case will eject from, and this is not dependent on which side the bolt handle is mounted. All this can be done without tools.
The straight-pull action — or linear reloading system, as it’s often called — has a bolt with a rotating head and either eight locking lugs for standard calibres or 16 lugs for the magnum.
“We paid extra attention to the closing mechanism of this kind of firearm,” said Ricardo Olivieri, production manager for hunting and competition shotguns and rifles at Beretta.
He said the rotating bolt head is “nothing new,” being the same one they’ve used on the ARX series of military rifles for some time.
This has produced an exceptionally strong action, according to Olivieri, one that goes above and beyond the usual proof tests done for hunting rifles and passes the more stringent NATO tests.
The bolt carrier is described as a “very complex component” by Beretta production director, Enrico Ravagnani, who says they use a five-axis mill to create it from a solid piece.
“The precision of this component is of paramount importance for the perfect functioning of the weapon,” he said.
Beretta says its bedding system ensures repeatable accuracy when barrels are re-fitted, allowing it to make a guarantee of sub-MOA three-shot groups.
“Accuracy is one of the most important things,” says Olivieri.
You’ll be able to see how accurate your rifle should be by downloading the factory test report. The data includes the serial number, the group size and pattern, and the ammunition used. Beretta uses a three-shot group at 100 metres.
The repeatable accuracy depends upon the scope staying mounted to the barrel, so that there is no loss of accuracy there.
Scopes can be mounted to the BRX1 using a picatinny rail, a Tikka 17mm dovetail or a new proprietary mount that Beretta has developed.
The trigger group can be quickly dropped from the rifle and, without tools, adjusted to one of three trigger weights. The base let-off weight is a pleasantly light 1000g, and it can be increased in two steps of 200-250g each.
The trigger releases a hammer to fire the rifle in a setup very similar to what Beretta uses in various shotguns and military rifles.
The three-position safety system is considered extremely safe, both blocking the hammer and disengaging the trigger, much the same as in other similar rifles.
BRX1 polymer magazines can be top-loaded while still in the rifle or removed for loading. They’re locked in place with two lugs and the body is hi-vis orange.
The stock, which has a high-grip textured finish, will offer two pistol-grip sizes to suit different sized hands.
At its price of $2599, the BRX1 is one of the most affordable switch-barrel straight-pull rifle on the market, below the Merkel Helix and the Blaser R8, and close to the new Savage Impulse straight-pull rifle.
As well as calibre conversion kits, which are yet to be released, a range of accessories are being produced specifically for the BRX1.
You can see more on the Beretta Australia website.