AR-70/223: a try converted into a success
The adoption of the 5.56 by the Army of the United States of America during the 1960s would quickly push the weapon-producing countries that were members or close to NATO to follow in the vein of this caliber. With a substantial small arms industry, Italy was bound to follow.
In the wake of the 5.56 caliber
In 1963, the Italian manufacturer P. Beretta SPA and Swiss SIG initiated a joint search for an assault rifleAn assault rifle is a weapon defined by the use of an "inter... More. This study, which did not lead to the production of any joint weapon, ended in 1967 (or 1968 according to some sources). In Switzerland, this study would influence the design of the SIG-530 and SIG-530-1 and subsequently of the SIG-540, notably produced by Manurhin in France and by FAMAE in Chile. In Italy, it influenced the study launched by the firm P. Beretta SPA in 1968. According to some sources, this study was ordered after the failure to acquire a license from Colt to produce a M16 variant. It would lead to the prototype of the AR-70/223 in 1972, designed around the M193 ammunition… in a logical way, because the SS-109 ammunition did not emerge until the early 80s. It can be noted that while the Swiss and Italian weapons have definite differences, they also have similarities in different areas that can be linked to this joint study. After a series of tests, the AR-70/223 was adopted by the Italian Special Forces and enjoyed some export success having been used by Jordan and Malaysia. The rest of the Italian Army retained the BM-59 as a service rifle for a while.
The weapon comes in four versions (Pic. 3):
- AR for Assault RifleAn assault rifle is a weapon defined by the use of an "inter... More, a standard version with a 450 mm barrel
- SC for Special Carbine, a folding stock version of the AR
- SCS for Special Carbine Short, a variant with a 320 mm short barrel and folding stock
- LMG 70-78 for Light Machine-Gun, a light machine gun variant with a quick-detachable barrel.
The barrels are rifled with a 1:305 mm (1:12″) twist rate. The weapons all use the same proprietary magazine with a capacity of 30 shots (Pic. 4). During its production the weapon has known some variation (especially in 1983 with new designs of the hand guard and the folding stock) before being replaced in 1985 by the AR-70/90.
Beretta’s weapon faced competition within Italian industry, with the Bernadelli firm producing under license a variant of the Israeli Galil called VB-SR at the same time. This weapon was also used by some Italian units.
€30.00 per Year.
For our first subscribers
45€ → 30€ ! Or 2,5€ per month
- Access to all our publications
- Access to all our books