Type to search

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 rifle. 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 Rifle, 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.

Our subscriptions
The subscription gives you access to an online library of works. This is intended to increase on a regular and continuous basis. Here, for an investment equivalent to a single paper book, you will find an unparalleled and unprecedented amount of information.

Introductory offer

€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

    Do not miss any further content : subscribe and get notified by mail!

    *We hate spamming as much as you do!

    Arnaud Lamothe

    Expert for the French Department of Justice, former technical manager of the Ministry of the Interior, co-founder of the site LAI Publications, Arnaud is a specialist in small arms of war. Author of many articles, he wishes through this site to share his passion and knowledge for these subjects.

    error: Content is protected !!