Guns and Gear

FIRST LOOK: Beretta’s New Assault Rifle Platform

Beretta NARP (Matthew Moss)

In September 2023, Beretta unveiled their next generation combat rifle, the project is collectively termed the ‘New Assault Rifle Platform’ or NARP. Beretta were kind enough to speak to TFB and give us a detailed rundown of the rifle, the project and its aims.

The NARP project began back in 2018, seeking to meet the key requirements of Italy’s special forces. While there were several delays to development due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rifle has been tested and iterated over the last couple of years. We had the pleasure of speaking to Andrea Candian, Beretta’s Defense and Law Enforcement Product Director. He explained the ethos behind the rifle’s development noting that the NARP project will create a family of combat rifles. Beretta were keen to stress that NARP isn’t actually the rifles’ name, but rather the overarching project to develop the new combat rifles. Mr Candian explained that the rifles themselves will likely have alpha-numeric designations once they’re introduced.

Beretta NARP (Matthew Moss)

Working with Italian special forces and other members of the special forces community, Beretta identified five key considerations: lethality, ergonomics, reliability, modularity and signature reduction. Mr. Candian explained that Beretta systematically analysed and tested various options for each of the rifles features, selecting the ones which optimised one or more of the key considerations. One example of this is the development of a proprietary 3-prong muzzle device that reduces the weapon’s flash signature and similarly the incorporation of a Cerakote finish designed to reduce the IR signature of the weapon. Beretta also noted that they have developed their own 3D-printed Inconel B-Silent suppressors which will pair with the NARP program rifles. The rifle also features either a single or a two-stage trigger – the trigger of the rifle on display at the SHOT Show was impressive with a notably short take up and a crisp break.

The rifle’s controls are fully ambidextrous and also symmetrically positioned on both sides of the receiver. NARP’s 5.56mm incarnation will be available in 11,5″, 14,5″ (which was the configuration we examined at the SHOT Show) and 16″ barrel configurations. In a departure from Beretta’s current ARX-160’s use of polymer, both the upper and lower receivers are made from aluminum. It weighs around 3.2-3.3kg (around 7 lbs) and has a quick detachable forend, actuated by a single latch on the right-hand side, with a 12 o’clock rail and M-LOK interfaces. Unlike the AR-15, the rifle’s recoil spring is in the upper receiver which allows a full range of buttstocks to be fitted, including an adjustable folding stock developed by Beretta themselves. Since its unveiling, the rifle has been seen paired with both Lancer L5AWM translucent magazines and Magpul PMAGs.

Beretta NARP (Matthew Moss)

The weapon uses a short-stroke gas system with a 2-position (normal and suppressed) adjustable gas system and has what Beretta described as a prismatic bolt carrier with a rotating bolt, this reportedly minimises vibration and reduces fouling issues. For ease of cleaning the handguard can be removed and the gas system stripped in a matter of seconds and the captive bolt group can be removed from the rear without having to remove the T-lever charging handle.

Beretta NARP (Matthew Moss)

The initial configuration of the NARP program to be unveiled was unsurprisingly a 5.56x45mm-chambered rifle with various barrel length offerings but Mr. Candian emphasised that it is not an AR-15 pattern rifle, though given the ubiquity of the AR-15, the new rifle does borrow features from the familiar platform. This, Beretta says, was a conscious decision to take advantage of widespread user familiarisation with an established and proven platform. In the future Beretta plan more chamberings including .300 Blackout and 6.5 Grendel and a larger calibre version chambering 6.5 Creedmoor, 7.62x51mm and the NGSW’s 6.8mm is in development.

Beretta NARP (Matthew Moss)

Development and testing was rigorously shaped to fulfill and exceed NATO’s D14 Handbook on Evaluation Procedures for Future NATO Small Arms Weapon Systems. Beretta say that with standard issue SS109 5.56x45mm ammunition they are achieving accuracy close to that of a designated marksman’s rifle. But as the rifle has been developed for military tenders, they could not give any specific data on this.

Mr. Candian noted that tweaks are still being made to the rifle based on feedback from testing with special forces personnel and that the receiver’s profile will have some small changes made. There is also room for the possibility of customer-driven features such as a left-side charging handle, a selector with a burst function and different handguard lengths, muzzle devices and barrel lengths.

Beretta NARP (Matthew Moss)

With a number of European nations expected to begin seeking replacements for their current service rifles in the near future, Beretta are making a concerted effort to revamp their military offerings and are positioning themselves to compete with other major players within the small arms sector.

Be sure to check out James’ TFBTV video for a closer look at Beretta’s NARP.

Read the full article here

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