Beretta BRX1: Modernized Straight Pull Goodness By:

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Founded in 1526, Beretta is the oldest firearms manufacturer in the world. That’s nearly 500 years of making boomsticks. 

Americans might know Beretta best for the M9 pistol, adopted by the U.S. military in 1985. But you might not realize that Beretta Holding now includes not just the original Beretta but also such brands as Benelli, Chapuis, Franchi, Norma, Sako, Steiner, Stoeger, and Tikka, among others.

However, if you can believe it, we’ve never been able to get a Beretta rifle before. That’s finally been remedied, with the introduction of the brand-new BRX1 rifle. 

Beretta set a goal for itself to develop a hunting rifle that would be high-performing, mid-priced, safe, reliable, innovative, and distinctive. It had to appeal to and sell in not just the U.S. but across the world. The company homed in on a straight-pull bolt-action design — a modern repeating rifle, in their words. There aren’t a lot of straight-pull rifles on the market; Beretta’s development process took nearly eight years, and Savage actually beat them to market, releasing their straight-pull Impulse line in 2021.

It was worth the wait, though, as the BRX1 is a very interesting platform. First, besides being a smaller pond to play in, the straight-pull action has a number of benefits for a magazine-fed manually operated rifle. Requiring just two movements, back and forth, it’s a very quick and intuitive method to cycle a rifle — and who isn’t familiar with the ole back and forth? The bolt handle is positioned directly above the trigger, and the action is very smooth.

BRX1 outfitted with a ZeroTech Optics Trace LR Hunter 3-18x50mm scope up top and a Rugged Suppressors dual taper flash hider in front to accept Rugged’s silencers.

Like Beretta’s military weapon systems, the BRX1 is designed to be modular and interchangeable, with the ability to accept tolerances within its components. For example, you could swap barrels and bolts between rifles without any issue, though they’re serialized to match the receiver. 

Speaking of the receiver, while the BRX1 looks like a traditional rifle, it has a separate buttstock and forend attached to the receiver, with a removable trigger pack and barrel assembly. Incidentally, the serial number is marked on the receiver, bolt group, bolt head, barrel extension, and barrel for compliance with certain Euro laws, notably zee Germans.

The barrel is hammer forged in its entirety, including the bore, rifling, and chamber. It’s all completed in a single process, ensuring concentricity and more consistency — and thus an accurate barrel. Hammer forged barrels are also known for durability. Moreover, the manufacturing efficiency helps Beretta hit its price point targets. The barrels are medium profile and threaded 5/8×24 with a thread protector included.

The interchangeable barrel is secured to the receiver with V-shaped bedding, using two screws and one metal locking lug. This sort of design is stable and consistent; plus, the cantilever optic mount is attached to the barrel assembly, not the receiver. 

Beretta says removing and reinstalling the barrel will hold zero within one MOA. You could run your BRX1 like a take-down rifle for more compact storage or transport. The barrel screws are captured, so you won’t lose them. A T-handled tool is included; note that the user manual called for a 7/32-inch hex key, but it was actually 6mm.

Trigger pack is easily removed. Five-round magazines are bright orange-colored; above is the prototype Magpul PMAG adapter. Sako TRG Precision Scenar-L OTM and Powerhead Blade copper ammo shown here.

The breech locks up via a rotating bolt, similar to an AR. Standard calibers have eight lugs; magnum calibers have a second row of lugs, like some cannons, for a total of 16. Like an AR, there’s a cam pin to rotate the bolt as it’s cycled, also serving to secure the action during handling. Beretta subjected the BRX1 to the same testing protocols as its military systems, including tests for endurance, over pressure, obstruction, drops, temperature swings, and so on. They reportedly ran through over 100,000 rounds of .300WM in testing.

While the bolt carrier looks a bit bulky and large, it’s like an upper on the receiver below, with the optic rail cantilevered above. It’s cleverly designed, able to be configured with the bolt handle on either side and to eject spent brass to the left or right — independently of each other and without tools. If you want your bolt handle on the right but to eject shells to the left, no problem, fly your freak flag however you’d like.

Additionally, the manual safety is thumb-activated at the aft of the bolt carrier, with three positions. The first blocks the trigger and locks the bolt in place. The middle position blocks the trigger but allows you to work the bolt to load or unload the rifle with complete safety. The final position is free to fire and reload. By design, the safety requires a very deliberate two-part motion of pushing upward and forward. Honestly, it’s a bit awkward.

The BRX1’s optic base is secured to the barrel extension, cantilevered over the receiver. Beretta designed it for three types of interfaces, secured with four screws and one recoil lug. The first is a Picatinny rail, shown on our rifle. Alternately, it can take proprietary quick-release mounts or 17mm Tikka dovetail accessories.

Cleverly-designed straight-pull bolt carrier is easily disassembled. The bolt handle can be swapped, while the bolt head can be flipped 180 degrees to eject brass on either side.

As mentioned before, the traditionally styled furniture is actually two separate components, the buttstock and forend. Borrowing from Beretta’s military products, the polymer texture was crafted for the BRX1 to feel good, be very durable, and to reduce reflectivity. The buttstock takes standard Beretta pads and spacers, with the pistol grip area providing additional traction. There are two traditional sling swivel studs. The BRX1 is initially being offered in black, green, and carbon, with more options to come. 

As for the trigger pack, it’s easily dropped out of the receiver, where you can adjust it with a screwdriver to choose between pull weights of 2, 2.5, or 3.3 pounds. It’s hammer fired, with a single-stage design. 

The proprietary polymer, double-stack magazine holds five rounds and is bright orange, to make it easy to find when dropped, quickly recognizable to detect if a rifle might be loaded, and to look cool. It sits flush and flat, with dual-release tabs to prevent accidentally dropping your mag. If desired, you can also load it from the top while in the gun.

Beretta is making several versions of the magazine to support different calibers, such as magnum calibers (.300WM), long calibers (.30-06), standard calibers (.308, .243), and 6.5CM. A 5.56 magazine could come in the future as well. They even showed us a prototype sleeve to adapt Magpul PMAGs for the BRX1, making it an interesting choice as a defensive or survival rifle.

At launch, caliber options include .308 Win, 6.5CM, and .300 Win Mag. 6.5CM has a twist rate of 1:8; the other two are 1:10. Caliber conversion kits consisting of a barrel, bolt head, and magazine will be offered.

Field stripping the BRX1 is simple. First, remove the magazine and ensure the weapon is unloaded. Retract the bolt and push up on the carrier release button on the left side. Slide it completely out of the gun. You’re done. 

If you want to service the bolt assembly, press down on the bolt carrier lock tooth on top and remove the bolt. At this point, you can slide off the bolt head and turn it 180 degrees to switch ejection from one side to the other. Or you can swap out the bolt if you’re changing calibers.

While the bolt carrier looks a bit bulky and large, it’s like an upper on the receiver below, with the optic rail cantilevered above from the barrel.

You can also depress the bolt handle release on the bottom to slide out the bolt handle and swap it to the opposite side. To remove the trigger pack, you’ll need a screwdriver to lift a latch. This will release it, so you can slide it forward and down, out of the receiver.

It’s a very elegant design.

To shake out the BRX1, Beretta brought us to the FTW Ranch in Texas. FTW offers top-notch training, hunting, accommodations, and meals on 12,000 acres in the rugged Texas hill country near Barksdale. 

They’re passionate about hunting and known for their SAAM (Sportsman All-weather All-Terrain Marksmanship) program to prepare folks for once-in-a-lifetime hunts; their motto is “Because you only have one first shot.” The facility features 35 ranges with targets out to 3,600 yards, dangerous game courses, drive-around courses, moving targets, and more. It’s a Disneyland for shooters and hunters.

The three-position safety selector is a bit awkward, certainly achieving Beretta’s design goal of requiring a deliberate action.

We trained for several days on ethical hunting, ballistics, wind calls, marksmanship, building positions, moving targets, and more. We tested our skills with various drills and competitions on static and moving targets near and far. FTW’s instructors were highly skilled, great coaches, and a lot of fun.

Our rifles were chambered in .308 and fitted with Burris and Steiner optics, and we ran Sako 162-grain Powerhead Blade lead-free copper hunting ammo. Off a bipod in prone, the rifle and ammo turned in excellent results, printing 1 MOA five-shot groups at an average of 2,607 fps, measured on our Garmin Xero C1 Pro. 

Two captured screws and a locking lug secures the interchangeable barrel assembly in the V-shaped bedding.

Later at home, we affixed a ZeroTech Optics Trace LR Hunter 3-18x50mm scope in a Bobro Engineering quick detach mount. The ZeroTech features a first-focal-plane illuminated MRAD reticle, 30mm tube, zero stop, clear glass, and solid aluminum flip caps. Shooting off a bench, we tightened our groups to just under 1 MOA with the hunting ammo and achieved 0.8 MOA groups with Sako TRG Precision 175-grain Scenar-L OTM ammo. 

Our rifle’s trigger was set at 2 pounds, right where we like it. There was a very slight bit of creep and minimal overtravel. 

In practice, the action is indeed smooth and very fast; it becomes second nature once you grow accustomed to it. FTW has dangerous game courses with reactive and moving targets; for example, one simulates a Cape buffalo charging you. The BRX1’s straight-pull action allowed us to quickly and efficiently place multiple rounds on target. The safety, however, feels awkward for quite some time — we’re used to it but still don’t love it.

While on the ranch in Texas, we also took a run at hunting some hogs in the wee hours. We mounted up RIX’s LEAP L6 thermal scope, which has a 640×360-resolution sensor, 50mm objective, and a 1080P OLED display. 

Of note, RIX placed an optical zoom in the ocular lens behind the display so you can zoom in on details — to be clear, this doesn’t provide any more actual resolution but with the excellent OLED display it does help for those with aging Mr. Magoo vision by magnifying your view of the display. Besides that unique feature, it has all the other functions you’d expect in a thermal these days. 

During this trip, it allowed us to easily pick up and identify all the game that we weren’t allowed to shoot, while the piggies unfortunately managed to elude us.

The furniture is very functional and utilitarian, though not overly handsome to our eyes. We appreciated Beretta’s emphasis on fitting the gun to the shooter, clear carryover from their legacy in shotguns. It’d be worth dipping into their catalog of buttstock accessories to customize it to fit. We’d have preferred a more vertical pistol grip, but the stock worked well as it comes. You’ll have more options soon, and we’ve already seen an aftermarket chassis-style stock for the BRX1 introduced in Europe.

Note that the cantilevered top rail above the bolt carrier places the optic higher than you might otherwise expect on a bolt gun. Once you lock down a selection for an optic to live on the BRX1, we’d carefully select a mount to go with it to minimize the height over bore.

Unfortunately, we didn’t locate any hogs, but the RIX LEAP L6 thermal scope revealed many other critters that weren’t on the menu taunting us. Example screen grabs in various image modes; reticle is configurable.

At just over 7 pounds stripped, the BRX1 is reasonably lightweight, though there are even lighter hunting rigs available on the market. On the other hand, it’s very light compared to precision rigs; however, during our time at FTW, the BRX1 acquitted itself very well on several PRS-style stages in spite of this.

This really highlights the versatility of the BRX1 and the flexibility offered by the extensive modularity that Beretta has baked in to the platform. Out of the box, it’s a great general-purpose bolt gun, built on the foundation of a robust and accurate barrel/action with the speed of the unique straight-pull design. 

You could share it amongst family, easily configuring it for lefties or righties. You could swap out barrels for different purposes, while maintaining your zero by leaving dedicated optics on each barrel. You could use it for hunting, target shooting, self-defense and survival, or even competition. While not ideal for matches as-is, it could get you started, and you could purchase a heavier, more purpose-built chassis for it later.

We’re really impressed by the careful thought and consideration Beretta put into the BRX1. It’s a very smart and elegant design that’ll serve its owners well over the long haul. We look forward to it developing into a rich platform with an ecosystem of parts, accessories, and aftermarket support. 

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