Exclusively for Shooting Times, Mark Ripley is among the first to get his hands on Beretta's debut hunting rifle - and he isn't disappointed
Beretta is well known for its shotguns, pistols and military arms, having produced firearms since 1526. But other than the Sako brand under the Beretta umbrella, sporting rifles are something of a new direction for the company, so I was keen to see how its vast firearms experience would cross over into a hunting rifle. On a recent visit to the Beretta factory in Italy, I was introduced to the rifle that it has been painstakingly developing — the Beretta BRX1. (Read our tips for what to wear stalking.)
My first impression was, “Oh, a straight- pull rifle… it looks a bit like a Blaser”. But there’s actually a lot more to this rifle than first meets the eye.
The more I learned about it, the more I realised that Beretta has thought of everything. Not only that, but it has developed and tested it way beyond what you might have expected.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Beretta
- Model BRX1
- Type Straight pull
- Overall length 1,095mm to 1,145mm (43.1in to 45in) depending on calibre
- Barrel length: 570mm to 620mm (22.4in to 24.4in) depending on calibre
- Calibre .308, .30-06 and .300 Win Mag
- Finish Blued metalwork and polymer
- Weight 3.3kg (7lb 4oz)
- Magazine Double stack, five round, detachable
- Stock Polymer composite
- Trigger Adjustable, single stage
- Safety Three position
- Sights Various mounting options
- Importer GMK, 01489 579999
Beretta BRX1 In depth
Despite its sharp lines and polymer composite stock, it is clear when handling the BRX1 that this rifle wasn’t solely designed for its looks — it has highly functionality too.
The BRX1 feels extremely well balanced and very pointable, no doubt benefiting from Beretta’s manufacturing abilities in the shotgun market. But what makes it any better than other straight-pull rifles?
First, let’s look at the rifle from the stock forward. The BRX1 uses a highly researched polymer composite stock that has gone through extreme weather testing, which Beretta uses for all its military arms. It is adjustable for length of pull by use of Beretta’s shotgun spacer inserts and benefits from grippy surface areas on the stock and fore-end to maintain a firm hold on the rifle in all conditions. An extra-long pistol grip allows for improved handling.
The single-stage trigger unit can be dropped out of the stock with a flathead screwdriver or similar tool for routine cleaning, as well as being easily set for trigger-pull weight by sliding a small switch on the side of the trigger unit’s housing. Trigger weight can be adjusted to three settings between 900g and 1,500g.
Bolt and barrel
Moving up, the bolt sits at 45 degrees directly above the trigger, allowing for faster and more instinctive reloading. This is a feature that I really like as a left-handed shooter. The bolt handle can be easily removed from the action and reversed to the opposite side of the rifle using nothing more than the tip of a pen to push down a small release button. The process takes about a minute and you can rotate the bolt head so the case is ejected to the opposite side with no additional tools.
The bolt itself boasts an impressive eight-lug locking feature and an even more impressive 16 lugs on the magnum calibres. There are three interchangeble calibres available — .308, .30-06 and .300 Win Mag — with others due to be released next year.
The barrels are easily removed with two screws and then swapped for the calibre of choice, along with a change of bolt head and magazine to suit.
The BRX1 has been put through exhaustive safety tests, including overpressure testing the barrel by obstruction and overcharged cases as well as drop tests to be sure it won’t accidentally discharge — all of which it passed with ease.
Moving on to the barrel, this is a cold hammer-forged Sporter-style profile measuring 570mm to 620mm, depending on calibre, and supplied with a M14 thread.
The magazine is a polymer-made double-stack design that sits flush with the stock, holding five rounds and secured by a double-button release either side of the stock, highlighted in orange. The rifle can also be loaded from above as you would a floorplate-style bolt action, making it easy to keep the magazine topped up in a hunting situation.
Weight has clearly been thought about. The Beretta tips the scales at 3.3kg, unscoped and unloaded, making for a very comfortable weight to carry while retaining good handling characteristics. The shortest version is only 1,095mm with a 365mm length of pull.
If I had to find a niggle, it would be the safety. You need to slightly depress it at the same time as sliding it forward and it’s a little stiff. However, the switch is slightly oversized, making it easier to locate even when wearing gloves. The safety has three positions, the first locking the bolt and the trigger, the second only the trigger, then the third position to fire.
Optics are easily mounted thanks to a choice of Picatinny rail, Tikka 17mm dovetail or Beretta’s quick-detachable interface options.
Taking the Beretta BRX1 out on steel targets, I was able to shoot tight sub-MOA (minute of angle) groups on a 100-yard target with the rifle performing 100% reliably, even when the action was dirty. I followed this up with some long-range shooting on the hill. Again it proved very capable, scoring consistent hits on steel out to the maximum tested range of 600 yards.
Despite some rough handling in tough conditions, the BRX1 proved faultless in every aspect, coming through with good accuracy and reliable performance. The fact that Beretta has designed this rifle to military standards was quite apparent in the field. Assured of the rifle’s performance, I turned my attention to the local roe population. After a short stalk, I was able to close in on a nice buck at around 150m. The rifle seemed to favour 110-gr Federal ammunition and I only required a single round to drop the buck with a perfectly placed chest shot. With the rifle being so fast handling, I was able to chamber another round ready for a follow-up shot before the sound of the first shot died out. Beretta has done a superb job of building a rifle designed for stalking, but adaptable enough or it to feel at home in other environments too.
Using it in the field as both a target and stalking rifle, I really fell in love with it, finding it so comfortable to shoot with exceptional accuracy, particularly with the Federal 110-gr ammunition. The Beretta BRX1 will retail at only £1,500, which is a real market stealer, especially for a rifle that is likely to shoot better and offer more features than rifles at twice the price.
- Accuracy Very impressive accuracy 19/20
- Handling Well balanced and pointable 19/20
- Trigger Slight creep but easily adjustable 17/20
- Stock Grippy and well fitting 19/20
- Value Extremely good value for money 20/20
- Overall score A very versatile, well-made rifle 94/100
Comfortable to shoot with exceptional accuracy