Testing the Straight-Pull Beretta BRX1 Bolt-Action Rifle

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There’s an interesting dichotomy that creeps up when discussing bolt-action rifles. While we fully understand that they should be accurate—precise if you will, we rarely speak of them in terms of speed, unless we’re entertaining the ridiculous debate about right-handed bolt actions for left-handed shooters supposedly being “faster.” This is incorrect and I’ll handle this at a later time. But again, speed is typically not part of the bolt/manual-action rifle discussion, while it is indeed a necessary attribute whether we are talking about target shooting or hunting.

Speeding up bolt manipulation can come in a couple of ways: shooter actuation or in the rifle design. In the case of Beretta’s BRX1, it comes from the latter thanks to a straight-pull design that seems to be done very well. Several of us took part in testing the BRX1 at FTW Ranch, and even during our off-the-record discussions between us, we all felt like Beretta made a solid run with this design. 

I don’t know how you feel about straight-pull rifles. Actually, I don’t know how I feel about them if I’m being honest. I don’t love them and I don’t dislike them. It just “is” and if I showed up to shoot or more importantly hunt, and a straight-pull rifle was the tool (assuming was a solid design), I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it. In fact, I can see how this design could lend to faster bolt manipulation under the pressures of hunting when a rapid follow-up shot might be needed.

A First Of Firsts

In its entirety, the BRX1 is a solid rifle. It’s designed and built in Italy, which is a first for a Beretta. It’s not built by the Sako/Tikka arm of the company. Extensive research and effort was dispensed upon the BRX1, and it has some pretty unique features.

While offered in several calibers from 6.5 Creedmoor to .300 Win Mag, the rifle makeup is the same: eight-lug rotation bold that equates to 16 lugs when fully engaged, single-stage trigger, quick-change cold hammer forged barrel, and fully ambidextrous. It also is guaranteed to shoot under MOA. The samples we tested were chambered in .308.

The barrel and bolt are interchangeable, meaning caliber swaps are possible, allowing the user mission-specific capability. The BRX1 features a front-receiver extension, and on that extension is the Picatinny rail for scope mounting. Think of the pic rail as a permanent fixture and the optic need not be removed to do barrel swap or maintenance. 

Ambidextrous Platform

The BRX1 is a solid choice for right- and left-handed shooters thanks to a bolt handle that can be moved to either side and ejection that can do the same by removing and rotating the bolt. This can be done with simple tools such as an empty case or bullet. You can have right bolt with right or left ejection, or left bolt with left or right ejection. The three-position safety, located on the back of the bolt (think of it as a tang safety) is fully ambidextrous. That said, its function and actuation are a bit different and take some practice to get used to.

The trigger is adjustable as well and is a drop-in unit. I’m a fan of single-stage triggers, and overall the BRX1 unit is excellent. We fired a lot of rounds during the event at distances out to 800 yards, and I don’t recall wishing the trigger were different. The weight adjustments of the trigger are 2.1, 2.6, and 3.3 pounds, which is adequate for a hunting rifle like the BRX1.

The stock of the BRX1 is sleek and modern looking, constructed of what they call high-performance polymer. Comb height is not adjustable, while LOP is, as well as the grip, thanks to some built in modularity and available accessories.

While it may seem like a small thing, we all loved that Beretta has a removable five-round magazine and in a stroke of genius they made it in a bright fluorescent orange color. So, just in case you drop your mag by accident while in the field, it should be more and easy to see. Solid move, Beretta.

Multi-Use Beretta BRX1 System

While the BRX1 is technically a hunting rifle, we did not necessarily treat it as such while at FTW. We had several opportunities to push it through longer strings of fire out to distances that likely shouldn’t be considered, and it was not only capable but repeatable with many attendees shooting to distances they never had. Beretta claims to have tested the BRX1 to NATO standards in water, cold temps, and destructive testing. So it should remain a solid rifle for a long time. In fact I might consider this a near-all-arounder rifle if you want to do some casual target shooting from time to time just to blow off some steam. The performance won’t disappoint, so you need not limit it to hunting use only.

After two days of heavy shooting and running different drills I actually developed some appreciation of the BRX1. I don’t have any complaints other than the safety, which takes several actuations to get used to. Beyond that it is a rifle, and a modern rifle that quickly morphs into a useful tool and is no doubt more capable than 99% of the users. The ambidextrous design, and modularity of the trigger, grips, bolt and barrels, shows that Beretta took their task seriously. It’s their first true Beretta rifle, built by Beretta, and they seem to have upheld their reputation for making quality firearms.

For more info, visit beretta.com.

Beretta BRX1 Black Specs

  • Type: Bolt-action straight pull
  • Caliber: .308 Winchester
  • Weight: 7.3 pounds
  • Length: 43 inches
  • Barrel: 22-inch Cold Hammer Forged, 1:8 threaded
  • Trigger: Proprietary drop-in, adjustable
  • Grip: Modular
  • Stock: Polymer
  • Capacity: 5
  • MSRP: $1,599

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