After failing to acquire a license to produce the M16 rifle, Beretta worked with SIG from 1963 through 1968 to develop 5.56mm infantry rifles. When the companies parted ways, SIG went on to produce the SIG-540 and Beretta developed the AR-70. It was introduced on the market in 1972, and was adopted by the militaries of Jordan and Malaysia, as well as Italian special forces units (the Italian Army at large would adopt the 70/90 version in 1990).
The AR-70 takes several cues from the AK series of rifles, including the rock-in magazine with large rear paddle release and a two lug rotating bolt. In a somewhat unorthodox choice, the rifle uses a coil spring in tension for its mainspring, located around the gas piston and in front of the bolt. While this would likely cause heat-related problems in a light machine gun, it appears to have been acceptable in a rifle, as the improved 70/90 version maintain the same system. It does also allow simple use of folding or collapsing stocks, as there are no working parts in the stock.
Only a relatively small number of commercial AR70/223 rifles came into the United States in the 1980s, and they are a relatively unknown member of the black rifle family.
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