Category Archives: Italy

Beretta USA Factory Tour And A Seriously Stunning Picatinny Rail Concept

Military Arms Channel (MAC) visited the Beretta USA facility in 2015. To be honest, I really didn’t expect anything surprising because three years had passed and Beretta really hasn’t done anything of interest to me for years and years. Well, that changed in this video at the 10:12 mark but let’s not jump ahead.

MAC got a good tour with tons of photos of the M9 service pistol, notably the M9A3 with its Picatinny rail and other updates. You get a chance to see some automation but also considerable handwork. When I watched the video on Beretta’s Gordonne, Val Trompia,Italy, facility, there seemed to be much more automation.

Regardless, it was interesting to watch purely from a manufacturing perspective. Nothing really noteworthy to be completely honest – just another factory … and then the video kept going on and knocked my socks off…

The Picatinny Rail as a Platform

Now this is where I need to point out that my jaw dropped starting at about the 10:12 mark. If you have been around weapons in recent years, you are probably very used to seeing the Picatinny rails on weapons for mounting accessories. Historically, firms would have proprietary means for adding accessories and this would limit your ability to find devices that could be mounted and your ability to move them from weapon to weapon.

MIL-STD-1913 was published by the Picatinny Arsenal in 1995 and finally created a standardized solution. This enabled all the different light, lasers, optics, mounting points and more to have a standard way to connect to the weapon.

So, let’s come back to the video. Beretta realized that the rail can be far more than a dumb mounting point. It can be a backplane that enables both shared power and data. I really had a “holy cow that makes so much sense moment.”

No more different battery types or some full and some not. You can attach to the rail and the device taps in via exposed connectors for power and data services. Beyond the battery, you could, for example, have a laser designator and range finder providing data to an optic and uplink all modularly.

Note the gold colored contacts nestled inside the top of the rail.
Modularr CR123A modular battery pack.
Good photo of contacts on the side rail.
Another view of the top rail.

I like the idea of a hard wired connection vs wireless that can be compromised or outright blocked. As more and more electronics show up on small arms, engineers will need to figure out how to make them both reliable, resistant to electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) and secure and that last part I am referring to information security.

Bottom line, kudo to Beretta. They thought of this over three years ago!! I think we are seeing a future direction for the industry here if it can leap frog from Beretta and get some other big players behind it notably Magpul and other DoD suppliers.

Here’s the Video

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Please note that all images were extracted from the video and remain the property of their respective owner(s).

Factory Tour Video of Beretta’s Gardone, Val Trompia, Italy Facility

This brief video provides an overview of Beretta’s facility in Gardone, Val Trompia,Italy. They have a long history of making firearms there and can produce up to 1,500 per day.

Hammer forged barrel machine.Beretta makes a lot of hammer forged barrels and some broach cut barrels for pistols.

The factory is an interesting blend of very automated manufacturing with a lot of robotics and then also old school hand fitting in the assembly area.

Here’s the Video

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Please note that all photos were extracted from the video and remain the property of their owner(s).

Range Results for the Sabatti .308 Urban Sniper – Most Impressive

In my last post, I discussed mounting the Vortex scope and tailoring a Plano hard case for my .308 Sabatti Urban Sniper.  This last post in the series is about my trip to the range with it.  I went to the range with high hopes – by all accounts it should sub minute of angle, meaning under one inch at a hundred yards.  In short, it delivered.

I’d already shot a few rounds through the rifle at a quarry but couldn’t really shoot for accuracy.  We put about 10 rounds through it.  To shoot it from a bench, I took the Sabatti to the Berrien County Sportsman’s Club’s 100 yard rifle range and set up.  I’d already cleaned it the night before to get ready and it was a fine Michigan fall day to do some shooting.

The rifle is being held by a Caldwell’s “The Rock” rest.  I really like it.  First off it is way heavier than my old Caldwell rest and second it is adjusts very smoothly as you are trying to dial the rifle in.

The buttstock is held by Caldwell’s Universal Rear Shooting Bag and I bought it filled.  They have on that is unfilled if you prefer to use your own material and also determine how full to make it.

For hearing protection, I switched to Honeywell’s Howard Leight electronic earmuffs and absolutely love them.  The reason is simple, my hearing is horrible – I sure wish I knew to protect my hearing when I was younger and am paying for it now.  When I wear traditional earmuffs, I can’t hear anyone talk.  With these, you can turn them on, set whatever amplification you want and they automatically turn off when you shoot.

This means I can hear folks talk around me without needing to pull off the earmuffs.  I have used these extensively this summer with 9mm, .40, 10mm, 5.56, .308 and .338 Lapua Magnum and use them exclusively now.

I bought a carry case to hold them and my shooting glasses that has worked out really well.

Note, because I wear prescription glasses, I wear No Cry brand “Over spec” safety glasses that fit over my glasses.  They fit well and I store them in the above case also.

For targets, I started with a big 18×24 Splatterburst target as I dialed the scope in better and then I broke out some smaller Orange Peel targets with four circles per 8.5×11 page.

I did the sighting in with the balance of the Hornady ammo and then settled in to test with Federal 168 and 175 grain BTHP Match ammo as well as Remington 168 grain BTHP match ammo,

A problem popped up at this point that I did not expect, a slight wind had picked up and was causing the target holder to sway back and forth a bit.  I’m sure it affected results a bit but it’s hard to say how much – I think the results are pretty darned good.

For each type of ammo, I would let the rifle cool down to ambient temperature and then fire two five round groups, let it cool and then the final two groups.  Yes, I intentionally let it heat up and I did not clean the barrel at all during this range session – it was cleaned prior to the session.

Here are the results:

Federal 168 grain BTHP Match

This is the only one where I only fired three groups.  I ran out of Hornady ammo while sighting in, switched to Federal and then set up the targets once the rifle was ready to go.

The three groups are: 1″, 0.54″ and 0.84″.  The odd bullet hole at the top right was from when I was setting up – it was not part of the five shot group.  The average here is 0.793″ — that’s pretty good.

Federal 175gr BTHP Match

Here are four groups:  1.37″, 0.97″, 1.1″ an 0.81″.  The average here is 1.06″.  Both the A and C targets look like I had a flier as part of the group.  In other words, I bet it was me making a mistake vs. the rifle or the ammo.

Remington 168gr BHTP Match

The Remington ammo was shot on two targets because I had an oddball hole from when I was setting up. — The groups are:  0.75″, 0.82″, 0.82″ and 0.76″.  The average was 0.79″ — the winner for smallest group.

I asked Justin Todd, with Italian Firearms Groups (IFG) what he heard about accuracy.  He said my results are very typical and he knows handloaders who are getting 0.15-0.25″ groups.

Tell you what, I really liked the rifle.  It had mild recoil due to the effective brake.  The trigger was really nice at 3-1/8″ pounds and the bolt cycles easily.  I did not have any problems with reliability and the accuracy sure is there.

If you are looking for a solid tactical rifle to engage targets within 400 meters, I really think you ought to give the Sabatti Urban Sniper a serious look and consider pairing it with a good scope like I did with the Vortex PST.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Installing the Vortex PST Gen 2 Scope and Making the Plano Case for the Sabatti Urban Sniper

In my previous post, I gave you my out of the box impressions of the Sabatti .308 Urban Sniper.  In this post, I’ll give you an overview of the scope I went with, mounting it and the Plano hardcase.

A Vortex 3-15×44 FFP PST Gen 2 Scope and PMR Rings

I contacted Travis Boran, a fellow I have grown to respect over the years at Vortex Optics.  I told him about my plans and asked what scope he would recommend for a precision .308 rifle that was to be used within 400 meters.  My first thought was to get another PST scope and Travis recommended that I go with the new 3-15×44 Front Focal Plane (FFP) second generation scope.  PST scopes are built like tanks so that sounded good to me.

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Travis always asks if I want a Minute of Angle (MOA) or Mil-Radian (MRAD) reticle.  I understand the MRAD system and stuck with that.  They have a really cool reticle for the scope known as the EBR-2C.  What I like is that it looks like a Christmas tree and as you get near the bottom it has marks for the offset right there.  Vortex provides an excellent guide on how to use the EMR-2C reticle.

I paired the scope with Vortex Precision Series rings – PMR-30-126.  They are for 30mm tubes and are 1.26″/32mm high.  In other words, they hold the center of the scope 1.26″ inches off the base.   My goal is to get the scope as close to the bore as possible to reduce parallax plus the PMR rings have some advantages:

  1. They are machined as a pair and are held to a 0.0005″ tolerance.  No need to do hand lapping to get a precise fit.
  2. They can be torqued down to spec.  The base clamp screws are 45-50 in/lbs and the ring screws are at 15-18 in/lbs.  The reason so many cheap rings lack torque specs is because they simply threaded soft aluminum and they will strip out.
  3. They are beautifully finished with a Type 3 Hardcoat.

You have so see and use a pair to get an idea how slick these are.  I switched to Vortex precision rings in 2017 and have never regretted it.  I also always use their offset mounts on my AR-optics too.

Mounting the Scope

I placed the Urban Sniper in my Tipton “Best Gun Vise”.  Yeah, the name makes me choke a bit but I actually really like it.  It’s a work stand with an adjustable clamp for the buttstock that lets you adjust the hold on the rifle until the top rail is flat/horizontal per a level.

This is where a photo would really be nice but the two I took turned out to be out of focus.  Let me try and explain what I do.  I use a Wheeler Scope Leveling System.  It is very simple and contains two parts.  The first is a simple flat bottomed level that you put on the base while you adjust the vise until the rifle is level.

Next, to ensure it stays level, you attach the barrel mounted level and true it up with the other level.  At this point, both levels should be saying the same thing – that the rifle is level.  You then remove the little level from the base and install the rings.

To install the rings, I use a Vortex torque driver.  I actually wrote a post up on his model because I am so impressed.  They are  a quality calibrated instrument that performs excellently.

I use the driver to tighten the base down to 45 in/lbs first.  I then set the scope on the rings and install the top parts of the rings /the caps very lightly so I can still move the scope with just a little effort.  I then make sure I have the eye relief right when I bring the rifle up to my shoulder.  I then make sure the rifle is level again based on the Wheeler level on the barrel.

I then put the small level from Wheeler on the top scope elevation knob and adjust the scope left or right until the scope level and the barrel level match.  Once it is good to go, I torque the ring screws down to 15 in/lbs.  Call me paranoid but I target the lower end of the spec on all of the screws – base clamp and caps.  I’ve not had a set shoot loose yet doing this and I’ve done this on 5.56, .308 and .338LM rifles.

In this next photo you can see the scope installed with the Vortex Defender lens caps.  You can also see that my shop really needs a good cleaning as I have a ton of junk on my bench.

Plano All Weather Case – Model 108180

Egg crate foam requires no fitting but I really do not trust it to protect a heavy precision rifle.  I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have dropped a case with the egg crate style foam and then found the rifle and other accessories had all shifted/slammed down in the direction of the drop.  Thus, I don’t use it any longer instead opting for custom fitted hard cases.

I go back and forth on two styles – foam that requires cutting or pluckable.  To be honest, I think the foam that requires cutting (or melting if you have a hot wire system which I do) is the best.  Pluckable foam is pre-scored to be pulled, or plucked, out to fit the contents of the case.  The problem with it is that even if you use a spray adhesive to secure it to the bottom of the case, it wears at the top as the weapon and accessories hit the edges when they are placed in the case.  You can’t make it as tight fitting as a result.  On the plus side, a pluckable case is easy and fast to do.

With that said, I’ve been using Plano cases for the last few years.  They are less expensive than a Pelican case and, if you want my honest opinion, Plano has really upped their game in terms of turning out some very rugged cases.

I purchased a Plano All Weather model 108180 in green.  The green was partly to pay homage to the original green hardcase the rifle came in from Sabatti and also to help me visually spot it quickly.  When you have a bunch of black cases, life can get interesting.

External case dimensions are:  54.625″ x 15,5″ x 6″

Interior case dimensions are:  51.5″ x 12.63″ x 5.25″

The All Weather series have pluckable foam, a gasket to help keep out water, and wheels on one end for pulling it.

These are solid cases.  My intent in explaining the shortcomings of pluckable foam was for you to know the pro and the con.  You’ll note that I did buy this case for this rifle — end of the day, it is a quick way to build a pretty good case to protect your rifle and scope.

Next Up Was to Fit the Plano Case

Okay, most pluckable foam cases have three layers – an egg crate top, a pluckable middle and a foam bottom.  We will be working on the middle piece and do note you can order replacement foam should you ever need to.

I lay things out that I want in the case in a mirror image.  I really want the scope to be located at the top by the carry handle vs. down by the ground.  The rationale is that the scope will take less stress this was as we usually set a case down on the hinged “bottom” and not on the top with the handle.

I also like to have a spare magazine, the bipod, ammo and space for any special tools, batteries for the scope, etc.  My first aim in the layout is to try and keep the rifle as far away from the sides as I can.  As you can see in this case, the fit is pretty close and I don’t have as much spare room as I would like at the top of the scope but I still think it will be protected.

Again, this is a mirror layout so that I can pluck out the foam and not worry about the permanent marker lines being left behind.  I needed to remember the wheel cutouts were there also.

So once you have your lines drawn, you start pulling the scored little rectangular sections out.  I use a small razor blade box cutter on any that don’t want to pull apart the way I want them to.

I always draw my lines and then pluck tight.  You can always remove more if you need to.  You need to test your fit several times to make sure you have it just right.

I then take the insert outside and carefully make sure I spray adhesive on the side that is going down.  Notice how I point that out!  Guess who did the wrong side once years ago 🙂

I spray a heavy coat of adhesive on the insert and the parts of the lower piece that will not be exposed.  Note that I use 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive.  It was recommended to me years ago and I have used it ever since to bond case foams together.

If you need to remove overspray, use mineral spirits, Goo Gone, turpentine, etc. before it dries.  I wear nitrile gloves when spraying to avoid getting my hands sticky.

Follow the recommendations on the can.  You want to let the stuff get tacky then carefully reinsert the foam into the case.  Watch the orientation!! Don’t put it in facing the wrong way.  Also, don’t worry about adhesive getting in the wrong place – just clean it up as mentioned above.  The stuff sets quickly but takes a while to cure.

Let it dry overnight or longer if cooler.  I can pretty much guarantee you will have some stick on your rifle, etc.  If you do, it will come off with the aforementioned solvents plus stuff like penetrating oil, etc.  I would not put oil on the foam so I didn’t mention it earlier.

So that’s it.  Now I bet you are wondering how it shoots.  It’s very impressive and we’ll talk about that in the next post.

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First Impressions of the Sabatti Urban Sniper Out of The Box

This is the second post in the series about the .308 caliber Sabatti Urban Sniper.  In the first post, I provided a bit of history about Sabatti and the Italian Firearms Group (IFG) plus why I was intrigued by the rifle and its claim of sub-MOA accuracy with the Multi Radial Rifling (MRR).  In this post I am going to pick up with the rifle being delivered to my FFL, Scott Igert of Modern Antique Firearms.

The rifle was quite striking.  I immediately liked the heft, balance and features.  It’s 41-3/4″ including the removable brake.  Weight of the empty rifle is about 8-3/4 pounds.

It comes with the green hardcase with eggshell style foam interior that you see in the photos.  Note it is really just for shipping as there isn’t room for an optic.  Not a big deal but worth noting.  I think most guys will want to get a better case anyways – I always make a case for my precision rifles to protect them and their optics better plus carry whatever accessories I want securely.

Let’s start our review at the back

The glass reinforced nylon stock caught my eye right away.  I like polymer stocks and this is very well executed.  There is a nice recoil pad and then two half-inch spacers that you can remove if so desired.    The cheek piece allows for tall scopes.  I found that I did not need to adjust it.  I would recommend applying Vibra-Tite 213 VC-3  to these so they don’t shoot loose under recoil (Vibra-Tite stays flexible/gummy so it can be reused vs. many thread lockers being one time use).

Back to the stock, there is a comfortable hook for the supporting hand and the pistol grip is quite comfortable for me.  Note, I wear XL sized gloves.  Someone with small hands might find it too big.  My bet is that if you wear at least a medium glove you will be ok.

Now, let’s look at the middle

On top, the rifle comes with a Picatinny optics rail, which is great.  The bolt has an oversize screw on knob.  The trigger is crisp with very little travel.  I used a Lyman digital trigger gauge and 15 consecutive pulls and it averaged about 3-1/8 pounds.  The bolt release is on the other side and is a small lever you actuate to remove the bolt.

The magazine is an AICS pattern and a 10 round unit comes with the rifle.  The magazine release is on the front of the trigger guard.  I found it a bit awkward at first but got used to it.

You’ll note the lower Picatinny rail at the front ready for a bipod.

Let’s look at the front

As you can see, it has a short thick bull barrel — it is 20.47″ (510mm) long and  measures .86″ (22mm) at the muzzle.  It has 1:11.5 twist rate and you can just make out the “MRR” logo for Multi Radial Rifling on the barrel.

I immediately had high expectations of it!  The barrel is threaded 5/8″-24 and comes with a muzzle nut protector you can install if you would rather not have the brake.  Let me jump ahead a bit, the weight and the brake really do a great job of controlling the .308’s recoil.

Last comment, note the front swing swivel that is out of the way of the rail.  I thought that was a nice touch.

The Verdict?

I was very impressed to say the least.  This rifle can be found on Gun Broker and other websites for under $1,200 and has an impressive list of features for the price.

The rifle needed a scope and I had a brand new Vortex PST Gen II all lined up for it and a Plano hard case.   I’ll cover them in my next blog post.

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The Remarkable Sabatti Urban Sniper – An Affordable Compact Sub-MOA Rifle

It’s interesting that a 400+ year old Italian firearms company is relatively unknown in the United States.  In the early 1700s, Mr. Ludovico Sabatti was making flint lock pistols and barrels.  Subsequent generations developed specialized barrel making capabilities as well as other parts.  It’s worth noting this history – they have been making barrels for four hundred years!!

Following WWII, Antonio Sabatti formed a partnershp with Giuseppe Tanfoglio to make hunting arms and began to build semi-automatic pistols in 1956.  By 1960, the two parted ways and the children of Antonio Sabatti formed what would become Sabatti today based in Trompia, Italy.

Today, Sabatti makes a wide range of firearms for target shooting, hunting. upland game and competition plus some niche tactical rifles including the Urban Sniper that will be covered in this post.

Italian Firearms Group

Of course, when you have a foreign manufacturer such as Sabatti, you need an importer and that’s where the Italian Firearms Group (IFG) enters into the picture.  IFG was created in 2014 and represents four respected Italian gunmakers – F.A.I.R, Sabatti, Pedersoli and FT Italia.

I spoke with Justin Dodd, IFG’s Chief of Operations about their philosophy.  He related to be that the US partners came out of the oil field service industry where customer service meant everything.  It is critical to them to bring “…unprecedented levels of customer service to this industry – something we felt the industry as a whole was lacking.”  I think most of us can readily agree with Justin on that – the US firearms industry is not known for great customer service in  general.

I asked him what brought Sabatti to their attention.  It turns out that Sabatti and the other three gun makers listed above were looking to create a sales, service and support hub in the USA.  For Justin personally, the double express rifles in 450/400, 450, 470 and 500 NE were the initial draw.

Of course, I had to ask Justin why the Sabatti name was not better known in the US.  His reply struck me as very pragmatic – “The past few years have been spent making sure the guns met with the USA’s standards.  Historically, they have done quite well with their rifles in Europe but the features on those rifles did not sit well with the US consumer.  For example, we started threading muzzles, shortening barrels, adding more US styled features like bolt knobs, sling swivel cups, and switching to the new bottom metal / magazine system.    Now that the guns are where we want them, the marketing push will begin.”

The Urban Sniper

What caught my eye was a product announcement for their Urban Sniper rifle.  It is a relatively compact rifle at 41-3/4″ overall, is chambered in .308 and 6.5 Creedmor and claimed sub-MOA accuracy from a 20″ (510mm) barrel.  They claimed to be using a proprietary rifling method known as “Multi Radial Rifling” (MRR).  Sabatti also said it was intended for use within 400mm.

My very next thought was “what the heck is MRR”?  So I started digging on the WWW and found numerous posts and attempts at explaining it.  Justin finally helped me sort it out – imagine polygonal rifling but without the points – that gives you an idea now let’s look at a cross-section of a barrel in a photo Justin sent me:

Sabatti also produced a PDF explaining MRR and how to care for it.  Their claims are pretty big.  Sabatti says that MRR enables:


To make a long story short, I bought an Urban Sniper in .308 because I have quite a bit of .308 match ammo to try it out including rounds from Federal and Remington.

A tad over a week later it arrived and in typical George (me) fashion, I got derailed and the rifle had to sit until I could get to it.  In the next post, I’ll tell you more about the rifle and my impressions when I took it out of the box.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.