Italy put the U.S.-made M1 Garand to good use after World War II to protect her borders, but in the late 1950s decided to retire the aging war horse. In 1959, Italian firm, Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta came up with a better, 7.62x51mm NATO solution. Personally, I prefer the .30-06 to the .308.

But the decision was not mine - it was Italy's, with a little help from NATO.

So Beretta whipped up an Italian gun reminiscent of the M1 - the BM59. In fact, the select-fire BM59 is an M1 rechambered for NATO 7.62x51mm. The differences: the BM59 has a removable, 20-round magazine, a flash suppressor that doubles as a grenade launcher and a folding bipod.

And the BM59 is fully-automatic. Problem solved!

The BM59 served Italian armed forces until the 1970s, when it was decided they needed a new, standard issue rifle. Enter the Beretta AR (Assault Rifle) 70/90 chambered in 5.56mm, a.k.a., .223.

I love 'em all - Russian, U.S., Israeli and German auto loaders - and of course, the Italian guns.

Most anything with the Beretta label on it is alright in my book - from the Model 12 and Model 1938 submachineguns to fine Beretta shotguns and reliable pistols - up to and including assault rifles.

Like the Beretta AR70/90.

The AR70 came in Standard Assault Rifle, a couple carbine versions and a light machinegun. Several years and modifications later, in 1990, Beretta introduced their new and improved AR70 - thus the Beretta AR70/90, a gas-operated, magazine-fed, select fire (single-shot, 3-round burst and full auto) assault gun in 5.56x45mm M193 (AR70/223) and 5.56x45mm NATO (AR70/90).

Like most modern assault rifles, the Beretta AR70/90 comes in various forms and missions. It is capable of being fitted for rifle grenades (with a barrel adapter) and a fixed plastic or folding metal stock. Its receiver consists of an upper and lower hinged half, simplifying stripping and maintenance.

The AR70/90 uses M16-type, STANAG 30-round magazines and a 100-round drum magazine.

Depending on the version and the degree with which the gun has been accessorized, the AR70/90 weighs about 8 1/2 pounds. It measures (again, depending on variant) 39 inches long with a 17-inch barrel. Utilizing a hooded front blade and rear flip-up sights, the AR70/90 has an effective range of a quarter-mile (400-plus meters) and has a muzzle velocity greater than 3,000 feet per second.

The top of the receiver has a Picatinny-type rail for the range of lighting and optical accessories.

The gun's safety/selector switch is ambidextrous or located on the right side of the receiver.

The Beretta AR70/90 - an assault rifle fielded/tested on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Coming soon - to a war near you!