Being the gun, gear, and military guy in my friend’s group, I often get tagged in posts about interesting developments in the guns and gear world. Recently I got tagged in a story making the rounds about the SAS adopting a new double barrel rifle from the AR 15 series of rifles. Specifically, the rifle named is the Gilboa Snake. The tale seems to be making the round among several UK-Based tabloids, and further looks like a single poorly put-together story picked up on and then reported by other outlets. Imagine a game of telephone, when the original message wasn’t true to begin with.
The origin seems to be the London News-Times, where the initial coverage appears to be A.I. generated. As you might expect, AI-generated news stories aren’t often great examples of journalism. This particular example shows a whole lot of odd syntax and grammatical errors, which is no small feat considering it’s only about a paragraph long. The Mirror picked up the article and seemed to elaborate even more on the claims. However, their article seems like it too could have been penned by an algorithm, before possibly being edited by an actual human.
The Mirror article is full of claims like the fact the rifle can be fitted with lasers to enable an effective range of 800 meters. Lasers can’t magically add range to a rifle. That would be a matter of ballistics, cartridge, barrel, shooter, and more. Trying to see a rifle-mounted laser at 800 meters would be a feat unto itself. Also, the lasers in the picture are airsoft grade at best.
The Gilboa in question
While the SAS certainly isn’t using a double-barreled AR variant, the weapon does exist. The Gilboa Snake is a very real gun. Gilboa, an Israeli firearm manufacturer, began producing the Snake several years ago. The parent company that owns Gilboa, Silver Shadow, produces a number of firearms for military and police use.
It’s a rather novel firearm that uses two barrels and feeds from two magazines. The 5.56 chambering and overall layout are quite modern. The upper and lower receiver are predictably widened, and the weapons weigh 12 pounds empty. For comparison, the M249 SAW weighs 17 pounds unloaded.
The rifles do come in various barrel lengths. In the American market, the 16-inch barrel was advertised. However, Gilboa’s website shows a short 11.5-inch barrel configuration is also available. It’s claimed that the barrels can be adjusted via independent adjustment screws. Barrel adjustment allows the two barrels to hit the same spot, or at least close enough.
The weapon retails for over two thousand dollars and works more as a novelty than a serious firearm. That said, the Snake is advertised for its potential combative benefits. The main claim to fame seems to be the fact that it allows for an instant double-tap. Each barrel has its own dedicated firing system and its own dedicated trigger.
The claim is that shooters can pull both triggers, instantly delivering two shots on targets before the weapon recoils. Again, according to the claim, this would allow a shooter to quickly change targets because the first target already got two rounds. Also, should one side jam, the other still works.
Why wouldn’t the SAS use the Snake?
One barrel’s great, so why wouldn’t the SAS want instant double-tap technology? Because it’s silly, complicated, and expensive. In a close-range firefight, the ability to quickly dispense lead is valuable, but a skilled shooter can easily fire two well-placed rounds in well under half a second. If you really need a rapid expenditure of ammunition, a fully automatic setting exists.
When two shots are fired, you are facing double the recoil and expending double the ammunition. Instead of missing one shot, you miss with two. The cost of double the recoil means a slower recovery. Additionally, 12 pounds for a rifle is downright silly, and you have to figure the need to carry extra ammunition to feed the fact that it fires two rounds at once.
In a world where ounces equal pounds, a 12-pound rifle had better be a sniper rifle capable of long-range shots. A double-barrel rifle is silly for military operations and outside of the sporting world, silly for most things.
The Gilboa is neat but not practical. I give Gilboa and Silver Shadow credit for making a neat rifle. From an engineering perspective, it’s downright fascinating. I’d love to shoot one at the range but would never tote one for duty, or home defense, or hunting, or really anything outside of fun at the range.
And it doesn’t seem like the SAS would either.