Is it possible to have too much gun? Some might say the Barrett .50 caliber is too much gun. But I guess it just depends on how you intend to use it. Maybe if your only place to shoot is 50 yards at an indoor range, a Barrett is too much. So I guess it’s subjective.
Gimmick or Game-Changer: Testing the Gilboa Snake
No one outside of an anti-gun organization would say an AR chambered in .223 is too much. But would this hold true if said AR had two barrels, two working actions, two triggers and two magwells? Typing that seems nonsensical but it is a real thing. While at first glance your “overboard” warning light may start to flash, the more time you spend with the Gilboa (Silver-Shadow) Snake, the more you realize it may be more useful than your eyeballs and tactical practicality (tacticality) will allow you to think.
Twice The Bite
Imagine taking two AR-15s, side by side, and morphing them together into one carbine—that’s basically what the Snake is. The receiver is one massive polymer block that is some 2.3 inches in width. Sounds bad huh? But oddly, it’s not ugly in any way. It’s just odd. The lower (and upper) receiver is nice looking with attractive lines and solid aesthetic appeal. They didn’t simply make it big enough to get the job done and then abandon the necessary accompanying aesthetics.
The lower features two magwells, side by side, and everything else is basically typical AR platform-style controls and accoutrements. There is one mag release, which drops both mags simultaneously. The two metal magazines that come with the Snake are cinched together so you can insert them at the same time, or you can use the magazines of your choice and insert them individually. I used Pmags with flawless function.
The safety is your standard single-sided version, and it features a modified and beefed-up, single charging handle that with some good effort cycles both carrier groups at the same time. There are two bolt catch/release levers on either side of the action which is rather normal on many modern lowers. Each bolt catch actuates the corresponding carrier group.
Dual Everything Essentially
The upper receivers are combined with ejection ports on the left and right sides. They also feature brass deflectors on either side. There are no dust covers or forward assist. A pic rail runs directly down the center of the receiver and mates up with the forend, which is wide as well because it houses the two pencil-profiled barrels. This forend is shaped well and feels good in the hands despite its size. M-Lok attachment points adorn the forend, and a pic rail runs the length of it at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions.
The dual barrels are 16-inch, chrome-lined versions with a 1-in-7 twist. The barrels can be adjusted via screws at the front end of the forend to dial in the point-of-impact of both barrels. Once you get those on the relative same plain, then you adjust your optic. The adjustment points are labeled with the right barrel adjusting vertically while the left barrel adjusts horizontally. Each features a lock adjustment to keep the barrel in place.
With two barrels come two gas systems which are carbine length as well as two buffers and buffer tubes that are housed in a stock that is considerably wider than the standard AR. This being the case, it is very comfortable and doesn’t seem out of place for what the gun is. It is non adjustable in its length, but the length-of-pull is fairly neutral. It’s interesting to find that all the parts of the Gilboa are standard AR type and being Israeli made, they are mil spec in their nature with mil spec trigger groups and properly staked gas keys.
The Gilboa Snake operates as two independent actions within one receiver. This keeps it under the definition of a semi automatic/ repeating firearm. Thus it has two triggers instead of one. Apparently there is a military version that features one trigger. Being that it operates separately on each side, that means you can shoot either the left or right side by pressing the corresponding trigger. Or you can shoot them at the same time assuming you have mitts large enough and fingers long enough to do so consistently. My fingers are a bit short so firing both side simultaneously proved to be challenging. But you could run one side dry then proceed with the other side if you really wanted to. With this being the case, if you have a malfunction on one side of the weapon, you can continue to run the other side.
It’s inevitable that many will raise the practicality of such a weapon, and that may be valid. It is 11 pounds empty, so it’s not light. It will require a bit more training just to get used to having two sides to run and the dual trigger can be challenging if you want to fire them at the same time.
But let’s assume some things. Let’s assume it will run without issue like many quality AR platforms do and assume it’s fairly accurate, which I have no reason to doubt. Beyond these things, there really isn’t any viable issue.
Let’s look at it in its simplest form given the other things equal—the operator can send two rounds simultaneously with effectiveness. Two rounds while pressing the trigger once. Two wound channels. You do the math on that. It doesn’t feel unwieldy at all and the weight seems right for what it is. I’m having difficulty faulting the Snake and classifying it as a novelty. It’s simply different from what we are used to as American shooters. The Israelis are known to push the envelope and execute “out-of-the-box” innovation better than anyone else. I don’t have to like the idea of it, but it works.
To truly wrap your head around the Gilboa you must shoot it, and it provides any array of possibilities. Which side and when? And do I load the same ammo in both mags or do I reserve one magazine for a specific type of ammo? I, of course, wondered how it would fair on a bipod with a magnified optic so I went with a LPVO from Vortex.
Before I could do any accuracy testing, I had to zero the Gilboa Snake, which is a process in and of itself. Because of the two barrels it has a collimator at the very front end of the handguard. There are two adjustment screws and two locking screws. The right barrel has a vertical adjustment while the left barrel as horizontal adjustment. It’s necessary to complete three steps for successful zeroing.
First, you must get a rough zero with the attached optic. I used the horizontal point impact with the right barrel to establish that. Then I adjusted the left barrel point-of-aim to coincide correctly at 25 meters per the instructions. Then I matched the right barrel’s vertical point-of-impact to the left. Once that was done, it required a little fine tuning to get the everything as perfect as it was going to get, and I made slight barrel adjustments at 100 yards.
From an accuracy standpoint I would want such a weapon to place rounds within two inches at 100 yards. This isn’t a precision rig, it’s a “get more bullets downrange” type of rig and if it can do so without mimicking a shotgun, then I’m happy. Well, needless to say the Snake did just that. At 100 yards using Federal 55 grain FMG, I shot a group with a less than two-inch spread by firing each side of the Snake independently but using the same point of aim. I was actually quite impressed.
Blastin’ With 2 Barrels
I then fired both sides simultaneously, a feat that was not easy while trying to maintain great precision. The mil-spec triggers are beyond heavy and having to press both at the same time took some serious concentration. But I was able to do so, and while there is a lot going on with the gun during “double fire,” it still printed a grouping the width of an ISPC A zone. It looked like a good shotgun pattern with tiny pellets. I was very pleased and honestly a bit shocked at how consistent it shot with both barrels barking and bucking not to mention it’s very smooth feel—no doubt because of the heft.
I finished up with some up-close work from 15 to 20 yards pumping doubles from each trigger individually then simultaneously, and the noticed effects were somewhat concerning in the best of ways. The rounds printed right up the middle of the target in neat clusters. I had some vertical stringing, no doubt due to forgetting about my offset coupled with the weight of the gun and focusing on trying to press both triggers perfectly at the same time. Make no mistake, with enough time on the Gilboa Snake, you will become very proficient and if you swap out the triggers form something lighter and faster, you could have something devastating on the receiving end.
So where does that leave this beast-like novelty? I won’t say it’s practical. In fact, I don’t know what a practical firearm is anymore. I’d say a stock gun with OEM goodies is practical if not boring, regardless of the platform. But we always end up tricking our guns out in some fashion with some personal performance justification and moving beyond practicality.
I’ll just say the Gilboa Snake is a “different” sort of carbine. It’s heavy and has a learning curve of its own. But it’s high quality, uses standard AR-15 parts and ran like a sewing machine the entire time. It was quite a pleasure to shoot no matter how I did it. I never would have imagined. Somewhere, someone is going to commit to completely understanding and mastering the platform, and that isn’t a difficult task at all. It simply requires some repetition. And once they do, they will possess the ability to put a devastating kind of firepower downrange that few carbines can. I would not want to be on the opposing end.
The Gilboa Snake double barrel AR. Different? Absolutely. A gimmick? Absolutely not. For more information, visit gilboa-rifle.silver-shadow.com.
SPECIFICATIONS: Silver Shadow Gilboa Snake
- Caliber: .223 Remington
- Barrels: Two 16-inch, chrome-lined 1-in-7 twist
- OA length: 35.6 inches
- Weight: 10.8 pounds
- Stock: Fixed proprietary
- Grip: FAB Defense AG-43
- Sights: N/A
- Action: Direct impingement semi-auto double barrel
- Finish: Black anodize
- Capacity: 30+1(x2)
- MSRP: $2,500
This article originally appeared in the February-March 2022 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStore.com.