Gilboa Snake: two barrels better than one

Paolo Valpolini

First Eurosatory appearance for Silver Shadow’s Gilboa Snake, the 5.56 x 45 mm rifle which most exotic characteristic is definitely that of having two side-by-side barrels. In fact calling it “a” rifle might be incorrect, as in fact the weapon is made of two rifles, the only common parts being the charging handle, the magazine catch and the safety lever. It uses a typical M4 firing mechanism, and is thus operated by direct gas impingement, aluminium and polymers being used whenever possible to keep the weight low; aluminium is used in the free-float quad-rail hand guard and in the upper receiver, while polymer is employed in the lower receiver and in the stock. The idea of Silver Shadow is to exploit the two rounds hitting the target with a minimal split to cope with armoured glass as well as with the toughest body armour, in a similar way done by a tandem warhead against reactive armour. The two side-by-side triggers are not perfectly aligned, in order to generate the slight delay required, the barrels being 3 cm apart from the bore centre.

The grouping on target is much tighter than that obtainable with an assault rifle shooting in full automatic mode, and the delay on the target is much smaller than that obtainable with the cyclic rate of fire of a conventional 5.56 mm assault rifle. The shooter can however decide to fire only with the right or left gun when double tap is not required. The Gilboa Snake works only in semi-auto mode, the two standard 30-rounds magazines being kept together by a coupler accessory. A breacher/muzzle brake allows reducing recoil while increasing stability. The Bilboa Snake is manufactured in Israel as well as in the USA; in Israel the weapon is built with two 11.5-inch (292 mm) chrome-lined barrels, while in the US barrels are 16-inch (406 mm) long. With the shorter barrel the rifle weighs 4.5 kg without the magazines and is 790 mm long and 92 mm wide. According to Silver Shadow various customers have already ordered the weapon in the US, however no more information on governmental orders were provided.

The Israeli company manufactures the Gilboa range of rifles in different models, with 16, 11.5 and 7.5-inch barrels in 5.56 mm calibre, a DMR model with an 18-inch heavy match barrel, a silenced .300 Blackout version with a 9.5-inch barrel, and a 7.62×39 mm version with 7, 11.5 and 14.5-inch barrels, a submachine gun in 9×19 mm being also available.