When I first saw the Gilboa Snake, I had… questions. Like, how the hell does the thing work? And it turns out that thanks to the ATF, there are actually two versions now going into production: a single trigger “machine gun” design and a split trigger civilian version. But the main difference between the two models isn’t actually the trigger at all, but the gas system . . .
The original design used a pretty interesting firing mechanism. The single trigger doesn’t fire both barrels — it’s only connected to the hammer on the left barrel.
The idea is that the trigger sets off the round on the left side, and the gun uses the gas system from that barrel to actuate the sear on the right barrel. So while you might think that both barrels would fire simultaneously, in reality bullet #1 has already left the barrel by the time the hammer for barrel #2 contacts the firing pin. According to the designers they engineered it that way so the first bullet “breaks up” any barriers (like glass) and allows the second bullet to sail straight through.
The action is cycled by the gas system from the right hand barrel. More gas than usual is bled off to kick off a piston system that cycles the bolt on both actions at the same time. So while the bullets might be flying in a staggered pattern, the shells will still be kicked out at the same time.
Thanks to the genius that is the National Firearms Act, this kind of thing isn’t “civilian legal.” Machine guns are defined as firearms that send more than one bullet downrange with a single trigger action, so the Snake qualifies. To get around that problem, Gilboa is re-designing the gun to use a split trigger arrangement — separate triggers for each barrel, but close enough to let the shooter pull them both at the same time. That design removes the nifty gas system arrangement, but on the plus side, it also adds redundancy since the gun will keep running even if one action becomes clogged.
Observant readers may have noticed that there is only one receiver extension/buffer tube on the gun. But while that might make it impossible to use a “standard” AR-15 recoil system, Gilboa has ditched the old buffer idea in favor of a captured internal spring system. It’s very similar to the system being used by Rock River Arms in their rifles, and allows Gilboa to add things like a folding stock or a single receiver extension for two side-by-side actions.
So that’s how it works — in theory. We’ve asked for one of the rifles to test out when they start shipping, which should be later this year. Stay tuned.