How It Works: The Gilboa Snake Side-By-Side AR


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.


  1. avatar Excedrine says:

    ‘Cause why the fuck not?

    1. avatar Pulatso says:

      Pretty much. It seems a little over the top, but if I had the disposable income to blow and no other guns ahead on the list, I’d totally get one.

    2. avatar C says:

      That’s really the only question which needs asking.

  2. avatar Matt in FL says:

    “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.”

    I have to see it to believe it, so if you get one to test, make sure you take a look at this. I’m thinking that those two bullets are going to be temporally so close together that anything that’s “broken up” by the first bullet is still going to be fragmenting and falling when the second bullet comes flying in, so it’d get deflected by the debris that hasn’t had time to get out of the way.

    1. avatar David PA/NJ says:

      Id like to see one of our favorite youtubers do ultra high speed video to check this out. Maybe ratedrr

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        That’d actually be really neat, because you’d actually see how much the second bullet was or was not deflected on video, rather than just where it printed on the target.

    2. avatar KCK says:

      Does the POI converge at some distance. Matt’s point about debris is even stronger if the second bullet has to make its own hole in a windshield. The muzzels are about an inch apart are the barrels parallel or converging

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        And if they do converge, at what range?

    3. avatar Andrew says:

      Come on:

      “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.”

      Are you f*cking kidding me?! This, THIS is the completely f*cking retarded justification for this hyphenated hyperbole of a firearm?

      Why not just have it shoot a copy of Playboy 1994’s “Steamin’ Juggs” while we’re at it?

      1. avatar Ruun says:

        The gilboa’s philosophy is the same as the Russian AN-94 rifle. It’s not a new idea.

        1. avatar Simon says:

          I’m thinking that the barrels fire separately so that gases from one barrel do not affect the trajectory of the second projectile. That makes a lot more sense than the explanation written in the blog post.

        2. avatar int19h says:

          The point of rapid 2-round burst in AN-94 was not to penetrate barriers. It was to put two rounds into the same hole (or close enough), for double the effect. The idea, basically, being that you’d have a weapon that you’d use in burst mode at range to get terminal ballistics better than full-size rifle rounds of old with a single pull of the trigger, and for CQB switch to full auto and still have it controllable because of low recoil impulse of 5.45.

          Even so, AN-94 was a failure. Extremely complicated (it has pulleys!), and consequently hard to field strip and maintain, and with many potential points of failure. Even though it’s still formally “in service”, you won’t actually see anyone using it in practice.

  3. avatar WRH says:

    This may sound silly, but I’m curious how the mag release functions. One button to drop both mags? I’m assuming this takes two standard AR mags rather than a proprietary deal.

    1. avatar Steve Truffer says:

      looks like a clamp betwixt the mags, so it looks like its a “one button, both mags” deal.

  4. avatar dudebro says:

    wow. thats awesome. someone should make a dual barrel ak to help us citizens argue against the govt, for possession of semi auto rifles.

  5. avatar A-Rod says:

    No thank you. Twice as many pieces to loose in stripping, twice as many parts to clean, twice as much time to clean, eats up twice as much ammo (really bad in this ammo drought), twice etc, etc, etc but at the end of the day… twice as much fun to shoot? Nah.

  6. avatar DanRRZ says:

    Interesting, I was wondering how they solved the 2 Bolt Carriers/1 Tube challenge. Thanks Nick for shedding some light, and I’m looking forward to the review.

  7. avatar PeterC says:

    So, according to the ATF reasoning, Arsenal’s side-by-side 1911 with a single trigger is a “machine gun?”

    1. avatar Pulatso says:

      I believe the Arsenal also has two triggers, close enough to be fired together.

    2. avatar Have Blue says:

      Not according to this ATF letter I found:

      According to that letter (specifically Q/A 16), ‘volley guns’ that fire more than 1 barrel when a trigger is pulled are legal, which I believe is how the Arsenal 1911 operates. However, since the Gilboa does not fire both barrels at the same time and the second barrel is automatically fired as a result of the first barrel (and not simultaneously from the trigger being pulled), it is considered a machine gun.

      1. avatar A samurai says:

        You are correct. The double barreled 1911 is legal, because even though it has one trigger that drops 2 hammers firing 2 barrels, the 2 rounds go off at once. Not one after another like a machine gun.

  8. avatar Hannibal says:

    Given the legalities, I have yet to figure out the advantage this heavy, complicated rifle has over a regular select-fire (single barrel) platform.

    1. avatar NYC2AZ says:

      I don’t think there is much advantage over a normal AR either. But it had to fun for the engineers to design and fire the thing.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        I guess there’s something to be said for the WTF factor

  9. avatar ValleyForge77 says:

    Are we really taking this thing seriously now?

    Weight is such a critical factor in a rifle. Besides feeling like an ass actually bearing this thing… I in no way could justify carrying the weight of this monstrosity. Have they even posted the weight?

    …and 2 triggers? Seriously?

    Maybe I’m missing something (ie – like the quad 10 round mag thing for Nanny states). Not sure…

    Just not doing anything for my rocks, but hey… Jedem das seine.

    1. avatar NYC2AZ says:

      Interesting question; if you bought this in say Colorado, would you be able to put in two 10 round mags? I’m pretty sure I know the answer is no being that it’s one lower, but it’d just be another innovation that government regulations couldn’t account for.

    2. avatar Pulatso says:

      I saw a posted weight of almost 10 pounds elsewhere, don’t know if that’s loaded or not.

  10. avatar NYC2AZ says:

    Somewhere, a lurking VPC staffer just shit themselves.

    1. avatar ErrantVenture11 says:

      Heard Sugarman’s voice on the radio for the first time this morning. Sounds just about right.

  11. avatar ErrantVenture11 says:

    I won’t be happy until someone makes a Saiga-12 / AK-47 Drilling.

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      Sadly, not quite THAT awesome. (If it was, the ATF would want to kill it with fire.) Note the lack of a .75 caliber or dual stage mass reactive RPG ammo. Although I would love to see that puppy fitted with a 100 round casket magazine.

      1. avatar PNG says:

        Ah yes, if only bolter ammo were a reality, but a double-barreled rifle is a step in the right direction, no?

        1. avatar pwrserge says:

          What do you think 12Ga grenades are?

      2. avatar PNG says:

        In response to the shotty grenades, another step in the right direction? Needs more rocket propulsion, though.

    2. avatar Ben Spears says:

      As a giant 40k nerd I too would like a storm bolter though I am more partial to

      though if it screws up your cooked.

      1. avatar PNG says:

        That’s why I prefer the plasma gun’s more stable cousin, the meltagun, even if the range isn’t that good.

        1. avatar pwrserge says:

          Bah… All you beakie players and your fancy super gear. The proper way to deal with xenos is a flashlight and a T-shirt. (Along with some bundles of high explosive and a parachute.) You have not played 40k until you ran a 4th ed all infantry drop troop army.

        2. avatar Gyufygy says:

          Pfft, real Space Marines use chain- and force-weapons. Ranged weapons are for cowards.

          PURGE THE XENOS!

  12. avatar Roscoe says:

    Looks awsome, particularly with the CompM4 mounted on top.

    Does it fire torpedos, too?

  13. avatar Kyle in CT says:

    I know there are a lot of “why not” types out there, but I still have to ask, why? What possible use could this have in a civilian application? For that matter a military or police application? To wit, snipers that need to penetrate a glass barrier will often fire in tandem with a second sniper so that the second shot will not be deflected by the glass. Ostensibly this is the same argument put forth for this gun. However, in this case the two shots are being fired by the same gun with a time delay. What that should mean is that as the first bullet exits the barrel, you should be starting to feel the recoil, meaning that the second bullet’s trajectory will be adversely affected by the recoil of the first. That being the case, I fail to see how it would improve over a burst-fire rifle. For civilian purposes . . .huh? I can’t see any application for it in terms of hunting, self-defense would be a big no-no (if for no other reason than perception), would probably be a competitive disadvantage in a 3-gun due to weight, and can’t possibly be accurate enough for longer ranges when fired in that dual-firing mode. That just leaves range toy, and that seems like it would be an awfully awkward and expensive conversation starter. Frankly I’d say if you take that thing to the range, mom’s advice will kick in, “they’re not laughing with you, they’re laughing at you.”

    1. avatar lolinski says:

      If you want to breach barriers and stuff I doubt the 5.56 is the round for the job (except AP ammo). though I would rather just use an AN-94 with a 60 round casket magazine. Lighter and less parts.

    2. avatar A samurai says:

      Careful, Kyle in CT. If you don’t want to spend your money on one thats fine. Don’t buy one. But as much as you protest against it in your post you are starting to sound like an Anti.

      “Nobody needs that thing! Why does it exist?”

      It exists because some Israeli company thinks they can make money selling them. Let them have their fun. You are the “It has no purpose…. MAKE IT GO AWAY” logic step away from being an Anti.
      Yes its expensive, heavy, and ludicrous. So is the Lamborghini Aventador but there are 3 Lamborghini dealerships in my town for some reason. Not all guns HAVE a purpose then just to be guns.

      Isn’t it wonderful that we Live in such a peaceful, prosperous time that companies can try making ridiculous things just because they CAN. And isn’t it even nicer that the government can’t (yet) come around with their big fat nanny finger and say “oh no you have NO NEED for that thing, none for you!”

  14. avatar I_Like_Pie says:

    So theoretically….with the system as described they should be able to scale it past 2 guns.

    If they have one primary that bleeds off gas to kick off the second gun firing…then they could port that second gun off to kick off a third gun. The third could continue the series to a fourth.

    I would love to have about 8 of them bolted together on a tripod sticking out of the hood of my Miata.

  15. avatar Skyler says:

    Twice the jams and misfeeds with half the trigger pulls.

  16. avatar dook says:

    Kevin de Leon believes this gun now fires “30 magazine clips” twice as fast…in a half second 😉

  17. avatar mrvco says:

    It’s hard to take this thing seriously without a bump-fire stock and a grenade launcher installed.

    1. avatar A samurai says:

      So, don’t (take it seriously). It doesn’t have to be. Do you take the Pistol Mag Bayonet from “Manly” Industries seriously? ‘Cause I don’t!


      1. avatar mrvco says:

        Hell yeah, as soon as I saw that video I ordered one and sold my Sawzall.

  18. avatar Anmut says:

    Instead of giving some lame, law enforcement “why it was designed” answer about breaking glass, it should be just:

    Gilboa Snake Side-By-Side AR
    “Because f*ck you. America! That’s why.”

    If I had the income for one I would buy it and take it to Slidefire for one of their sleds. Then I’d attach speakers to it and play the double laser cannon sounds from the Death Star.

    1. avatar JackinAlabama says:

      Don’t forget the Tac-Con trigger group!!!

    2. avatar A samurai says:

      THANK YOU!

  19. avatar Chris says:

    Seems kind of lame to me, who are they going to sell the machine gun versions to a few dealers maybe?

    Its kind of like an AR Drilling I guess.

  20. avatar BigDaddy says:

    Can I get one in New York ?????????????? lol

  21. avatar David says:

    Anti-pirate weapon with speakers playing “Ride of the Valkyries.”

  22. avatar Southern Cross says:

    And what would be the operational weight of the rifle. It defeats the main advantage of the AR-15 platform, which is light weight. However, it makes an interesting range toy.

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