by Chad Adams - Monday, May 23, 2011
During the 2006 DPMS Tri-Gun Challenge, Mark Roth, a contractor by trade and a recreational/competitive shooter, was talking with champion competitor Bruce Piatt as they waited to shoot their next stage of fire. As is often the case, the conversation turned to creating a better mousetrap, this one focusing on shotguns and how to add more capacity to a platform without extending the magazine tube to unmanageable lengths.A few weeks later, Mark Roth had his idea—the XRAIL.
The XRAIL (Extreme Roth Auto Indexing Loader) is a high-capacity, magazine-tube extension system for tubular-magazine-fed shotguns. The XRAIL is a self-indexing system, meaning you can load it full then fire it completely dry. Once the first tube is empty, it automatically rotates and indexes on the next tube, thereby feeding fresh rounds into the shotgun's magazine tube.
"The XRAIL consists of four magazine tubes that work off a central axis—one primary tube and three auxiliary tubes," Roth said. "The system is added to the end of the existing shotgun magazine tube in the same fashion as a traditional magazine extension. When installed, it does not change the function of your gun."
Since the system is added to the gun in a manner similar to a traditional magazine extension tube, shells are loaded in a traditional manner as well. Only instead of just one extended tube to hold shells, the XRAIL provides that, plus three auxiliary tubes, dramatically increasing capacity.
"To load, simply load the primary tube full and rotate to the first auxiliary tube by manually rotating the tube housing," Roth said. "Load the first auxiliary tube and rotate to the second tube. Repeat the process until all the tubes are loaded. When firing or emptying the gun, once a tube is emptied the system rotates to the next tube, and so forth, until the gun is empty. The primary tube is the first tube loaded and the last one emptied, and it is also the only tube with a spring and follower that extends down into the receiver of the gun."
Built with an eye toward the military and law enforcement, Roth has always thought of the XRAIL as an initial suppression tool. As such, it provides up to 23 rounds, depending on the shotgun, of initial firepower, which theoretically could be a tremendous force multiplier for those going into harm's way. The XRAIL is also capable of running less-lethal rounds, depending on the overall length of the cartridge. Yet despite the monster payload, since the shotgun's operation or loading mechanism is not changed, officers still have the ability to perform select slug loads, top off the gun at will or unload the shotgun as needed.
Each XRAIL housing is constructed of hard-coated, black anodized aluminum, while remaining parts are non-corrosive stainless steel. The tubes are formed from several clear polycarbonate or black nylon sections that Roth calls "unified tubes." A modular system, these unified tubes stack on one another to build up to compact or full-size versions. The unit ships fully assembled.
To install, simply remove the magazine cap, spring and follower. Thread on a provided barrel nut in place of the magazine cap before attaching the main assembly with the attached connecting system that threads into the barrel nut. The main assembly is now clamped to the barrel. Install the new follower and spring into the main tube of the XRAIL, and add on the new cap. Installation can be completed in a couple of minutes, and there is a step-by-step installation video on the company's website to provide assistance.
XRAILs are available in two versions: compact and full. The compact version weighs 1 pound, 8 ounces, while the full model weighs 2 pounds, 1 ounce. What differentiates the XRAILs is the connecting system. The product is available for four manufacturers: Remington, Benelli, Mossberg and FNH USA. Each is currently available for 12-gauge models only.
The Remington system can be fitted on models 870, 1100 and 11-87. Full versions have a capacity of 22+1, while the compact model holds 14+1. Roth recommends at least a 26-inch barrel for the full version, 22 inches for the compact.
XRAIL's system for Benelli shotguns works with the SBE, SBE2, M1, M2 and M2 Tactical models. The full version has a capacity of 21+1, with a recommended barrel length of 24 inches, while the compact holds 13+1, with a barrel of 20 inches recommended.
Currently the Mossberg system is only available for the 930 SPX. Its full-size holds 22+1, while the compact holds 14+1. Recommended barrel lengths are 26 inches for the full, 22 inches for the compact.
The FNH USA system works on the SLP line of shotguns. The full version holds 22+1, while the compact model holds 14+1. An RCI replacement magazine tube is included with the FNH system.
If all four connecting systems were purchased, then one XRAIL unit could conceivably be used alternately on Benelli, Remington, Mossberg and FNH USA shotguns. RCI also offers a combo unit, where both a compact and full version of the XRAIL come with one housing and one connecting system, giving users the versatility to switch between the two models on their shotgun, depending on their needs.
Suggested retail for the Remington, Benelli and Mossberg full versions is $699, while each compact retails for $649. Combo versions retail for $999. Full versions of the FNH USA SLP retail for $749, with the compact costing $699. Combo units retail for $1,049. Extra Remington, Benelli or Mossberg adapters cost $69, while the FN adapter retails for $129. All RCI products can purchased directly at www.xrailbyrci.com.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on some of Roth's early Remington and Benelli prototypes a few years ago during an event I attended in Texas. The following year, he and I ran through portions of a Tactical Shotgun course at T1G, again running Remington and Benelli models. And this year I've seen several professional shooters running XRAILs in competition. It's been remarkable to watch this product transform from working prototype to full production.
"From 2006 to 2007, the XRAIL was a concept with a few non-working prototypes," Roth said. "As time went on, we started to invest in the proper tooling to make the XRAIL a more assembly friendly product. In early 2008, we had done enough live-fire testing to start migrating the system from individual magazine tubes to using a polymer mold that enables all tubes to be unified into one housing. So about nine generations later, in mid-2009, we finally had come up with a commercialized product that was ready to be released."
In terms of function, the production versions of the XRAIL are running extremely well. I've shot several at this point, and I can attest that the system works. Detractors point to the substantial increase in weight, and the distribution of that weight out at the muzzle.
But, as is often the case, the practical-shooting world is quickly dispelling fears about the ability to shoulder the weight or smoothly transition from target-to-target, as FNH USA's Tommy Thacker recently took second in theOpen Division at the FNH USA Midwest 3-Gun Championships, finishing just behind Smith & Wesson's legendary Jerry Miculek.
"Since the introduction of our product, we have been fortunate to have the world's greatest shooters want to try and use our product," Roth said. "We are very happy to see that our vision has been realized by others with such distinction. We are seeing that the great shooters such as Larry Houck, Tommy Thacker and Tony Holmes are excited to use our product because of the advantages they gain on the gun they trust. Having shooters of this caliber trust and use our product is equivalent to having Tiger Woods use your golf clubs because he likes them. Need I say more?"
I say I need more ammo.
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