For many, the shotgun is still a versatile tool, especially as it pertains to less-lethal, gas and even true riot rounds. Many of these rounds will not cycle in a semi-auto, however, and a pump is the only choice. For riot control teams, rubber pellets, teargas and beanbag rounds are critical.
Shotguns loaded with less-lethal rounds are also essential for S.W.A.T. operations. Depending on the target location, it can be preferable to deploy a team with a 12 gauge and gas rounds. Many immediate action teams still have someone with a shotgun loaded with less-lethal to back up the Taser. Lastly, many still see the pump shotgun as a viable and practical patrol weapon. It is simple, reliable, and can handle most tasks an officer is ever asked to do.
As suitable as the pump shotgun is for all of these tasks, it still has one limitation: ammunition capacity. This has spawned all kinds of gear designed to deal with the issue, such as a sidesaddle or spare ammunition pouch on your gear. Many still use a sling that accommodates spare ammunition. There are even “speedloaders” designed for fast reloads. These generally have no tactical value at all and are often dangerous, but they illustrate the point. Attending some training classes, the avid shotgun shooter looks like something straight out of the 19th century with ammunition on the gun, holster, sling and anywhere else it can be tacked on.
The XRAIL really came out of the need for capacity in the 3-Gun world. Although many speedloading systems existed, they generally required you to alter the weapon, often permanently. They were also dedicated to that gun and not interchangeable. Roth Concept Innovations (RCI) designed a pretty solid solution to this. The XRAIL adds as many as 22 rounds to your shotgun’s capacity and is interchangeable with several shotguns. It’s really an ingenious design.
The XRAIL has quickly become the first choice among top competitors in any action discipline that requires a shotgun. It gives you a reliable capacity that, once expended, allows the weapon to be loaded as normal for the rest of the course. With the exception of changing out a magazine tube on some shotgun models, the XRAIL does not alter the weapon. You can easily return the shotgun to its original condition.
But how does the XRAIL fare in the tactical world? Often, innovation that comes out of competitive shooting enhances the tactical environment. Most of the enhancements now seen as stock on a 1911 pistol came directly from the competitive shooting world. Does it always cross over? Not always. But at times it does, and you really never know until you give it a try.
The XRAIL turned the FNH SLP Mark I into a 14-round competition machine, cycling with every squeeze of the trigger.
The Remington 870 remains one of the most popular pump shotguns ever manufactured and is still a favorite among police departments and officers. It has proven reliable, accurate, and, given the correct accessories and ammunition, incredibly versatile. The 870 has at one time or another performed virtually every tactical or patrol mission ever conceived of. So it seemed like the perfect platform to see if the XRAIL was practical in the patrol or S.W.A.T. environment.
The weapon used for this test is a Remington 870 that was sent back to Wilson Combat for their “Remington Steal” package (TW September 2011). It has been unaltered since that time. The XRAIL arrived in a nice box with the appropriate adaptors. Given that this is a tactical application, the Compact or 14+1 version was used. The high-capacity model requires a much longer barrel and really defeats the purpose of a tactical shotgun. In this case, I mounted the XRAIL to the standard 18.5-inch barrel. If you want the larger capacity, you can buy the extended setup without buying an entire XRAIL. It simply replaces the shorter version.
Even taking my time, installing the XRAIL took about 10 minutes. You unscrew the magazine tube nut, releasing the spring and plunger, and remove both. The adaptor replaces the nut and is attached to the end of the magazine tube. The XRAIL is then attached to the adaptor, sliding the locking arms over the barrel. You may have to loosen those to have it slide on easily. Then make certain it is level and lined up. Tighten the Allen screws on the arms solidly to attach the system to the tube. Make sure the magazine is locked in place and perfectly lined up with the tube. Simply remove the cap on the center tube and insert the follower and spring, reattaching the cap. Do not rotate the magazine while it is empty, as it will just ruin your spring.
Just to make sure of the operation, I loaded the XRAIL with dummy rounds and cycled the action. This is pretty critical—the XRAIL is really designed to line up and operate with 2¾-inch shells, which is what most police departments use. Most less-lethal rounds are loaded to the same length to ensure solid operation, too.
I was able to fully load three different types of beanbag rounds, some teargas rounds and some rubber pellet rounds without issue. Three different brands of buckshot loaded fine, the only one that presented an issue was the Federal Tactical, as it is loaded just a tad longer than a standard round. If you go this way, make certain to check your load and its operation prior to hitting the range.
I tested beanbag rounds first. As one might expect, there wasn’t a single problem. I loaded the shotgun with 14 rounds and fired with each repeated cycling of the action. With the XRAIL attached, the 870 felt a bit barrel-heavy at first, but it’s not that bad. I also tested some rubber pellet rounds, and they operated with no issues as well.
Next it was time to move on to live rounds. The excellent Hornady TAP with the VersaTite wad loaded just fine. It also loaded and cycled several other buckshot loads and slugs. It was really just a matter of shell length. So long as it is close to what is loosely considered a “standard” length, it worked fine. It was pretty fun running 14 rounds without a reload. After a couple hundred rounds, I checked the XRAIL and it had loosened up a bit, but this did not affect functioning. It was tightened up and put back to work.
As a pretty avid short-barreled shotgun fan, it was time to run this gun in the house and around obstacles to see how it wields in the open. On this gun, it extended the barrel length 1.75 inches. Given that many popular tactical guns these days are sporting longer barrels, this was not an issue. Loaded up, the shotgun was a bit heavy during runs in the house, but it wasn’t a problem. It’s a great entry gun attachment—just make sure you do not punch anything while rotating the XRAIL. It’s a rotating assembly, so make sure you train accordingly.
The XRAIL is a well-built, solid piece of equipment, but it does need to be operated properly. Pretty much anything you do to a pump shotgun complicates it, so you need to be aware of that. It proved incredibly reliable for me so long as I used the proper-length ammunition. I even left it installed on the Remington 870 and used it for several training programs, firing it as fast as the action could be run without a hitch. Spring tension is critical, so if it is placed into service keep a close eye on that. Otherwise, load it up and go to work. Having 14 rounds on hand with no need to reload is never a bad thing!
For more information on the XRAIL by Roth Concept Innovations, visit xrailbyrci.com or call 920-585-6534.