By Chris Hickory
Roth Concept Innovations
Trends in today’s firearms market can sometimes be recognized early in competitive shooting sports. If you want the fastest and most durable add-ons for your rig, watch what the top competitors use. It costs a lot of money to attend matches, buy bullets, and keep up with equipment, so more often than not the professionals will use quality gear that runs reliably and holds up to the abuse of matches and travel. Although the XRAIL Mono tube has only been widely available for a year, you will find that most professionals shooting competitively are outfitted with a mono tube from Roth Concept Innovations that increases the shell capacity of their shotguns. The factory magazine tube found on most shotguns is typically one piece that goes from the receiver to the end of the forend. To add shell capacity, an extension must be placed on top of the factory tube. This design works, but XRAIL has a better solution that was made to win.
There are several reputable companies that make tubular magazine extensions, but there are drawbacks to these products. Adding an extension creates a feed-interruption point. Dirt can collect in the seam and even worse, the magazine spring or a shell could catch the seam created by the two-piece tube, causing a malfunction. Another common issue with magazine extensions is that they tend to unscrew themselves during normal use. There are two common fixes for this problem, some form of thread locker or a barrel band, but each has drawbacks. By using thread locker, you impede your ability to field strip for maintenance, since most aftermarket tube extensions require removal of the extension to remove the barrel and forend for cleaning. The barrel band is a viable option, but as a 3-gun competitor I found that each time I removed and reinstalled the barrel band, it would require exact torque specs and to be in the exact same location when reinstalled. If there were any deviation, I would have to re-zero the shotgun with slugs. The barrel band creates a more rigid front end but greatly effects slug DOPE (Data On Previous Engagement), similar to a scope mount.
Mark Roth of RCI created a fix for the common shotgun, increasing capacity without sacrificing reliability or accuracy, when he introduced the XRAIL XM2BE one-piece shotgun magazine. The tube comes with all the necessary items to install it; all you need is some thread-locker and a heat gun. To eliminate guess work, XRAIL has cut the magazine spring to proper length for reliable feeding and has a high-visibility follower to assist with identifying load status. Newer shooters often try to reduce the magazine spring, making it easier to load. Though this does make the act of loading shells into the tube easier, it does not allow the shell moving to the elevator to get enough “umph” to get into position quickly enough. Years ago, competitive shooters were known at times to take a 20-gauge tube spring and insert it inside of the 12-gauge spring, providing better feeding.
The install only took about 20 minutes. The XRAIL came with directions, but I found a short video on the Internet in which XRAIL-sponsored shooter Patrick Kelley demonstrated the nitty-gritty of getting your old tube off and the new one on. After one view I had it down. I disassembled the shotgun to the stock, receiver and factory tube only. I inspected the area where the tube and receiver meet to see if there were any plastic shims or pieces. In the case of my Versa Max, there was some plastic that was easily removed. Then I used a cheap heat gun to apply heat evenly to soften the factory adhesive used to mate the receiver and magazine tube. Use a little heat and try, a little more heat and try. The less heat used to get the job done, the better. Also, make sure not bend the receiver. With proper heat and patience, it’ll come off cleanly. While the receiver and magazine tube are separated, take the time to clean the threads and degrease the receiver.
Remove the one-piece receiver from the packaging and add a small amount of red Loctite. This is considered permanent, but so was the sealant you just removed. Screw in the receiver until the tube sits flush in the loading port area. At this time, you can cut the zip tie that is retaining the magazine spring and follower. The follower and spring should snap into place with no adjusting. The forend will slide over the tube, and you install the barrel and provided barrel nut just as you normally would. Once assembly check was complete, I took 10 dummy shells and went through the entire load process, similar to a function check. Let the Loctite sit for 24 hours before you test fire.
The one-piece design creates a seamless tube that is much more rigid than other mag extensions. Though some will argue that a barrel band is required, I fired more than 5,000 shells through mine last year alone and threw my shotgun, muzzle first, in a blue barrel, with malice mind you, at least 75 times. I am a little rougher than I should be on it, but if it’s weak, I want to know. Without the required use of a barrel band, my slug hits are much more consistent and my confidence level is increased, as I know what my equipment will do when I ask it to perform rather than hope that the screws are of proper torque specs.
The XRAIL comes in ten-round versions only, with the exception of the Benelli M4, with a seven-round magazine offered, and the M2, which is offered with eight- to ten-shell tubes. There are mono tubes that fit most Benelli Shotguns, Remington Versa Max, and Mossberg 930. Mono tubes start out at an MSRP of $199.99 and can be found at http://www.xrailbyrci.com/.