For a while, American Tactical has offered a two barrel set with their SX2 shotgun. The shotgun itself is a competently built gas-operated semiauto manufactured in Turkey. It proved handy, low in recoil, and compatible with a wide variety of ammunition. Being a riot gun fan myself (I’ve shot clays with Winchester Defender, TAC12 and KSG) I was fairly confused about the possible utility of a longer 28″ barrel. Range testing followed.
The short barrel worked as expected: reliably, with not terribly much blast, and produced predictable buckshot patterns. One catch: the front sight is fairly coarse, great for low light but less so for aiming slugs at 25 yards. Either a matching rear notch or a red dot would have been useful. For hitting intruder-sized target across a room–perfect.
The long barrel produced a bundle of surprises. It did swing a little better after clays, but shot patterns were nearly identical. It makes sense: both barrels were cylinder bore, so the only difference to the shot stack leaving the muzzle was about 9.5 inch proximity to the target, hardly an important amount at 15 yard distance. The longer barrel has the option of interchangeable chokes, so it can make tighter patterns, while the 18.5 tube must remain a cylinder.
With slugs, the longer barrel won the accuracy contest squarely by the virtue of the smaller, more precise bead and longer sight radius. With a red dot, it’s likely that the shorter, stiffer barrel would have done better. With a rifled choke in the 28″ tube, the two barrels add up to considerable flexibility in getting the best results with slug or shot.
Where the two barrels match almost exactly is the energy at the muzzle. The chronograph indicated 20-40fps difference, about 2-3% of the velocity, for all slug and buck loads tested.
So, for the outdoors, the 28″ tube is a win. It’s easier to point precisely, a little easier on the ears, and works better with slugs. A ventilated rib gives a less obscured sight picture with a hot barrel. The overall weight difference isn’t that much, as shotgun barrels are fairly thin.
All that changes indoors. 9.5 inches isn’t much in the woods, but inches count when clearing doorways or navigating around furniture. The less precise but more prominent wide and tall front sight post is quicker to spot in dim light, especially if luminescent paint is added to the back of it. If one shotgun does double duty for you, the two barrel set is a good buy.