At the 2013 SHOT Show, I first met the team at IWI US (Israel Weapons Industries). Even though its parent company in Israel has been around since the 1930s, the only gun I had shot of its was the UZI and an early U.S. import of the Galil 5.56. At SHOT Show 2013, I first put my hands on its unique rifle, the Tavor. The Tavor is categorized as a bullpup rifle (the fire control group is located “way” behind the trigger). Needless to say, being a fan of the AR and AK, I was intrigued by the Tavor. I bought three of them to test and see if they could live up to the hype.
I was surprised the first time I took the Tavor to the range. I was impressed at how well balanced they were with a fully-loaded 30-round magazines (the Tavor uses a standard AR-style mag). The Tavor’s weight settles naturally to the middle/back of the weapon—close to your cheek and shooting shoulder—where you have the most control. An AR or AK’s weight sits more middle/front. Also, at 26 1/8 inches in total length (with the 16.5-inch barrel), it’s as compact as you can get without needing a Class 3 SBR (Short Barrel Rifle) license to own in the US.
For reference, an AR-15 with a 16-inch barrel is 32+ inches with a fully collapsed 6-position stock. Fully collapsed, an AR is not easy to shoot accurately at long distances. However, the Tavor does not have or need a collapsible stock. Instead, it is equally ready to go for close quarters or 300+ yards with its total length always set at 26 1/8 inches. The Tavor’s overall size is important since it was designed for Israel’s military to answer the need for a high-velocity CQC (Close Quarters Combat) rifle.
With the first shot, I was surprised how non-existent the recoil was, regardless of the rounds being shot. It felt like shooting an AR in .22 LR. Even when standing, firing one-second bursts, it was easy to keep the bullets on paper just using the backup iron sights (they flip up and are hidden within the rail). Over the next 10 months, I shot the three Tavors in extreme heat and extreme cold. I dumped 300 rounds through them as fast as I could. Then, I threw them in a barrel of water and repeated the process.
I shot .223, 5.56, 55-grain, match grade, new loads, reloads, brass cased, steel cased, and even some incendiary rounds. At no point in my 2,000+ round test did the Tavor have a failure to feed. I ended my review with my only real gripe being the rather firm trigger-pull. However, overall the Tavor was one of the easiest to maneuver, and reliable, 5.56s that I’d ever shot. I highly recommended them.
Prior to SHOT Show 2018, the team at IWI reached out to see if I wanted to test out its new version of the Tavor, the X95. The X95 is an upgrade to the original Tavor. Per IWI’s website, the main differences include: A fire control pack with a 5- to 6-pound trigger pull, repositioning of the ambidextrous mag release to an AR-15 location, a forearm with Picatinny rails at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions with removable rail covers, relocation of the charging handle (closer to your center mass), a modular Tavor-style pistol grip that can be swapped out to a standard pistol grip with traditional trigger guard and a smaller, lower profile, bolt release button.
The X95 handled and shot similar to its predecessor, flawlessly. The upgrades listed above, including the smoother trigger (much needed), are a great addition to this rifle. IWI listened to its customers to take the Tavor to the next level. A bullpup does take some getting used to, but once familiar with its operation, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who could legitimately trash this gun. I honestly feel many of our local law enforcement departments in the U.S. who use ARs would be better served switching to the X95. It’s much easier to use in urban settings where you don’t have the luxury of a 200+ yard shot. The X95 is an extremely well built gun that will last. I can’t recommend this gun more highly to add to your collection.
Are you a fan of bullpup’s? Do you own a Tavor? What has your experience been? Share your answers in the comment section.
Sign up for K-Var’s weekly newsletter and discounts here.