IWI Tavor 5.56x45mm Semi-Automatic Bullpup Carbine

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 5th, 2013


Click pictures for a larger version.









Safety/selector can be reversed for use by either right-handed or left-handed shooters.



Barrel lock.



Ejection port cover allows easy conversion for right-handed or left-handed shooters.



Ambidextrous magazine release.



Trigger (top), flash suppressor (center), charging handle (bottom).



Ambidextrous bolt release.



Tavor uses standard M-4/M-16/AR-15 style magazines.









Several years ago, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) set out to adopt a replacement for their Galil ( I love the Galil ) and M-16 rifles. The Israelis found that a more compact, handier weapon would be better-suited for the close-quarters fighting that was necessary in modern warfare, yet they wanted more power and range than was offered by then-current submachine guns. After much research and development, what they adopted was the select-fire Tavor, which is pretty close in design and function to the semi-automatic Tavor SAR shown here.

The Tavor uses a bullpup configuration, which places the magazine and action to the rear of the weapon, resulting in a short overall length, compared to a standard rifle configuration when both have equal-length barrels. The Tavor shown here has a chrome-lined sixteen and one-half inch barrel, yet is shorter overall than most short-barreled rifle (SBR) configured AR-15 style weapons. Most sources, including the IWI website, list the overall length of the 16 ½ inch carbine as twenty-six and one-half (26.5) inches, but mine measures twenty-seven and one-eighth (27.125) inches overall, from the butt plate to the end of the flash suppressor.

The Tavor uses a thoroughly modern modular design which allows the weapon to be quickly converted from right-handed to left-handed use, and also to change calibers by installing a conversion kit for either the 9x19mm or 5.45x39 cartridges, with the promise of a 300 AAC Blackout conversion coming later.  The IWI Tavor uses the cheap and plentiful AR-15 style magazines, in any of their many configurations and capacities. The magazine release is easy to reach and of ambidextrous design, as is the bolt release, which is used to close the chamber after a loaded magazine is inserted into the magazine well. The charging handle is non-reciprocating, and is switchable to either side of the weapon. Its forward placement makes it very easy to reach and to operate.

The Tavor shown here wears a sixteen and one-half inch hammer-forged barrel with a one-in-seven-inch rifling twist, but an eighteen inch version is also available.  The Tavor is available with a Mepro-21 Reflex optical sight, or with a flattop receiver, as shown here. Integral with the flattop’s Picatinny rail are a set of steel folding sights, of which the front is adjustable for elevation correction.  Quick-attach sling loops are provided, as are a detailed instruction manual and an excellent cleaning kit.

The Tavor is very simple and quick to disassemble for cleaning by pushing out one pin to the left, dropping the butt plate, and allowing the bolt carrier and piston assembly to slide out to expose the breech for cleaning. The short overall length makes the Tavor very handy for close-quarters work, such as in a vehicle or inside a dwelling. The Tavor weighs in at 7.9 pounds empty, and the weight bias is towards the rear of the weapon, making one-handed use easy, if the other hand is needed to manipulate a door handle or to hold a flashlight. The trigger pull on the Tavor requires a long, deliberate pull, which is not helpful for shooting tight groups on paper from a benchrest, but the Tavor is not meant to be a benchrest target weapon. Instead, this carbine is made for fighting, and for that purpose, the trigger is acceptable. The trigger pull on the test weapon weighed in right at seven and three-quarters pounds resistance, and requires just over a half-inch of travel to release.  I have read other reports of trigger pulls on these weapons measuring between ten and twelve pounds resistance, but I measured the pull on this test weapon after it had fired many rounds, and it seems much better now than before the weapon had seen a lot of use.

The ergonomics of the Tavor work very well for me, and I find the carbine exceptionally comfortable to shoot. The angle of the grip, and the size and texture of the foregrip for the support hand feel near perfect. The safety selector is easy to operate and easy to reach. Bullpup carbines are not usually friendly to left-handed shooters, but the Tavor will accommodate either right-handed or left-handed shooters equally well, depending upon which version is used.  The recoil impulse is straight back, and the weapon tends to have no muzzle rise at all, being extremely easy to control in rapid fire. The Tavor’s stock is made of durable polymer, with the remainder of the weapon made primarily of aluminum and steel.  The butt plate is a soft synthetic rubber, that stays in place on the shoulder very well.

I carried this Tavor SAR on my annual trek to the Shootists Holiday at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico to give it a workout in a dusty environment and to do some long-range shooting. I mounted my Leupold HAMR optical scope atop the Tavor’s Picatinny rail. The HAMR is an excellent optic for rugged use, and it also has Leupold’s DeltaPoint electronic dot sight mounted on top, for close-range use. I fired the Tavor from a bench on paper at one hundred yards to get the HAMR sighted in, then proceeded to fire at steel targets and small rocks at distances from one hundred out to six hundred yards. The excellent Leupold optic and the rifle’s ergonomics enabled reliable hits at most and distance out to 400 yards, but on small targets at farther distances, it required a lot of concentration squeezing the trigger to get more hits than misses. The rifle has the accuracy potential, but I prefer a crisp trigger to do precise work at long range. However, the Tavor performed perfectly, feeding and firing every type of ammunition fed to it. I fired a variety of ammunition, including IMI 55 grain ball, US Military Lake City green-tip, and Buffalo Bore 69 grain Sniper 223 Remington ammunition. There were no failures of any kind with any of the ammunition tested.

Getting the Tavor carbine back to Tennessee, I tested for accuracy at one hundred yards on paper after mounting a Leupold Mark 4 8.5 to 25 power scope, set to its highest magnification. The Tavor proved very capable of sub-minute of angle accuracy with some ammunition, with most ammo tested shooting in the two minute range. Again, the nature of the trigger pull required a lot of concentration on the part of the shooter to achieve good tight groups from the bench, but this exercise really has nothing to do with the purpose for which this rifle is built, as the Tavor is primarily a fighting tool, and has proven to work very well in the harsh conditions in which the Israeli military puts the weapon to use.

The IWI Tavor is a compact, reliable weapon that is as close as most of us will ever get to firing the same weapon as used by the IDF. The Tavor is assembled in the USA, from domestic and Israeli parts.  As of the date of this review, the suggested retail price of the Tavor is $1999 US.

Check out the IWI Tavor online at www.iwi.us.

For the location of an IWI dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

To order the IWI Tavor online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

  To order quality ammunition online, go to www.midsouthshooters.com, www.luckygunner.com, www.doubletapammo.com, and www.buffalobore.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



Full-length Picatinny rail.





Integral folding sights.



Leupold HAMR scope with DeltaPoint mounted atop.



Quick-attach sling loops.







Disassembly for cleaning is quick and easy.





Gas piston.