IWI TAVOR: The Rifle Built to Replace the M4 Carbine

Soldier aim with its IWI Tavor assault rifle
Soldier aim with IWI Tavor assault rifle (Photo: Tactical Life)

IWI Tavor is the new supergun made in Israel to replace the M4 carbine. Given the problems experienced by some bullpup designs – the teething troubles of notorious British SA80 come to mind – focusing on reliability may have been a wise decision.

Israeli-made

Israel builds high-tech military equipment, such as tanks, missiles, and drones. Not bad for a nation of just 8.5 million people living in a state the size of New Jersey. The IWI Tavor was designed and produced by the IWI, which stands for Israel Weapons Industry.

IWI Tavor Case
IWI Tavor bullpup assault rifle in the waterproof case with various additional equipment (Photo: XY)

In its short history, Israel has also proven adept at designing rifles. Perhaps its most famous firearm is the legendary Uzi submachine gun, an almost iconic 1950s design made famous by the photo of a US Secret Service agent waving an Uzi during the attempted 1981 assassination of President Ronald Reagan. Originally conceived as a cheap, simple weapon for Israeli troops, the Uzi was widely used by police and military forces worldwide.

The Uzi is still around but showing its age, supplanted by more modern submachine guns like the FN P90. Israel’s modern firearm is the Tavor assault rifle, manufactured by Israel Weapon Industries, making its latest Tavor 7 model available in the United States.

IWI Tavor to replace M4 Carbine

First introduced in 2001, the Tavor was selected by the Israel Defense Forces in 2009 to replace the American-made M16 and M4 as its first-line rifle. The first thoughts of the end-users were highly positive. It is produced in two main variants: the TAR-21 and the CTAR-21.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) selected version was Tavor X95 (also known as the Micro Tavor or MTAR). The first X95 bullpup rifles were issued to infantry units in 2013.

IDF special forces armed with IWI Tavor
IDF special forces armed with IWI Tavor (Photo: XY)

Tavor guns are ideal for various missions, including missions that require long days in the wilderness, close-quarter combat, long-range firefights, and “shoo-shoo” (i.e., silent) operations. With an effective range of 550 meters, the Micro Tavor is the most versatile weapon in the IDF.

That means the Tavor is designed as a CQB weapon, but modifications like a bipod and scope could be used to engage targets at longer distances. All versions commercially available are single-pull weapons and are not automatic weapons.

Design

If nothing else, the Tavor is distinctive by its bullpup configuration, in which the receiver and magazine are located behind the trigger, thus allowing a shorter weapon. Bullpup rifles have a reputation for being less accurate than conventional long-barreled rifles. Still, the IDF wanted a weapon compact enough to be used by mechanized infantry crowded into their armored vehicles and in close-range or urban combat.

The Tavor primarily fires NATO 5.56 x 45-millimeter rounds, though it can also shoot 9-millimeter ammunition. The weapon is 25 to 28 inches long and weighs 7 to 8 pounds, depending on the model. Though shorter than the M4, its barrel length is about the same, enabling it to fire high-velocity rounds. It uses a long-stroke piston system: though this is an old mechanism, the M1 Garand and AK-47 rifles used it – it is also reliable. Given the problems experienced by some bullpup designs — the teething troubles of Britain’s notorious SA80 come to mind – focusing on reliability may have been a wise decision.

The Tavor assault rifle is fully ambidextrous. There are spent case ejection ports on each side. Right or felt side ejection could be selected. A safety/fire mode selector is also located on each side. It has a semi-automatic mode, burst mode, and full-auto mode. The charging handle slots are cut on both sides, so they can be installed on either side. After partial disassembly, this assault rifle can be easily reconfigured for left-handed shooters.

The design of this weapon is based on ergonomics and composite materials. It is reported that this assault rifle is comfortable to hold and fire. The enlarged trigger guard allows firing while wearing winter gloves.

IWI Tavor comes with red-dot sight as prime sighting equipment. Early production models had no backup sights. This weapon has a standard Picatinny-type rail and is compatible with various scopes or night vision systems. IWI Tavor is compatible with the M203 40 mm under barrel grenade launcher.

Variants

TAR-21

The standard variant with a 457mm(18in) long barrel.

GTAR-21

The GTAR-21 has a notched barrel to accept an M203 40 mm under-barrel grenade launcher.

CTAR-21

The CTAR-21 is a compact, shorter 380mm(15in) barrel variant intended for commandos and special forces but has become more favored than the standard TAR-21 throughout the IDF.

STAR-21

The STAR-21 is a designated marksman variant with a folding under-barrel bipod and Trijicon ACOG 4× magnification sight.

TAVOR X95 (MTAR-21)

The Tavor X95 (also referred to as the MTAR-21) is the variant of the Tavor that was selected as the future standard infantry weapon of the IDF in 2009.

IWI Tavor X95
IWI Tavor X95 (Photo: XY)

TAVOR 7

The IWI Tavor 7 is the latest iteration of the Tavor. It is chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO. It is a fully ambidextrous rifle.

IWI Tavor 7
IWI Tavor 7 (Photo: XY)

TC-21

The semi-automatic Tavor Carbine (TC-21) was first made available for civilian customers to purchase in Canada in 2008.

Users

The IWI Tavor is used by various units – extraordinary special forces and police SWAT teams — in almost 30 nations. As is typical with Israeli arms, several South American, Central American, African, and Asian countries include Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Senegal, and Nepal. In addition, the nation of Georgia has replaced some of its Kalashnikovs with IWI Tavor. Vietnam and India also use them. As for the United States., a few states and local police departments have opted for the IWI Tavor.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Israel
Manufacturer:Israel Weapons Industry (IWI)
Entered service:2006
Caliber:5.56×45 mm
Weight (empty):3.27 kg
Length:720 mm
Length (with folded stock):
Barrel length:460 mm
Muzzle velocity:910 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire:750 – 900 rpm
Practical rate of fire:40 – 100 rpm
Magazine capacity:30 rounds
Sighting range:?
Range of effective fire:550 m
1 comment
  1. Besides being semi-auto only, what is the difference between the commercial models and what is actually issued to the Israeli Military ? Are the same specs for the Military used in the commercial models ? Same materials and QC ? What was done to the T7 (besides larger bolt and barrel) to be durable enough to handle the 7.62X51 ?
    Thank you.

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