While I was at Shot Show in Vegas this year with Joe my senses were overwhelmed with the full magnitude of the event. Every firearm’s manufacturer you could imagine was there. However, when I have attended these types of events in the past, I am typically drawn to a few booths with vendors who are offering something outside of the norm. IWI (Israel Weapons Industries) was that company for me at Shot Show this year. In fact, my first article for JFA was a recap of Shot Show 2013 and I had a picture of the Tavor (see picture above or you can also see it on the June 2013 edition of the NRA’s American Rifleman). When I got back to the blackswamps of Ohio I contacted IWI’s General Manager and their VP of Sales. Let me interject and say that everyone I have spoken with over there is top notch and extremely helpful, even given as busy as they are these days. These guys are shooters and are passionate about their product. They agreed to send Mr. Ags a few Tavors to run through the paces and here is part one of my two part gun test:
I first wanted to test basic accuracy/functionality, different types of ammunition, and overall first impressions of the Tavor (next week I’ll really burn it up in the field). So, as soon as I got it, I pulled the Tavor out of the box, checked the bore for any obstructions (safety first), and Joe joined me in sending some lead downrange. We shot 223 and 5.56 (including steel core). I want to point out that the receiver does say “223.” To some of you this means you shouldn’t shoot 5.56 in it, due to the increased pressure. You have to remember this is partially imported from Israel and it is a lot easier importing a receiver that shows a sporting round stamped on the receiver than a military designation like “5.56.” I can tell you this, they test the Tavors at IWI US using 5.56. So have no fear, this is the real deal. With the first shot I was surprised how non-existent the recoil was, regardless of the rounds we shot. It felt like shooting an AR in 22lr. Even with standing, firing one-second bursts, it was easy to keep the bullets on paper with just using the backup iron sights (they flip up and are hidden within the rail).
Part of the ease of shooting the Tavor is because it is ergonomically well-balanced. The weight settles naturally in the middle/back of the weapon where you have the most support. An AR’s weight sits more middle/front. Also, at 26 1/8″ in total length (with the 16.5″ 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 M4 AR is 32+” with a fully collapsed 6-position stock (an AR is also not easily shoulder-shot at this collapsed length). The Tavor is ready to go at 26 1/8″ with no stock adjustment needed (since there is no adjustable stock). The Tavor’s size is important since it was designed for Israel’s military to have a high-velocity CQC (Close Quarters Combat) rifle. I believe they accomplished their mission. This would be one of the easiest 5.56s to maneuver through a house/confined space and still be able to shoot accurately. I have read negative online-feedback that the Tavor doesn’t handle Pmags and other AR mags very well. I can only report that I shot 4 different types of AR mags and had no issues. *Make sure to only us US made mags, as using non-US made AR mags can make you out of 922(r) compliance (Google it. It’s stupid, but it’s the law).
Overall my first impression of the Tavor is extremely positive so far. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of bullpup rifles before (a firearm where the action is located behind the trigger group and alongside the shooter’s face). Typically, bullpups are poorly constructed and it’s nothing more than a regular firearm thrown into a crappy plastic bullpup chassis that may/may not fit the host firearm quite correctly. In many cases the jagged edges of their plastic shells is the deadliest part of these bullpup firearms. This is not that poorly constructed bullpup your uncle owned, or that you bought back in the 1990s. This is far superior to a vast majority of bullpups I’ve seen and shot.
Go check IWI: www.iwi.us (also, stay tuned for Part 2 of my review of the Tavor in the field. Also, coming soon: testing the new IWI UZI PRO Pistol).
Mr. Ags writes for Joe for America and welcomes your feedback: @blackswampradio & [email protected]