Monday, December 23, 2013

SHOT Show is Coming Up

Is it wrong that I'm a little more excited for SHOT than I am for Christmas?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Review: IWI TAVOR (First Impressions)

Review: IWI TAVOR (First Impressions)

Today’s review is a year in the making.  We have wanted to test the TAVOR ever since we saw them at Shot Show 2013.  It has been difficult to obtain one due to high demand and short supply.  But I found the model I wanted at my local dealer and jumped at the opportunity.  Cost was $1790 plus tax.  Approximately $1950 after sales tax and background check fee.

The TAVOR is a bullpup rifle designed by and for the Israeli military.  And has been in service for several years.  The defining feature of a bullpup rifle is the magazine is placed behind the hand grip, instead of in front, giving the rifle an overall shorter length.  Even with a longer barrel, this makes the rifle more compact and easier to maneuver especially in tight space

Comparison with M4 rifle with 14.5 inch barrel

I chose the18 inch model with flat top picatinny rail.  The picatinny rail allows for the mounting of almost any optic you wish.  There is also a 16 inch model available as well.  The rifle is chambered in 5.56 x 45 and will shoot both military 5.56 and commercial .223 Remington ammunition.  The barrel has a twist rate of 1 in 7, which allows this rifle to handle heavier bullets up to 77 grains. 
Overall length is 29 inches and weighs approximately 8 Lbs empty without magazine.   
Further information can be found on the IWI Website. 

The TAVOR comes nicely packaged in its shipping box.  It contains the rifle, a full cleaning kit, 1 magazine, obligatory safety lock and an excellent instruction manual.  And 2 quick release swivels are also included for mounting your preferred sling. 

For my tests I mounted two different optics.  First a Nightforce 1-4 power glass optic (Nightforce NXS 1-4 compact)  Second an Aimpoint model M4S reddot sight. (Aimpoint M4S)  Both were mounted with Larue Tactical quick release mounts. (Larue Tactical)

What I like

-       Compact bullpup design is handy and easy to maneuver. 
-       The rifle shoulders very well and generally balances well once shouldered.  One item to note on the balance.  The rifles balance point is behind the hand grip and naturally balances to the rear and feels a bit awkward in the hand.  But this disappears once the rifle is shouldered.

-       The picatinny rail makes mounting any sight of your choice easy.  Do note the rail is a bit shorter than a standard AR15 rail.  So standard AR15 mounts are short by approximately ¼ inch.  You may need to go to a slightly higher mount for your optic.  You can use a standard mount but will need to scrunch your head down a bit for proper sight alignment.
-       Built in backup iron sights.  No need to buy aftermarket sights.  You have what you need built into the rifle.  They are easy to adjust with the supplied tool.  And the front sight does have a tritium insert. 

-       One unique feature is the position of the bolt release.  It is located behind the magazine well.  This allows the shooter to insert a new magazine and with the thumb release the bolt in one motion before moving back to the firing position.

-       The charging handle is conveniently located on the left hand side for easy access.

-       There is a picatinny rail mounted on the right side for mounting of lights or lasers.

-       The TAVOR can be configured for left hand shooters with the addition of a left hand kit.

-       The TAVOR is also cable of being configured for different calibers.  There will be a conversion kit for 9mm and for the Russian 5.45 x 39 caliber. 

-       It uses standard AR15 magazines.  And we all have a lifetime supply of these by now right?

What I don’t like

-       The trigger is absolutely dreadful on this rifle.  It is north of 8 pounds.  I can’t measure it as I don’t have the tools.  But other websites have reported upwards of 11 pounds.  The trigger is also long, creepy, mushy and crunchy all at the same time.  Honestly, I have fired AK-47’s with better triggers.  Heck I’ll say it.  I have fired Heckler and Koch rifles with better triggers.  (Yeah, I’ll take the heat from the H&K fanbois.  It is still an appropriate analogy)  
     This leads to my next biggest complaint.

-       Accuracy is mediocre.  I think the terrible trigger has a lot to do with this.  Using the Nightforce magnified optic I was able to achieve an adequate 2-3 inch group at 100 yards.  I was also able to hit the 300 yard and 390 yard steel plates very easily.  The 400 and 500 yard plates were a bit more challenging but doable.  With the Aimpoint I only achieved a 4 inch group at 100 yards.  This is dreadful as it is AK-47 territory.  For a $2000 rifle I would expect better.  A cheap no name AR15 generally does 2 inches and better out of the box.

Results with Aimpoint reddot optic.


Overall I like this rifle.  If you are looking for a bullpup rifle, definitely look at the TAVOR.  It is short, handy and maneuvers well.  It is rugged and reliable.  And it is battle proven.  Even with a crappy trigger and mediocre accuracy this rifle does have value and purpose.  It is accurate enough for most jobs.  I think most people get too worked up over accuracy.  Most jobs do not need pin point accuracy.  If you can put your shots into an 8-10 inch circle you are golden.
I think this rifle is best suited for military, law enforcement, self defense and tactical style competitions.  Or defending yourself during the Zombie apocalypse.  Where this rifle does not perform well is where accuracy is of prime consideration such as bullseye competitions.

This is the initial review of the TAVOR rifle.  Do expect further updates in the future as we have more time to work with this rifle and get to know its ins/outs and personality. 
And I am looking to the aftermarket to find a solution to the trigger issue.  As I think a better trigger will help with the accuracy.

By: Michael Mezo

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I'm Back!

I couldn't believe it when I looked at the date of the last post and realized it's been over a month!  Today is the monthly defensive pistol match (which I won't be attending) and I haven't even debriefed last month's match.

Each year I challenge myself to shoot one match with my left hand.  Last year, I sucked horribly.  Nothing went right and though I completed my challenge, I was dead last by a long shot.  I have confidence in my ability to shoot with my left hand, because I sort of practice it.  Not a lot, mind you, but I do practice.  Enough so that I don't break out into a cold sweat when the match director announces that a stage will have a support-hand component.

On the first stage (which we don't have video of, darn), I completely buggered up a magazine change.  I know how to do mag changes left-handed.  I even wrote a blog post about it a few years ago.  My mind went completely blank and I juggled the gun back and forth between my hands; I couldn't seem to remember that my mags were on my right hip instead of my left and it was just a hot mess.  After that, though, it was smooth sailing.  When the scores came in, I placed 5th out of 8 in my division.  I even managed to beat, time-wise, 7 of the high-cap shooters.  (I always, no matter which match it is, compare my times to the folks with the 10+ round magazines.  In theory, they should be shooting faster than me, with almost double the capacity, so it always makes me happy to beat some of them.)

Every year, when I shoot my one match left-handed, I have shooters come up to me and ask why I would do such a thing.  The answer is because I need the practice and I like the challenge.  Or I have shooters come up to me and say, "I really should practice more left- (or right-)handed."  Yes you should.  But other than Mez, I've yet to see anyone attempt it at a match.

The "real" reason I've been absent for so long is that I was working on finishing/editing/publishing my first novel, HUNTED LYON. ( I released my first non-fiction collection of short stories at the end of August, in honor of my mare, Estes).  HUNTED LYON is a book I love.  It might not be some people's cup of tea, but I love the main character.  When the antagonist engages her, he doesn't realize he has bit off more than he can chew.

 I *love* strong female characters and I wanted to make this one not only strong, but capable with a gun.  There are lots of female main characters out there who aren't so smart about guns, they're either untrained or afraid of them or have the wrong mindset, so my goal was to develop a strong female character with the right defensive mindset, not one who bumbled her way through.  I wanted my main character to be more like Skeeter Bang or Red Dog than Stephanie Plum and I like to think I accomplished my goal.

Here's the back blurb:
The hunt begins, and Ms. Lyon is the prey...

Stacy Lyon is happy with her life. She has her twins, her boarding stable, and is well on her way to achieving her dream of becoming a large animal vet. Other than her relationship with her boyfriend, Stacy's life is going exactly the way she planned.

Unwittingly, she's drawn into a twisted social experiment that tests her physical and emotional strength.

Her life will never be the same.
I don't like pimping myself out, but if you're interested in a novel with a bit of an effed up antagonist who chooses the wrong woman to mess with, feel free to jump on over to Amazon.  HUNTED LYON is available in print ($10.99) or Kindle version ($2.99).