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


GunDiva said...

So at SHOT Show this year, you can start looking at after-market triggers :)

Congrats on your new baby.

From your insanely jealous shooting wife)

Daddy Hawk said...

Great review. Covers the bases. Also, excellent point about practical accuracy. Most of us will never need more than minute of burglar at household distances. I'd be interested to know if the Tavor seems louder than the AR since the muzzle is closer to the shooter. Also, my bet is that the balance point will shift to the handle with the addition of a suppressor.

Coffeypot said...

I saw this today on Facebook and though you and OldNFO would like to see it.

Double Tap said...

Good review,and congrats on your new babe. Sounds like the trigger sucked, something you come to expect to be good out of a gun with that reputation. Something to improve upon i guess. Get my newest AR from behind the counter tomorrow.

shoot straight!