Tavor TAR-21 in the Israel Defense Forces History Museum
|Type||Bullpup assault rifle, carbine, designated marksman rifle, submachine gun|
|Place of origin||Israel|
|Used by||See Users|
|Designer||Israel Military Industries|
Israel Weapon Industries (IWI)
|Weight||3.27 kg (7.21 lb) (TAR-21)
3.18 kg (7.0 lb) (CTAR-21)
3.67 kg (8.1 lb) (STAR-21)
3.19 kg (7.0 lb) (TC-21)
|Length||720 mm (28.3 in) (TAR-21, STAR-21)
640 mm (25.2 in) (CTAR-21)
670 mm (26.4 in) (TC-21)
|Barrel length||460 mm (18.1 in) (TAR-21, STAR-21)
380 mm (15.0 in) (CTAR-21)
410 mm (16.1 in) (TC-21)
|Action||Gas-operated, rotating bolt|
|Muzzle velocity||910 m/s (2,986 ft/s) (TAR-21, STAR-21)
890 m/s (2,919.9 ft/s) (CTAR-21)
885 m/s (2,903.5 ft/s) (TC-21)
|Effective firing range||550 m[clarification needed]|
|Feed system||30-round detachable box STANAG Magazine (5.56×45mm NATO)|
|Sights||Backup iron sights and integrated Picatinny rails are provided for the Meprolight MP 21, ITL MARS with integrated laser and IR pointer, Trijicon ACOG, EOTech holographic sight and other optical sights|
The Tavor is designed and produced by Israel Weapon Industries (IWI). It is produced in two main variants: the TAR-21 and the CTAR-21.
Built around a long-stroke piston system (as found in the M1 Garand and AK-47), the Tavor is designed to maximize reliability, durability, simplicity of design, and ease of maintenance, particularly under adverse or battlefield conditions.
In 2009, the Tavor X95 (also known as the Micro Tavor or MTAR) was selected by the IDF to gradually replace the M16 assault rifle and M4 carbine variants as the standard-issued weapon of the Israeli infantry by the end of 2018. The first X95 bullpup rifles were issued to infantry units in 2013.
History and objectivesEdit
Israel Military Industries (the small arms branch of IMI was privatized into Israel Weapon Industries) initiated the Tavor development team in 1995, under the direction of gun designer Zalmen Shebs.
The objective of the project was to create an assault rifle that was more reliable, durable, and easier to maintain than the M4A1 Carbine, while also being better suited to close-quarters combat and mechanized infantry roles. As a result, they hoped that the weapon would be officially adopted by the Israel Defense Forces.
Due to the military's close-quarters and mechanized infantry requirements, the project team selected a bullpup design, that would allow the weapon to be compact while keeping a long barrel able to achieve ballistically favorable high muzzle velocities. A long-stroke piston system, similar to that found in the AK-47 and M1 Garand, was selected to ensure the weapon's reliability under adverse conditions.
Trials in IsraelEdit
The Tavor prevailed over the M4A1 Carbine in a series of trials of conducted during 2001 and 2002. Qualities tested included Mean Rounds Between Failures (MRBF), reliability, ergonomics during long marches, and ease-of-maintenance.
In 2009, the IDF selected the Tavor X95 as its future standard issue rifle for all branches of the infantry, with a gradual changeover beginning in 2006 and expected completion among front line troops by end of year 2018.
Design details and engineeringEdit
The Tavor uses a bullpup configuration, in which the receiver, bolt carrier group and magazine are placed behind the pistol grip. This shortens the firearm's overall length without sacrificing barrel length. As a result, the Tavor provides carbine overall length, yet can achieve rifle muzzle velocities if equipped with a rifle-length barrel.
Long-stroke piston systemEdit
The Tavor uses a non-lubricated long-stroke piston system, as found in the M1 Garand, IMI Galil, and the AK 47. Like in the AK-47, the long-stroke piston mechanism contributes to the extreme forcefulness of the TAR-21's extraction and chambering.
The Tavor attachment of the piston to a heavy bolt carrier, and the extension of the mainspring into the hollow stem of the bolt carrier, bears a family resemblance to the internal mechanism of the AK-47.
Ambidexterity and modularityEdit
The Tavor has ejection ports on both sides of the rifle so it can easily be reconfigured for right or left-handed shooters. However, this process requires partial disassembly, so it cannot be quickly reconfigured while the rifle is in use. An issue related to this is the original plastic cover on the unused ejection can allow gas to escape during the course of fire. Due to the bullpup design this vents right under the shooters face causing issues, such as inhaling ejection gases and the fouling of glasses and face with ejection debris. The issue is exacerbated when the weapon is suppressed. The characteristic black smudge from this has been nicknamed "Tavor face" by some shooters. This has been addressed by various non-factory solutions which increase sealing of the unused port.
The Tavor features a self-contained, drop-in trigger group, so that the trigger group can be changed or replaced without the use of additional tools.
The Tavor can also be mounted with the M203 grenade launcher (GTAR-21).
Chambering, cartridges and ammunition feedingEdit
The IDF uses both 3.6-gram (55 gr) M193 and 4.0-gram (62 gr) M855 5.56×45mm rounds. M193 rounds are used by regular infantrymen for better terminal effects at shorter distances, while the heavier M855 is used by sharpshooters.
The Tavor accepts standard STANAG magazines.
Last round bolt-open catchEdit
The Tavor features a last round bolt catch, whereby the bolt holds open after the last round discharges. This is a request of modern armies, as it helps to allow soldiers to know when their magazine empties and to reduce reloading times during combat while also not requiring manual action cycling after.
Tavor barrels are made from CrMoV steel and cold hammer-forged (CHF) on the premises of the IWI factory in Ramat HaSharon. The TAR-21 barrel is 457mm in length and is chrome-lined for durability and corrosion resistance. The barrel features 6 grooves in a 178 mm (1 in 7 inch) twist, or 32 calibers right hand twist rate.
Reliability, ease-of-maintenance and waterproofingEdit
The design objectives of the Tavor aimed for reliability and ease-of-maintenance, particularly under adverse or battlefield conditions. According to Russell C. Tilstra, the Tavor is "easily considered more reliable" than the M16 and M4 series rifles.
The Tavor is designed to be easily field-stripped, without the need for any additional tools.
It is waterproofed and its internal mechanism is sealed from outside elements, so that it can pass over-the-beach requirements.
The Tavor TAR-21 is the standard variant with a 457mm long barrel.
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. In 2013, the X95 was issued for the first time as the standard infantry weapon to recruits of the Givati Brigade.
With the use of a relatively simple conversion kit, the X95 can be converted from a 5.56 mm assault rifle to a 9mm submachine gun. A suppressor can also be added to the weapon, as part of the 9mm conversion kit. A grenade launcher can also be attached to the X95.
Ukrainian licensed TavorsEdit
- Fort-221 - Ukrainian locally produced version of the CTAR-21 in 5.45×39mm.
- Fort-222 - Ukrainian locally produced version of the STAR-21 in 5.45×39mm.
The semi-automatic Tavor Carbine (TC-21) was first made available for civilian customers to purchase in Canada from 2008. The Canadian civilian version initially shipped with the Mepro reflex sight and a slightly longer barrel to meet the Canadian requirement for non-restricted semi-automatic centerfire rifles to have a barrel length of at least 470 mm. Current version are shipped with a full length Picatinny rail, without optics. IWI started a new US subsidiary, IWI US, which is manufacturing the semi-automatic TC-21 as the Tavor SAR for U.S. sales. The weapon is manufactured with a combination of Israeli and US parts. IWI US had shipped 50,000 Tavor SARs to US civilian customers by early 2016. In Europe, the Czech company Zeleny Sport recently (December 2015) imported semi-automatic Israeli-made TAR-21s, equipped with Mepro M5 or M21 reflex sight, which are now available for both civilian and law enforcement customers. IWI US sells the Tavor SAR in variety of variants, and all have a full-length flattop picatinny rail; they include:
- TSB16: Semi-automatic version of the CTAR-21, with a 26.125 in. (663.575 mm) overall length.
- TSB16L: A TSB16 with left-handed controls pre-installed.
- TSB16-BLK: A TSB16 chambered in .300 AAC Blackout.
- TSB17-9: 9×19mm submachine gun with a 17 in (431.8 mm) barrel and a 26.125 in (663.575 mm) overall length.
- TSB18: 5.56×45mm rifle with a 18 in (457.2 mm) barrel and a 27.625 in (701.675 mm) overall length.
- TSB18RS: 5.56×45mm rifle with a 18 in (457.2 mm) barrel and a 30 in (762 mm) overall length; integrated permanent 2 3/8 in muzzle break and a 10-round magazine to be compliant with laws of certain states. ("RS" stands for Restricted State.)
- TSIDF16: Semi-automatic version of the CTAR-21 without a full-length rail, an integrated MEPRO 21 sight, and a 26.125 in (663.575 mm) overall length; meant to be a semi-automatic replica of the CTAR-21 issued to the IDF.
Note: IWI US sells their Tavor SARs in a variety of colors, including Black (B), Flat Dark Earth (FD), and OD Green (G); the letter "B" subsequent to "TS" in the rifles' designations can be switched with any of the colors' respective letters.
A significant aftermarket of spare and replacement parts has developed around the Tavor, including the development of match grade accurizing triggers for the bullpup rifle that are produced by manufacturers such as Geissele Automatics and double stage trigger pack TAV-D from Shooting Sight.
Shlomi Sabag, Deputy CEO of IWI, says that one of the indicators of the success of the rifle in the shooting sports or civilian market, is the fact that "an aftermarket of products associated with the Tavor bullpup rifle, like triggers, has evolved very quickly".
The National Rifle Association's American Rifleman awarded the Tavor the 2014 Golden Bullseye Award as its rifle of the year. The NRA's prestigious award, now in its twelfth year, aims to award the best products available to civilian shooters.
The Tavor X95 was awarded the NRA's rifle of the year award for 2017.
- Angola: Angolan Army purchase for Special Forces.
- Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan purchased a number of TAR-21 for the special operations forces of the Azerbaijani Army in August 2008.
- Brazil: Taurus, the local firearms manufacturer, produces the Tavor under license for the military. Small numbers are issued to soldiers in the Frontier Brigade.
- Cameroon: Issued to the Special Forces of Cameroon Army.
- Chad: Issued to Chadian Ground Forces since 2006.
- Chile: Investigations Police of Chile
- Colombia: The Colombian Army operates the TAR-21 for their special forces, in the army, marines and in the Colombian national police.
- El Salvador
- Cyprus: The Tavor Χ95 assault rifle is to gradually replace the ageing G3 assault rifle.
- Ethiopia: Bodyguards of the Ethiopian Prime Minister were seen with the TAR-21.
- Georgia: Different variants of the weapon have been acquired and issued to law enforcement, special commando and protection units of the Georgian MIA since 2001. In 2004 the TAR-21 was to replace the Soviet Kalashnikov rifle, however due to lack of funding and low purchase quantity that idea was abandoned. The construction of a manufacturing plant was also considered.
- Guatemala: Guatemala's police force or PNC (Policia Nacional Civil) operates the TAR-21.
- Honduras: Honduran Army and special forces operate the Tavor X95.
- India: In late 2002, India signed an ₹880 million (equivalent to ₹2.4 billion or US$36 million in 2017) deal with Israel Military Industries for 3,070 manufactured TAR-21s to be issued to India's special forces personnel, where its ergonomics, reliability in heat and sand might give them an edge at close-quarters and employment from inside vehicles. By 2005, IMI had supplied 350–400 TAR-21s to India's northern Special Frontier Force (SFF). These were subsequently declared to be "operationally unsatisfactory". The required changes have since been made, and tests in Israel during 2006 went well, clearing the contracted consignment for delivery. The TAR-21 has now entered operational service – even as India gears up for a larger competition that could feature a 9 mm X95 version. There was an attempt to create an Indian version of the Tavor under license known as Zittara, which was not adopted and it was made with a few prototypes from OFB. The new Tavor X95s have a modified single-piece stock and new sights, as well as Turkish-made MKEK T-40 40 mm under-barrel grenade launchers. 5,500 have been recently inducted and more rifles are being ordered. A consignment of over 500 Tavor bullpup assault rifles and another 30 Galil sniper rifles worth over ₹150 million (US$2.2 million) and ₹20 million (US$300,000) respectively was delivered to the MARCOS (Marine Commandos) in December 2010.: In 2016, IWI announced that it was establishing a 49:51 joint venture with Punj Lloyd in India, in order manufacture rifle components in India.
- Ivory Coast: Used by Ivorian Special Forces.
- Israel: As part of initial testing by Israel Defense Forces' infantry units, the TAR-21 was distributed to members of the training company of the Tzabar Battalion from the Givati Brigade who were drafted in August 2001. They received their rifles in November 2001 during basic training. Initial testing results were favorable – the TAR-21 was found to be significantly more accurate and reliable (as well as more comfortable) than the M4 carbine during extensive field testing. As a trial, the first Tavors were introduced in limited numbers into the army in 2003.
- Issues with fine sand entering the Tavor's chamber, which were identified over the two years of testing, were rectified by numerous small adjustments. A number of other improvements and changes to the design were also made between 2001–2009. Tavor CTAR-21 bullpup assault rifles saw combat service in Operation Cast Lead, used by Givati Brigade and Golani Brigade, and the soldiers reported the Tavor bullpup assault rifles functioned flawlessly.
- In November 2009, the IDF announced that the X95 would become the standard infantry weapon of the IDF, with the addition of an integrated grenade-launcher.
- In December 2012, the IDF announced that they would begin equipping and training their new reserve forces with the X95, starting in 2013, with the switch-over by the end of 2018.
- The first Tavor X95 bullpup rifles were issued to new recruits of a main IDF infantry brigade in 2013, replacing the M16 assault rifles.
- In 2014 the IDF announced that in the future (from as early as the end of 2014) some infantry units could start to be issued some numbers of an improved X95, which will have a longer 38 cm (15 in) barrel (instead of the original 33 cm barrel) and a lighter trigger pull.
- Macedonia: Police special forces [Unit for Fast Deployment].
- Mexico: In service with the Ministry of Public Security since 2011.
- Mongolia: Special forces.
- Nepal: Used in small quantities by Nepali Gurkhas and Army Rangers.
- Nigeria The State Security Service employ it as the primary assault rifle for their close protection and tactical units replacing the Uzi. It is also used by the Nigerian Navy.
- Philippines Small quantities in use by special units of the Philippine Marines and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and one PNP SWAT team in Pasig City.
- Portugal: Small quantities of the TAR-21 are in use by field and intervention units of the Polícia Judiciária, like hostage negotiation teams and investigators who usually work alongside other dedicated law enforcement intervention units—the Special Operations Group (GOE) and the National Republican Guard's Special Operations Company (COE); these weapons were initially intended to equip a new unit under the command of the Polícia Judiciária resembling the GOE. The TAR-21 also participated in the competition for the new service rifle for the three branches of the Portuguese Armed Forces and the Police Special Operations Group (GOE)—a bid that also included the local production of the TAR-21 in Portugal. However, the TAR-21 was excluded from the shortlist. The competition has meanwhile been annulled, after the other contenders and both political and defense critics accused the competition of favoring the Heckler & Koch G36.
- Senegal: Issued to the Special Forces of Senegal Army.
- Thailand: To replace some of its current inventory of M16A1 assault rifles, The Royal Thai Army purchased three batches of TAR-21 bullpup assault rifles for USD27.77 million (THB 946.99 million) and approved delivery of a fourth batch on 15 September 2009, bringing the total to more than 76,000 TAR-21 (Total 106,203 Tavor bullpup assault rifle).
- Turkey: Used by the Special Forces Command Bordo Bereliler.
- Ukraine: Yuriy Lutsenko, then head of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, announced on October 1, 2008 that Israel Weapon Industries and the Ukrainian research and production company RPC Fort would jointly manufacture Tavor bullpup assault rifles to enter service with special Ukrainian military and police units. RPC Fort had displayed working samples of Tavors chambered in 5.45×39mm cartridge with Milkor 40mm UBGL grenade launchers to showcase to Ukrainian security forces officers as a means of convincing them to buy Ukrainian-made Tavors for special forces units.
- United States: In August 2013, IWI US announced that the Pennsylvania Capitol Police had adopted the Tavor SAR, a variant specifically designed for the U.S. market. In July 2014, it was announced that the Lakewood, New Jersey Police Department would begin to adopt the Tavor SAR, after the weapon "met the demands and requirements of the Lakewood PD for reliability, ease-of-maintenance, durability and accuracy". The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office in Texas, operate Tavor SAR.
- Vietnam: From 2012, the TAR-21 entered service in special units of the Vietnamese Army, equipping special forces, marines and naval units.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to IWI Tavor.|
- Israel Weapon Industries (I.W.I.): TAVOR TAR-21 5.56 mm (TAVOR TAR FLATTOP)
- Israel Weapon Industries (I.W.I.): Micro TAVOR MTAR-21 5.56 mm / 9×19 mm
- on YouTube YouTube Video: Overview of the civilian semi-automatic version of the Tavor
- on YouTube YouTube Video: Water Tests of the Micro Tavor (X95)
- Tavor Israeli Weapons: The TAR-21 Tavor bullpup assault rifle
- Modern Firearms
- Decidedly Different: The IWI TAVOR, American Rifleman, National Rifle Association, USA