I was fortunate to have recently come into possession of an IWI-US Tavor SAR rifle from a long-time friend of mine. The gentleman in question operates the Midnight Run news page and also works with the Individual Sovereignty page on Facebook. My love and fascination of the Tavor rifle series did not begin when Michael Kassnar announced that he was assisting Israeli Weapons Industries in opening a factory within the U.S..
The platform has had my interest since the early days of the creation itself, back when IWI was actually IMI. My main interest was how reliably the platform seemed to work, compared to it’s predecessors: the M-16 rifle and the M4 carbine. It should be mentioned that it beat the M4A1 (various 900 series carbines) in the IDF’s trials for Mean Rounds Between Failure (MRBF) — good luck finding much specific trial information though.
I searched long and hard for anybody who could tell me about reliability. When MilitaryPhotos.com (now TheMess.net) was still around, I spoke to a number of Golani and Givati Brigade members to see if they knew and were willing to speak on anything. The summary that I give everyone is; “They either sign an NDA or there’s nothing wrong with the platform”. Out of all who had experience, I would get nothing or “there were no issues”. There have been controlled information releases, but those articles are no longer available for sourcing. By that time, we were watching the X95 being adopted to replace the original TAR-21. The same story occurred when I asked about the X95.
The particular Tavor that I have is a B16, which means that it has a standard 16-inch barrel with no bayonet lug — which is available on the 18-inch models. The first thing that I changed was the muzzle device. I threw on an Advanced Armament BLACKOUT flash hider so that I could run an M4-2000 on it. I also threw on a Magpul MS4 sling. Prior to the range day, I also borrowed a Vortex Strikefire 1x red dot sight for preliminary testing.
We’ll quickly cover disassembly of the SAR first. The takedown is like that of an AR-15, but it has less initial parts come out of the rear of the receiver than a standard Kalashnikov. One captive pin at the top of the right rear of the receiver drops the buttpad down and out of the way. You reach in and grab the Bolt Carrier Group (BCG) to pull it rearward. The bolt, BCG with gas piston and recoil spring is all one unit. You can further disassemble it down to the basics, similar to an AK: the bolt, BCG/Gas Piston and recoil spring.
Next is the removal of the Trigger Assembly Group. Two captive takedown pins (that you can see in the above photo) are located over the bolt release paddle. Engage them from the right side of the rifle and pull the spring taunt paddle out of the way to remove the TAG. The trigger components are all held within one frame unlike an AR’s or an AK’s. Due to this simplicity; Geiselle, ShootingSight and a couple of other manufacturers offer drop-in kits. Here’s how you take it down.
The SAR’s trigger is not actually all that bad; after the first round is squeezed off. The take-up on the first round feels squishy to me; but, this wasn’t of consequence in regards of accuracy. The factory trigger weight (between 11- and 11.5-pounds) did not bother me either. You’ll see two groups where I used 55-grain XM193 Ball and obtained one-inch groups at 25-yards with irons. However, you can remove a reset spring (seen above) and drop the trigger weight down to between 7- and 8-pounds. Tim Harmsen outlined this, seeing it from another source, in this video. Two months later, he featured the ShootingSight TAV-D trigger, but specifically mentioned that the removal of that spring may cause trigger reset issues.
I haven’t decided if I’m going to remove that spring, yet, but I know for a fact that I can’t justify spending $300+ on an aftermarket group at this time.
Now, I’ll talk about sights. They are rail-integrated, flip-up sights. They are made up entirely of a metal construction. Compared to most other flip-up BUISs out on the market, they look lanky. They offer up plenty of adjustment on the front post, but there’s only one peep option. I will say that I will likely to throw another set of irons on the rifle. You can see how the existing set integrates into the Picatinny rail system in the photo below.
Upon shooting it early last weekend to find where it grouped, the rifle originally shot roughly four-inches low. Prior to even shooting it yesterday (June 20th), I adjusted the front sight and brought it up to an inch-and-a-half low at 25-yards with 55-grain XM193 FMJ Ball. The windage was good right off. I loaded up after another adjustment and fired. After shooting at twenty-five, I moved out to fifty and did a final zero at that range before taking a few groups out to one-hundred. I was less interested with the long-range iron sight shooting due to my eye sight, so I settled on the median distance.
Similarly, I zeroed the Strikefire at 25-yards and was initially impressed with the optic. However, at fifty and 100-yards, I fell back on my old desire for an optic with some power behind it. A few options that I’ve looked at include the Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x, a Leupold Mark-6 1-6x, a Trijicon ACOG 4x or an Elcan SpecterDR 1-4x. As my buddy, who loaned me the Strikefire, would say: “Those last three are a lot of shekels.”
The layout of the original Tavor makes sense from an operational standpoint. I’m willing to go as far as saying that the people who dislike the ergonomics of the platform aren’t giving it their all to run the platform. Upon need for a reload, you will raise the rifle up, grasp high on the magazine well and grip while pulling down. Your ring and pinky fingers will catch the magazine while your index and middle finger hook the magazine release. This applies to both left- and right-handed people.
Once you put the empty magazine away and raise up to insert a fresh one; you’re going to slide it home while jutting out your thumb straight back. You will lock the magazine home and hit the bolt release to load the first round. The safety seems closer to the hand than on an AR-15 and it is smooth, with affirmative selections. The charging handle is high-forward on the left side of the rifle (on normal layouts). The handle is non-reciprocating.
The gas that the SAR puts off, suppressed and unsuppressed, is actually my biggest problem with the platform. This issue was easily remedied early on by Gear Head Works, who put out the FLEx Swivel system. This add-on plate goes over the non-ejecting side port and adds an additional sling swivel mount. I’ll buy one of those in the future specifically for suppressed shooting, which I did do a little of.
In the conclusion, I love the system. My love for this rifle and it’s distant cousin, the X95, has grown since I bought the SAR. I still think the X95 will rule supreme over the SAR when I get one later on, this year. I’m not sure where I want to take this rifle. I could very well turn it into a short, suppressed .300 BLK rifle when IWI releases the conversion. But… if the right/left hand and 9mm conversions ($899 a piece) are any indication, I think I’d sooner buy a new drop-in TAG and just leave the rifle in 5.56mm.
I’m going to pick up a FLEx and look into an optic. I may also buy the Manticore Arms LUMA ambidextrous safety. The future debate will be optic or X95. I’m also going to look into some different magazines and an inconspicuous go-bag. You’ll see a lot more of this rifle in the future.
That’s all for now. Train hard and keep your heads on a swivel.