Tavor X95 Bullpup — Israel Born and Battle Proven
Israel is a nation that was born out of hardship like no other. Founded after the Second World War and the iniquitous holocaust, during which six million Jewish men, women, and children were murdered in gas chambers by the Nazis; the survivors and other Jews of Europe sought to establish a new nation where they could live in peace. More than eight decades later that peace remains fragile at best, yet the people of Israel have determined to never be victims again.
That wasn’t easy as the State of Israel was a nation surrounded by enemies, and in the years immediately after it gained independence in 1948 it was lacking any significant arms industry. Instead, the new state sought to acquire as many weapons as it could. That had included — almost ironically — surplus German military rifles and machine guns, as well as surplus American small arms. By the early 1950s, the small domestic arms industry began developing weapons such as the Uzi submachine gun, and by the 1970s Israel had become a major producer of small arms in the region.
Among those companies was the Israel Military Industries (IMI) — also referred to as Ta’as — state-owned enterprises that developed and produced weapons, munitions and military technology for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). In 2005, the small arms division of IMI was privatized and renamed Israel Weapons Industries (IWI). Today, it continues to develop and manufacture small arms for military, paramilitary, and law enforcement agencies around the world.
IWI’s products have included the Desert Eagle semi-automatic pistol, Dror light machine gun, Galil assault rifle, the Negev series of light and general-purpose machine guns, and the aforementioned Uzi. IWI also produces the Tavor series of “bullpup” small arms.
A Unique Design
The IWI Tavor TAR-21 was the first of the series, and it entered service in 2001. Designed as a select-fire bullpup assault rifle, and chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge, it offered a somewhat “futuristic” looking design. Yet, in fact, bullpup firearms weren’t actually new — and the concept of having the action placed behind the trigger to make for a more compact and maneuverable weapon was devised at a time when long guns truly lived up to the name.
It was in 1901 with the introduction of the British-designed Thorneycroft carbine that such a weapon was actually devised, but it took until the Cold War for the designs to be refined. The platform has been successfully seen in small arms such as the Austrian-produced Steyr AUG, the French FAMAS F1, and notably the British Army’s L85A1.
Meet the X95
In the early 2000s, IWI sought to expand its line of bullpup assault rifles, and that resulted in the introduction of the IWI X95, which was selected as the standard-issue weapon of the IDF’s infantry.
It featured a charging handle that is closer to the pistol grip and offered a redesigned buttstock and magazine. The X95 was also designed to be easily converted from a 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge to 9x19mm Parabellum (NATO), where it can be used in the role of a submachine gun.
As an assault rifle, it utilized a long-stroke piston system with a rotating bolt, similar to those found in the American- designed M1Garnad that was developed in the 1930s, and the Soviet-designed AK-47, which was refined a decade later. The use of this system ensures reliability, durability, and simplicity as well as offering ease of maintenance. When configured in 9mm, it then used a blowback system to cycle through the ammunition, while still employing the same body as the gas-operated system. It can also be used with Colt 9mm SMG magazines.
Like other Tavor bullpups, the X95 was also designed with an ambidextrous configuration and operation that addresses a common problem with bullpups when used by left-handed shooters where the ejection port is essentially in front of the shooters’ face. In this case, the bolt and ejection port can be reversed accordingly and even done in the field or at the range.
The Civilian Friendly Tavor X95
The Tavor X95 was introduced as a civilian-friendly, semi-only modern sporting bullpup rifle in the United States nearly a decade ago. It is available with an elongated handguard as well as a thicker buttpad, which comply with U.S. firearms laws. It utilizes the long-stroke gas piston of the military version and fires from a closed rotating bolt.
It still has a full 16.5-inch cold hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel, but at 26.125-inches is more compact than some “short-barreled rifles. The barrel has a 1:7 inch twist with 6 grooves. Empty, the X95 weighs just 7.9 pounds, so it is no heavyweight either, and both 9mm and .300 Blackout conversion kits are available.
The civilian version features several upgrades and enhancements from the original Tavor SAR, including a new fire control pack with a 5-6 lb. trigger pull, repositioning of the ambidextrous magazine release to an AR-15 location, a forearm with Picatinny rails at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions with removable rail covers and relocation of the charging handle closer to your center mass. It offers a modular Tavor-style pistol grip that can be swapped out to a standard pistol grip with a traditional trigger guard and a smaller, lower-profile bolt release button. It is available in black (B), flat dark earth (FD) and OD green (G).
The compact design of the Tavor X95 makes it an ideal choice for those who are looking to use a suppressor such as the Omega 300 — one of the lightest, shortest, and quietest centerfire rifle silencers on the market; not to mention the best selling suppressor in history. Made from cobalt-6, stainless steel and titanium, the Omega 300, which is just 7.08-inches, would result in a suppressed rile that is still less than 33-inches while at 14.8 ounces the suppressor would hardly change the overall balance. The fully-welded SilencerCo Omega 300 is also full-auto and magnum rated.