Israel has been manufacturing and designing weapons as a necessity even prior to the state’s inception. Its ingenuity in ammunition production and weapons design was essential in Israel’s ability to survive the 1948 Arab Israeli War when seven Arab nations attempted to wipe them off the map. During the war they were producing Sten guns among many other weapons. The effectiveness and ease of production of the sten gun is what led to Israel’s development of the famous Uzi Submachine gun. Israeli weapons are often born out of necessity, (see: the bottle opener feature on the Galil assault rifle). It was put on the biopod to save magazines which were the go to bottle opener for combat soldiers, and also wore out the magazines. The development of the tavor is no exception.

Urban combat is one of the most important aspects of modern warfare, a combat rifle needs to be able to function well in close quarters battle (CQB) as well as be able to reach out and hit targets at a long range. The Tavor hasn’t been in service very long and has already had feedback and redesigns since its first implementation. The birth of the Tavor X95 was first issued to Israeli Defense Force (IDF) troops in 2013 and was subsequently issued to three of their five infantry brigades. Join us as we take a closer look at this popular civilian rifle and Israeli military staple.

Israel Weapons Industries

Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI) has been an innovator of small arms for the past 80 years. It was founded in 1933 and was formerly state owned. It was privatized in 2005 at which time it was also renamed. IWI has unfortunately been a leading innovator out of necessity not in aims of profits, because Israel has been under constant threat from their neighbors. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and IWI is the perfect example of this fact. Their products range from assault rifles, shotguns,  light machine guns, sniper rifles, side arms, grenade launchers, sights, and a multitude of weapons accessories. Additionally, IWI also offers security training and international consulting programs. 

Tavor X95 SMG
SMG X95 Variant

IWI Tavor X95

The IWI Tavor-21 and Tavor X95 are big steps in design for Israel because it’s the first time they have issued a bullpup standard issue rifle. Bullpup refers to the trigger assembly being in front of the magazine well. The gun is ambidextrous and can easily be changed for left-handed to right-handed shooters. It utilizes a long-stroke gas piston system similar to the AK-47 but bears little resemblance on the outside. All Tavors come with Picatinny rail systems on the upper receiver making mounting optics very easy.

Israeli Tavor
Tavor X95 Flattop

The bullpup design makes the overall length of the weapon shorter while still having the same length barrel. It also moves the center of mass and weight of the firearm. It puts the bulk of the weight into the rear. Having most of the weight in your shoulder allows for better control of the weapon. The overall length and weight distribution of the firearm was designed with urban combat in mind. These factors make the Tavor, and X95 in particular, so popular and effective for home defense and modern warfare.

IWI X95 Rifle for Military

The X95 was designed with urban combat and CQB in mind. With regards to urban combat, it’s truly an ideal weapon. Its short overall length is great for maneuvering inside buildings and inside tunnels. The weight distribution in the rear of the gun makes taking corners a breeze. Taking a corner with the X95 is easier than with an M4 in my opinion, which is why it’s used in primarily in urban settings.

Tavor Assault Rifle
Tavor CTAR Integral

Where the weapon falls short is with CQB against someone with a knife. If someone attacks you with a knife while you’re carrying the X95, it’s awkward to block the knife attack, while not impossible, it’s inferior to defending a knife attack with an M4. The layout of a bullpup doesn’t make it suited as a blunt weapon in CQB. This is the exchange you have when you get an overall shorter weapon. For use by security forces who are under threat of knife attack, the M4 is preferable, which is what the IDF does the majority of the time. However, In a combat role when engaging targets in urban combat, the Tavor is superior. 

X95 Tavor for Civilians

The Tavor is a great addition to anyone’s collection and would serve well as a home defense weapon. One major advantage of the X95 for civilians is that it takes AR-15 mags and its overall design is highly ergonomic. The civilian Tavor is produced in Pennsylvania and will cost about the same as a higher end AR-15. The X95 isn’t available in all states though because it has a shorter barrel than all states allow. The advantage to the X95 is that it can be converted to fire 9mm fairly easily and well-suited for a variety of civilian uses. 

Tavor X95
Tavor X95 5.56 NATO

Tavor X95 Accessories  

The X95 9mm conversion kit would be a nice accessory to invest in if you were purchasing one. A red dot would also be advisable since the stock folding sights are only meant to be back ups. If the X95 is serving as a range mule, then any site will do. On the other hand, if it’s being utilized for home defense purposes then it would be worth investing in a quality sight that doesn’t require batteries. Something like the Mepro designed by IWI is ideal for the Tavor. If it’s being used for home defense, Murphy’s law should be taken into account. Nothing that might go wrong will go wrong and the day you’ll need it to defend you and your family, the batteries in your sight will be dead. 

Tavor SAR vs X95  

The Tavor SAR is a Tavor designed specifically for civilian use in the US. It’s designed to abide by states with stricter firearms laws and a few more bells and whistles to attract US private gun owners. They come with 16.5 inch barrel and 18 inch barrel. They also come in three colors black, OD green, and flat dark earth. They also have some variants that are sold with 10 round magazines to make them comply with stricter states guidelines on magazine restriction. Some US police departments have already adopted the Tavor SAR. Compared to the X95, the only real differences in the weapons are the barrel lengths, knuckle guard in front of the pistol grip, and the option of colors. The feeding systems, muzzle velocity, and actions are identical between the Tavor SAR and X95. 

Tavor SAR
Tavor SAR 300BLK

IWI Tavor 7  

The Tavor 7 is a variant that is chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO. This hasn’t been issued to troops yet, however it will likely serve as a designated marksman weapon. It’s also completely ambidextrous and is equipped with a Picatinny rail system on the upper receiver. There are currently two variants one with a 17 inch barrel & 28.7 inch overall length and 20 inch barrel with a 31.7 overall length. 

Tavor 7 rifle
IWI Tavor 7 Variant


IWI has been making innovative and quality equipment since their inception. The Tavor is no exception. The Tavor fills its role well of being an excellent urban combat rifle and smoothly transitions Israel from the M4 to a bullpup since they both take the same magazine. Bullpup weapons are logically the next step in firearms innovation and make sense in urban environments. In my humble opinion, its only faults are using it to defend against hand weapons due to its short overall length which isn’t something most militaries need to consider. Furthermore, the short overall length is an advantage in many situations. The weapon is being adopted by police in the US and special forces units across the globe and it’s no surprise why.  

Don’t miss our comprehensive look at the best Israeli Weapons!

Adam V

Combat military veteran with a Masters degree in security and diplomacy, Adam V is a jack of all trades for Gunivore. He is also a martial arts, survival, and firearms enthusiast who enjoys sharing his opinions on tough topics.

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