IMI Tavor TAR-21
|Place of origin||Israel|
|Used by||See Users|
|Wars||Operation Defensive Shield, Operation Summer Rains, Second Lebanon War, Operation Hot Winter, Gaza War, Colombian armed conflict, South Ossetia War, Cambodian-Thai stand-off|
|Designer||Israel Military Industries (IMI)|
|Manufacturer||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)
2.95 kg (6.5 lb) (MTAR-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)
590 mm (23.2 in) (X-95/MTAR-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)
330 mm (13.0 in) (X-95/MTAR-21)
419 mm (16.5 in) (X-95-L)
410 mm (16.1 in) (TC-21)
|Action||Gas-operated, rotating bolt|
|Rate of fire||750–900 rounds/min|
|Muzzle velocity||910 m/s (2,986 ft/s) (TAR-21, STAR-21)
890 m/s (2,919.9 ft/s) (CTAR-21)
870 m/s (2,854.3 ft/s) (MTAR-21)
885 m/s (2,903.5 ft/s) (TC-21)
|Effective firing range||500 m[clarification needed]|
Standard 30 round MagazineVarious STANAG magazines
|Sights||Meprolight MP 21, ITL MARS with integrated laser and IR pointer, Trijicon ACOG (STAR-21), EOTech holographic sight, others available|
The TAR-21 (or simply Tavor) is an Israeli bullpup assault rifle chambered for 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition with a selective fire system, selecting between semi-automatic mode and full automatic fire mode. "TAR-21" stands for "Tavor Assault Rifle – 21st Century". Since 2009, it has been selected as the standard issued weapon of the Israeli infantry. The MTAR-21 (Micro Tavor) was recently selected as the future assault rifle of the Israeli Defense Forces, and some infantry divisions are being issued with the rifle, replacing the larger, standard TAR-21.
The TAR-21 uses a bullpup design. Bullpup rifles are configured in a layout in which the bolt carrier group is placed behind the pistol grip; this shortens the overall length but does not sacrifice barrel length. The TAR-21 provides carbine length, but rifle muzzle velocity. The bullpup design is also used to minimize the silhouette of soldiers and to maximize effectiveness in turning corners in urban warfare.
The TAR-21 project began in 1995 by Israel Military Industries (now Israel Weapon Industries) to create a rifle suited for the Israeli Defense Forces on modern battlefields. Most combat situations were occurring in urban spaces, requiring soldiers to fight in close quarters. With a mostly mechanized army, weapons also had to be transported inside vehicles and helicopters. At the time, Israeli forces had small numbers of Glilon (Galil SAR) rifles and mainly used M16A1 rifles. Later additions of M4A1 carbines were still judged as too long for comfortable use. To make the weapon compact while keeping a relatively long barrel to achieve ballistically favorable higher muzzle velocities, a bullpup design was chosen. The TAR-21 was officially adopted by the IDF in 2003.
The TAR-21 design was created by Zalmen Shebs, with the express purpose of creating a weapon more suited to urban combat than the M16/M4 carbine. It is based on advanced ergonomics and composite materials in order to produce a more comfortable and reliable rifle. The TAR-21 is waterproof and lightweight. The weapon has a built in laser and MARS red dot sight, but the TAR-21 can also be mounted with an array of different sights such as a holographic weapon sights, night vision systems and other electronic devices.
The rifle uses a long-stroke piston system to redirect high pressure gases from rounds being fired to eject spent shells and reload new ones. The TAR-21 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. The barrel features 6 grooves in a 178 mm (1 in 7 inch) or 32 calibers right hand twist rate. The IDF uses both 55-grain M193 and 62-grain M855 5.56×45mm rounds. M193 rounds will be used by regular infantrymen for better terminal effects at shorter distances, while the heavier M855 will be used by sharpshooters. The barrel has a flash suppressor similar to the one on the M16A2.
The TAR-21 accepts standard STANAG magazines. It can also be mounted with the M203 grenade launcher. Its ambidextrous fire mode selector above the pistol grip has a semi-automatic mode and a fully automatic mode.
The Tavor assault rifle comes in different variations:
- TAR-21 – standard version intended for multirole infantry.
- CTAR-21 – compact short barrel version intended for commandos and special forces.
- STAR-21 – designated marksman version with folding under-barrel bipod and Trijicon ACOG 4× magnification sight.
- MTAR-21 (X95) – the Micro Tavor, see below.
- TC-21 - the semi-automatic Tavor Carbine, see below.
Micro Tavor (X95)
The Micro Tavor (MTAR-21), also designated X95 and sometimes called Tavor-2, is a stand-alone extremely compact weapon specifically designed for special forces units, as well as military personnel who are normally not issued long assault rifles.
With the use of a relatively simple conversion kit, the MTAR-21 can be converted from a 5.56 mm assault rifle to a 9 mm submachine gun loaded with 20, 25, and 32-round magazines. A suppressor can also be added to the weapon, as part of the 9 mm conversion kit. An integrated grenade launcher is currently being developed for the Micro Tavor. In November 2009, the Micro Tavor was selected as the future standard infantry weapon of the IDF.
When configured to fire 9 mm rounds, the gun uses a blowback operation to eject and reload rounds, but in the same body as the gas-operated rifle reloading system. It is fed from Uzi magazines. A suppressor can be mounted that allows for the use of standard velocity 9 mm ammunition, not specialized subsonic ammo. The barrel is the same length as the rifle version, but has a 1:10 in rifling twist to stabilize heavy 9 mm bullets.
Compared to the 880 mm (35 in) long M4 with its stock extended with a 14.5 in (370 mm) barrel, the X95 is 590 mm (23 in) long with a 13 in (330 mm) barrel.
It comes in a number of variants (including):
- X95 (5.56mm, compact assault rifle/carbine with 330mm/13" barrel)
- X95L (5.56mm, compact assault rifle/carbine with 419mm/16.5" barrel)
- X95 SMG (9mm, SMG with 330mm/13" barrel)
- X95R (5.45x39mm,compact assault rifle/carbine with 330mm/13" barrel)
- X95S (9mm, integrated silencer with 275mm/10.8" barrel, and a rate of fire of ~1200 rds/min)
- 7.62 NATO X95
In March 2013, it was reported that IWI would be making an X95 Tavor chambered in 7.62 NATO. The American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israeli experience in Lebanon prompted the need for moving to a caliber with greater lethality and range.
- 5.45 Russian X95
In April 2013, IWI introduced a conversion kit for the X95, chambered for the 5.45×39mm Russian. The kit was designed for export customers to allow for the rifle to fire 5.45 mm ammunition already used in their inventories
The semi-automatic Tavor Carbine (TC-21) was designed for civilian customers, and as a police patrol carbine for those countries, or law enforcement agencies, where full-automatic firearms are issued only to SWAT-like units. A semi-automatic Tavor carbine was first seen at the 2002 SHOT Show, when agreements were announced between IMI and the Barrett Firearms Company to manufacture the Tavor in both its military and civilian variants in the United States. This was probably done in order to allow Israel to procure the Tavor using United States military aid money, since, according to American military assistance agreements, said funds must be spent to purchase US-manufactured equipment. The agreement between IMI and Barrett was never finalized, and the semi-automatic Tavor carbine as shown at the 2002 SHOT Show was never manufactured, although that specific design has recently resurfaced. The current Tavor Carbine, made in Israel by IWI, has been designed with slightly shortened barrel, otherwise being identical to the standard TAR-21 assault rifle.
As of 2008, it is available for civilian customers to purchase in Canada. 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.
According to an interview with Michael Kassnar of Trans World Arms at the SHOT Show 2012, Trans World Arms is planning to bring the civilian version of Tavor to market around September–October 2012 timeframe.
IWI has started a new US subsidiary, which is manufacturing the Tavor for US sales, with a market date of April 2013. Several distributors now have Tavors on order and are taking pre-orders from FFL dealers. Multiple versions are for sale, with two barrel lengths (16.5" and 18"). The longer barrel is likely to meet NFA requirements for overall length with the muzzle device removed.
As of 2013, the Tavor is available to civilian customers in the United States through IWI's US subsidiary, It is available in black or flat dark earth colors and with either a 16.5" or 18" barrel. Also available on the 16.5" variant is an integrated Mepro reflex sight. The standard versions come with a full length picatinny rail along the top in addition to the 45-degree offset rail on the ejection side of the foregrip. These variants have an integrated backup sight system that collapses into the rail, with a tritium equipped front post. All variants are compliant with the National Firearms Act. Also available from IWI-US are 9mm luger conversion kits and left-to-right, or vice versa, conversion bolts.
The designations for the US rifles are the Tavor SAR-B16, -B18, -B16L, and -B18L.
- Israel: After initial testing within Israel Defense Forces' infantry training 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 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 – but the battle proven and widely issued M4A1 carbine and its variants will remain in service for some time to come; their unit purchase price is about one third that of the TAR-21. Originally there were some issues with fine sand entering the Tavor's chamber, but numerous adjustments were made and was rectified by 2009. A number of other improvements were also made between 2001–2009. Tavor CTAR-21 rifles saw combat service in Operation Cast Lead, used by Givati Brigade and Golani Brigade, and the soldiers reported the Tavor rifles functioned flawlessly.
- In November 2009, the IDF announced that the Micro Tavor (MTAR-21), rather than the TAR-21, would in the future 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 TAR-21 assault rifle starting in 2013, with the switch-over by 2018.
- 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 Micro-Tavor, which will have a longer 38 cm barrel (instead of the original 33 cm barrel of the X95), a lighter trigger pull, and a number of other upgrades.
- 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.
- Colombia: The Colombian Army operates the TAR-21 for their special forces, in the army, marines and in the Colombian national police.
- Ethiopia: Bodyguards of the Ethiopian Prime Minister were seen with the TAR-21.
- Georgia: Since 2001, the Georgian Army has entered into a USD 65 million supply agreement for approximately 20 000 TAR-21 rifles (including different variants and grenade launchers). Uses all TAR-21 variants. The rifle was first revealed to the public during a military parade in 2005 with a Special Forces Battalion named Gulua Group carrying it. Further arrangements like a TAR-21 production facility in Georgia were dropped due to pressure from Russia.
- Guatemala: Guatemala's police force or PNC (Policia Nacional Civil) operates the TAR-21.
- Honduras: Honduran army special forces use the MTAR-21.
- India: In late 2002, India signed an INR 880 million (about USD 17.7 million) deal with Israel Military Industries for 3,070 Tavor assault rifles to be issued to India's special forces personnel, where its ergonomics, reliability in heat and sand, and fast-point/fast-shoot design might give them an edge at close-quarters and employment from inside vehicles. By 2005, IMI had supplied 350–400 Tavors 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 Tavor has now entered operational service – even as India gears up for a larger competition that could feature a 9 mm MTAR-21 version. Known as the Zittara, the rifle is manufactured in India by the Ordnance Factories Board for Indian service, the new Tavors 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 TAR-21 Tavor assault rifles and another 30 Galil sniper rifles worth over INR 150 million (USD 3.3 million) and INR 20 million respectively was delivered to the MARCOS (Marine Commandos) in December 2010. The Central Reserve Police Force has ordered 12000 Micro Tavor rifles (designation X-95) and it received the first shipment of the rifles in early 2011. As of 2014, there is no indication that OFB has made the Zittara.
- Macedonia: Police special forces.
- Nigeria The State Security Service employ it as the primary assault rifle for their close protection and tactical units replacing the Uzi.
- Philippines Small quantities in use by special units of the Philippine Marines and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
- 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.
- Thailand: To replace some of its current inventory of M16A1 rifles, The Royal Thai Army purchased three batches of TAR-21 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 58,000 TAR-21 rifles.
- 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 will jointly manufacture the Tavor TAR-21 assault rifle, that will enter service with special Ukrainian military and police special units. RPC Fort had displayed working samples of Tavors chambered to take 5.45×39mm ammo 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.
- Vietnam: From 2012, the Tavor entered service in special units of the Vietnamese army, equipping special forces, marines and naval units.
- USA: 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.
On December 20, 2013, IWI US, Inc. a subsidiary of Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) Ltd., announced that the Tavor has received the 2014 Golden Bullseye Award for American Rifleman Rifle of the Year. The prestigious award, now in its twelfth year, acknowledges the finest products available in the shooting sports.
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- Israeli Army reserve soldiers to be equipped with Tavor TAR-21 - Armyrecognition.com, December 15, 2012
- ישראל דיפנס, הכתבה הופיעה במלואה במקור במגזין "במחנה" גיליון 47, 12 דצמבר 2013.
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- What kind of gun Meles Zenawi bodyguards carry?, May 23, 2010, Posted by ocean, http://ethiopiaforums.com
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- Philstar Online PDEA acquires 120 new assault rifles
- Substituição da G-3: Governo recorreu para o Supremo, Diário Digital
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- > Луценко продемонстрировал новое украинское стрелковое оружие, 02.10.2008, videonews.com.ua
- Súng trường uy lực của hải quân đánh bộ Việt Nam Thế giớiQuân sự | Cập nhật thứ ba, ngày 07/05/13
- Pennsylvania State Capitol Police Adopt IWI US TAVOR SAR Rifle - Thefirearmblog.com, 28 August 2013
- IWI US, Inc. Receives Contract from Township of Lakewood, New Jersey Police DepartmentSOURCE: ISRAELI WEAPON INDUSTRIES (IWI) US, INC. JUL 10, 2014]
-  - The IWI US TAVOR SAR is the 2014 American Rifleman Rifle of the Year
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to IMI Tavor.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to IWI Micro-Tavor.|
- Israel Weapon Industries (I.W.I.): TAVOR TAR-21 5.56 mm
- Israel Weapon Industries (I.W.I.): Micro TAVOR MTAR-21 5.56 mm / 9×19 mm
- Water tests of the Micro Tavor on YouTube YouTube Video: Water Tests of the Micro Tavor (X-95)
- Tavor Israeli Weapons: The TAR-21 Tavor assault rifle
- Modern Firearms
- Decidedly Different: The IWI TAVOR, American Rifleman, National Rifle Association, USA