IMI Tavor TAR-21
|Type||Bullpup assault rifle|
|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)
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||550 m[clarification needed]|
|Feed system||Standard 30-round detachable box Magazine
Various 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.
Built around a long-stroke piston system (as found in the M1 Garand and AK-47), the Tavor was designed to maximise reliability, durability, and ease of maintenance, particularly under adverse or battlefield conditions.
In 2009, the MTAR-21 (X-95) was selected to become the standard issued weapon of the Israeli infantry by 2018.
- 1 History and design objectives
- 2 Tavor Variants
- 3 Awards
- 4 Conflicts
- 5 Users
- 5.1 Local users
- 5.2 Foreign users
- 5.2.1 Angola
- 5.2.2 Azerbaijan
- 5.2.3 Brazil
- 5.2.4 Cameroon
- 5.2.5 Chad
- 5.2.6 Chile
- 5.2.7 Colombia
- 5.2.8 Ethiopia
- 5.2.9 Georgia
- 5.2.10 Guatemala
- 5.2.11 Honduras
- 5.2.12 India
- 5.2.13 Macedonia
- 5.2.14 Mexico
- 5.2.15 Nigeria
- 5.2.16 Peru
- 5.2.17 Philippines
- 5.2.18 Portugal
- 5.2.19 Thailand
- 5.2.20 Turkey
- 5.2.21 Ukraine
- 5.2.22 Vietnam
- 5.2.23 USA
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
History and design objectives
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.
Trials in Israel
Between 2001 and 2002, the Tavor was given extensive military trials for functionality and reliability against the M4A1 Carbine. It was trialled in tests including Mean Rounds Between Failures (MRBF); reliability; ergonomics during long marches; and ease-of-maintenance. In these military tests, it prevailed over the M4A1 Carbine.
As a result of these trials, the IDF adopted the Tavor as the future standard arm for all branches of the infantry, to gradually enter service, with the first weapons delivered to the infantry from 2006 onwards, and a full changeover expected by 2018.
Design features and engineering
Long-stroke piston system
The rifle uses a non-lubricated long-stroke piston system, as found in the M1 Garand, IMI Galil and the AK 47. The long-stroke piston mechanism contributes to the forcefulness of the Tavor's extraction and chambering.
A long-stroke piston system may increase a weapon's reliability in extreme conditions (in comparison to the less reliable short-stroke piston systems), as has been found to be the case in both the M1 Garand and the AK 47.
The Tavor's 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 modularity
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. An issue related to this is the original plastic cover on the unused ejection port is leaky and gas escapes during the course of fire. Due to the bullpup design this vents right under the shooters face causing issues, mainly inhaling ejection gases and fouling shooters glasses and face with ejection debris. The characteristic black smudge from this is nicknamed "tavor face" by some shooters. The issue is exacerbated when the platform is suppressed. This has been addressed by various non-factory solutions such as GWR FLEX which properly seal the port on the unused side.
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 barrels are made from CrMoV steel and cold hammer-forged (CHF) on the premises of the IWI factory in Ramat HaSharon. The barrel 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.
Chambering, ammunition and magazines
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 Tavor uses a bullpup configuration, in which the bolt carrier group is placed behind the pistol grip; this shortens the overall length but does not sacrifice barrel length. As a result, the TAR-21 provides carbine length, yet achieves rifle muzzle velocities.
Last round bolt-open catch
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.
Reliability, ease-of-maintenance and waterproofing
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.
The rifle is waterproof and its internal mechanism is fully sealed from outside elements.
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.
- Fort-221, Fort-222, Fort-223, Fort-224 - Ukrainian made Tavors, manufactured by RPC Fort (of Ukraine)
- TC-21 - the semi-automatic Tavor Carbine, see below.
The MTAR-21 (Micro Tavor), 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 35 in (890 mm) long M4 with its stock extended with a 14.5 in (370 mm) barrel, the X95 is 23 in (580 mm) 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 suppressor 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 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, which is manufacturing the semi-automatic Tavor for US sales, with a market date of April 2013. 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, The weapon is manufactured with a combination of Israeli and US parts. It is available in black, OD green, 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 conversion kits which accept Colt SMG style magazines, as well as left-to-right-hand, or vice versa, conversion bolts.
The designations for the US rifles are the Tavor SAR-B16, -B18, -B16L, and -B18L.
A significant aftermarket of spare and replacement parts has developed around the Tavor, including the development of match grade accurizing triggers for the rifle. 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 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 IMI Tavor TAR-21 has been used in the following conflicts:
- Operation Defensive Shield
- Operation Summer Rains
- Second Lebanon War
- Operation Hot Winter
- Gaza War
- Operation Protective Edge
- Colombian armed conflict
- 2008 South Ossetia War
- 2008 Cambodian-Thai stand-off
- War in Donbass
- 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict
- 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.
- 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 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 MTAR-21 (X-95) 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 TAR-21, 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 MTAR-21, 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.
- Colombia: The Colombian Army operates the TAR-21 for their special forces, in the army, marines and in the Colombian national police.
- 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.
- India: In late 2002, India signed an INR 880 million (about USD 17.7 million) deal with Israel Military Industries for 3,070 manufactured Tavor assault rifles 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 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.
- India's paramilitary and counter-insurgency Central Reserve Police Force CRPF ordered 12000 Micro Tavor (X-95) rifles (designation X-95), with the rifles entering service in early 2011. Following the use of the weapon by Indian forces fighting the insurgency in Kashmir, CRPF commanders have stated that the X-95 is a more effective assault rifle than the AKM, due to its small size, power, longer range and lighter weight.
- 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 76,000 TAR-21 rifles. Total 106,203 tavor rifle
- 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 the Tavor TAR-21 assault rifle to enter service with special Ukrainian military and police 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.
- IWI has been awarded a $100 million contract to establish a factory in Vietnam to produce an unspecified number of Galil ACE assault rifles, as well as others such as the Tavor, for the People's Army of Vietnam.
- 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, after the weapon "met the demands and requirements of the Lakewood PD for reliability, ease-of-maintenance, durability and accuracy."
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|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
- IWI Tavor Bullpup Rifle on YouTube YouTube Video: Overview of the civilian semi-automatic version of the Tavor
- 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