I was recently able to procure two Barak handguns – one an early IMI model, and the other a later IWI model. I have been working on the assumption that the IWI model is a redesign of the IMI model, and not some sort of parallel variant that no one has ever heard of.
I’ve field-stripped both in an effort to determine what differences are between them.
The frames are mostly the same. The IMI model has a second pin over the trigger, and I have no idea what it’s doing. The IWI model is missing that pin, so they must have a different way of holding that particular piece in.
Otherwise, the only difference seems to be the logos. The mechanics, including the triggers, felt pretty much the same. Even the mold injection marks were in the same places.
The slides, however, have more apparent differences.
First, the IMI recoil springs are of coiled/twisted-together wire, most commonly associated with AK hammer springs. The IWI recoil springs are the more traditional piano wire springs. Using a twisted wire spring on a recent-design handgun is an odd design choice, so I’m not too shocked they moved away from that. Perhaps the original designer thought that the twisted-wire springs were more reliable and resistant to failure? Slide pull seemed about the same.
Second, the slide serrations are different. The IMI slide has many serrations close together (Browning Hi-Power style), whereas the IWI serrations are farther apart (Jericho style). In use, I like the IWI serrations better.
Third, the rear sights are radically different. The IMI slide has the infamous “hump” with fixed rear sights. The IWI has a dovetailed traditional rear sight (not sure if this is Jericho dimensions?). Both utilize a 3-dot system, and I suppose the IWI slide has the advantage that you could install tritium sights later on. On the other hand, I really did like the IMI sights a bit more… they seemed to be slightly faster, for whatever reason.
Finally, the decocker button is much larger on the IWI model than the IMI model. There is probably no real difference here if you’re not carrying in condition 1 – either you’re carrying it cocked-and-locked, in which case the decocker won’t function, or you’re carrying it loaded-and-decocked, in which case hitting the decocker by accident won’t do anything. In theory, you can carry the Barak safely in condition 1, but I’d be nervous to do so – no trigger or grip safety.
Besides the rear sight change, none of these differences are too big a deal. As I’ve stated before, my suspicion is that these were a transitional model to span the gap from the Barak to the Jericho B.