I had a jam-packed afternoon after lunch at SHOT, and caught up with some companies that I was interested in… hopefully you’re interested, too!
I had the opportunity to take a carbine class with Green Ops recently, and because I am an iconoclast and easily influenced by my friends, I ran it with my stock Tavor. (Not to worry, I had my IDF-style Colt Commando in my trunk as a backup.) This was the first time I had ever really run the Tavor hard, and I’ve got some new feelings about the platform. Optic, for reference, was the Mepro RDS, which worked great and I have no complaints about.
The only big issue I had with the Tavor in class is reloading speed. I’d argue that the problem is not really getting the old magazine out (I’m a mag ripper by temperament), but rather getting the bolt back into battery. The bolt release is just in a really awkward place, so you either wind up hitting it (which is slow and awkward) or racking the CH (which is a touch-slower but less awkward). The X95 seems to have a better design on this front, but it’s still not that hot due to the bolt release being roughly the same concept (albeit moderately improved). I am going to shake down a buddy of mine with an X95 to see how I feel about it.
The factory trigger is also not great for first-round precision due to how heavy it is, but has a really great reset. If I wanted to spend the money on a Geissele pack, this would be a non-issue IMHO. As it is, you’ve got to be a touch slower and more deliberate to make the trigger do what you need it to do. But important thing here: it can do the job.
Switching shoulders during a barricade drill was not a problem due to the case deflector. Yeah, brass flying in front of your face is a theoretically bit unsettling, but if it doesn’t hit you, who cares? I was so totally focused on the drill I barely even noticed.
I did not love the full-length trigger guard. My rifle was slung a little too low, and I could not see the pistol grip. Ordinarily, this would not be a big problem, but I had to be exceedingly careful to not accidentally grab the trigger. In a gun with a traditional trigger guard, I would not have had this concern quite as much.
Finally, I did not love the sling situation on the Tavor. I prefer running the Magpul single point slings when I need to shoot dynamically, and the Tavor is not set up for that out of the box. The GHW Flex Swivel apparently does a reasonable job of providing a way to do this, but they were out of stock everywhere when I was looking for it last month.
Now, all of this said, the gun ran with utter reliability, on a diet of cheap steel-cased ammo to boot. No failures, no stoppages, no failures to lock back, etc. This was true of the other Tavor in the class as well. Really, the only problem was that I ran slower, and I think further practice doing reloads would have alleviated that to some degree. The problem, of course, is that practicing reloads on traditional-format guns that take AR mags makes me faster on all those guns… practicing on a Tavor just makes me faster on a Tavor. Not a problem if you’re a grunt in the IDF, but if you’re an enthusiast in the US, it’s something of a conundrum.
IWI has formally announced the Tavor TS12 shotgun.
I got most of the details right in my previous post, but did get the magazine situation wrong. It appears that it’s using an SRM1216-style rotating magazine to pack in those 15 shotgun shells (5 per tube). As far as I can tell, you need to manually index the next tube when you run dry (appears there’s an unlock button at the front of the trigger guard), given the location of the magazine on the handguard. This is not exactly optimal, but still looks more user-friendly than the KSG or even the SRM1216.
Alas, this rotating tube (aka, revolving cylinder) makes it illegal in MD , so don’t expect a hands-on review in the near future.
Some other things I noticed:
- No built-in backup iron sights mentioned or obvious in the pictures. This is a bit of a shame, given how good the ones on the Tavor and X95 are.
- The safety is cross-bolt, which is a step backwards, IMHO.
- Not mentioned, but unless the pictures were mirrored, it’s fully ambi. Ejection ports on both sides, controls on both sides, etc.
- The design seems to be much more one-piece than the Tavor rifles. Not a bad thing, but it explains why it’s cheaper. I could see this hitting the $1200 mark in the near future.
- It looks like they could put together a 20rd version without too much more design work… it would make it less comfy to hold, but that might be acceptable to some people.
- Reloading it looks like a giant PITA, which has always been a problem with tube-fed bullpup shotguns.
On the whole, it looks nice, but I’d personally prefer a 12ga version of the Tavor 7 that takes stick and drum mags. Still, I expect this to sell reasonably well for its price point.
So, first of all, happy Chanukah! This has been an amazing year for IWI, especially for their Galil ACE rifles, which has been picking up more and more positive press.
I’ve been remiss in posting due to real life circumstances, but wanted to chime in on a couple of bits of news.
The IWI Masada was announced in early November. This is an interesting gun in that it’s the first “real” weapon that IWI has announced using their US subsidiary, versus the Israeli company. This may be indicative of a greater shift by IWI to focusing on the US market, which wouldn’t be a bad move for them. It also supports the theory that IWI probably terminated the OEM relationship with Magnum Research, and not the other way around.
The gun itself is pretty nice, and is a “greatest hits” sort of deal:
- P320-esque serialized fire control module
- Sig-style take-down lever
- P30-esque front accessory rail
It is unclear whether it’s using proprietary magazines or if they’re CZ-75 mags and the floorplate is just weird-looking. IWI also didn’t include an optic mount for the slide, ala the Glock MOS, but that may be coming later.
After the break… the Tavor shotgun and 2018.
Sorry for my absence – my interests lately have run to 3D printing (yes, including firearms!), which is a bit off the topic of this blog. I also have not had much time to go shooting with the kids’ school year picking up. Rest assured that I still plan on posting, perhaps with less frequency.
As shown on Facebook (h/t to the TheFirearmBlog for reminding me to post), Recover Tactical is developing Browning High Power grips. Presumably, these will fit guns with curved trigger guards like true BHPs, Kareen Mk1s, and FEGs, but probably not the guns with square trigger guards like the Kareen MkII/III, KA-III, and the Arcus guns. Next in line are apparently Makarov grips, which strikes me as a bit nonsensical – FAB Defense has a good solution already, and how much of a market is there? IMHO, there’s a huge opportunity in producing TA-90 and CZ-75 grips, given how many beat-up old guns are on the surplus market now.
IWI-US released a statement on Facebook that the .300AAC conversion kits for the X95 and SAR are being released soon. Complete 300AAC X95s will be coming out in “end of February, early March”. X95 conversion kits will be available in “end of march, early April”. And, finally, we’ll see SAR conversion kits at “end of April”.
Unfortunately, there’s some bad news coming along with this. The conversion kits are going to be pricey since they include a barrel, bolt, gas regulator, rail with gas regulator cut-out, new recoil springs, and a new case deflector. Much like the 9mm conversion, this is a bit of a situation where buying a new gun seems rather cheaper than converting your old gun. (Or, perhaps, converting your AR-15 instead of your Tavor.)
Finally, the CAA Micro RONI has been released, and, shockingly, it’s really rather reasonably priced at $250 for the base model. Jim Grant has a review, and he seems to like it – with the usual caveat of “your Glock isn’t a rifle even in a chassis”.
TheFirearmBlog has a nice write-up on upcoming IWI-US releases, as announced at the Big 3 East event.
First, as I had previously predicted, the Dan bolt-action rifle is getting a US release. Price? $7000. Suffice it to say, the only way I’ll be reviewing it is if I hit the jackpot or get a loaner. I suspect it will be quite a collector’s item in a couple decades.
Next, the X95 is getting a proper “X95 Micro” SBR release in the future with a 13″ barrel. Given the somewhat bastardized looks of the current X95, this is some welcome news. If you’re on the fence on the X95, that might be a reason to stay put for a bit.
(I wish they would give the Uzi Pro Pistol some similar treatment… I think it would have sold far better as a rifle than as a pistol.)
Finally, both the Tavor and X95 will be getting .300AAC releases. The design of the Tavor/X95 doesn’t lend itself to barrel-only conversions due to potential headspace issues, so these have been slower and more expensive to get out the door. (Also mentioned was a potential 22lr kit, but it was not considered commercially viable at $500 MSRP.)
Fresh from IWI-US marketing:
We successfully introduced the X95® select-fire bullpup to our law enforcement customers last year and our civilian customers have been clamoring for us to get them a commercial version,” Michael Kassnar, VP of Sales and Marketing for IWI US said. “The X95® is a modern, modular bullpup design emulating all the familiar features of the TAVOR® but on steroids.”
The TAVOR® X95® platform incorporates a tri-rail forearm covered by three removable vented rail covers. The TAVOR® style trigger guard is modular and can easily be converted to a more traditional trigger guard with pistol grip. The charging handle has also been relocated closer to the shooter’s center mass, and perhaps the most significant departure from the TAVOR® is the ambidextrous magazine release, located to a more traditional AR-15/M16 location on the X95®.
Like the TAVOR® SAR, 16.5” 5.56 NATO, .300 Blackout and 17” 9mm Luger Parabellum models feature interchangeable cold hammer forged (CHF) barrels manufactured and engineered to IWI’s demanding specifications. Conversion kits in .300 Blackout, 5.56 NATO and 9mm will also be available.
The TAVOR® X95® in 5.56 NATO and .300 Blackout uses standard AR-15/M16/STANAG magazines and is supplied with one black Magpul Gen III PMAG. Available in Black, Flat Dark Earth and OD Green. MSRP for the TAVOR® X95 is $1,999.00 and the Conversion Kits are $899.00 in 5.56 NATO and 9mm and $499.00 in .300 Blackout.
$2000 MSRP is better than I expected. No word on the release date yet, but I’d be surprised if it were in 2016. I am HOPING that IWI comes out with a 20″ barrel version for those of us in restricted states – they’ve got their fancy CHF barrel-making machine now, so it shouldn’t be impossible.
TheFirearmBlog has a terrific article up on the usage of the Ruger 10/22 to suppress violent riots by Palestinians. Apparently, someone noticed that an unsuppressed Ruger SR-22 had made it over to Israel and was being used. That particular model has not been seen before, so it’s news. We’ve linked other articles on the 10/22’s usage in Israel before. I am personally waiting to see the IDF deploy some 10/22s tricked out with FAB Defense stocks.
The big takeaway from the article is really at the bottom and in the comments section, where’s there’s discussion of the rules of engagement for the 10/22. The rules are stricter than they were back in 2001, but it’s still in play for injuring violent protesters and shooting rock/molotov throwers. Shooters are supposed to go for non-lethal shots unless things get too crazy, but 22lr is still a lethal round.
TFB doubles down on the Israeli goodness with a write-up on the original Tavor 3x magnifier. The current Tavors use a Mepro 3x magnifier, but the first run was apparently reticle-less Trijicon TA33s. It’s a bit surprising that Trijicon never tried to release them in the US – they would have been an option at a $500 price point with a decent QD mount. (Probably too heavy to compete in the market?)
Sorry that content has been a bit sparse lately – a combination of high holidays and IRL zaniness has been conspiring against me. I have a few posts in the hopper that just need photographs to finish.
Still, I wanted to point out a new preview of the IWI X95 that was posted up by The Firearm Blog. Miles apparently got to use it at the recent bullpup shoot, and had some thoughts.
On the whole, I liked the article, but had some real quibbles with some of his criticism:
- There’s nothing wrong with polymer rails on the sides and bottom if they work correctly. The main complaints about polymer rails are that they tend to break when used with a VFG, and they can have zero shift issues on the top when the gun heats up. The former doesn’t sound like an issue on the X95, and, as for the latter, the X95 doesn’t have a polymer top rail.
- The constant complaints about plastic components. The AUG made these work quite well back in the 70’s. When are we going to accept that maybe materials science has advanced since Bakelite was invented?
- The complaints about the barrel length. If this were a PCC, yes, I’d agree that the extra barrel length is useless. I always chop my PCCs! But you get somewhat improved ballistics in 5.56×45, enough so that the “extra” barrel length can be justified.
- It’s hard to argue that the Tavor’s bolt release is not in a somewhat weird place. But the problem in actual usage is pretty minimal. In terms of reloads, you just rack the charging handle, which is conveniently located right above your support hand. And if your gun has failed badly enough you need to lock the bolt back, you’re not going to be shouldering it, and thus have two hands free for the manipulation. I suppose it’s annoying on the one-way range when you constantly need to show a clear chamber while the range is cold… but that’s not a high priority for me.
TheFirearmBlog has a great post about the original prototype designs for the Tavor. Versia Military Design has designed a few clever items, including the Jericho B, and I recommend poking through their gallery and case studies if you’re interested in their work. Alas, no hidden gems – their redesign of the Tavor has been floating around for a while, and looks a bit impractical for full production.