IWI Tavor - IDF Issue

The IDF had two long-standing contenders for its future standard infantry weapon - the Tavor and the M4A1. In 2002 the Tavor was selected as the IDF future standard assault rifle and is due to gradually replace all M16 variants currently in service with infantry units, including both regular and SF.

 

IDF Issue Highlights


  • 1994: Tavor development begins.

  • 1999: Tavor development completed for four primary models:
    - Standard (TAR)
    - Short ("Commander" - CTAR)
    - Designated Marksman ("Sharpshooter" - STAR)
    - Special Forces ("Micro Tavor" - MTAR)

  • 2000: Submitted to the IDF for initial field tests with the IDF NCO and Infantry School. Design changes were made following soldiers' feedback.

  • 2001-2002: Submitted to the IDF for a final field test in Givati. During this test, several Givati companies were equipped with the Tavor while others were equipped with the M4A1. Tavor also sees its first operational deployment at the Territories. More design changes were made following soldiers' feedback.

  • 2002: The CTAR Selected as the IDF new standard issue assault rifle for all infantry units, including both regular and SF, replacing the M16 family. The Original MTAR design is abandoned and is replaced by a new X95 design developed with input IDF SF units.

  • 2003: IDF orders 15,000 Tavor for its infantry units, with an option to buy more weapons in the future.

  • 2004: The newly formed Masada becomes the first unit in the world to be equipped with the Tavor as its standard issue weapon.

  • 2005: TAR, CTAR and STAR gain operational status. The newly designed Micro Tavor is still in final development stages.

  • 2006: Givati infantry brigade is issued with the CTAR as well as TAR/M203 combos.

  • 2007: The IDF halts the Tavor issue due to recurring malfunctions. Issue resumed later that year following design changes.

  • 2008: The Golani infantry brigade is issued with the Tavor. The new Micro Tavor is submitted to SF units, including PALSAR Givati, for testing and is also issued to senior ranking IDF officers. Tavor sees its first major deployment during the Gaza War at the hands of the Givati and Golani. IDF reports positive feedback from soldiers during the Gaza War and that no further modifications are required.

  • 2009: The IDF selects the Micro Tavor as its standard assault rifle.

  • 2011: The NAHAL infantry brigade is issued with the Tavor.

 

Status


To date, the Tavor has seen partial but successful adoption with the IDF SF including Egoz, Rimon, PALSAR Golani, PALSAR Givati, YAHALOM, PLASAR 401, PALSAR 7 and Shayetet 13. Interestingly, the first unit the world to adopt Tavor, the Israeli Prison Service Masada, has reverted back to standard M4 used by the other law enforcement SF units.

 

Models


The IDF original issue of the Tavor was comprised of CTAR and TAR/M203 variants:

Variant

Photo

Standard CTAR

IDF Standard CTAR fitted with an ITL MARS.

Designated Marksman CTAR

IDF CTAR in a Designated Marksman configuration – rails, Trijicon ACOG 4x32 and bipod.

TAR / M203 combo

Top - IDF TAR/M203 combo fitted with a leaf sight and an ITL MARS. Bottom - IDF CTAR fitted with an ITL MARS.

 

The IDF current issue of the Tavor is comprised of Micro Tavor variants:

Variant

Photo

Standard Micro Tavor

(13" barrel)

From top to bottom: IDF Micro Tavor / M203 combo fitted with a Meprolight GLS203 and a Meprolight Mepro 21; Designated Marksman Micro Tavor fitted with a Trijicon ACOG 4x32 and a forward grip/bipod combo; Standard Micro Tavor fitted with a Meprolight Mepro 21.

Designated Marksman Micro Tavor

(15" barrel)

Micro Tavor / M203 combo

 

Optics


Originally, most IDF Tavor were issued with either ITL MARS or with the less expensive Meprolight Mepro 21. Today, the Tavor can be found fitted with all IDF optics, including the newer Meprolight M5 and Meprolight MOR.

Designated Marksman are issued with:

  • Trijicon ACOG 4x32 for daytime usage.

  • Litton Aquila X4 or New Noga Light Lior X3 for nighttime usage.

  • Bipod.

 

Reviews


As with many new weapon systems, opinions on the Tavor vary. According the IDF, during field tests the Tavor won by few points over the M4A1, however, exact details were never disclosed. As the Tavor is issued primarily to new recruits, who had little or no experience with other weapon platforms, field reviews also lack a benchmark. That said, based on soldiers' reports, the Tavor is considered to be accurate due to its relatively long barrel, a typical merit of the Bullpup design, and is notable for its solid build. The current production variants, which were continuously refined over a decade of extensive IDF usage, are also considered to be reliable.

Soldiers accustomed to the M16 platforms often find the Tavor awkward to shoot and reported slow magazine change, a common issue with the Bullpup design. However, these issues typically diminish after a prolonged training with the Tavor or when the soldiers are issued with the weapon early on in their military service, prior to growing custom to the conventional rifle design of the M4A1.

Foreign military personnel, who had a chance to handle both the Tavor and other leading Bullpup platforms such as the British SA80, the French FAMAS and the Austrian AUG, reported that the Tavor is one of the finest Bullpup weapons they used.

Tavor Guide