By Todd Burgreen, GetZone Contributor
It can’t be ignored the growing number of people seriously contemplating “end of the world as we know it” scenarios involving economic meltdown, plague, and natural or manmade disasters. What advice would be given if someone mentions wanting to get a rifle for a little insurance if these predictions take shape even in minor form? Certain characteristics would be essential such as reliability, portability, ruggedness, and effective firepower. I offer up a candidate worthy of consideration — the IWI Tavor X95 bullpup.
Bullpups are firearm configurations in which the action is located behind the trigger group in the space normally solely reserved for the stock. This permits at least 7-10″ shorter firearm length for the same barrel length. Compactness is one of the most often repeated positive attributes of the bullpup rifle — all the while maintaining full-length barrel to maximize cartridge performance. Shorter overall length, center of gravity toward the rear of rifle, and hands being closer together of the rifle makes the bullpup X95 seem lighter and handier than standard profile rifles with similar barrel lengths. This contributes to better handling over longer time frames due to less fatigue on the arms and shoulders.
The Tavor utilizes a long stroke piston-rotating bolt, with the non-adjustable gas cylinder
located above the barrel encased by the Tavor’s polymer chassis. The long stroke piston operating method combined with weight of the Tavor’s bolt group provides ruthless extraction and chambering — perfect for harsh environments or when weapon care is neglected for whatever reason. Ejection ports are present on both sides of the weapon and can be selected by installing the bolt with the ejector mounted on the right or on the left. The non-reciprocating charging handle is located on the front left side of the gun. This too can switch sides.
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The Tavor X95 was introduced to the US market at the 2016 SHOT Show as an updated version of the Tavor SAR. The X95’s non-reciprocating charging handle is now located closer to the rifle’s center. This has a dual benefit of making it easier to manipulate, especially for smaller stature shooters, as well as providing room for a tri-rail forend. The railed forend has its Picatinny rails hidden beneath removal polymer covers until called upon for use. Another significant departure from the earlier Tavor SAR is the ambidextrous magazine release location. It’s now placed in a more traditional AR-location above the trigger guard versus back at the magazine well. The X95 trigger is much improved compared to the earlier Tavor SAR. The X95’s trigger is easily managed measuring about 6 lbs. after taking up the slack. Lastly, the bolt release is in the same location behind the magazine just now it’s a lower profile design. All of these changes contribute to a very shooter-friendly package.
The IWI Tavor X95 tested weighs in at 8 lbs. and measures approximately 26 1/8″ long with its 16 1/2″ chrome lined cold hammer forged 1:7 twist barrel. The chrome-lined barrel contributes to the low maintenance requirements associated with the X95. A full-length Picatinny rail runs the length of the upper receiver. The Tavor comes with functional iron sights that fold down into the Picatinny rail serving well as backup iron sights (BUIS) since the rail cries out for a red dot or magnified optic. The shell/chassis of the rifle is made of composite polymer materials and available in Black, OD Green and Flat Dark Earth colors.
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The Tavor X95 is not particular about what type of AR magazines it uses. It was confirmed the popular polymer magazines from Magpul were fully functional, including the excellent 40 round Magpul variant, as well as various makes of metal magazines.
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Ammunition tested with the Tavor X95 was a combination of multiple 5.56mm/.223 loads from Black Hills Ammunition, Hornady, and Federal. No load tested produced greater than 2″ groups at 100 yards. Premium loads typified by Federal 69-grain Match punched five rounds into a 1″ group. Remember, the X95 is a fighting rifle — not a target rifle — making this performance even more impressive. Several magazines worth of ammunition was spent engaging plate racks and man-sized steel targets. Drills quickly moved past stand and deliver drills to more dynamic drills involving movement, magazine reloads and firing from behind cover.
I decided to evaluate the IWI Tavor X95 in training scenarios involving team tactics and patrolling to contact through Echo Valley Training Center’s (EVTC) 360 and “Jungle Walk” ranges. Firing from unorthodox positions while working around obstacles and range vehicles showed the X95’s potential in tight dynamic settings. As a driver or passenger, you can have the Tavor X95 rifle pointed muzzle down between your legs, with the buttstock resting on the seat cushion. It is easy to use a Tavor X95 with one hand since the center of gravity is farther back, so if you have to open a door or other similar tasks the X95 offers you an advantage. You can effectively treat the IWI X95 like a big pistol if the situation demands.
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The X95’s brass ejection pattern allowed for seamless shoulder transitions when working around barricades. While, recoil and 5.56mm in the same sentence are oxymoronic, after years of firing AR pattern rifles, the X95’s impulse is decidedly different in a positive way. Smoother and subtle are two descriptions that come to mind. The straight line bore axis and relatively wide buttstock on the Tavor X95 dampens recoil better than some other 5.56mm rifles I’ve handled.
The IWI decision to design a weapon based on the IDF’s experiences in combat with the end result being the Tavor X95 benefits us as end users. While unlikely to unseat the AR pattern rifle here in the US, it is nice to experience another take on how to best send 5.56mm rounds down range.
For more information, visit www.iwius.com
Purchase the IWI Tavor X95 at gunbroker.com
You can get Steiner optics at gunbroker.com
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