Israeli Weapon Industries (IWI) Tavor X95 - reviewed by Lindinwulf, USMC
Up front, full disclosure… I am going to admit to some personal bias in favor of IWI’s Tavor X95. The gun being reviewed is the author’s personal “go to” weapon and despite the United States Marine Corps basically arranging my marriage to the standard AR/M4/M16A4 platform beginning in 2002, bullpup’s and specifically the Tavor X95 have been my not so secret consort for close to a decade now. Despite my admitted favorable view of this weapon, I am going to try to create the most objective review I can for you, good reader. What I can tell you up front is that it’s not for everyone but if you’re willing to step outside of the arranged betrothal a lot of us have to the AR platform and give a bullpup a try, try the IWI Tavor X95.
Characteristics and capabilities.
Base Weight: 7.9 lbs.
Weight (as pictured): 11.2 lbs.
Overall length: 26.125 in (22.8 in w/ 13 in barrel & 30.5 in w/ 18.5 in barrel)
Stock type: Reinforced polymer, bullpup configuration
Stock color: Olive drab green (available in black and flat dark earth)
Caliber: 5.56mm NATO (Available in 9mm and 300 BLK)
Action: Select-fire, semi-auto
Operating System: Long stroke gas piston, closed rotating bolt
Barrel length: 16.5 in (13 in SBR and 18.5 in also available)
Barrel type: Chrome lined, Cold hammer forged, CrMoV
Rifling: 1:7-inch twist, 6 grooves, right hand
Base sights: Folding iron sights w/ tritium inserts
Sights (as pictured): Primary Arms 1-6 ACSS & Primary Arms MD-RBGII
Magazine: Polymer NATO STANAG 30 round
Rate of fire – Sustained: 12-15 rpm
Rate of fire - Effective: 45 rpm
Rate of fire - Cyclic: 750-950 rpm
Muzzle velocity: 2822 fps
MSRP: $1,500 to $1,900
Even the civilian version of the Tavor X95 is a battlefield rifle, plain and simple. It is a bullpup package that gets the shooter a longer barrel in a shorter overall platform and makes movement through densely packed urban or wooded environments or access and egress from vehicles a breeze. For comparison, an M4 carbine with a 14.5-inch barrel and the buttstock collapsed is 29.75 inches long. The 16.5-inch barrel on the X95 results in a weapon length of 26.125 inches long, more barrel for less gun. If you are unfamiliar with how a bullpup weapon works, follow this link to view a great video by “45 Snipers” for further demonstration of the cycle of operation for a bullpup gun, using an X95 as an example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMjrI-55fYw&feature=emb_logo
The X95 weighs more than most conventional civilian AR platforms (though only .5 lbs. heavier than a military M4), but the weight is balanced by the action being closer to your center of gravity and it feels much lighter than it is when shooting. While shooting and training with the weapon I have never found the weight detrimental but while on the move it is a little more poundage to carry and we all know, ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. While shooting, the compact nature of the weapon diminishes the felt weight, offhand shooting or one-hand shooting is a breeze compared to longer guns, and transitions between targets is smooth. Since the gun is closer to you and easier to wield without driving over a target during transitions, driving from target to target or moving and shooting becomes second nature. Without a collapse buttstock, length of pull may be an issue for some shooters, but several aftermarket butt pads exist to help adjust for length of pull (just be mindful of overall lengths for local laws if swapping butt pads).
This weapon is supremely easy to maintain. A single take down pin releases the butt pad and from there the operating system can be easily removed, disassembled, and cleaned without tools. Another take down pin releases the hammer/sear group for cleaning or maintenance but isn’t necessary for regular field maintenance. Taught once or twice, basic operator maintenance on this weapon is a simple process that anyone can do in a few minutes and will easily keep the gun in any fight. My own experience with this gun in rain, dirt, and some other sub-par conditions have never induced a stoppage. My only untested concern would be the kind of mud or dirt that often stops any gun… except some of old uncle Kalashnikov’s guns (i.e. being fully buried).
Ambidextrous controls are built into the gun and the magazine release and safety should feel familiar to any AR user. The non-reciprocating charging handle is forward and to the left, like some HK weapons like the G3, and can be easily swapped for left-handed shooters. The side from which ejection occurs is often a limiting factor to bullpups, meaning the brass ejects into the face of left-handed shooters. IWI has addressed this in the X95 with a simple cover panel that can be swapped from right to left with a few turns of some screws. The charging handle and ejection port cover swaps are simple tasks, even armature gunsmiths or anyone capable of reading instructions can do but are likely not operator/field modifications.
A primary difference in the X95 controls versus most guns is the bolt release/catch which is located behind the magazine on the underside of the gun. This can take some serious getting used to if this is not your primary platform. For bolt lock or speed reloads, with a bit of training, this location leads to a swift release of the bolt as your thumb can just ride the back of the new magazine as it is inserted, thus indexing the bolt release. This ends up being more efficient then AR platforms for me but takes training. For locking the bolt to the rear on an empty chamber as you would for a range or competition shooting “show clear”, I have to break my firing hand grip to accomplish this which is something I am not a fan of and takes some training as well.
There is ample rail space for optics, lights, etc. and the rail covers for the bottom, left, and right rails are removable and also lockable at the different rail positions which can allow you to extend the forward hand grip on the rifle, as I have done. There is less rail space then a lot of shooters may be used to on a regular AR platform with a 16.5 inch barrel though and this can lead to some set up issues for shooters with lots of attachments, sizable scopes, or a very specific setup. Lastly, multiple QD sling points allow for a good variety of slung carries and the compensator can be swapped with several aftermarket brands and equipped to run the gun suppressed.
The included iron sites are accurate (I zeroed mine at 100 yards) and they drop down flat into the rail spaces which allows the attaching of optics over them. The downside to this is that any attachments would have to be removed if they are over the sight rails in order to use the irons. However, in any scenario that irons are employed, the optics that were attached are likely inoperable anyway. For me, the weapon held 2 to 3 MOA groups out to 300 yards with the iron sights and 1.5 to 2 MOA groups out to the same distance with the Primary Arms ACSS 1-6 that I have on it. I have run several round types and grains through X95s and have found that standard 62 grain, 5.56mm (out of the 16.5 barrel) has the best accuracy to ammo cost ratio for my needs, match grade would likely before better of course.
Concerning accuracy though an X95 is not going to perform as well as a lot of AR platforms built for long distance or 1 MOA/sub-MOA shooting, that’s not what it is designed for. In the end the X95 is a civilian version of a battlefield rifle developed for the IDF to be a durable, easy to maintain, and reliable rifle that consistently shoots “minute of man” out to 300m no matter what ammo you run or how bad you beat it up, and I have found this to be the case without error. One thing that will limit accuracy but increases the durability, is the fact that the barrel is not free floated, nor can it be. The only stoppage I have had in thousands of rounds was due to a bad magazine. The stock trigger on the X95 is a surprisingly pleasant trigger without much, if any, of the mush one has expected from bullpups and it breaks cleanly. For a battlefield rifle the trigger is what you would expect and there are several good trigger packs and bars on the market that make this trigger even better.
If you want to break into the bullpup world, the X95 is the way to do it. It is pricey, there is no getting around that, but it is also a great gun and you get what you pay for from IWI. Practically, it is a compact gun, great for moving through any kind of dense environment. It is a breeze to shoot, comfortable, ergonomic (with a degree of training for those used to AR style guns), has awesome balance, and is super nimble. It is easy to maintain, durable, and near bomb proof. It is a rifle I probably wouldn’t take to a long-range competition but is great at 300m and under and is the only rifle I have in my house that I would trust my life with, in any realistic situation. IWI, Manticore Arms, and others offer a plethora of after market parts for all your personal conversion needs and IWI offers several instructional videos and operator courses you can attend. My final words on the Tavor X95 from IWI is that… one, it is the gun for the type of person that wants a break from the saturated AR clone world and two, it’s a gun for the kind of person that goes to the job, location, site, or range and wants to get the job done, no matter what. It is a workhorse battlefield rifle.
“A wayfarer should not walk unarmed,
But have his weapons to hand:
He knows not when he may need a spear,
Or what menace meet on the road.”
IWI X95 Owner’s Manual
IWI Website – Product Manual
The Author has 15 years of experience as a United States Marine Corps Small Arms Weapons Instructor, Foreign Weapons Instructor, Combat Marksmanship Trainer/Coach, and Small Arms Repairer (Armorer