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The X95 Tavor Rifle

By Oleg Volk

What if one of the world’s best combat rifles got improved with civilian shooters in mind? Starting with a well-balanced, reliable weapon -- the Israeli Tavor SAR, the maker would add a better trigger, more rapidly accessible controls and end up with the X95.

The Israeli-designed X95 Tavor rifle has just become available in the U.S. to supplement the original SAR bullpup. Both are produced by Pennsylvania-based IWI. In the two and a half years since the original Tavor SAR came on the American market, about 65,000 rifles have been sold. While a small number compared to the conventional AR and AK types, it helped to establish the bullpup concept as reliable and functional, more so than the token amounts of similar designs. At a recent carbine course, four of the sixteen shooters had Tavors, with one more running the competing Kel-Tec RDB bullpup.

Developed as a military arm, the X95 offers extremely simple maintenance. One pin gives access to the entire bolt, carrier, and recoil assembly with critical parts kept captive to each other. Two more pins allow the removal of the complete en-bloc trigger group. The rifle runs very cleanly even when sound-suppressed, so keeping it operational is fairly easy. The rifle does not have an adjustable gas regulator, but rather vents the excess gas proportionally in the manner of the AK74. Even with a suppressor installed, gas blowback is minimal. It can be eliminated completely with a GearHead Works Flex swivel cover.

Derived from a select-fire combat weapon, the Tavor SAR had a couple of drawbacks from the perspective of U.S. shooters. The X95, while also derived from a combat rifle, follows newer user interface conventions. The length of pull is shorter, the trigger is lighter, and the magazine releases are buttons in front of the trigger guard, instead of a flapper by the magazine well. The fore-end has been changed to Weaver type rails covered with plastic sleeves; bottom or side rails may be individually exposed to provide attachment surfaces as needed. The proximity of the rails to the muzzle permits mounting of lights far...

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