Gun Review: IWI TAVOR X95 in 5.56 NATO
IWI TAVOR X95-I, along with several other People of the Gun, loathe the National Firearms Act (NFA). I am completely against registering any of my firearms with the government. I reluctantly purchased a suppressor that has an NFA tax stamp and is registered with the ATF because there are fewer regulations on suppressors. I also realize it is a relatively simple task for the ATF to change the regulations regarding shouldering pistols with braces.

If it were not for the NFA, I would have purchased an AR-15 with an 11.5 inch barrel for home defense. Instead, I utilized an AR-15 with a 16-inch barrel and a suppressor for home defense. This set-up is not very conducive for home defense or any type of close quarters battle (CQB), for those who perform those types of tasks. After conducting significant research, I decided on an IWI X95 in 5.56 NATO. IWI TAVOR X95

On paper, the X95 meets all my requirements. It is a non-NFA firearm that has an overall length of 26 inches and has a 16.5 inch barrel. It comes with back-up iron sights. The safety and magazine release controls are similar to an AR-15. The fore end has removable panels that cover picatinny rails on the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. There are multiple qd points for sling attachments.

Another issue which came to light was the infamous accuracy issue. Several gun reviewers showed this at distances of 100 yards. My desire was for a home defense rifle. My home is not 100 yards. My home is not even 25 yards. With that in mind, I took plunge on an X95, which I found on sale for $300 less than MSRP.I have previously zeroed my X95 at 50 yards with defensive use ammunition. I decided my first step in this review was to conduct an accuracy test the X95 at 50 yards from the prone position. For this test I used a Federal 55 grain FMJ and Federal 62 grain tactical bonded round. I utilized the Meprolight RDS, which is designed for the X95 for this test.

The 55 grain FMJ grouped at 2 inches. The 62 grain tactical grouped at 1.75 inches. Neither is MOA. The criticism of accuracy is legitimate when taking into account an MSRP of $1,999. For some, however, the benefits of mobility and non-registration with the ATF outweigh this negative. The key is finding the correct ammunition, which can be said of every single firearm. IWI TAVOR X95

Since my needs are for home defense, I decided to test the X95 with various drills at distances from 3 yards to 25 yards. I normally conduct these drills with hostile QIT targets. Unfortunately I did not have any and used numerous bullseye targets instead.

The X95 shoots lower than an AR-15 at close distances. I learned to always aim approximately an inch higher than what I aim at with an AR-15. The X95 requires a higher point of aim. This was evident with the bullseye targets. I am not certain it would have been as evident with a hostile QIT target.

An interesting observation was that I shot lower with backup iron sights than I did with Meprolight RDS. I have no explanation for this other than the shooter. IWI TAVOR X95

With either the iron sights or optic, the shooter will probably need to make more of an adjustment than with an AR-15.

The trigger on the X95 is about as smooth as a striker-fired pistol tirgger. I did not have a trigger weight scale to conduct an accurate measurement. It is not horrible, but it’s not a Geissele trigger either. Geissele does make an aftermarket trigger and trigger pack for the X95. I find the X95 stock trigger to be more than adequate for home defense purposes and do not plan on upgrading. Again, it is not an unreasonable complaint that a rifle with an MSRP of $1,999 has only an adequate trigger. The only real defense is the X95 is a bullpup. Even the most expensive bullpups have reputations for far worse triggers.

As I previously stated, the safety and magazine release are located in similar places as an AR-15, so utilizing these controls was rather simple. The magazine release is ambidextrous, while the safety can be moved to the right side of the rifle. The bolt release was at the rear of the X95 just behind the magazine well and is ambidextrous be default. This is different from an AR-15. However, I found the control quite intuitive during magazine reloads.

The charging handle was located on the left side of the gun. It is big, obvious, and very easy to use. (There is a definite joke with that statement, but my mom might read this someday, so I’ll leave it up to your imagination.)

I have read many complaints that not every magazine will drop free from the X95. I had the same experience. I used Magpul PMAGs M3 both with and without windows. I also used translucent Lancer magazines. The Lancer magazines dropped free every time. The Magpul PMAGs with the windows also dropped free, where the PMAGs without windows did not. All 3 types of magazines functioned flawlessly during fire. IWI TAVOR X95

The recoil impulse on the X95 is different than an AR-15. It is not better or worse, just different. Both are extremely manageable.

The weight of the X95 is not as noticeable as it should be. A shooter could get tired from handling a 7.95 pound weapon, with additional weight from a light, optic, and magazine. Since the X95 is compact, there is a lot of weight in the rear of the rifle. Shooting the X95 one handed accurately is very easy, due to this fact. I have shot piston driven AR-15’s with 16 inch barrels one handed. I will take the X95 over those rifles.

The only time the weight was an issue was when I attached a suppressor. When comparing it to an AR-15 with a 16 inch barrel, the X95 is still easier to maneuver and handle. A closer comparison to maneuverability and handling is with an SBR.

Another negative of the X95 is the gas blowback. Since the bolt and ejection port are closer to the shooter, the gas blowback is more noticeable, especially if shooting suppressed. The ejection port is also reversible, which can allow gas to escape right in front of the shooter’s face. As a gun smith once said, “The gas has to go somewhere.” Is it so bad as to be unshootable? No. IWI TAVOR X95

Disassembling the X95 for cleaning is relatively easy. Push out the pin at the top of the buttstock and swivel it down. Remove the piston and bolt carrier. Push out the pin on the bolt carrier to remove the bolt and firing pin. To remove the trigger pack, push out 2 tins right above the magazine well and remove the trigger. To reassemble, reverse the process. The firing pin and pin holding the bolt carrier do need to positioned just right.

IWI includes a cleaning kit with the X95. This is a great feature that other rifle manufacturers need to start duplicating. The most interesting, to me at least, piece in the cleaning kit is the wide brush used to clean interior of the firearm.

Considering no firearm is perfect, is the X95 worth the price? The issues with accuracy at 100 yards, the trigger that can only be described as adequate, the inability of every magazine to drop free, the weight, and the gas blowback are all legitimate concerns and criticisms.

However, the maneuverability, built-in backup iron sights, and, most importantly, lack of registration with the ATF are very significant positive aspects. Yes, one could argue to just get an AR-15 pistol, but that’s not always an option. Furthermore, with the X95’s 16.5-inch barrel, there is less likelihood of a reduction in ballistics. As I stated before, the ATF can always change the regulations regarding shouldering pistols with braces. The X95 is not affected by these regulations. IWI TAVOR X95

IWI Tavor X95 Review: An Amazing Bullpup Rifle
General Information
The Tavor X95 is not your standard rifle, but that much should be plainly obvious at first glance.

Although it is a normal semi-automatic rifle, it is based on the select fire X95 rifle that entered service with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) in 2010. IThe X95 proved itself to be a capable rifle in IDF service where it continues to serve today.

In 2015, IWI US made the select-fire X95 available to law enforcement customers in the United States, offering a compact yet full-length barrel rifle option for SWAT and patrol officers.

It is that compact nature that gives the gun a great degree of appeal to many people. This rifle is short. A carbine length AR-15 has an overall length (OAL) of about 32” with a collapsed stock. With a 16.5” barrel, the overall length of the X95 is a hair over 26”. If you would like to lose about 6” from the OAL of your rifle for increased maneuverability, the X95 may fit the bill.

Leaving out the time and cost investment by a private citizen when getting government approval for a short barrel rifle (SBR), opting for a 10.5 barrel on the AR-15 significantly decreases bullet velocity while substantially increasing muzzle blast. When shooting indoors such as during a hostage rescue or defending against a home invasion that additional muzzle blast from the SBR is akin to a flashbang distractionary device.

With the X95, the shooter gets the benefits of a full-length barrel, but with the same OAL as an SBR.

For a modern 5.56 NATO rifle, the X95 tends toward the heavy end of the scale, weighing in at 7.8 pounds. Interestingly, the gun does not feel like it is that heavy. IWI TAVOR X95

I credit the relatively light feel to how the gun balances. Rather than having the weight of the gun forward of the pistol grip, the X95’s balance point seems to be directly behind the pistol grip and over my wrist. As anyone who has opened the stuck lid on a jar of peanut butter can tell you, the muscles are stronger close into the body than they are when extended. Although the gun is objectively heavier, the balance point makes the gun more comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

Unlike the typical AR-15 design that many of us are familiar with, the X95 uses a long-stroke gas piston system. A piston system will often add weight to the overall design, and I suspect that is why the X95 is nearly 8 pounds.

Using a piston system offers the very real benefit of a cleaner running, and frequently more reliable, gun. Long-stroke piston rifles have been in service for many decades in guns like the M1 Garand and AK-47 and have proven themselves combat-capable.

The stock is made of a high strength polymer that feels very solid in my hands. There are multiple sockets on both sides of the rifle that accept push-button, quick detach sling swivels. IWI US includes two swivels with the rifle so you can immediately get an existing sling up and running with the X95. IWI TAVOR X95

The top of the rifle has a single piece Picatinny rail for adding optics. Built in sights fold down into the rail keeping them out of the way unless needed. The rear sight has a single small aperture, while up front is a tritium post for use in all lighting conditions.

Three integral panels on the forward handguard remove to expose Picatinny accessory rails. The covers are extremely well integrated with the rest of the stock with a hand stop on the bottom rail. This hand stop helps prevent you from moving your support hand too far forward and in front of the muzzle. The panels slide on and off without tools using a slick pivoting latch.

However, with my trigger finger alongside the frame of the rifle while moving, my hand had a strong tendency to slide up the grip. This would move my index finger partially behind the trigger, blocking its rearward movement when I brought the gun up to fire.

IWI US offers a kit that allows you to swap out the handguard system for a more traditional pistol grip and trigger guard. This would likely be my preferred configuration, although I did not have a kit on hand to test.

The rifle is available in three different calibers: 5.56 NATO, 300 BLK and 9mm. IWI US offers conversion kits that allow you to swap calibers. IWI TAVOR X95

For this X95 review, I had a 5.56 model with an OD green stock. It took standard AR magazines and shipped with a 30 round, third-generation Magpul PMAG.

The Hartman MH1 Sight
Around the same time this X95 arrived at my local gun shop, I received the new Hartman MH1 reflex sight in the mail. The MH1 is a red dot sight conceived by Lt. Col (ret) Mikey Hartman, the founder of the Israeli Defense Force Marksmanship and Sharpshooting School. Matching the MH1 sight to the IWI rifle for this review seemed to be kismet.

The Hartman sight has a number of features that will pique the interest of many shooters including a customizable interface, wide field of view, night vision compatibility, auto-activation when the gun is brought to the shoulder and a wireless remote to make adjustments without removing your head or hands from the rifle.

It is powered by an internal Lithium battery that is recharged via a USB port. This allows a police officer to recharge the sight in his patrol car, and a homeowner can ensure a full charge anywhere there is an open electrical outlet. Backing up the rechargeable power supply is a CR123 battery.

Attaching the MH1 to the X95 was dead simple because the sight has a quick attach mount. The version I tested had a single locking lever, while another version has two for additional strength. It attached easily to the X95, and initially provided a secure fit on several other rifles that were in my safe. IWI TAVOR X95

Although it seemed to be a great optic, I cannot recommend it for the reasons I detail below.

On the Range
Eager barely scratches the surface of my feelings when it came time to get to the range for this IWI X95 review. I had a chance to do some limited shooting of the Tavor SAR previously and was impressed by it. To me, the X95 seemed to offer many of the same benefits but in an improved design. Boy, was I ever right.

Recoil was very modest with this gun. The 5.56 NATO round is not a high power, hard kicking cartridge, and this is even more evident in the well balanced Tavor X95. Some piston system rifles have more felt recoil than others, but this gun seemed to have no more than any gas impinged AR. Muzzle rise was minimal.

The built-in sights worked well, and with the small rear aperture, they were adequate for precision and longer range shots. For close-in work, I found the rear sight was difficult to use quickly as compared to the wide aperture found on many AR rifles. However, this is where the Hartman MH1 sight really shined.

Working from the bench, I quickly got the Hartman dialed in at 25 yards using a graduated target provided with the sight. A few clicks up and left got me right on with the green box Remington 55 grain FMJ load I used for much of the testing.

The sight has multiple brightness settings. In the full sunlight of the Florida sun, I used a setting near the brightest level and had no problems picking up the aiming point when bringing the gun to bear on a target. Throughout a day of shooting, the sight performed exactly as I expected with no malfunctions, power loss or other concerns. IWI TAVOR X95

The sight appears to be close to a true 1x magnification optic without the minor magnification sometimes seen with other sights. The field of view is excellent, as good or better than any red dot that I have tested recently. When I stopped for a water break around noontime, I left the sight in the full sunshine for 30 minutes to let it heat up. When I began to shoot again, I did not observe any visual artifacts.

Transitioning between targets was swift and sure, with no over travel. While the AR in carbine form isn’t bad, the longer and heavier the barrel, the greater the tendency is to swing past the second target. I found that the bullpup design with its more neutral weight balance pointed very naturally and transitions were easy.

Additional Range Time
Before sending the gun back to IWI, I wanted to spend more time with it on the range. For clarification, this data was gathered after my article I wrote for Athlon Outdoors. Consider this an updated version of that information.

Over two additional range sessions, my enjoyment of the IWI X95 increased. The more I shot it, the more it felt like a natural extension of my body. While I thoroughly enjoy the AR platform, I can’t help but be amazed at how quickly I took to the X95 rifle. IWI TAVOR X95

The gun continued to be 100% reliable throughout the testing for this IWI X95 review. It showed no problems at all, and it continued to offer very good accuracy.

Unfortunately, I was not pleased with the performance of the Hartman MH1 sight on future range trips.

Through initial testing, the MH1 sight seemed to be an excellent optic. However, during the second range trip, the sight suffered from two failures. The first was that the mounting system loosened and had no way that I could find to be re-tightened. The second problem that came up is that the internal battery appeared to die would not recharge.

For the rest of the X95 Tavor shooting, I attached my Trijicon MRO sight to the gun and had no problems.

After getting home, I checked the loose fit of the optic on multiple rifles, and it was loose on all of them. I again checked to see if there was a way that I could re-tighten the mounting latch, but I could not find any. No mention of this was made in the owner’s manual either. IWI TAVOR X95

Even though this was a demo unit, I was not able to get any feedback from Hartman on these problems. I sent it back and never heard a word from them since. I was disappointed by the unit and even more by the company’s service. I’ll have a full review of this sight in the future.

Final Thoughts
The IWI X95 is a top-shelf rifle that can go toe to toe with most any AR-style rifle on the market. Without any doubt, the X95 design is different and, depending on the amount of experience you have with another rifle system, it may take you some time to adjust to it. However, the benefits may well be worth the effort.

In my testing, the Tavor X95 for sale seemed as accurate as any of the AR rifles I have shot recently, with the potential for sub-1” groups with the right ammo and shooter. Reliability was also impeccable.

The system’s obvious benefit – overall length – is likely to appeal to anyone working with tight spaces. However, I think the weight distribution of the gun is just as important. I found the gun very easy to work with, and people with shorter arms or lacking in upper body strength will likely appreciate it even more.

Based on a battle-proven design, the IWI X95 has the for employment in nearly any assignment you can gin up for it.

Should you be interested in one of these rifles, the best prices I have found are at Palmetto State Armory. At the time of this writing, the company has all of the caliber and color options in stock. IWI TAVOR X95

It is my firm belief that you deserve to know all potential biases that might influence how I write my reviews. I just wish all publications had the same opinion.

As I mentioned above, this IWI Tavor X95 rifle review is based on an article I originally wrote for AR Rifleman magazine published by Athlon Outdoors. As many of you know, I have written for a number of gun magazines in the past. This article is based on one of those freelance jobs. However, this article has been substantially updated with more information not included in that one.

The Tavor X95 was provided on loan by IWI US. The gun was returned at the end of the testing period. The Hartman sight was also on loan. It was returned at the end of the evaluation period, and I never received any word on the problems I identified with it. The HPR Ammunition and Liberty Ammunition (both companies appear to be out of business at the time of this writing) contributed ammo for me to use. The other ammunition was provided by me.

While I prefer to purchase my own guns and ammunition for review – it offers you an evaluation with less potential bias – I will still point out flaws and weaknesses in a product. If I say something is good to go, then that’s my honest opinion. For example, in this article, I gave thumbs up to one product and suggest avoiding another.

None of the companies mentioned in this article requested I provide a “good” review, links or anything of value. None of them offered any compensation for writing this article. None of them are advertisers, nor am I in any talks with them to be one. I do not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. IWI TAVOR X95


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