The Israeli Defense Force is working with Israeli Weapon Industries to develop a version of their new Tavor bullpup platform chambered for the more powerful 7.62 NATO cartridge, according to a report by Y-net. The IDF is already phasing out their aging M16 rifles in favor of the much more modern Tavor platform.
This would mean that the Tavor platform will support pistol, intermediate and rifle-caliber configurations. It is already available in 9mm and 5.45x39mm in addition to 5.56 NATO, its standard chambering.
The IDF is looking for a longer-range option to support their standard carbines and submachine guns. Right now, they’re using FN MAG, a 26-pound, belt-fed general purpose machine gun. A Tavor chambered in 7.62 NATO would give them true designated marksmanship capabilities.
But they might be returning to 7.62 NATO for a main battle rifle. A reader translated the report for the Firearm Blog.
“In addition, there will be an experiment to improve the level of lethality … by replacing the regular 5.56mm [with] 7.62mm, the same cartridge in the MAG that is currently used — and the weapons will become more lethal.”
From the sound of the report, they may be experimenting with rolling out a 7.62 NATO Tavor for their general infantry, extending the range of all their troops with the new rifle, bucking the 60-year trend towards lighter ammo and more of it.
The 5.56 versus 7.62 NATO controversy is nothing new, and is still alive and well with American forces as well. Across the militaries of the U.S. M14s are being returned to service as “Enhanced Battle Rifles” to give units a little more reach, despite their weight disadvantages. These EBRs aren’t replacing the M4s and M16s in American service, they’re complimenting them.
It is possible to convert a Tavor from 5.56 NATO to 5.45x39mm and 9mm with conversion kits, but we would be surprised if the design is modular to the point where a 7.62 NATO conversion kit is possible. We suspect that IWI is working on another model of rifle entirely, similar to their X95 submachine gun but bigger instead of smaller.
The Tavor platform is popular with IDF forces and leadership alike, but has also been turning heads in the U.S. where bullpup enthusiasts have embraced the flexible new rifle. In addition to supporting multiple calibers, it can be swapped from right- to left-handed mode fairly painlessly, giving southpaws the option to use a bullpup without getting brassed to the face.
A U.S.-made IWI Tavor in 7.62 NATO would be exceedingly popular to the point of stampeding hordes, so no matter what the IDF decides about up-chambering the platform, we hope IWI gets crackin’.
IWI currently makes two rifles chambered in 7.62 NATO, the ACE 52 and 53. To be honest, if they were able to import these to the U.S. we’re pretty sure there would be enough demand for them as well.