The IWI Tavor is a modern link in the extensive chain of Israeli military firearms history. Forged in a country that is known for impressive military technology development, IWI firearms carry a heavy resume of experience. Let’s unbox a Tavor SAR bullpup rifle in 5.56 Nato.

Table of Contents

What Is The Tavor?
More Features
Law Enforcement Use

What is the Tavor?


Israeli soldiers carry Tavors on patrol in Israel with a U.S. Marine carrying an M4. Original caption: “U.S. Marine Cpl. Scott Groves, a rifleman with Marine Rotational Force Europe 17.1, patrols with Israeli soldiers in an urban environment training site in Israel, March 28, 2017.” (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah N. Petrock)

During the 1990s, the Israeli arsenal was laden with surplus M16s acquired from the United States. In 1995, Israel set forth a plan to develop a domestically made rifle that was more reliable, accurate, and conducive to close-quarters combat. 

This inquiry for a new weapons platform led the government to settle on a bullpup design, and thus, the Tavor was born. The Tavor was chambered in 5.56 due to the popularity of the cartridge in Israel with their extensive stock of firearms and ammunition from the United States, making the design easily compatible with users in the U.S. 



IWI Tavor SAR bullpup rifle in 5.56 NATO
(Photos: Samantha Mursan/

The bullpup design brings the action of the rifle to the rear, positioned behind the trigger and fire control housing. This allows the overall length to be short, all while maintaining a standard rifle barrel length. 

The rifle’s semi-automatic gas operation is a long-stroke gas piston similar to the AK and Galil. While there is much debate, the long-stroke gas piston is considered by many to be the most reliable. 

In keeping with a certain standardization, the rifle feeds from STANAG magazines and features a flapper-style magazine release. The bolt release is located behind the magazine well, where it can be easily actuated during a reload as the magazine is inserted. 

More Features

While most bullpup rifles lack good triggers, the Tavor trigger is not terrible. It is no Geissele, and it is heavier than a typical AR trigger; however, it is not a bad trigger with a short reset. 

The Israeli bullpup features integrated folding sights that sit inside of the optic rail that runs the top of the receiver. There is an additional accessory rail that flanks the top rail on the right side of the gun, opposite the side with the charging handle.

The one downside of the bullpup design is that the ejection port is closer to the shooter’s face, making offhand transitions slightly hazardous. Additionally, the Tavor must be set up for left- or right-handed ejection by the factory to accommodate the individual shooter. 

The SAR designation added to the Tavor notes changes to the rifle for the U.S. market. The barrel is 16.5 inches, and a thicker butt pad was added to meet the overall length requirements for import.

Law Enforcement Use

Looking at the 1995 prerequisites that the Israeli acquisitions board put out for their new service rifle, it seems to be a no-brainer as to why this rifle design found some popularity in the United States with law enforcement. 

The Tavor – and later X95 – was made to be compact and maneuverable while not sacrificing accuracy, velocity, or effectiveness. Meant for use with vehicle crews and special operators, the rifle still needed to perform effectively with standard infantry troops, who might have to engage at distance.

In law enforcement use, most service rifles are kept in police vehicles, and most engagements are at short range, often inside. Just as the design is advantageous for deployment with military vehicle crews, patrol officers can also take advantage of the ease of storage and retrieval. 

As it uses a cartridge and magazines that are familiar to pretty much every law enforcement agency in the U.S., officers will be familiar with the recoil impulse and performance. One of the most important aspects of a service firearm is reliability. Both in testing and in combat, the Tavor has proven itself trustworthy. 

The two downsides of the design are that it requires unfamiliar handlers to learn a completely different manual of arms, and it’s clunky for offhand shooting transitions around barricades. As most departments don’t run bullpups, new officers will have to work hard to learn the operation of the rifle at a muscle memory pace. While shooting offhand with a bullpup is not impossible, the design does greatly affect the task and could negatively impact tactics. 

Related: IWI Tavor X95 Review – Amazing Bullpup or Overrated Range Toy?


There is almost a mythical aura around Israeli-made equipment, and it is always hard to fight the urge to add IWI-made firearms to the collection. This IWI Tavor SAR is backed by both its reputable military career and the confidence of a domestic law enforcement agency. Each imperfection in the finish is a testament to the trust that was placed in the rifle as it faithfully served. 

Police Trade-Ins are a great value with solid reliability, making them great options for training, fun, or the go-to for self-defense. 

revolver barrel loading graphic