The 9mm has experienced quite the resurgence lately. Want proof? Look at how many 9mm 1911s are hitting the market. Myths surrounding the 9mm’s ineffectiveness are finally fading as instructors and experts have begun to rely on science rather than anecdotes, and significant improvements in bullet design are hard to ignore. You can’t deny that today’s 9mm ammo works—in pistols and carbines.
For tactical operations and home defense in close quarters, it’s hard to beat a 9mm carbine. They’re affordable, light on recoil and easy to use. On top of that, 9mm ammunition is widely available. And why not pair a fast-handling carbine with a large 9mm pistol that can support a red-dot or reflex sight? This will give you plenty of firepower and versatility while using only one type of ammo. Which brings us to the two guns I tested for this article: the Tavor SAR and Uzi Pro Pistol from IWI US, the American branch of Israeli Weapons Industries.
IWI US released the semi-auto Tavor SAR bullpup a few years ago, with the original version arriving in 5.56mm NATO with various barrel, sight and color options. I snatched up a matte black, flattop, 16.5-inch-barreled model at the earliest opportunity, and to this day, it is easily one of the most enjoyable rifles to shoot in my inventory. I’ve sent thousands of rounds through my Tavor SAR without a single hitch.
Of course, I can’t help but customize my weapons to suit my preferences, so I’ve added some parts over the years. One of my first tweaks was replacing the standard trigger with the Geissele Super Sabra trigger pack, which offers a precise two-stage pull. I also installed a Midwest Industries forend with KeyMod slots along the sides and bottom for attaching more accessories. On the right side of the receiver, I added a Percival Armaments “El Selector” safety selector switch, which provides a ledge that makes it easier to operate the safety more precisely with your thumb. Two more additions include Gear Head Works’ Fulcrum Located Extra (FLEx) swivel, a metal plate that offers a QD sling swivel and replaces the plastic factory ejection port cover to help seal off excess gas, and a Galloway Precision extended shell deflector. For close-quarters work, I keep my Tavor SAR outfitted with a Trijicon SRS sight and a SureFire X400 Ultra light/laser combination unit, which I keep mounted in the 12 o’clock position.
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As you can see, the Tavor SAR platform is easy to customize. Users can convert it for left-hand use, and while IWI US now offers dedicated 9mm and 300 Blackout Tavor SARs, customers can also buy conversion kits to transform their 5.56mm models into 9mms. I picked up one of these kits for this test.
The 9mm conversion kit consists of a 17-inch, cold-hammer-forged, 1-in-10-inch-twist barrel, a barrel removal wrench, a complete blowback assembly including the bolt and bolt carrier, a shell deflector and a magazine insert. One steel, 32-round magazine is included, and I was sent two more of these magazines for the evaluation.
It only takes a few minutes to convert the 5.56mm SAR to 9mm. Remove the bolt group and trigger pack (this makes it a little easier), then the handguard and charging handle. Carefully push in the barrel pin lock and rotate it using the supplied tool, then remove the barrel. Reverse the process using the 9mm barrel and bolt group. The magazine insert snaps into the 5.56mm magazine well, and two supplied pins lock it in place. Once converted, I checked the Tavor SAR’s functioning, and the Geissele trigger kit appeared unaffected. My only further addition was a Liberty Mystic X sound suppressor.
Uzi Pro Pistol
Old enough to have used Uzi submachine guns as a SWAT guy, I can fairly say that the IWI Uzi Pro Pistol is quite the improvement. Older versions were basic at best, with the mere resemblance of a sighting system. Rails and red-dot sights weren’t even in the picture, so these Uzis were pretty much point-and-shoot affairs. You relied more on rate of fire than accuracy.
The Uzi Pro Pistol uses a blowback operating system, a polymer lower frame and a magazine release typical of modern handguns. The charging handle has also been moved to the left side, allowing for a full-length top rail for mounting optics. The front and rear sights—set up in a three-dot configuration—are fully adjustable. Under the 4.5-inch barrel, a short polymer rail integral to the lower frame allows shooters to add lights and lasers.
At the rear of the lower receiver, a QD sling cup facilitates single-point slings. The grip safety remains, along with a manual thumb safety and an internal firing pin block. Two magazines are provided—one 20-rounder and one 25-rounder—and IWI US also offers 32-round magazines. My only addition for this gun was Vortex’s Razor red-dot sight.
I tested the 9mm Tavor SAR just like an entry weapon—pretty hard and fast—spending lots of time in my range’s shoothouse, in and around my truck and other obstacles. Even with the Liberty suppressor attached, the carbine was handy and very quiet. Moving around the shoothouse, the Tavor SAR handled like a typical 16-inch-barreled AR.
Trijicon’s SRS is easy to use with very little of the tunneling common to other red dots, which helped me make short work of multiple targets. This, combined with the Geissele trigger, made for some fast and accurate doubles and triples. With the SureFire X400 Ultra’s green laser turned on, I simply had to point and shoot at CQB ranges.
No matter how dirty or hot the Tavor SAR got, it never missed a beat. I didn’t experience a single malfunction. Swapping out 9mm stick magazines isn’t as fast as reloading with 5.56mm magazines, but it certainly isn’t slow by any means. And, because the magazine and bolt releases are the same, I didn’t need any retraining.
The Tavor SAR’s accuracy was good, with my best group at 25 yards measuring just a bit over 1.5 inches using Hornady’s 115-grain XTP ammunition. It was just as accurate as many of the submachine guns I’ve tested over the years at this range.
I ran the Uzi Pro Pistol as if I were part of a personal security detail, or PSD. Using a sling on my strong side, the pistol was easy to conceal, and it swung into action smoothly. To maintain control, you push the Uzi forward, keeping the sling taut as you fire. In short, I think I can safely say that the Uzi Pro Pistol is small enough for most people to handle it like a normal pistol with a two-handed grip.
Moving in and out of my truck, the Uzi Pro Pistol proved to be very handy, easy to bring to target and capable of delivering some decent firepower. Of course, because this is a semi-auto that runs from a closed bolt, the trigger pull is a bit long, which is less than conducive for rapid fire or precise shooting. This is more of a combat trigger than a target trigger. But, with practice, it was still fast on the square range and in the shoothouse.
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The Uzi’s accuracy while moving or under stress was certainly passable for a self-defense weapon, as it kept most shots inside a pie-plate-sized circle. The new magazine release makes for fast reloads, but it also means you can’t use your older 32-round Uzi magazines. They won’t lock into place. That’s why IWI US offers new dedicated 32-round magazines.
Using sandbags as a rest, the Uzi Pro Pistol could produce a 2.55-inch group at 25 yards using the same Hornady ammunition. The rest of the groups were slightly larger. If you’re looking for tighter groups at the range, IWI US offers a variant with a side-folding SB Tactical stabilizing brace.
Both weapons worked as you would expect from IWI US—without issue. There were no malfunctions during the range testing, and both guns ejected brass with authority. Their accuracy was more than adequate for self-defense work, and the bullpup design of the Tavor SAR provides a very compact package with a 17-inch barrel. Well suited to home defense, it’ll fit nicely in many compartments and closets yet wrings about as much as you can get out of a 9mm pistol cartridge. The velocities are quite a bit higher, so a proven expanding bullet would be in order for self-defense use.
While you can buy a dedicated 9mm Tavor SAR straight from the factory, this conversion kit makes it easy to use your 5.56mm with all of the same accessories. Adding the sound suppressor made the gun a little long, but you can’t beat the benefits of less noise and blast. It’ll save your hearing indoors and make it easier to communicate to other family members or tactical teammates.
The Uzi Pro Pistol was fun to shoot. It worked well with a sling, and I’m sure it’s a big hit with Uzi fans in general. This design has a very strong following, and this new model has some solid improvements. It facilitates optics, lights and lasers while being very soft shooting. Fitting in some tight spaces, it can bring 25+1 (or 32+1) rounds to the party, which is substantial. Add a light and a red-dot sight and you have a pretty nice little home-defense weapon that anyone could easily get on target with.
Whether you’re looking for a reliable, compact carbine that maximizes the ballistics of the 9mm or a pistol version of a classic submachine gun, IWI US has you covered. And if you can’t make up your mind, get both!
For more information, visit iwi.us or call 717-695-2081.
This article was originally published in ‘Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement’ February/March 2017. To subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.