Whether equipped with low-power optics, simple red-dot reflex sights or your favorite backup iron sights, the compact Tavor SAR bullpup is ready for just about anything you can throw at it.
IWI’s Tavor SAR bullpup has proven to be a true workhorse. It’s simple, accurate and completely reliable. Shown with a Bushnell Elite Tactical 1-6.5x24mm SMR scope and a SureFire Scout light in a Gear Head Works TMF forend.
I was one of the first people to get their hands on the 5.56mm NATO Tavor SAR when IWI US began offering these semi-automatic bullpups, and I’ve used mine consistently for two years. In fact, I’ve run over 12,000 rounds through it now.
- RELATED: SNEAK PEEK: IWI TAVOR SAR 5.56mm
While I was initially skeptical of the Tavor SAR, I was immediately surprised by its handling and accuracy during my first range test, and it continues to satisfy me. I’ve used the Tavor SAR in training courses, from CQB distances out to 1,000 yards. The carbine has fired many types of ammunition ranging from military surplus to match grade, including steel-cased rounds. I’ve used it with several sound suppressors and many other accessories available on the market. This is easily the most thorough testing I have ever completed. What follows are my conclusions based on this testing, including what accessories have proven the most valuable to me.
This particularly Tavor SAR is a matte black, 16.5-inch-barreled, flattop model. Weighing in at 7.9 pounds unloaded, the rifle utilizes a long-stroke gas piston operating system. Chambered in 5.56mm NATO, it uses standard M16/AR-15 magazines and has a forward-mounted, non-reciprocating charging handle. It also has front and rear backup sights that fold flush with the Picatinny top rail.
“The Tavor SAR will handle any real-world abuse as well or better than any other rifle out there.”
In its current configuration, I’ve installed a Bushnell Elite Tactical 1-6.5x24mm SMRS on the top rail along with a Trijicon RMR mounted in the one o’clock position for up-close work. I’ve also added a Gear Head Works Tavor Modular Forearm (TMF). You can mount a 1-inch flashlight in the center and route pressure pads to either side—I’ve installed a SureFire Scout light with a KM2 dual-projection (white and IR) head—and rails and grips can be added if needed. It also doesn’t add much in terms of weight.
Another addition is Gear Head Works’ Fulcrum Located Extra (FLEx) swivel, a metal plate that replaces the plastic factory ejection port cover to help seal off excess gas, and it also offers a QD sling swivel, which gives you the ability to switch between single- and two-point slings quickly and firmly. During a Haley Strategic D5 Carbine class, it was great for all of the prone shooting. Attending a Follow Through Consulting carbine class, it made the unconventional positions possible without shifting the sling. The FLEx is essential for working in tight quarters or switching the carbine between shoulders.
More must-haves include Galloway Precision’s extended shell deflector and Manticore’s LUMA ambidextrous safety. Finally, I added SureFire’s three-pronged SOCOM flash suppressor, which also serves as an adapter for my SOCOM762-MINI sound suppressor.
I tested the Tavor SAR with two different trigger units from Timney Triggers and ShootingSight. Timney offers a crisp, 4-pound, single-stage trigger unit, while ShootingSight’s two-stage TAV-D trigger is modeled after the M1 Garand trigger with a 5-pound pull weight. Both drop in without tools and cannot be adjusted. Always fond of a two-stage trigger, I’ve left the TAV-D unit in place.
I’ve used this Tavor SAR in all manner of weather, from the depths of winter to the hottest days of summer. I try to use the 5.56mm rifle at all department shoots and training schools. Short of my PWS MK116, no other 5.56mm rifle I’ve tested in the long term has proven as dependable. It has never failed to feed anything, including steel-cased ammo, military-surplus rounds and reloads. I’ve experienced no issues with bullet weights ranging from 40 to 77 grains, even with frangible ammo. Aside from an AK, it would be hard to find a more dependable rifle.
I generally keep this rifle in one of the steel drawers in the back of my FJ Cruiser. Whether I’m driving down a rocky road to the range or across the country, the Tavor SAR has handled the abuse with ease. It has never failed to fire, lose its zero or have anything come loose. Dragged through snow in the winter, mud in the spring and dust in the summer, the rifle has been cleaned sparingly, oiled occasionally and wiped down once in a while. I’ve dropped the Tavor SAR from my truck, dragged it across rocks and brushed it against trees, and it just keeps on working. No, I’m not trying to break the rifle—it’s simply hard use, what you can expect from a solider, officer or tactical team leader. Short of trying to destroy it, the Tavor SAR will handle any real-world abuse as well or better than any other rifle out there.
Firing the Tavor SAR right out of the box with its factory trigger, I was able to shoot groups hovering at about an inch. It took real concentration, though. Most groups were closer to 2 inches given normal shooting conditions. The trigger felt similar to factory M16 triggers issued to our troops—heavy but predictable. Aftermarket triggers, however, have made a huge difference.
The Timney Tavor trigger is more like a single-stage AR trigger. I produced some surprising groups with this trigger and Silver State Armory’s 77-grain OTM ammo. ShootingSight’s TAV-D trigger wasn’t much more accurate over the Timney. But I was more comfortable with it because I am accustomed to two-stage triggers. The take-up is a bit long given the bullpup’s trigger bar, but once you get to the first stage, it is smooth with a very clean second stage. The SAR has yet to malfunction with this trigger.
Where both of these triggers shine is rapid fire. Running the factory trigger hard while trying to remain accurate is difficult. While neither of these aftermarket triggers will mimic an AR 3-Gun trigger, they’re very close—similar to high-quality duty triggers. The triggers also made a big difference when it came to long-range shooting. During a recent Haley Strategic D5 Carbine class, I was able to make hits at 600-plus yards, confirming the Tavor SAR’s capabilities. No, it’s not a DMR or precision rifle, but with the right optics, 100- to 1,000-yard hits are relatively easy to make.
Suppressors chambered in 5.56mm with typical backpressure would not run reliably mounted on the Tavor SAR with all ammunition. The best bet seemed to be .30-caliber suppressors. My SureFire SOCOM762-MINI was reliable with zero impact shifts. It also added very little to the weapon’s overall length and significantly reduced its report. I also installed a SureFire SOCOM flash suppressor to be able to add a suppressor if needed.
Every conceivable magazine was tested, and they mostly worked well. Magpul’s Gen 3 PMAGS have been flawless, along with factory magazines. SureFire 60-rounders also worked great. Given a firm activation of the magazine release, all magazines I tested dropped free.
Tank Tough Tavor
While never buried or dropped in the ocean for months, I handled the Tavor SAR as harshly as anyone could without trying to break it. It passed every test with flying colors. This is no flash-in-the-pan oddball design—it works, and continues to work, in the harshest conditions. If you can get past the differences a bullpup provides, it is an excellent rifle. As a duty or self-defense rifle, it just does not get much better than this. This rifle will stay at my side for many years to come.
- Bushnell: bushnell.com; 800-423-3537
- Galloway Precision: gallowayprecision.com
- Gear Head Works: gearheadworks.com
- IWI US / TAVOR: iwi.us; 717-695-2081
- Manticore Arms: manticorearms.com; 630-715-0334
- ShootingSight: shootingsight.com; 513-702-4879
- Timney Triggers: timneytriggers.com; 866-484-6639
- Trijicon: trijicon.com; 800-338-0563
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