I have been running a 5.56mm NATO Tavor SAR from IWI US for more than two years now. One of the first available, this particular model has been around since IWI began offering semi-auto Tavors to the U.S. I’ve tested the SAR in temperatures ranging from -14 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, from sea level to altitudes of 10,000 feet. It’s endured dust, rain, mud, muck, snow and even some hail. I’ve carried the SAR on long hikes, bouncing it around rocky hills and through the woods. Seldom out of reach, I’ve taken it all over the country.
I’ve used the IWI Tavor SAR in training courses, from CQB distances out to 1,000 yards. The carbine has fired over 12,000 rounds—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.
IWI Tavor SAR Is a Battle-Proven Bullpup
No rifle I’ve ever tested so far has proven as reliable as the IWI Tavor SAR. Bullpup designs are different, but once you get past those differences, they offer several advantages. At close range, the 16.5-inch-barreled Tavor SAR handles like an AR with a 10-inch barrel, minus the reliability issues. It truly excels when it comes to working in tight spaces or around barricades. Moving to a kneeling or prone position is a breeze, and the SAR is easy to carry for long periods of time because its weight is mostly centered and toward the rear. Sure, it’s not a lightweight rifle, but it carries like one. The SAR also fits nicely in the latest covert bags.
IWI’s Tavor SAR’s accuracy is solid, well within realistic deployment needs, and that has not changed since day one. Using the factory trigger, 1-inch groups with Silver State 64-grain PPT and Hornady 60-grain TAP ammunition are the norm. Install a Geissele, Timney or ShootingSight trigger and sub-1-inch groups are possible. Equipped with a scope, hits on an IPSC steel silhouette target are regular. During a recent training course, I made first-round hits at 600 yards using an EOTech sight and magnifier from an unsupported prone position. Zeroed at 50 yards, repeated hits out to 300 yards were a cinch from kneeling. The Tavor is no DMR, but it is as accurate as any rifle built for combat.
Gear Head Works makes the Tavor Modular Forearm (TMF) and the Fulcrum Located Extra (FLEx) swivel, a metal plate that replaces the plastic factory ejection port cover and offers a QD sling swivel. It gives you the ability to switch between single- and two-point slings quickly and firmly. During department training, this addition proved invaluable in rollover prone and off-hand shooting.
The TMF is a machined-aluminum forend that allows you to mount rails and a 1-inch light in the center. My SureFire Scout light with a KM2 conversion proved useful in both low-light and IR environments. The TMF’s sides provide a solid handhold, perfect for my needs.
Manticore Arms offers the LUMA safety lever for the Tavor SAR. Several options are available, but the LUMA is made of aluminum and is ambidextrous. You can mix and match medium or slim levers as necessary. I installed medium LUMA levers on both sides, which made it easy to use the carbine with either hand.
Another must-have is Galloway Precision’s extended shell deflector. Deflecting brass farther forward and away from the operator, this add-on allows you to shoot the SAR from either shoulder without brass bouncing off your chin. Unless you roll your cheek over the ejection port, you’ll forget it is there.
I used several sights and optics with the SAR. Cycling through red dots, holographic sights and scopes, the Bushnell Elite Tactical 1-6.5x24mm SMRS was the most versatile. Its generous eye relief makes it usable in most any position. Any shorter optic with good eye relief should work fine. It needs to mount forward, so a one-piece AR mount is probably required. I also added a Trijicon RMR on a one o’clock rail for work up close. If you mount the scope at a typical AR height, you can co-witness it with the SAR’s flip-up front and rear sights.
The SAR’s factory trigger is commensurate with true mil-spec M16 triggers. However, I tested three different aftermarket triggers in the SAR from Geissele, Timney and ShootingSight. All are complete, non-adjustable units that drop in easily. Timney’s Tavor trigger is a single-stage unit housed in aluminum with a 4-pound pull. ShootingSight’s two-stage TAV-D trigger is modeled after the M1A trigger with a 5-pound pull weight. Geissele’s Supra Sabra, modeled after the company’s SSA, is a crisp two-stage design with tool-steel internals.
Timney’s trigger was very crisp, making it much easier to achieve pinpoint accuracy. The take-up is long compared to an AR’s—that comes with any bullpup’s transfer bar. But the trigger was predictable, clean and crisp. I prefer two-stage designs, so the ShootingSight and Geissele models suited me well. Geissele’s Super Sabra feels much the same as the proven SSA trigger. The take-up is a bit longer, but the second stage is predictable. Both the TAV-D and Geissele will likely meet any police policies and were flawless in testing.
If you like to extend your support hand as far as possible along the forend, the Tavor SAR is not for you; it isn’t a race gun. Its balance allows it to swing very quickly, so “driving” the gun is pretty easy. It works perfectly with a plate carrier, and others who have tested it did not feel cramped. If your arms are exceedingly long, it may feel a bit short.
The Tavor SAR has become my favorite go-to 5.56mm rifle. I use it for department training and courses. It fits perfectly in my Haley Strategic Incog bag for discreet carry. Set up correctly, it is completely ambidextrous and usable in any condition and at any practical range. If you want a rifle that really works and you are willing to move outside the mainstream, the Tavor SAR may just be the perfect rifle for you. It certainly is for me—and there are 12,000 spent cartridge cases that can prove it! Like this from IWI? Check out our review of the Jericho 941 pistol.
IWI Tavor SAR Specs
- Caliber: 5.56mm NATO
- Barrel: 16.5 inches
- Overall Length: 26.13 inches
- Overall Weight: 7.9 pounds (empty)
- Stock: Reinforced polymer
- Sights: Flip-up front and rear
- Action: Piston-operated semi-auto
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: 30+1
- MSRP: $1,999
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