Bullpup-style rifles like the Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) Tavor 7 always generate strong opinions both for and against. Bullpups are firearm configurations in which the action is located behind the trigger group in the space normally solely reserved for the stock. This permits at least 7-10 inches shorter firearm length for the same barrel length, thus improving maneuverability and handling. The compactness is one of the most oft-repeated positive attributes of bullpup rifles, while maintaining full length barrel to maximize cartridge performance.
Bullpups are generally the same size as specialized short barrel rifles (SBR) without having to resort to sub-16 inch barrels to achieve this size. For example, one benefit of the compactness is working in or around vehicles. As a driver or passenger you can have the IWI Tavor 7 pointed muzzle down between your legs with the buttstock resting on the seat cushion. Movement with the bullpup inside of structures is much easier and very similar to the size advantage offered by a submachine gun without the terminal ballistic penalty of using a pistol cartridge or short barrel for a rifle.
The Birth of the IWI Tavor 7
One must ask why Israel decided to invest in the time and effort to develop the Tavor series of rifles, especially considering they were being handed M16s from the U.S. as part of generous aid packages. The reasons behind this will address why I believe the Tavor 7 — the newest Tavor introduced — is a viable alternative to the typical AR or AK fare.
The Israelis, who are constantly engaged with foreign and domestic threats, wanted a rifle that was more reliable, durable and easier to maintain than the M16/M4. It was deemed important to have one weapon that could seamlessly perform in urban environments, as well as open spaces. Due to the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) close quarters and mechanized infantry requirements, the project team selected a bullpup design that would allow the weapon to be compact while still featuring a standard length barrel thus maintaining bullet velocities. The conscript nature of the IDF was also a contributing factor behind all of the rugged reliability, low maintenance requirements, and only needing to train on one platform. Hmmm, sounds perfect for a “go to hell” rifle for civilian use, too.
The Ins and Outs
IWI’s Tavor is a combat weapon; meaning reliability and ruggedness are high on the “must do” list for designers. Like the AK, which is legendary for reliability, the Tavor utilizes a long stroke piston rotating bolt. Something new with the Tavor 7 compared to other Tavor siblings is an adjustable gas cylinder located above the barrel. The long stroke piston operating method combined with weight ratio of the Tavor’s bolt group provides ruthless extraction and chambering; it’s perfect for harsh environments or when weapon care is neglected for whatever reason.
IWI put the non-reciprocating charging handle at the front left side of the gun. Charging handle slots are cut on the both sides of the gun housing so the handle can be installed on either side of the weapon per user preference. With the Tavor 7’s charging handle, IWI added a catch position that allows you to lock the bolt open and then charge the weapon with a gentle nudge. The release near the magazine well is still present.
The Tavor has no separate receiver with all parts mounted within the high impact-resistant polymer housing, reinforced with steel inserts where appropriate. Access to the action is via hinged buttplate. Simply remove the retention pin and the hinged buttplate pivots open allowing for the Tavor 7’s action to slide out the rear of the rifle.
Further Features and Sizing
The bottom of the Tavor 7’s forend has a Picatinny rail hidden beneath removal polymer cover. The Tavor 7 also features an ambidextrous magazine release location; IWI placed it in a traditional AR-location above the trigger guard instead of at the back of the magazine well, as found on earlier Tavor SAR models. The Tavor 7’s trigger is much improved compared to the earlier Tavor SAR trigger pack. While still not comparable to the aftermarket Tavor trigger from Timney, the Tavor 7’s trigger is easily managed measuring about 6 pounds after taking up slack.
The IWI Tavor 7 tested herein weighs 8 pounds. It measures approximately 26.75 inch long with its 16.5 inch chrome-lined cold hammer forged 1:12 twist barrel. The chrome-lined barrel contributes to the low maintenance requirements associated with the Tavor. A full-length Picatinny rail runs down the upper receiver for easy optic mounting. The ambidextrous safety selector type on the Tavor 7 resembles an AR’s location behind the trigger. Meanwhile, the shell/chassis of the rifle is made of composite polymer materials and available in Black, OD Green and Flat Dark Earth colors. Lastly, the Tavor 7 arrives with a Magpul 20-round magazine.
Setting Up for Success
I used a Trijicon 1-8x VCOG with Illuminated Reticle while testing. Trijicon designed the VCOG for both instinctive close-range/low-magnification situations with variable intensity red illuminated reticle, yet it still allows shooters to engage targets with greater precision at longer ranges thanks to the 8x capability. The VCOG’s 1-8x power range and reticle configuration eliminates the need for using multiple optics as scenarios change.
I also added on a SIG Sauer SRD762-QD suppressor, which was as simple as installing a SIG Taper-Lok muzzle device adapter. The SIG Sauer Taper-Lok is not only an ingenious mounting system for the suppressor body, but also an effective flash hider or muzzle device in its own right. IWI decided to make the Tavor 7 very suppressor friendly thanks to new four-position adjustable gas system. R for regular use; A for adverse conditions; S for suppressed; and O for off. IWI also numbered the settings “I” through “IV” for ease of use. In the “Off” setting, the action will not cycle after the shot is fired. This is intended for very discrete use/application.
Bullpup Pros and Cons
Generally speaking, the triggers found on bullpups are not as crisp as other designs due to the linkage required between forward trigger and rearward action. One should not try to stage the trigger, but rather work it smoothly, like a double-action revolver trigger. IWI has done a good job over the years improving its bullpup triggers.
IWI’s user manual makes a strong suggestion not to transition between shoulders with the Tavor 7; brass ejects with teeth-chipping force. The Tavor 7’s bullpup configuration has the ejection port too close to the face for comfortable “off-shoulder” use. With this said, conversion to right or left ejection is simple and done without tools when the Tavor 7 emerges from the box.
The Tavor 7 comes with no iron sights. Previous Tavor models had functional back up sights that folded down inside the Picatinny rail. Curious why IWI decided to forego this with the Tavor 7. Accuracy with the Tavor 7 was in the 3MOA range. Certainly not ideal, but more than enough for a combat rifle.
Tavor 7 Testing
A combination of factors makes the Tavor 7 bullpup seem lighter and handier than its 9 pounds would suggest: Shorter overall length, center of gravity toward rear of rifle, and hands being closer together.
I spent several magazines worth of ammunition engaging plate racks and man-sized steel targets. I quickly moved past “stand-and-deliver” drills to more dynamic drills involving movement, magazine reloads, and firing from behind cover. The Tavor 7’s recoil impulse is decidedly different in a positive way; smoother and more subtle are two descriptions that come to mind. The straight line bore axis and relatively wide buttstock found on the Tavor 7 dampens recoil better than an AR-10 type weapon.
IWI does a lot of great things. I’m a personal fan of the Jericho 941, but the Tavor is something special. The Tavor’s close association to the IDF’s issued service rifle inspires confidence of not only having a unique weapon, but also one that works as advertised. Many will find the Tavor 7 desirable due to its compactness, reliability and hard-hitting terminal punch — a combo hard to argue against. The tide seems to be changing in terms of bullpup acceptability. For even more info, please visit IWI.us.
IWI Tavor 7 Specs
- Caliber: 7.62 NATO
- Barrel: 16.5 inch chrome line hammer forged CrMoV1:12RH twist
- Overall Length: 26.75 inch
- Weight: 9 pounds empty and no scope
- Sights: Rail for mounting of optcs
- Action: Semi-automatic
- Capacity: Magpul PMAG 10, 20, or 25 round detachable
- MSRP: $2,099
IWI Tavor 7 Performance
|Load||Velocity (fps)||Avg. Accuracy at 100 Yards||Best Group|
|SIG Sauer 168gr Match||2,605||2.25 inches||1.66 inches|
|SIG Sauer 150gr FMJ||2,635||2.66 inches||2.25 inches|
|SIG Sauer 165gr CET||2,530||2.00 inches||1.66 inches|
|SIG Sauer 150gr HT||2,580||2.50 inches||2.25 inches|
|Black Hills 180gr Accubond||2,555||2.33 inches||1.75 inches|
|Federal 168gr Match||2,615||2.33 inches||1.50 inches|
Three groups of five shots each; Caldwell Chronograph used