Untitled

My sergeant calls me and several other soldiers over and orders us to stand in a “Chet” (three-sided box formation). We stand in the middle of the rocky field near our base, squinting from the strange twilight of the sun through the dusty haze. We know that today is the day we will receive our “packal” or specialty . . .

Untitled1

Top: X95, Middle: X95L, Bottom: X95GL

Are we the “Matolistim” (soldiers with an M203 strapped to the front of their Micro Tavor)?  No, the IDF usually saves that for fire team commanders. We certainly aren’t “Simonistim” (carriers of the long-barreled Micro and door busting rifle grenades called “Simon”).

Untitled2

Negev LMG

Could we be the “Negevistim” (carriers of the fierce Negev LMG)? Or possibly the “Magistim” (two-man teams for the FN MAG a.k.a., M60)? Certainly not, I reason as I look at the scrawny crew of soldiers that are gathered, including two Ethiopians who may weigh less than an M60 and reflect on my 5’5″ self.

Our squad commanders approach, armed with felt-tipped markers. They write on our foreheads. One writes 3.9 written on mine. My friends were crowned with the word Leor, 41.9cm, and 300m. With some frantic discussion and flipping through notebooks, we realize we’re to be the “Kalahim,” IDF marksmen. (The 3.9 stands for the optimal eye distance from the Trijicon ACOG.)

Untitled3

We rushed to the armory to turn in our standard x95s and received the X95L, or Kalah. With it we’re handed foregrips, a Trijicon ACOG with illuminated doughnut sight and the “Leor” (a 3 or 4 power night vision scope).

Fast forward, 16 months later. I stood overlooking the Lebanese border with my Kalah at my side, guarding Israel from the baddies. I can hear sporadic shooting and explosions coming from Syria. I’ve gone through field training, practice operations, real deal operations, and thousands upon thousands of rounds with this gun. She isn’t perfect, but she has never treated me wrong, and shares my pillow every night.

Untitled5

This X95L would certainly not look out-of-place in the Star Wars universe. Compared to the original Tavor, the X95L looks like it has lost weight in all the right places, while maintaining its robust, utilitarian design. It has.

Watching the border. (Hunter Cooper for The Truth About Guns)

IWI slimmed down the Tavor X95L by giving it a less bulky stock. The magazine well is also considerably trimmer. They put the top rail on a riser, separate from the fore-end/handguard. The pistol grip’s got enough room for a gloved finger and…that’s it. No trees, bushes, small animals, kneepads, or anything else pulling the trigger. Though it has large lateral serrations on the sides, the pistol grip can become quite slick. The X95L’s sides are interchangeable; it’s only a matter of time before replacements are available.

Untitled17

The  X95L’s fore-end has a top and small bottom rail, and a Harris style bi-pod with screws with built-in spaces for pressure pads. The barrel extends a bit past the fore-end, tipped with standard AR/M16 threading and a birdcage flash hider. Overall length: just 26.5 inches. Did I mention that my barrel is exactly 16.5 inches long? Compared to a tanker’s M16 “commando,” it’s amazing how much more barrel length the XL95 provided with a smaller overall length. (This will probably be the profile and length of IWI’s US version.)

Tavor X95L. Note the magazine release right above the trigger. (courtesy Hunter Cooper for The Truth About Guns)

The X95L is Kalashnikov-easy to run. To those who complained about the standard Tavor’s paddle release magazine, be happy. It’s gone. Enter the trigger finger-accessible, swap side-able AR-style magazine release.

Operation and firing is super simple. Insert the magazine, pull the conveniently located left side non-reciprocating charging handle, flip the safety off with your thumb, and pull the trigger.

No bang? Malfunction fixing is as easy as a Danish tourist in Tel Aviv. Cant the X95L to the left (while shouldered, about 60°) and take a look right down your nose. Is the bolt closed? Rack, bang. Is the bolt half-open? Drop the magazine, rack, insert new mag, rack, and bang. Is the bolt fully open? Drop mag, insert new mag, hit the now sleeker and smaller bolt release.

Untitled10

This you can do without breaking cheek weld or taking your eye off the optic. Sadly, but understandably for the modern combat rifleman, the X95L only has a “safe” and “semi” firing mode. No giggle switch.

The disassembly process is the same as the standard Tavor. Pop out the captured pins and the guts slide out the hinged butt plate. Boom, ready for basic cleaning.

Untitled12

Want to do more? The  X95L’s bolt carrier group comes apart into five pieces, none of which are tiny. (I watched a soldier accidently almost swallow his firing pin, so still don’t give the parts to a toddler or somebody with a similar level of intelligence).

Untitled13

Same story for the trigger pack. Pop the pins, pull out the trigger pack. I don’t know if the  X95L’s trigger pack is the same as the one in the US-sold Tavor. My Google-Fu suggests that the bolt group and the trigger pack are indeed the same. If it is, that would be amazing. If it isn’t, IMI better get on that. [ED: the U.S. Tavors receive a proprietary trigger pack.]

The X95L is on the heavy side, weighing in at 7.5-ish pounds naked without an optic or magazine. Much like the Tavor, all the “junk is in the trunk.” I would put money on being to hold the gun shouldered and on target longer than 99 percent of people with a non-bullpup rifle. Especially with a full magazine.

Thanks to the X95L’s weight and balance and barrel location, recoil is a straight back affair. The force is minimal. There’s problem with target reacquisition — should your sight leave the target to begin with.

From what I have heard about the factory Tavor trigger, I’m lead to believe that the X95L’s trigger is the exact same. Take-up is lengthy with a hard break point. When it snaps, it is crisp and clean. Over travel is minimal and trigger reset arrives with an audible “click.” Despite the trigger’s flaws, double taps, triple taps, and 29-round taps are fast and easy.

Don’t worry, that boot hole was caused by wear and tear, not a bullet. (courtesy Hunter Cooper for The Truth About Guns)

Along with being marksmen and distance shooters, the IDF calls on Kalahim as point men (and women) in urban situations. I was the point man of the spear tip squad, in the spearhead platoon of our company. In other words, I went first.

Ergonomically, the X95L performs beautifully in both open and urban areas. The X95L’s length is the same as an SBR, but with a full length barrel. “Slicing the pie” and other CQB-oriented tasks is as easy as pie; you can move around freely. Point shooting is a reassuringly natural possibility.

Switching the X95L’s magazines is the same as any bullpup. On all models of the Micro Tavor, the magazine release and reduced profile of the bolt release allow for faster reloads and less chance of accidentally releasing the bolt prematurely. Those worried about accidental premature release should train just using the charging handle. (Or seek medical advice about premature release.)

Untitled11

One ergonomic downside to the X95L: it’s difficult to use the gun as a blunt instrument. Due to its length, the range of your “stab” and “chop” moves are severely limited. On the positive side, a butt-stroke or elbow stock-chop are both devastating due to the rearward weight. Another problem (albeit specific to my bipod-equipped XL95): the bi-pod gets in the way of “chop” and “stab,” especially when the legs are extended. Don’t ask me how I know.

Untitled15

While I’m bitching about the XL95’s bipod, it cuts up your hand something horrible during Krav Maga and forces you to use a vertical grip. Or the BUISs. They suck, and my front sight snapped off like a twig when I took a small tumble down a mountain. Just saying.

The standard-issue IDF sling looks like a seatbelt from a Toyota Camry with some steel clips attached to it. That’s because it is.

Here is where I would normally insert pictures of targets I punched holes into with all different types of ammo. Sadly, there were several restrictive factors. First, cameras and cell phones weren’t allowed onto the shooting range. Second, besides standard 55 grain 5.56 ammo and M855 green tips, we didn’t have any other ammo to shoot.

Anecdotally, with both rounds I was able to make single-ragged-hole groups at 25 meters. The barrel has a 1:7 twist to throw m855 green tips accurately and quickly to the desired target. I’ve pushed this rifle to substantial distances, easily able to put round after round into a target roughly the size of a head wearing a Russian helmet at 300m.

For illustrative purposes, this is what the X95 looks like with a “can” on the barrel. And because guard duty is boring. (courtesy Hunter Cooper for The Truth About Guns)

The  X95L’s best for tactical situations from under one meter to 600 meters. That said, it isn’t limited to this application. The X95L’s compact size and ease of staying on target for extended periods make it appropriate for competition and hunting. It’s also an extremely fun gun to shoot. Plus, I’ve heard Israeli models have a thing for guys with an X95L (something about not having to compensate with a long rifle). Expect RF to own one soon.

 

Specifications

Caliber: 5.56/.223
Magazine: STANAG, full AR-15/M16 compatibility
Weight: Unloaded, roughly 7.5lbs.
Length: 26.5”
Barrel: 16.5”

Available accessories: the threaded barrel can accept AR flash hiders and suppressors. Generous top rail space allows for any combination of lights, lasers, optics/night vision, thermal vision, etc.

Ratings (out of 5 stars):

Ergonomics: * * * * *
The X95L fits the arm and body well regardless of attire or ceramic plates on your chest. From the biggest guy in our platoon (a dude who got leave from the army to play basketball) to the smallest, the rifle fit well. Shooting across the Golan Heights is as easy as performing arrests in West Bank dense urban epicenters.

Accuracy: * * * *
The gun is mechanically accurate. The trigger, however, makes the gun difficult to shoot, especially for someone used to the triggers on hunting rifles and AR-style rifles.

Takedown and cleaning: * * * * *
Every pin involved in the removal of the bolt and trigger pack is captured. There are few guns that allow for a full cleaning of the trigger in a matter of minutes, not hours. With practice, it can be reassembled in seconds.

Looks: * * * * *
The X95L’s sci-fi looks and functional beauty are gorgeous. IMHO.

Customizability: * *
The top rail allows for optics but the fore-end has extremely limited rail space (due to the built-in bipod). The stock can’t be switched out and the pistol grip is proprietary. IWI is releasing the civilian version of the X95L to the US market soon. Aftermarket parts companies will be all over it.

Reliability: * * * *
I rarely had problems running the gun; the only issues were magazine and ammunition related.

Overall: * * * *
The X95 serves multiple roles without compromise. If you don’t like the original Tavor, give the X95 a try. With its improved ergonomics and less bulky profile it’s a new gun.

x95
U.S. X95 at SHOT Show 2016. Note that the grip and trigger guard are removable, and can be swapped for the small trigger guard seen in Williams’s photos.

Recommended For You

48 Responses to Gun Review: X95L AKA Micro Tavor Marksman Edition

    • Im sorry… I inserted my Americaness in to the meaning of “M60″…. Google tells me the MAG is classified as the Model 60-20, Model 60-30, or Model 60-40 depending on use.

      I want this Tavor in 300 aac. With california length restrictions the longer barrel would make it very quiet.

      • No, you were right the first time. The M240 is a modified FN MAG. The M60 is a completely different gun that happens to share the same model name.

      • There are some mystical meanings behind the word “bride” in Hebrew and Judaism.

        The reasoning behind this name in the IDF is valid based on those interpretations. For instance, you could be viewed and those who bring others closer to G-d…i.e. by dropping them in their tracks.

        Additionally, under Islam, the term “bride” is also used in a similar way with reference to going to your death. Terrorists often refer to attending a “wedding” when blowing themselves up. So, in this respect, you would be the one who invites them to the “wedding” by, again, dropping them in their tracks…

    • I have found that middle eastern cultures tend to have a bit of dry humor in their military linguistics.

      For example, I told my father (who is Egyptian) about a Hakim rifle I found for sale. He started laughing. When I asked what was so funny, he informed me that ‘hakim’ means ‘doctor’ or ‘medicine man’ in arabic.

  1. The pic with the boot, was that an NG? There’s an awful lot of red and a hole, but it looks more like soil with a higher content of iron than blood. Just seemed like an odd pic.

    • Just a hole, unrelated to bullets. The terrain in the Golan Heights consists of many, many jagged rocks that tear up boots and gear faster than anybody could imagine.

  2. What’s the LoP like on this? The TAR21 has a couple of inches too much for a comfy fit on my barrel chest and short arms. A replacement butt pad helped, but only a little.

    • I do believe the length of pull isn’t too long, and at 5’5 was comfortable with shouldering it even with ceramic plates and a vest on.

      • With my Tavor, from butt to grip, has a LoP of almost a full A1 rifle stock. I was hoping for more like a 2clicks extended carbine stock length.

  3. OK – but do you carry it with a round in the chamber in case you have to use it?

    Just kidding, cool review.

  4. Oh look a civilian legal compact Tavor… Is it me or does it say oh so sweetly “buy me, buy me.”

  5. Lucky ass. I was a “lawist” carried a bunch of Law rockets.

    Pics aren’t loading on my phone. But if his boots look brownish/red he is a Paratrooper.

  6. How tall would you say someone has to be not to have length of pull issues with this and other X95 variants? Or perhaps more precisely, how short can someone be and still use one?

  7. Can anyone knowledgeable summarize the differences between 16.5″ Tavor model that is currently being sold in US, and the upcoming X95?

    • The new X95 has a button magazine release, different handguards, apparently a somewhat better trigger, and they’ve moved the charging handle further back. It also has a thicker buttpad because they needed to up the length to keep it from being an SBR.

      • Trigger felt the same to me when I shot it at SHOT. In addition to the things you mentioned there’s the swappable grip and trigger guard module, and the whole rear end is sleeker and shorter top-to-bottom. Overall weight is a tad less, too. Compare that last photo of the X95 at SHOT to a Tavor and you’ll see the difference in the shape behind the pistol grip all the way back to the recoil pad.

        • SBR is a firearm with a rifled barrel designed to be fired with two hands, with a barrel length less than 16 inches and an overall length less than 26 inches. Without the pad the X95 would be an SBR, not an AOW.

        • Yeah, Scott’s right. It makes no actual sense that you can have a “short barreled rifle” even with a long barrel in it, but you sure can. The law states that if the rifle’s overall length is under 26″ than it’s an SBR no matter how long the barrel is. So, it’s a two-part test to be a normal rifle and not an SBR: 1) barrel must be at least 16″ and 2) OAL must be at least 26″

    • It shoots spectacularly well. I was hitting steel at 200 yards standing in full auto with it this fall, and I’m not a very good shot.

  8. Hi William,
    Very nice write up. One thing I wanted to confirm with you, is it true that the x95 is made of a softer polymer compared to the Tavor Sar?
    Supposedly you guys found out the Tavor Sar will crack due to the hardness of the polymer and the UVlight of Middel East.

    Thanks!

    • The material itself is by feel similar to most polymer firearms that I have handled, but indeed does not heat up too much when left in the middle eastern heat. It also holds up very well in the frigged mountain cold. Having dropped the rifle, fallen on it, used it to open hatches on APCs and all sorts of other abuse in all types of weather, I can personally vouch for the durability of the polymer used in the x95’s construction

  9. Hello,

    I know you say above that your ACOG had a donut reticle, but I thought that I read somewhere that the IDF uses the horseshoe reticle in their ACOGs. Can you confirm which one you had? Are you aware of any forces in the IDF using different reticles, such as the chevron?

    Thank you.

  10. You mentioned that Leor, 41.9cm, and 300m were put on your friend’s heads. Leor is an optic I think, and 41.9cm seems like the barrel length of the x95L, but what did the 300m stand for?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *