From the moment the Israeli-made Tavor hit our shores, it was a major hit. Why not wield a fantastically compact rifle — meeting the NFA’s minimum overall length restriction by a hair’s breadth — for home defense, treason prevention, and zombie hunting? The trigger was a bit of a bother, but the IWI Tavor X95 improved that. And now it’s available chambered in the versatile 300 Blackout . . .

 

 

The 300 BLK was designed to be shot suppressed. With full powder charges and light-for-caliber (110 to 147 grain) projectiles, it’s a .30 caliber cartridge capable of hitting ~2,400 fps while fitting in standard AR-15-size systems.

With heavy-for-caliber (typically 208 or 220 grain) projectiles and a reduced powder charge of, typically, a quick-burning pistol type of gunpowder, 300 BLK is an extremely quiet, subsonic round that achieves full velocity in as short as an eight-inch barrel. Advancements in projectile designs have lead to reliably-expanding, capable hunting and self-defense rounds even at these lower (~1,050 fps) velocities.

It can be a challenge, though, to get a semi-automatic gun to properly cycle both the powerful supersonic and much lighter-loaded subsonic ammunition. Thankfully, the X95 in 300 BLK utilizes an adjustable gas block on its long stroke piston system. A simple 180° rotation of the adjustment screw switches the system from low gas for supersonic (one dot facing the shooting) or high gas for subsonic (two dots facing the shooter).

The excellent owner’s manual alerts owners to a locking detent doohickey in front of the adjustment dial. Unless that lever is pushed down into the frame of the gun, the adjustment dial is locked in place and won’t rotate.

With my Dead Air Sandman Ti silencer on the muzzle, I ran the X95 with the gas block on “supersonic” (low gas) the entire time. The suppressor’s extra backpressure helped the X95 cycle reliably even with subsonic ammo.

Both subs and supers cycled with the gas on high, too. But the extra blowback was obvious and there’s no reason to beat the gun up when it runs just fine on the lower setting.

When I realized I had accidentally blocked the gas adjustment with my Trijicon MRO, I moved it on up. Unfortunately locating an optic right in front of the gas block is ill-advised, as the block jettisons a decent puff of ammo combustion gases with every shot. After just a few magazines I could barely see through the MRO.

The mount, back of the optic, and rear lens were coated in a layer of carbon and other crap. While it wiped off easily, mounting your optic behind the gas block (the gas primarily jets forwards) or directly on top of it (gas would vent out the side slots in the receiver) are better options.

An adjustable gas block is a huge “plus” for any 300 BLK, especially one that’s shot suppressed as it should be. So I was shocked and chagrined — miffed, even — to find a complete and total lack of any semblance of a shoulder on the cold hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel. Heck, I’ve seen snakes with bigger shoulders than this.

A suppressor (or any muzzle device that you like) cannot be mounted as-is. It will literally pass right by the shoulder and won’t stop threading on until its threads smash into the unthreaded part of the barrel. This is all but guaranteed to booger-up your suppressor’s threads.

The solution: use the provided jam nut. Either tighten it right into the barrel as punitive retribution for the X95’s conspicuously missing shoulder, or tighten it and the suppressor into each other, effectively locking both in place. Basically, the jam nut is now the barrel shoulder.

It’s perfectly effective and worked flawlessly over hundreds of rounds, including removing and re-installing the suppressor a few times across different range outings. But it isn’t a clean installation — it stacks tolerances — and that shiny stainless steel nut stands out like a sore thumb.

On the flip side, if you run a muzzle brake on the X95 instead of a suppressor — which would make you very strange indeed — the lock nut makes timing a muzzle brake quick and easy.

I dig the easily-removable rail cover panels on the X95’s handguard — one on each side plus one on the bottom. It’s a perfectly judged design that’s comfortable when a rail isn’t needed, but provides immediate access when it is. The bottom panel conveniently cleared the suppressor, while the side panels cannot be removed or installed with the can in place.

I removed the bottom panel, fitted a Pic rail-grabbing bipod, and settled down for 100-yard accuracy testing. I also swapped the MRO for a 1-8x Atibal XP8. Unfortunately I forgot my 10-round Lancer magazine, so used the X95’s included Gen3 windowed PMAG as a rear support in conjunction with a bag.

My best groups came from Hornady’s new Black line with a 110 grain V-Max pushing about 2,375 fps. Five-shot groups continued hitting paper between 1.1 and 1.75 MOA.

The X95 absolutely detested Freedom Munition‘s 147 grain reloads. The round shoots fine from my 8.3″ barrel 300 BLK SBR, and they played just fine with the 16″ barrel AR I shot last summer. But 6.7 MOA here sure ain’t pretty. Basically, a blanket “the X95 prefers supersonic ammo” statement doesn’t apply.

Over to subsonic fodder, the X95 was turning in 1.77 to 2.5 MOA groups from Freedom Munitions’ HUSH 220 grain ammo.

I shot 2 to 3 MOA groups from Hornady Black 208 grain A-Max.

Groups hovered around 3.2 MOA with CapArms‘ subsonic reloads.

Overall, the X95 turned in similar groups in 300 Blackout as it shot in .223 and 5.56. It has proven itself to be a 2 to 4 MOA kind of a gun.

I’m satisfied that the X95 shot this well in 300 BLK — especially with its 1:8 rifled barrel. Most folks would consider a bit of a slow twist rate to stabilize those heavy, slow projectiles. But it did the trick; I didn’t notice any key-holing at 100 yards.

The Tavor was designed for close quarters combat and urban fighting. Four MOA or better is likely the rifle’s design parameter. That’s sufficient for the IDF, which typically fits the gun with a zero-magnification MeproLight M21 or a low-magnification ACOG. With the right loads, I’m confident my X95 300 BLK here will shoot 2 MOA or better. Hogs and bedroom intruders, beware.

Speaking of Tavors . . .

Compared to the original Tavor, the X95 brings various updates, improvements, and changes. I like the swappable grip modules, love the improved trigger, and appreciate the rail cover panels up front and the location of the front QD sockets.

I still prefer the magazine release, bolt release design, charging handle location, and slightly longer length of pull of the original flavor, though. Perhaps I’m just far more used to it. With more practice, I could see myself coming ’round to the X95’s ambi, trigger-finger-activated mag release in particular.

For more details on the changes and included features of the X95, check out Louis’ full review here.

Shooting in the rain, running around hitting steel targets, the X95 performed flawlessly. Right out of the box it ran and ran with everything I threw at it, both supersonic and subsonic. Reliably hitting half-size IPSC silhouettes at 100 yards with the MRO wasn’t a challenge.

I found the X95 to be far less gassy than my original Tavor. When suppressed, version 1.0 chokes you with gas (people have dubbed the phenomenon “Tavor face”). Thanks to the adjustable gas block and the tuning on the X95 300 BLK, gas was scarcely noticeable — certainly not bothersome.

Unless I was shooting the X95 with supersonic ammo, suppressed, with the gas block on “high.” A jet of gas would escape the left-side ejection port cover and “Tavor face” partially, but not fully, returned. Shooting supersonic ammo, suppressed, with the gas block on “low” generated barely enough leakage out the left side to be noticeable on my cheek.

That said, don’t shoot the X95 left-handed without canting the rifle to the right. A solid jet of hot gas and carbon crap comes screaming back out of the ejection port. You don’t want to take it on the chin. Literally. Or straight into your mouth.

The Tavor and the Tavor X95 are great battle guns in 5.56. The ability to convert them over to 9mm is pretty cool. But the X95 really shines when fed 300 Blackout. Whether you’re buying a caliber conversion kit for your existing rifle or picking up an X95 in 300 BLK from the get-go, you’ll be a happy ballistic camper.

The Tavor X95 is quiet when suppressed. It’s as compact and handy — with great balance — as a non-SBR rifle can get. It’s also as reliable as conflict in the Middle East. The X95 ain’t cheap, but for home defense, survival/bug-out, patrol, hunting and looking cool on the range, it’s a rock solid option.

SPECIFICATIONS:

IWI US Tavor X95 (XFD16 variant)

Caliber: 300 AAC Blackout (also available in 5.56 and 9mm, and all calibers are available as conversion kits)
Action: bullpup semi-auto, long stroke gas piston with 2-position adjustable gas block
Magazine: uses standard AR-15 (STANAG) magazines. Ships with a 30-round Gen3 windowed Magpul PMAG
Barrel: 16.5″ cold hammer forged CrMoV chrome lined, 1:8 twist
Sights: folding post-style front sight with Tritium insert and folding peep-style rear sight
Overall Length: 26 1/8″
Weight: 7.8 lbs
MSRP: $1,999 ($1,799 via Brownell’s)

 

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Reliability * * * * *
The X95 ran five brands of subsonic and supersonic ammo without a hitch in the rain and in full Texas sun on a 98° day, straight out of the box. The Tavor’s a stout, reliable platform that’s up for just about anything.

Accuracy * *
Accuracy is sufficient for the intended use and, with some brands/weights of ammo, not half bad. But it tends to string vertically as it heats up. Overall, accuracy is below average, especially for the price.

Ergonomics * * * * *
The Tavor isn’t for everyone. It’s mostly a matter of training and becoming familiar with the manual of arms. Once you “get it,” it works. The controls are in the right places and the rifle’s balance is excellent. It’s extremely compact, efficient, and comfortable.

On The Range * * * * *
In 300 BLK the Tavor X95 is quiet and effective. The adjustable gas block limits blowback and allows the rifle to be tuned, at least to a 2-setting degree, for supersonic/subsonic or suppressed/unsuppressed. Its trigger is improved over the original Tavor SAR’s and most users will be familiar and happy with the magazine release location. It’s a great shooter.

Overall * * * *
The X95 in 300 BLK’s lack of a barrel shoulder is irksome. While it ran well on the “low” gas setting, I’d welcome more than two adjustment options. And accuracy is only “sufficient.” Still, the X95 BLK is one of the most compact rifle options available without a tax stamp. It’s reliable and quiet while shooting a useful, adaptable caliber. It’s a solid four-star firearm.

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28 Responses to Gun Review: IWI Tavor X95 in 300 Blackout

  1. I was with you right up to the…end.

    Great review. Good work. I hunt with a blackout and often run the first two shells in the mag subsonic and the rest super giving me the best of both worlds. I also run two sights; offset irons for subsonic and a aimpoint or Leupold for supersonic shots.

    • Very nice…but I put a beater Norinco SKS into a Shernic Gun Works retro bullpup stock, cut down the barrel to 17″ and added a red dot. I can hit a gong at 200yds from a standing position.

      Spent $400 total instead of $1800.

      Pleanty of money left over for surplus ammo.

  2. Great review.

    Not sure how you get to 4 stars with that kind of accuracy, though, even with a bullpup intended for CQB. It’s still a rifle, and modern rifles should shoot better than that one (especially in that price range).

    • I have never been a real big Bullpup fan because of the trigger pull. I owned a Steyr years ago and thought it was pretty cool. But from that review which was very good I would expect a rifle to at least shoot 1 Moa with a 16 inch barrel out to 100 yards if not better. Most of my 16 inch rifle that I have built AR-15 of course shoot sub MOA groups at 100 yards with a Leupold optic of course my eyes are old LOL. You would think for a rifle that cost that amount of money that you would at least get that type of accuracy out of it. Not to mention it being a little on the heavy side I would have said lose some of the wait somewhere else and put a little heavier Barrel profile on the gun so that you get better accuracy.

      • I bought a Geissele trigger for my SAR21 because the stock trigger sucked. I’ve left the stock trigger alone in my X95. It’s not quite as good as an average AR, but it’s pretty close.

        The conventional wisdom that all bullpups have suck triggers has no basis in reality. I think it got started with the AUG, which has a pretty terrible trigger. With an aftermarket trigger, the Tavor/X95 are pretty good. There is more of a spongy take up due to the linkage, but even this can be removed by a Geissele Lightning Bow. From what I understand even the AUG has pretty good aftermarket triggers available.

  3. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. Designs like the Tavor have great appeal on several levels. But what doesn’t appeal is their cost. I’m not saying a Tavor isn’t worth an MSRP of $1999 but, for a lot of people looking for a home defense weapon, a 2 grand carbine like the Tavor is an expense that will be most likely be avoided. My solution is a redesigned Hi Point. Hi Point’s designs are bottom-end weapons and are often derided for that reason alone. But, if you read Leghorns latest review, they’re also pretty decent weapons—not pretty, not perfect, not much operator street-cred, but a “good” design nonetheless.

    For me, the fundamental problem with High Point’s carbine is that it’s so butt-ugly, I’d never own one unless I it was all I could afford. While that’s a factor in many Hip Point sales, it’s not a particularly dynamic marketing strategy. But what if High Point took its basic, well proven design and redesigned it more along the lines of a Tavor or a Kel-Tec Sub 2000? Leghorn’s review talks about a weapon that’s good enough mechanically and has good enough accuracy to justify a redesign. High Point’s been cranking out its butt-ugly carbines long enough that it’s development costs have long since been amortized, so a redesign of it’s basic product would be relatively easy. A Tavor style $500 MSRP High Point would be a huge hit in the expanding home-defense market. Since I’ve first mentioned this on TTAG, I’ll give High Point a perfect name for it’s new home-defense carbine. Springfield knocked a marketing home run by calling its new carbine the “Saint”. High Point should call its new gun, “Truth”.

    • Home defense? Seriously? Home offense maybe. The Tavor is shorter, yes, but still far from nimble. It weighs a ton even without a cheap steel silencer, takes two hands to operate, and has its own unique manual of arms making it more academic than automatic.

      My house is a Hi-Point Free Zone.

        • Still a gutsy move with juries these days. An old school revolver and a lever action 30-30 are good bets. But stockpile the heavy stuff for when there might not be a functioning legal system.

      • Once you get used to them, they are pretty intuitive. I’ve had a lot more problems transitioning from the original Tavor to the X95 than I did going from an AR15 to the Tavor.

        You are right that they are heavier than something like a Colt 6920, but most of the weight is located in the rear of the rifle. It’s pretty easy to hold the rifle to your shoulder with one hand and use your off hand to open doors, etc. You can shoot one handed without too much trouble if you need to.

        The short 26.5″ OAL also makes it easy to move around inside a typical house. A Tavor is shorter than an AR15 with a 10.5″ barrel with the stock collapsed.

  4. Good review. I *really* wish they’d included the adjustable gas block on the 5.56 version . . . “Tavor Face” when shooting it suppressed is indeed real and unpleasant (especially shooting it weak-side, suppressed!).

    I don’t see anything on the IWI website (or anywhere else) regarding price / availability of a .300 BO conversion kit. Any
    info here?

    • No word yet, but I’m going to assume it’ll be either $899 MSRP or possibly a few bucks more to account for the adjustable gas block. The 9mm conversion for the X95 is $899, and both the 5.56 (in both right and left hand eject) and 9mm conversions for the original Tavor SAR are $899 as well.

  5. About the venting gas and combustion products fogging up the scope, I read that coating the glass with thin coating of chapstick will make it easier to clean and help protect from scratches when you clean the glass.

    • I do like a soft focus 😉

      …in this case, it wiped off as easily as fog on a mirror. The lenses on the MRO are certainly treated with various coatings like anti-scratch, anti-fog, oleophobic, etc. I’d consider trying the chapstick trick, but simply mounting the optic somewhere else would be my first choice. In fact, I wanted to mount it closer to my face and only moved it forwards so I could access the gas block adjustment. Since it ran reliably for me with both subs and supers, suppressed, the adjustment really became unnecessary and it would just stay on “low” all the time anyway. So…I’d probably mount the optic right on top of that adjustment…

      • Or, if you preferred mounting the optic further forward, maybe mount a real cheap red dot riser over the port. Or maybe a short section of rail cover.

    • Even better use some scubapro diving mask defog clean it with that let it dry you’re good to go used to use it on my goggles over in Afghanistan.

  6. Is there a list of good expanding subsonic ammo? Hard to find.

    “Advancements in projectile designs have lead to reliably-expanding, capable hunting and self-defense rounds even at these lower (~1,050 fps) velocities.”

    • Gorilla Ammunition Silverback and Lehigh Maximum Expansion are the most available right now. Expect to pay $2 a round or so for it though.

  7. Low accuracy, gas in the face, no barrel shoulder….I think I’ll stick to a AR15 short barrel with a pinned suppressor.

  8. Good review, Jeremy. I appreciate all the detail about the new adjustable gas settings feature and how it performs.

    I’m hoping (but not holding my breath) for an integrally suppressed version of this 300 BLK rifle. 16.1-5″ one-stamp, of course. Could possibly be sold as a conversion kit, but a complete rifle might make more sense so that it could be modified and it may need a custom handguard. Suppressed barrel right under the/a handguard. Compatible 9mm and 5.56mm integrally suppressed conversion barrels! Gemtech, please… I’d give up all the cool AR-exclusive customizations for that ultimate home defense rifle (though as long as I’m dreaming, add a binary trigger). It would be a thing of beauty. No longer than an SMG or AR-15 SBR, but simultaneously suppressed and with uncompromised intermediate cartridge ballistic performance.

  9. Yep, seen these
    but I’ve got a Ruger Mini 14 in 300 BLK,
    shoots reliably with or w/o suppressor
    Familiar handling, lighter, on a par with accuracy described above
    takes std Mini 14 mags

    EZ PZ

    Rutger

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