No, the IWI Tavor TS12 shotgun doesn’t cycle mini shells, it’s a semi-auto shotgun designed for standard shotgun ammo. The mini shell thing is quickly becoming the “Does it take GLOCK mags,” meme for smoothbores.
Now that’s out of the way, and we can get on with what has been the hardest gun I’ve had to review in a long time, the Tavor TS12.
I love shotguns. The majority of my articles for TTAG are about shotguns in some way. I love the IWI TS12…but sometimes I don’t like it. I’ve been looking forward to the gun for a long time, and when it finally premiered, I did my best to grab one.
The IWI Tavor TS12 is likely one of the most revolutionary designs in shotguns in a long time. It combines the qualities that make standard shotguns so great with a bullpup platform, excellent 15+1 capacity, and very good ergonomics.
It looks like it should be a gimmick, but in reality, it’s a well-designed gun. It’s just far from flawless.
On Pins and Needles
I hate the idea that modern firearms should have a break-in period, but apparently some still do. The IWI Tavor TS12 is one of them. With such an unusual gun, I spent time reading the manual in which IWI suggest using loads over 1250 FPS.
Gotcha, easy to do. I had 125 rounds of 1330 FPS rounds and another 100 rounds of 1250 FPS birdshot on top of a pile of buckshot from various companies, with the majority easily exceeding 1250 FPS.
I started with birdshot, and to my disappointment, the gun couldn’t get through a full tube without a failure. Even the hotter 1330 stuff would fail. In fact, it failed more than the Estate 1250 birdshot I had.
I plugged away through all 225 rounds and the gun was still continually choking. The 1330 Fiocchi loads were the worst, but the Estate wasn’t much better.
After that, I went out and bought more birdshot. The manual says to find a load it likes and stick with it. I purchased more Estate, Federal, and Winchester sport birdshot loads, and I let them rip.
I climbed up to 400 rounds at a frustratingly slow pace. But the gun slowly got a little better, and failure rates dropped to about once per 15 rounds with the Estate birdshot.
The Federal ammunition would occasionally fail to feed from the tube to the chamber, so I wrote it off. That was the only load that did this. Finally I took the gun apart, cleaned it, and gave myself a break.
The next day I went out with Winchester Olin military grade buckshot, Federal Tactical, Hornady Black, Suprema, Rio, and a mixed bag of shells that have accumulated in an ammo can. The gun remained picky throughout the day.
Honestly, the Suprema is junk ammo, and I didn’t give it much thought. I just wanted to shoot it as cheap fodder to help break the gun in. The Olin Company and Federal Tactical worked the best.
It still jammed, but now I could get through an entire 15 rounds without a failure. Oddly enough, the velocity rating of the shells seemed not to matter when it came to reliability.
The reduced recoil Federal loads are only 1145 FPS and functioned just as well as the Olin mil spec. I had ten rounds of Hornady Black 12 gauge with a 1,600 FPS second rating that ran perfectly, but Winchester Razorback slugs are also 1,600 FPS and wouldn’t reliably cycle.
I gave up on the Rio buckshot because it’s out of spec, and you can only fit four of the supposed 2¾ inch shells into the tube. They are longer than advertised, and I got annoyed at them. They cycled okay-ish with a roughly 10 percent failure to eject rate.
So What Works?
Oddly enough, a friend wanted to shoot this gun, and he brought over some Rio birdshot. The blue box basic light game load at 1,280 FPS ran the best of all the birdshot loads with four failures in 100 rounds. Other than that, the Olin Company mil-spec buck and the Federal Tactical reduced recoil flight control loads work the best.
These buckshot loads mostly always work, but within a hundred rounds, you’ll get a failure to extract or two.
Because of that, this isn’t a gun that I’d use for home defense duty use yet, which is a shame because the rest of the gun is brilliant.
I’ve written to IWI and explained the issue. They were quite responsive, and I’m looking to send the gun back and see what they think. It seems to be getting better, but I’ve put this review off for a bit because I do love the gun’s design and wanted it to work.
Tavor TS12 Ergonomics
The TS12 looks like it could be a mess ergonomically, but it’s not. The gun is easy to load, unlike other bullpup tube-fed shotguns. The TS12 has three rotating magazine tubes, two of which are exposed at all times. You can load the two exposed tubes as you shoot the gun.
Shoot a few rounds from a tube, and you can rotate it and keep loading. The old shoot two, load two, comes into effect with the TS12.
Swapping from tube to tube is easy to do, and the large pad that is set forward of the trigger makes it simple to swap tubes on the fly. Hit the button, rotate the tube, and boom, you are rocking and rolling.
If you’ve fired the first tube till it’s empty, the bolt will lock to the rear. Once you rotate a fresh tube, the TS12 will automatically load a fresh round from the new tube. It’s quick and easy.
I rotate the tubes counter-clockwise (you can do it either way), and this leaves the empty tubes to my left-hand side. This makes it easy for my off-hand to load the tube and for me to stay on target. You could effectively keep each tube loaded as you shoot and move. This allows you to keep your weapon loaded nearly infinitely effectively.
The trigger safety is a cross-bolt design that is easy to push in place with the trigger finger. It’s easy to switch off and get the gun into action.
The charging handle is placed on the left-hand side for easy accessibility for right-handed shooters. The weapon can be swapped out for left-handed use, but you have to send it back to IWI to do so.
Ergonomically the gun is very sound and well designed. As I said before, it keeps the best parts of a shotgun with the best parts of a bullpup. It’s short and sweet, but easy to load and utilize.
The overall length is only 28.3 inches, making it just two inches longer than a Mossberg Shockwave, but the TS12 gives you get a stock and three times the ammo (at about three times the price).
You can also unload the gun without having to cycle the action 15 times. Where the non-feeding tubes align on the side of the weapon, there are two levers that allow you to manually eject one round at a time. This could be done to safely unload the gun, or to pop a round out and load a slug for the next shot.
Range Time With the Tavor TS12
We already covered the reliability issues I have had with the gun, so this will be all the other range impressions.
The gun comes without sights, and the comb of the stock is straight like an AR-15, so for comfort reasons, you need an AR-height optic. I went with the SIG Romeo5 XDR. It’s simple and well suited for shotguns.
The TS12 has a landing strip-length Picatinny rail on top that makes it easy to pick and choose wherever you want to mount an optic.
The TS12 is a gas piston gun, and recoil is quite soft and very manageable. The gas piston has two settings. One is light, and the other is for heavier loads. On the heavy setting, the recoil would be reduced for heavy loads.
With my reliability issues, I only swapped it to the heavy setting a time or two. It works, but I needed to maximize gas flow for reliability. For recoil management, I pulled the gun tightly into my shoulder. My normal stretch method felt a little risky for such a short semi-auto gun, and I didn’t want to get “KSG hand.”
The trigger is not good, but it’s a shotgun, so it’s not a huge concern. It’s that standard bullpup trigger with lots of mush to it, but a loaded and tactile break. The gun also cycles very fast, and speed is most certainly a big part of close quarters combat.
With that in mind, the short nature of the gun makes it quick to shoulder and easy to transition from target to target. Have you ever overshot your target when swinging your gun from one direction to another? That’s hard to do with the Tavor TS12.
It’s short and compact and gets on target quickly, and allows you to transition from target to target fast. It’s also an accurate gun, and with my favor FliteControl load, I was reliably dinging my gong over and over from 35 yards. It’ll get the shotgun job done and do it well.
If only it ran as well as it was designed, then the IWI Tavor TS12 would be the ultimate combat shotgun. MAC seemed to have some issues with his gun and getting it broken in, too. I plan to dial into his channel and watch his video once more to see if I can take anything from it to break this gun in before I send it back to IWI for inspection.
If I get it running as reliably as I’d like, TTAG will be the first to know.
Specifications: IWI Tavor TS12 Shotgun
Caliber: 12 Gauge
Operating System: Short Stroke Gas Piston
Capacity: 15 + 1 rounds
Barrel Length: 18.5 inches
Overall Length: 28.34 inches
Weight: 8 pounds
MSRP: $1,399 (about $1,280 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Ergonomics * * * * *
The TS12 could be an ergonomic mess, but in reality, it’s well thought and very well designed. You can alternate tubes with ease, load single shells when needed, and the controls are laid out for quick and easy use.
Accuracy * * * *
Within shotgun range, it does the job and does it well. The mushy bullpup trigger isn’t great, but the gun does well in the accuracy department.
Reliability * * 1/2
I’m pretty hard on a gun’s reliability when it’s made for defensive or tactical use. I expect little to no failures. The Tavor TS12 had a rough breaking in period, and while it’s improved, it still isn’t up to the point where I’d trust it for defensive use over my Benelli or even my 930.
Overall * * *
The IWI Tavor TS12 shotgun is such a well-designed firearm. I’d love for this to be the Benelli M4 killer, but until it runs without failure, it’s just not there yet.