Gun Review: IWI TAVOR X95 in 5.56 NATO Review
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By Troy

I, along with several other People of the Gun, loathe the National Firearms Act (NFA). I am completely against registering any of my firearms with the government. I reluctantly purchased a suppressor that has an NFA tax stamp and is registered with the ATF because there are fewer regulations on suppressors. I also realize it is a relatively simple task for the ATF to change the regulations regarding shouldering pistols with braces.

If it were not for the NFA, I would have purchased an AR-15 with an 11.5 inch barrel for home defense. Instead, I utilized an AR-15 with a 16-inch barrel and a suppressor for home defense. This set-up is not very conducive for home defense or any type of close quarters battle (CQB), for those who perform those types of tasks. After conducting significant research, I decided on an IWI X95 in 5.56 NATO.

Gun Review: IWI TAVOR X95 in 5.56 NATO Review

On paper, the X95 meets all my requirements. It is a non-NFA firearm that has an overall length of 26 inches and has a 16.5 inch barrel. It comes with back-up iron sights. The safety and magazine release controls are similar to an AR-15. The fore end has removable panels that cover picatinny rails on the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. There are multiple qd points for sling attachments.

One thing on paper that far exceeded my expectations, in a bad way, was the price tag. MSRP for the X95 in 5.56 NATO is $1,999 on the IWI website. Another was the weight or 7.95 pounds.

Another issue which came to light was the infamous accuracy issue. Several gun reviewers showed this at distances of 100 yards. My desire was for a home defense rifle. My home is not 100 yards. My home is not even 25 yards. With that in mind, I took plunge on an X95, which I found on sale for $300 less than MSRP.

Gun Review: IWI TAVOR X95 in 5.56 NATO Review

I have previously zeroed my X95 at 50 yards with defensive use ammunition. I decided my first step in this review was to conduct an accuracy test the X95 at 50 yards from the prone position. For this test I used a Federal 55 grain FMJ and Federal 62 grain tactical bonded round. I utilized the Meprolight RDS, which is designed for the X95 for this test.

Gun Review: IWI TAVOR X95 in 5.56 NATO Review

The 55 grain FMJ grouped at 2 inches. The 62 grain tactical grouped at 1.75 inches. Neither is MOA. The criticism of accuracy is legitimate when taking into account an MSRP of $1,999. For some, however, the benefits of mobility and non-registration with the ATF outweigh this negative. The key is finding the correct ammunition, which can be said of every single firearm.

Since my needs are for home defense, I decided to test the X95 with various drills at distances from 3 yards to 25 yards. I normally conduct these drills with hostile QIT targets. Unfortunately I did not have any and used numerous bullseye targets instead.

Gun Review: IWI TAVOR X95 in 5.56 NATO Review

The X95 shoots lower than an AR-15 at close distances. I learned to always aim approximately an inch higher than what I aim at with an AR-15. The X95 requires a higher point of aim. This was evident with the bullseye targets. I am not certain it would have been as evident with a hostile QIT target.

Gun Review: IWI TAVOR X95 in 5.56 NATO Review

An interesting observation was that I shot lower with backup iron sights than I did with Meprolight RDS. I have no explanation for this other than the shooter.

Gun Review: IWI TAVOR X95 in 5.56 NATO Review

With either the iron sights or optic, the shooter will probably need to make more of an adjustment than with an AR-15.

The trigger on the X95 is about as smooth as a striker-fired pistol tirgger. I did not have a trigger weight scale to conduct an accurate measurement. It is not horrible, but it’s not a Geissele trigger either. Geissele does make an aftermarket trigger and trigger pack for the X95. I find the X95 stock trigger to be more than adequate for home defense purposes and do not plan on upgrading. Again, it is not an unreasonable complaint that a rifle with an MSRP of $1,999 has only an adequate trigger. The only real defense is the X95 is a bullpup. Even the most expensive bullpups have reputations for far worse triggers.

As I previously stated, the safety and magazine release are located in similar places as an AR-15, so utilizing these controls was rather simple. The magazine release is ambidextrous, while the safety can be moved to the right side of the rifle. The bolt release was at the rear of the X95 just behind the magazine well and is ambidextrous be default. This is different from an AR-15. However, I found the control quite intuitive during magazine reloads.

The charging handle was located on the left side of the gun. It is big, obvious, and very easy to use. (There is a definite joke with that statement, but my mom might read this someday, so I’ll leave it up to your imagination.)

I have read many complaints that not every magazine will drop free from the X95. I had the same experience. I used Magpul PMAGs M3 both with and without windows. I also used translucent Lancer magazines. The Lancer magazines dropped free every time. The Magpul PMAGs with the windows also dropped free, where the PMAGs without windows did not. All 3 types of magazines functioned flawlessly during fire.

The recoil impulse on the X95 is different than an AR-15. It is not better or worse, just different. Both are extremely manageable.

The weight of the X95 is not as noticeable as it should be. A shooter could get tired from handling a 7.95 pound weapon, with additional weight from a light, optic, and magazine. Since the X95 is compact, there is a lot of weight in the rear of the rifle. Shooting the X95 one handed accurately is very easy, due to this fact. I have shot piston driven AR-15’s with 16 inch barrels one handed. I will take the X95 over those rifles.

The only time the weight was an issue was when I attached a suppressor. When comparing it to an AR-15 with a 16 inch barrel, the X95 is still easier to maneuver and handle. A closer comparison to maneuverability and handling is with an SBR.

Another negative of the X95 is the gas blowback. Since the bolt and ejection port are closer to the shooter, the gas blowback is more noticeable, especially if shooting suppressed. The ejection port is also reversible, which can allow gas to escape right in front of the shooter’s face. As a gun smith once said, “The gas has to go somewhere.” Is it so bad as to be unshootable? No.

Gun Review: IWI TAVOR X95 in 5.56 NATO Review

Disassembling the X95 for cleaning is relatively easy. Push out the pin at the top of the buttstock and swivel it down. Remove the piston and bolt carrier. Push out the pin on the bolt carrier to remove the bolt and firing pin. To remove the trigger pack, push out 2 tins right above the magazine well and remove the trigger. To reassemble, reverse the process. The firing pin and pin holding the bolt carrier do need to positioned just right.

IWI includes a cleaning kit with the X95. This is a great feature that other rifle manufacturers need to start duplicating. The most interesting, to me at least, piece in the cleaning kit is the wide brush used to clean interior of the firearm.

Considering no firearm is perfect, is the X95 worth the price? The issues with accuracy at 100 yards, the trigger that can only be described as adequate, the inability of every magazine to drop free, the weight, and the gas blowback are all legitimate concerns and criticisms.

However, the maneuverability, built-in backup iron sights, and, most importantly, lack of registration with the ATF are very significant positive aspects. Yes, one could argue to just get an AR-15 pistol, but that’s not always an option. Furthermore, with the X95’s 16.5-inch barrel, there is less likelihood of a reduction in ballistics. As I stated before, the ATF can always change the regulations regarding shouldering pistols with braces. The X95 is not affected by these regulations.

This is a rifle the Israel Defense Force relies on. It may not be perfect, but the X95 is an outstanding option for someone needing a home defense rifle. (Brownells link here).

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  1. I had one. Shot ok. Accuracy was mediocre. Strange see-sawish recoil. Way too heavy for what it was. Balance was ok though.

    Didn’t fit any pressing needs of mine so I sold it. Was quality-built, though.

    • The Outgoing SAR was better than the replacement X95. For a balanced bullpup with the same level of accuracy as the x95, get an AUG with interchangeable barrels.

  2. Compared to the (I think, overhyped) home defense shotgun:
    Better capacity
    Lighter recoil
    Faster shooting
    Better accuracy
    Easier for weaker arms
    Easily suppressable
    Less wall penetration (with proper loads)

    The only disadvantage I see is price… but as we say, “better” is the mortal enemy of “good enough”.

    • I agree that shotguns are overhyped for home defense. They’re more economical than higher end AR’s, but the market has several lower cost AR’s. Shotguns are great for hunting though.

    • “Less wall penetration (with proper loads)”

      Not to burst your bubble but I dare say that shotgun shells come in quite a variety of loads, including some that can be lethal and offer less wall penetration as well (like 0000 buckshot as per Mr. Harrell’s suggestion)

  3. I’m confused. In my experience, when your boolits aren’t hitting where you are aiming, you adjust the sights, not the aim point. Sounds like the gent knows what he’s doing, but he should have addressed why this is not so.

    • You will have a difference between POA and POI on any rifle at close range. The X95 places optics higher than the AR15 over the bore.

      Using the AR15 as an example, with a 200 yard zero you also hit point of aim at about 50 yards. Anything closer and your point of impact will be lower than POA. So at 10-15 yards you might put the dot on the top of a targets head instead of aiming for the forehead.

  4. You don’t define an acronym, in this case “close quarters battle (CQB)”, unless you are going to use the acronym later in the same document.

  5. I have always been in a relationship with Colt AR’s since my late teens just starting in corrections, they issued honest to goodness SP1’s and in Florida’s less then weapon friendly environment they functioned when expected. In the years to follow I continued this relationship up to my last purchase of a LE901 modular.

    The X95 purchase was on a lark from Ohama Guns in my requested cerakote USAF camouflage. They were super in doing this. Now to the X95. I had buyers remorse out of the box, compared to my shortest M4 I hadn’t turned into a Swiss Army knife it was wide and beefy. Short yes awkward yes compact yes, easy to adapt to yes, accurate, sort of, reliable? certainly. I fed it Lake City tracers as well as LC 55gr military loads nothing caused a malfunction. I mounted a Knights suppressor to their muzzle break and as expected it was no longer shouting but was a managed yelp.I used magpul mags of every generation as well as a surefire 60 round drum and again no issues. The gun came standard with an Eotech XPS2-2 all in cerakote. I had a few weeks in Alaska to abuse it in crazy weather conditions from rare hot days to cold drizzle and purposely didn’t attempt to clean it once, no one malfunction.

    In short only a mother could love this ugly child but worth my money? Yah it still is if nothing other then the looks it gets.

  6. ” I also realize it is a relatively simple task for the ATF to change the regulations regarding shouldering pistols with braces.” Un-en-force-a-ble. Can’t stop the signal sort of thing.

    • Plus, does he have ATF agents in his house watching how he fires his pistol AR to make sure he doesn’t shoulder the brace should he use it (were that to be not okay again in the future)?

  7. I looked at the Tavor and think it’s a nice rifle, but I wanted something smaller and lighter for home defense and truck carry. I went with a Sig MPX with an 8.5 inch barrel in 9MM. Yup, it’s expensive, but it is extremely accurate and easy to handle. My wife shoots it well, too.

  8. I feel like I am missing something important, but…

    I see a lot of articles written like this, with someone griping about the NFA registrations for SBRs etc., then settling on the brace and barrel length and all, and lamenting the ridiculous rules…. And they are definitely ridiculous rules, no question; yes, repeal yesterday.

    But then the same writer always has a silencer, or typically several of them, and seemingly just accepts the whole registration process and tax as a matter of course. Notwithstanding, considering what silencers are– a measly tube with baffles– these restrictions and registrations are even more ridiculous than NFA firearms. But anyway, same agency, same bureaucracy, once they have your registration for a silencer, why would you care about registering NFA SBR/SBS/AOW ? You’ve crossed the line, and so you’re in for a penny why not a pound (assuming one can afford it…). If it’s the principle of the matter… see silencer, duh.

    Anyway– I don’t want to make this a big deal, because it’s not. It just seems oddly inconsistent in write-ups sometimes, that’s all. There are two polar sides of thought on ATF NFA stuff… 1) If you want to, do it, because the more people who participate, the more normalized it becomes, and the more logistical pressure you place on the agency to face reality and be an ally when repeal becomes too popular to be ignored by legislators… and 2) No way, no how, it’s the most insidious kind of gun control and unConstitutional as a principle matter, and persistent subversion of the regulations by braces and bump fire demonstrably illustrates the futility of such foolishness, thus repeal is the only sane solution. Usually, the people who fall in between these polar positions have varied concerns; e.g., either professional necessity, or have made exceptions to the rule for practical or selfish reasons but try not to make it a regular habit… etc.

    I guess I am saying… somewhere in that grey area of the reality of living with the ATF and NFA regulations, there’s probably a wide range of rationales that seem so counterintuitive because the restrictions themselves are so utterly stupid on innumerable levels.

    Anyway… you already have a silencer, so just get your ideal 11.5 AR and SBR it instead of wishing a bullpup was something it’s not.

    • The big difference I see between silencers and every other NFA item is that you can take a silencer anywhere else it’s legal with no further paperwork.

      It can also be kind of a pita to get whatever SBR you are making engraved. If you are converting a foreign pistol it also has to comply with 922R. So I can understand when someone decides that maybe a silencer is worth the hassle and a SBR isn’t.

  9. I’ve got both versions of the Tavor, the SAR-21 and the X95. I like both models of the Tavor and I’m kinda sad they are discontinuing the SAR-21.

    Compared to a comparable AR15 they are both heavier, more expensive and less accurate. The weight doesn’t really bother me since I’m not a soldier and I don’t have to spend all day carrying it along with 90 lbs of other gear. It also balances way better than even a 10.5” AR. If you shoulder the rifle it is easy to shoot one handed or to stay on target, leaving you a free hand to open doors, etc while in a building. For the price of a Tavor you can definitely get a more accurate AR15, but it isn’t that hard for me to shoot 3-4 MOA groups with either the SAR-21 that has a Primary Arms 2.5x ACSS or the X95 that has an Aimpoint T2 with a 2 MOA Dot. Head shots on full sized man targets at 50 yards off hand are very easy.

    The closest AR-15 I have to a Tavor is a PSA CHF 10.5” upper I have on a pistol lower with SB Tactical’s excellent SBA3 brace. It’s slightly longer than a Tavor with the brace collapsed. If you take it out a few clicks where it’s comfortable, it’s even longer. Another thing with the 10.5” barreled AR is how loud it is. I usually only shoot with foam ear plugs I get free at work. Wearing both plugs and Peltor ear muffs the pistol is very unpleasant indoors. The Tavor isn’t near as bad for concussion and blast. If I’m shooting out in the woods the pistol doesn’t bother me at all. Unfortunately I can’t do a direct accuracy comparison, since I have an A2 Carry Handle mounted to the pistol along with the standard F Marked front sight mounted to the barrel. It did group acceptably at 100 yards with iron sights though.

    As for modifications I’ve made a few to the SAR-21. It has a Manticore Butt Plate that is scalloped to reduce the length of pull. I am 6’2” and didn’t need this, I just like how it sits on the shoulder better. I’ve also installed a Geissele Super Sabra Trigger. The SAR has a horrible trigger from the factory for no good reason, even if you remove the extra spring. The Geissele and the Shooting Sight are both excellent aftermarket triggers that are worth the money (wait for those 30% off sales on Geissele). I’ve thought about installing a taller top optics rail, but probably won’t. I’m leaning toward a TA33 ACOG instead, since it sits higher than most other ACOG scopes, is light weight and has good eye relief.

    My X95 is stock, but I’ll probably install a Manticore Butt Pad on the X95 and would like to try Geissele’s Lightning Bow that takes the slop out of the trigger linkage. The factory trigger on the X95 is acceptable and has a similar pull weight to a good milspec AR15, just with more spongy takeup due to the slop in the trigger linkage.

    I’m happy with both versions of the Tavor. They provide a SBR sized rifle with the ballistics of a full 16.5” barrel. They are reliable and built like tanks. They also are good for making conversation at the range as quite a few people ask about them. I don’t plan on selling either one, but they are not for everyone.

  10. I’ve had an X-95 for the last 18 months. Not as accurate as a Colt M4. But, more than accurate enough inside 200 yards. Excellent rifle for confined spaces, and getting in and out of a vehicle. I have an early model aimpoint on it, flashlight, but otherwise stock.

    One of the nicest things is the piston system, half the cleaning time of an AR.

  11. Should have gone with 300 BLK version. 5.56mm FMJ ammo has poor yaw on close range high speed soft tissue impact.
    You can buy a conversion kit for $799 MSRP though. But all stores have to order. No one seems to keep one in stock.
    For TRIGGER, skip all and go with two stage lightweight crisp drop in trigger. You won’t regret it. Probably will help with that “Accuracy” issue.
    It will reliably with thick clothing person.
    The whole reason 300 BLK was made for was close to 150m CQB engagements on soft tissue thin clothed humans.

  12. For gas blowing back in the face, apply duct tape, Velcro strip and moral patch, etc., to the port cover.
    Some sell port covers with gasket to achieve the same effect with cleaner look.

  13. I’m not sure if X95/SAR accuracy is in the chamber or the plastic frame. It is possible that chambers were made loose to resist jams in the desert where they fight. But it is also possible that the plastic frame twists under recoil and makes the shots go wild.

    Can someone test it with reduced loads to see if the second theory is correct?

  14. AUG A3 Nato for me. Israel gets enough of my tax money.
    Some of us haven’t forgotten the Liberty incident.

  15. And here I am waiting for the DT MDR review to compare to this one. I figure if I’m going to slaver over things I can’t afford I might as well get the full spectrum. :p

  16. One thing I’m curious about regarding the accuracy complaints – is the barrel 1:7 twist ? If it is I wonder how some of the heavier loads designed for that barrel ( Like the 77 grain ) would perform ?

    • They are 1:7. You can watch several good YouTube videos from people like the Military Arms Channel. In his videos some loads obviously shoot better than others, but none of them shoot great vs an AR15.

      People always obsess over twist rate, but it rarely matters for this type of rifle unless the bullets are too long and just won’t stabilize. It’s true that for 5.56 a 1:12 twist is theoretically better than 1:7 for 55 grain bullets, but a 1:7 barrel can also shoot great groups if it is a good quality barrel. In other words barrel quality and the overall design of the gun will trump twist rate when it comes to accuracy in a military rifle.

      The Tavor SAR21 and X95 are 2-4 MOA guns. I ended up putting a TA33 3x ACOG on my SAR21 and it shoots ok for what I use it for. I’ve got a Aimpoint T2 with a 2 MOA dot on the X95 so it’s hard for me to do a direct comparison. I get better groups out of my SAR21 but it could be because of the scope.

      Some day I’d like to get at least a 6x scope and mount it on both rifles for a real accuracy comparison, but it isn’t a priority right now.

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