By Dave Bahde
A much-improved version of the original, is the new X-95 now the best bullpup money can buy?
Rifles suitable for use by a patrol officer are equally capable for personal defense. That’s why the 5.56mm carbine is so popular. It’s versatile, ammunition is readily available and it is adequate for most tasks. A fixture in the police world, the 5.56mm is not going anywhere soon. Its only real drawback is ballistic efficiency out of short barrels. Working a 10-inch barrel inside a structure, around your car, or in tight spaces is just plane handy. With most deployment distances well under 100 yards the 5.56mm still works, but it has drawbacks. Function can be problematic with some ammunition, muzzle blast is crippling, and suppressing them can be a nightmare. The ideal is a 5.56mm carbine with a 16.5-inch barrel that handles like a short AR, and IWI USA has just the ticket. Their new Tavor X-95 handles like a 10-inch AR using similar controls while maintaining the ballistics of a 16.5-inch barrel.
As one of the first writers to test the Tavor SAR it became one of my favorite carbines. It has yet to fail, is plenty accurate for street work, and feels like a shorter carbine. The factory trigger was horrendous and the handguard problematic, requiring aftermarket additions. Fans of the bull pup design lined up but it remained problematic for many. IWI’s new Tavor, the X-95, has addressed those issues making it ready out of the box for most applications.
IWI set out to address most of the concerns of the U.S. end user, the trigger pack being the most noticeable. At a pull weigh of 5 to 6 pounds, it’s half that of the SAR. The difference is palpable and shows up at every turn. Take-up is long put the trigger is much better. Replacement becomes a choice instead of a necessity. Rather than being slanted, the handguard is flat using removable panels covering rails at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. It facilitates a light or bi-pod easily.
The reversible (left or right) charging handle is moved back. QD sling cups sit on either side of the buttstock, as well as the front of the handguard and just behind the charging handle, allowing you to switch among them. A standard pistol grip is available. The bolt release is in the same place, just smaller and lower profile. Magazines are released using buttons placed similarly to an AR on either side of the grip. Back up sights remain hidden in the top rail. The 16.5 inch cold hammer forged CrMoV 1:7” twist barrel is capped with an A2-style flash hider. Overall length is the same as the SAR, but the stock area is trimmed a bit providing a flatter feel that shortens the actual LOP. Left side eject, switching barrels and changing calibers remain possible (9mm and 300BLK coming soon). The top rail accepts red dots, magnifying optics, even AR-style iron sight if you like. It ships with one 30-round Gen 3 PMAG.
My additions for testing were minimal. Trijicon’s MRO was used for CQB, my U.S. Optics SR6 1.5-6x scope was used for long-range accuracy testing. An Atlas bi-pod was added when needed. Surefire’s Scout light and remote switch stayed attached throughout testing. Geissele’s Super Sabra 2-stage trigger ($350) was added later and Blue Force’s Vickers sling was used. Initial accuracy testing was accomplished with the factory trigger then re-tested using the Geissele. If you have the latest generation aftermarket trigger packs in your SAR they will transfer, but first generation trigger packs will not work. Geissele’s trigger bow will work. Silencerco’s ASR three pronged flash hider was used along with their Omega suppressor. Lastly, the standard style pistol grip was ordered from IWI and installed.