The Tavor weapons platform was initially developed for the IDF as a replacement for the well known M4 platform. It is chambered in 5.56x45 and uses a bullpup configuration that shortens the overall length of the rifle while maintaining a longer barrel length. With a piston driven gas system, and a largely polymer construction: the Tavor is a huge step into the future. Hence its model name: TAR-21, which stands for "Tavor Assault Rifle - 21st Century." Since its initial inception in 2003, IWI has produced a wide variety of rifles for both civilian and military use.
The bullpup design is found in many older firearms like the French FAMAS, the British SA80, Austrian Steyr AUG, or the Chinese Norinco QBZ-95. Bullpup rifles are configured in a layout in which the bolt carrier group is placed behind the pistol grip and trigger; this effectively folds the rifle in half. The Tavor does not have the flaws of early bullpup designs like the poor optics mount and left-handed ergonomics in both the FAMAS and the Steyer AUG. It is instead a more modern design in league with the FS2000 or Kel-Tec RFB. The TAR-21 has a full length barrel with rifle grade muzzle velocity, but in the size of a carbine or PDW.
Made of a high-impact polymer, the Tavor is truly ambidextrous. It can be converted entirely for left handed use, or select portions may be swapped. It uses the NATO standard STANAG magazines and has a last round bolt-hold-open. The TAR-21 is designed as an ergonomic rifle for comfortable carrying and fast handling. The grip, charing handle, magazine release and bolt release are all designed to make operation straightforward and fast.
TAR-21: The Parent Rifle: The TAR-21 was the first production model of the rifle, with an 18" barrel and the Mepro 21 sight as an integrated optic. This rifle has been exported to countries like India, Canada and the Philippines, but seen little to no use inside Israel.
TAVOR TAR 21 (standered)
TAVOR TAR C21 (compact version)
CTAR-21: The Military Issue. Because of a shortened 15" barrel, the CTAR handles faster and is more convenient to carry than the TAR-21. It is the standard issue weapon for the Givati Brigade (since August 2006) the Golani Brigade (since August 2008), and the Nahal Brigade (since 2010.)
GTAR-21: The Grenade Launcher. By removing the lower hand guard, a 40mm grenade launcher can be attached to the 18" Tavor barrel. With an additional Meprolight sight, an IDF infantry squad can substantially increase their firepower using M203s. While heavier, the ability to generate a smokescreen or use HE rounds as area-of-effect weapons is a crucial addition to the rifle.
TAVOR TAR 21 (standered) fitted with 40mm M203 grenade launcher
STAR-21: The Sniper's Choice. Equipped with a bipod and magnified sight, the STAR-21 is the sniper variant of the Tavor. This model has a standardized picatinny rail that allows for the user to select from any number of optics.
SAR-21: The Civilian Option. After years in development, IWI has established a US subsidiary in Harrisburg Pennsylvania and begun producing rifles specifically for the American civilian market. These rifles are modified to be semi-auto only, and feature a flattop rail to accommodate the wide range of optics. Similar to the M4 platform's full top rail, this extra rail space means that lasers, night vision, red-dots and magnified optics all have a home on the rifle. The SAR-21 is manufactured with an 18" or 16" barrel, and is available in black or flat dark earth. IWI US announced the SAR-21 in 2012 and have seen a high demand for these unique .223 bullpups.
X95: The Future.
The X95 is a new platform from IWI that builds on the Tavor's history. Sometimes called the MTAR-21 or the Micro-Tavor, the X95 platform makes a few select changes from its parent. A 13" barrel and repositioned charging handle makes the X95 more compact than even the CTAR, and uses an M4 style magazine release. The X95 is also designed to accommodate fast and easy caliber switching, using conversion kits in 5.45x39 and 9mm. It is also available with an 11" barrel and a suppressor.
The X95 is not currently manufactured in a civilian capacity, but it was recently selected as the future assault rifle of the Israeli Defense Forces. Many new recruits are being trained on the MTAR platform.