IDF Military Assault Rifles

Tavor TAR21 in the IDF

The TAR-21 was originally developed by Israeli Military Industries (IMI) before they were renamed Israeli Weapon Industries (IWI) Named after Mount Tavor, it was to be a replacement to the M16/M4 rifles that were issued to the IDF. Designed from the ground up to be an Israeli rifle specifically for use by the Israeli Defence Forces, there have been multiple iterations that have been used in a variety of units and conflicts.

Several units in the IDF carry different version of the Tavor. In both the Golani, Givati, and Nahal brigades the Tavor platform is standard issue.

Any generalizations about the Tavor in Israel should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, many people will talk about how the Tavor has “replaced the M4″ or how the X95 Micro-Tavor is now “replacing the TAR21.” In some units this is the case, but it is unlikely that the entire IDF will ever use the Tavor exclusively. Many units continue to train and fight with M4 platform rifles, while others like the Golani and Givati have adopted different variants of the TAR21. Others still have upgraded to the compact X95 series of rifles.

The X95 Micro-Tavors are still part of the Tavor family, but are distinctly different from the TAR-21 and its variants.

What can be said with confidence is that there are two primary variants of both the TAR-21 and X-95, with specialized rifles occurring in between.

The majority of IDF soldiers issued a Tavor weapon will receive the CTAR assault rifle with a 15″ barrel and Mepro21 red-dot. Section leaders and officers often carry a version with a MARs sight that features a built in IR or visible laser that can be activated via the front hand guard. Grenadiers are issued a long barreled version with an M203 launcher attached. Similar configurations exist for units issued the X95.

The versions of the TAR-21 listed by IWI themselves break down into:

The TAR: With an 18″ barrel, this was to be standard issue Tavor, and the first iteration released. However, they were largely replaced by the CTAR for the obvious length advantages. Most civilian versions of the Tavor are based off of this model.

The CTAR: IWI lists this rifle as having a 15″ barrel, making it ideal for urban and vehicle mounted operations. Urban fighting is a particular concern for the IDF, as the Tavor first saw active combat in Operation Cast Lead, the 2008 IDF ground operation in Gaza.

The GTAR: The long barrel on this rifle offers a mounting space for the M203 40mm launcher. Because bullpup rifles are so compact, it can be challenging to find space for accessories, particularly an entire secondary weapon system like a grenade launcher.

The STAR: Considered the sniper variant, the STAR was only rarely issued. A modified version of the CTAR with the STAR’s picatinny rail and an ACOG 4x weapon sight is much more common.

The TAR Flattop: Designed to accommodate more specialized optics and accessories, the Flattop Tavor has integral backup sights embedded in its top rail. IWI promo materials suggest that these Flattop Tavors also include a picatinny rail on the handguard for mounting a vertical grip or other accessors. Both CTAR and TAR barrel lengths are offered with the extended rail systems.

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