Tavor TAR-21 Fielded By Vietnam Special Forces

Vietnam Navy Special Forces are now being equipped with IMI Tavor TAR-21 rifles.

Skip to 01:00 in the video below …

In the video above the optics mounted have been covered up, which is suspicious. A Vietnamese news website reports them as using EOTech sights. Some non-lethal defense items and services can be exported to Vietnam if a license is granted, although I don’t know if licenses for optics would be approved.

Vietnam has been known to illegally procure optics from the USA. Between 2004 and 2005 at least 55 night vision systems were exported illegally from the USA.

[ Many thanks to Danny for emailing us the info. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Joe Schmoe

    And another one scored for the TAR-21.

    The sights outline looks a lot like a Mepro-21 or Mepro-MOR, I’m leaning more towards the Mepro-21 though.

  • Andrew

    Mepro makes sense – not subject to the same ITAR restrictions as EOtech or others

  • Esh325

    It’s suspicious to cover up optics? As I understand, it’s a common practice to cover optics to shield and practice them from the elements.

    • If your optics can’t stand up to some rain, they probably are not going to last long to use in a Vietnamese jungle or swamp 😉

      • Higgs

        A tank can drive by itself, but is put on flatbeds when not necessary. Why put wear and tear on something when you absolutely dont need too?

      • Alex Bakke

        Perhaps, but where I’m from, the UK, it’s standard practice to cover up optics when on parade. It doesn’t seem that suspicious to me.

        Take a look at this picture, for instance:


        It’s a bit hard to make out, but you can see that the optics are shrouded.

    • Likvid

      Agreed. It looks like normal protective cover to me and there is nothing suspicious about it. Looks like someone is a bit paranoid these days 😉

      • Matt G.

        Since these are new weapons to vietnam, it wouldn’t suprise me if they came with a sight cover and they just figured “hey it comes with it why not use it.”

      • Matt G.

        Also, I highly doubt those are EOTech’s unless they are mounted backwards, the shape just doesn’t fit. I agree they are probably some variant of the mepro.

  • W

    Fascinating. this fine weapon system will prove itself well.

  • Kosme

    The interesting thing here is not that vietnamese are using the tavor, It’s that the people who buy this rifle are those who received training by the Israelis.

    • Alex-mac

      Why would they receive training from the Israeli’s? Or do you mean training on how to use the tavor?

      • Kosme

        Israel is known to have trained SFs fron a lot of countries, it’s a huge business in israel to export training and then armament they used during training. They are not “picky” when it comes to “who to train” but this is the first “non west” countries (aside fron India) who bought Israelis equipment.
        Why would they train Vienameses ?? For money.

      • fw226

        Kosme: Well, yeah. But I don’t think Israel is worried about going to war with Vietnam: Vietnam isn’t a particularly aggressive country right now, so I’m not sure I see that as a problem.

  • Higgs

    Vietnam also Uses the Micro UZI with the Mepro sights. Israel has sent quite a bit of arms to them.

  • Chase

    It’s not perfectly clear in the photograph, but the covers on the optics do NOT appear to be shaped like EOTech sights.

    • bima86

      it doesn’t look like the standard MARS optics for tavor as well.. maybe it’s the recent M21 optics used by the IDF

      • Don

        Meprolight series 21 optics…On the website for the Vietnamese newspaper it shows one mounted and the cover on the first man in the still photo is clearly of MeproLight design, not EoTech (unless it’s mounted backward).

  • Lance

    The Vietnamese Spec Ops have number of US Israeli and NATO weapons in there arsenal they also have Vietnamese Copied M-4 carbines and Uzis and even MP-5s. The Tavor is used for ship boarding missions. As for regular Vietnamese naval infantry they are also ahead of Vietnamese Army units in weapons while the Army has AK-47s and AKM-47s as there main rifle the Vietnamese naval Infantry uses AK-74s which is a leap over 60s era AKs in Army service.

    • W

      this is unsurprising. the M4 and MP5 are pretty much ubiquidous among special operations units around the world, especially among militaries that issue other platforms to regular forces.

  • Esh325


  • Bob Barker

    Any reason why the IDF picked the MTAR-21 (aka X95) over the TAR-21 while everyone IWI sells to gets a TAR-21? Does the IDF just need a more CQC oriented firearm?

    • Alex-mac

      Yes Israel has focused even more on urban combat where the MTAR’s 13 inch barrel is good enough, while it’s super small size is fantastic.

      In contrast other armies want a longer barrel for increased range in non urban environments. The tavor with a 18 inch barrel is still shorter than a M4, so good enough.

    • Joe Schmoe

      Well, you have to remember why Israel chose to go finally with the 13-inch barrel version. We looked at our statistics for recent conflicts and found that nearly all engagements occurred under a 300 meter range, with most of them being under 100 meters; even in the more open areas in Lebanon this still held true.

      For ranges longer than that you have snipers, designated marksmen and machine gunners to suppress until the engagement distance can be closed, not to mention artillery, tank and air support.

      • Sian

        Makes sense. 13-14″ is adequate at that range, and you can’t really expect a volunteer rifleman to be able to put rounds on target past 300m, much less a conscripted one. Gotta remember that not everyone is fighting a protracted war in mountainous, open terrain with an average engagement range of over 400m.

      • W

        absolutely true. Israel’s has a different set of requirements than, say, the US military would, one of which necessitates the use of the MTAR 21.

        I would be tickled to be able to see if a MTAR21 is effective up to 300 meters…just for experiment’s sake.

  • Mike Knox

    Strange, I thought Vietnam was going with QBZs..

    • hikerguy

      It would make sense since they are close enough to China to easily get parts and service, but my hunch is they just liked the Tavor’s features better. Maybe their on again-off again relationship might have something to do with it as well.

      • banner man

        I doubt the Vietnamese are buying much if anything military wise from China. They have ongoing territorial disputes and fought a short but bloody war after the US vietnam war ended and a few naval skirmishes.

    • DW

      While QBZ-97 is much cheaper, having handled one, the ergonomics is not as good, the magazine release takes a lot getting used to, and if you mount optics on it, it will be so high overbore you will not be able to maintain a cheekweld.

      • Kosme

        Did you try the export 5.56 version? or the 5.8 version?? How was the accuracy??

      • DW

        QBZ 97 is the 5.56 version.I have not shot one; you should ask some lucky Canadians who have shot the semi-auto version. Friend of mine went to China and shot the 5.8 (Qbz-95); He thinks the gun was pretty decent and easy to shoot.

    • Lance

      Not going to happen Vietnam and China are arch enemies for the last 40 years. Cambodia and Laos on the other had have bought Chinese weapons.

  • ap

    search alibaba for eotech knock-offs and it’ll make sense

  • Hopeton Brown

    Animosity between Vietnam and the US is long over. Vietnam is scared of their once benefactor, China. Specifically over territory in the South China Sea. The US and Vietnam are scheduling joint naval exercises, and Vietnam is increasingly looking to the US for protection. The Vietnam war ended a long time ago. Vietnam is a new ally of the US and so there is no conflict of interest for our Israeli friends to arm and train the Vietnamese.

    • ragnarok220

      Our Israeli friends also sell defense related products to China as well.

      • Joe Schmoe

        @ Ragnarok –

        And the U.S. doesn’t?

        The current top-of-the-line Chinese jet engine (WS-10) has its roots in the CFM56 that the U.S. sold it, the same core of which powers the F-16.

        Or the EP-3E incident which no doubt gave China plethora of intelligence knowledge.

        The fact is that in the modern world everybody sells weapons to everyone.

      • ragnarok220

        Relax Joe, there is nothing wrong with one sovereign country selling weapons to another sovereign country.

        CFM56 is mostly used on jetliners like Boeing 737s. BTW did IDF ever find out what happen to the missing F-15 engines ??? Can’t believe 8 of them all went disappeared.

      • W

        dont forget the scandal involving ITT illegally selling night vision to China.

      • Joe Schmoe

        I’m sorry if it came out as aggressive, just wanted to put such issues to rest.

        And yes to your second question, on the same day it came out on the news (before actually) (I’m just going to requote myself):

        “It is believed today (as part of the investigation) that the engine parts were stolen by traders who were allowed to enter the base. They were permitted access to the junkyard (which is separated from the rest of the base) to recycle old metals and in return give money back to the Air Force for those metals.

        Unfortunately, they were not properly supervised and took the engine parts, without authorization, from the junkyard. At no time did they have access to other restricted parts of the base as the junkyard is kept in a separate location. ”

        The engine parts were found in a private junkyard which is how the investigation started in the first place. The engines were dead in any case and of an older type. Though it was a breach of conduct in any case and measures have been taken.

        And let’s face it, the incident where nuclear weapons went missing from a USAF base tops it all 🙂 :

        And while the CFM56 is mostly used on civilian airliners, it shares the same core with the GE F101 (which it was developed from) which is used on the F-16. That’s how China has its modern jet engine which it uses on similar sized fighters.

        Further reading:

  • John Doe

    I thought they were going with QBZs? Maybe the move towards a 5.56 weapon is an attempt to get a bit closer with their NATO allies?

    Regardless, having been back there and being able to speak the language, Vietnam is no longer a ‘dirty commie country’. It’s on the fast track to being a modern country and picking up a modern assault rifle shows that.

  • dtc

    vietnam is trying to rearm it army with modern stuff , like kilo class submarines and su-30
    fighters,because there may be a war with the chinese. buying a new rifle for their commando force is part of their plan. soon , vietnam will build many nuclear power plans, may be they need those plans to made nuclear weapons later on. the future dont look so good for south east asia .

    • ragnarok220

      Vietnam had fought with France, America, Cambodia, China, Thailand…I think they had enough wars.

  • Lance

    The move by Vietnam to buy Western weapons is for special forces to have adaptable weapons something older AKs dont really do. Also notice these weapons are for there Special Forces like the Drac Cong AT unit. Most of there regular forces both Police and military have Soviet AKMs and SKSs and in case case of the most well equipped units of Naval Infantry AK-74s they still remain loyal to Russia.

  • mike

    I don’t think that the sights being covered is suspicious. It may be something to the effect of the Sergeant Major saying “you got it issued, you will have it while on parade”

    Personally, I have had to have issued equipment that I would never carry (stuff normally stowed in a wall locker) on me for inspection/dog and pony show operations

  • delarrn

    As said before, certainly standard UK practice to cover up weaponsights whilst performing drill.

    The UK SUSAT is pretty sturdy, but is prone to having the matt paint scuffed off and looking a little shabby. My assumption was that the coverings were there for aesthetic purposes rather than any real concern over damage to the optic.

    Many nations’ militaries cover up parts of their small arms whilst performing weapons drill/ceremonial duties. I don’t see anything suspicious in it.

    The US is almost certainly going to relax its defence export restrictions to Vietnam in the near future, there has already been a significant relax already in US export policy since 1994.

  • dragonfly

    Oh, not special force or commando mates. They are Marines, from the 147th Marine Brigade.