Gun Review: IWI Tavor X95 Suppressed

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Down at Big 3 East, last March, IWI USA VP Mike Kassnar, set aside fifty X95s for the writers in attendance. I eagerly jumped at the opportunity to get my hands on the X95 for review. I have only had a little trigger time behind the older Tavor SAR. I recall one of my earliest experiences was with an 18″ FDE Tavor that someone got and he put a QD Gemtech suppressor on it. It had a Mepro sight and we were hitting steel off hand at 200 yards with ease. However when it was suppressed, there was a significant amount of gas to the face. I was perplexed. The Tavor has a long stroke gas piston operation. I was under the impression that was one of the benefits of shooting a piston operated gun as there would be less gas returning into the chamber and thus less gas to the face. I was wrong. There are a few companies that make gaskets to further block the gas escaping from the factory blocked left side ejection port. Such as Manticore Arms’ Port Cover and Gear Head Works FLEx Swivel.

I was curious to see if that would be the case with the X95. I requested a QD suppressor from Silencer Shop to test on the X95. They sent me a Griffin Armament M4SD and a Gemtech GMT-Halo. Right off the bat the Gemtech would not work on the X95 flash hider. The X95 flash hider design is slightly different than that of the standard A2 flash hider. Here is a photo of the X95 flash hider on the left, next to a standard A2 bird cage on the right.

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X95 on the left, A2 on the right.

 

The X95 flash hider looks shorter but that is because IWI does not use a crush washer. Instead they use a jam nut. Nothing wrong with doing that, but the problem arises when trying to attach a QD suppressor like the Griffin Armament M4SD.

QD

Gemtech on the left, Griffin Armament on the right.

The M4SD QD system has a U-shaped fork that slides onto the lowest indentation of the A2 flash hider. The bottom of the U-shaped fork has a flat rectangular lobe that rests on the flat at the bottom of the A2 and locks the suppressor onto the flash hider. You can see the flat tab in the photo above. It locks into a flat circle sheet with a notch cut out just for the flat tab. I tried installing the M4SD on the IWI flash hider on either to top or bottom indentation but it would not work. The Gemtech GMT-Halo on the other hand works on either flash hider but is not as quick to detach as the M4SD. The knurled collar slides over the flash hider and inserts onto the indentation on the flash hider, Then you slide the suppressor down over the flash hider and screw on the knurled ring onto the suppressor. One thing I noticed between shooting both suppressors, the Gemtech is lighter and quieter than the M4SD. But due to the QD nature of the Gemtech design, I prefer the M4SD method of attachment. Often the GMT-Halo knurled ring would seize up on the threads of the suppressor. Adding the heat from the suppressor makes it difficult to quickly detach. The M4SD is easier. You just lift the thin locking plate and pull the wings of the fork out. Then the suppressor slides off the flash hider. You can do this even when the suppressor is warm.

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Shooting the X95 suppressed was surprising. I did not notice any gas except when I did a test of walking and shooting. But I only smelled the gas. It was not stinging my eyes like a CMR-30 suppressed or an SBR AR-15 suppressed. I was using Wolf Gold .223 rem ammunition and did not experience any issues.

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However this was not the case with my friend Greg’s Tavor SAR. As my friend James Grant and FN America will attest, I manage to make things not work that have had flawless records until I show up. I wanted to test Greg’s Tavor SAR suppressed to see how gassy the SAR is compared to the X95. We shot it with the Gemtech suppressor and Wolf Gold Ammo that I used on the X95. There was a considerable amount of gas much more prominent than the X95 but that was not the problem. The problem was the amount of FTE malfunctions. Using the GMT-Halo suppressor and Wolf Gold .223 ammo seem create the perfect combination to cause reliable malfunctions in the Tavor SAR. Brass would fail to eject and flip 180 degrees before the bolt would slam forward. Here is a photo of the brass after clearing the malfunction. In the video below you will see the malfunctions on camera. When we ran different ammunition with the GMT-Halo suppressed Tavor SAR it ran fine.

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My friend Greg commented that the X95 “feels smaller”. And yet when put side by side or laid on top of one another they look very similar in size and shape. If you notice, the Tavor SAR has a more raked back angle to the grip, whereas the X95 is more vertical.

X95 SAR

The X95 has the charging handle closer to the CG of the gun and closer to the shooter. This allows for a tri-rail to be installed forward of the charging handle. Underneath the hand guards are polymer picatinny rails. After shooting the X95 for a while, I prefer shooting it with the handguards than without. I find the factory handguards to be very comfortable to hold onto while shooting.

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Along with the addition of fixed picatinny rails there are also QD sling holes at the leading edges of the side rails. The center QD sling hole has been relocated to be above the magazine well compared to the SAR where it was directly behind the charging handle slot. this allows for better balance when slinging the gun.

Another noticeable change is the magazine release. Instead of the SAR trigger release, in front of the mag well, the X95 has an AR15 style mag release. It is ambidextrous but does not move like an AR15 mag release. AR15 mag releases push straight in perpendicularly to the receiver. The X95 is hinged. So when you push the mag release button in, it swing into the receiver. A small but subtle difference. Also the resistance of the mag release is higher than that of your standard mil-spec AR15. The location is also not quite the same. As Tim Harmsen mentioned in his X95 video, the button on an AR is further forward than the X95. The X95 button is almost directly above the trigger.

The bolt release block has become much smaller on the X95 compared to the SAR version. When closed, the bolt release is flush with the bottom of the receiver. I found it a bit more difficult pulling the bolt hold down to lock the bolt open. I figured out pushing the leading edge of the bolt release up is easier when trying to lock the bolt open.

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Push up on the ridges rather than trying to pull those tabs down to lock the bolt open.

 

Handling the X95, I found my middle finger often slid up behind the trigger when manipulating the X95 and keeping my index finger off the trigger guard. The X95 grip is modular though. It comes from factory with the standard Tavor cutlass style hand/trigger guard but in a couple weeks the pistol grip with regular trigger guard will be available. I think I would prefer the newer style trigger guard over the cutlass style.

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The trigger of the X95 has also been upgraded. One of the few complaints about the Tavor SAR is the trigger. The SAR trigger is about 8lbs. The new X95has a 4-6lb trigger. The X95 triggers will be available in the future and are backwards compatible with the SAR. I believe they will retail for $199.99. Also I would like to have ambidextrous safety selectors. I don’t need them but I do prefer to switch the safety back on with my trigger finger rather than my thumb.

The X95 runs like a champ. I have not had any complaints or malfunctions suppressed or unsuppressed. The only issue really came up was magazines. Loading the X95 on a closed bolt with a loaded mag is not as easy as an AR. Of course one can always download a magazine to make life easier. Loading on an open bolt is the best but locking the bolt back is a bit awkward. Also trying to shoot the X95 with my Magpul D60 drum is challenging. The distance between grip and magazine are too close and my wrist hits the drum mag. I imagine shooting a beta mag would be even more difficult. One tip I picked up from a Zahal video, is for when you want to run with coupled magazines. Zahal says that the IDF method is to run mags in opposite directions. That way when you reload you have to rotate the magazine 180 degrees. This keeps the spare magazine always on the inside of the gun so it doesn’t protrude away from the gun and hit your forearm.

 

The new IWI X95 retails for $1795 and have already shipped out to distributors. According to Mike Kassnar at Big 3 East, they shipped out 650 units the day before Big 3 East. FDE versions of the X95 have been seen online. Tim Harmsen has some as do other distributors. I have yet to see anyone with a OD X95. I am eager to see an X95 in 9mm as well as the .300 blk versions later this year.



Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • Pete M

    Awesome write up. Thank you.

  • TangledThorns

    I read complaints on ARFCOM about the X95’s accuracy.

    • M

      Can you give us the thread title? I’d like to look at that….

  • Josh

    Interesting with the gas blowback when using a suppressor. Just spit balling but wouldn’t the fact that its a bullpup gun actually lend itself to getting that blowback when running suppressed in that the chamber and action are behind you and your face is closer to the piston itself? A piston AR vents that gas towards the front of the gun which makes it better suited for running a suppressor but with a bullpup’s short overall length you are right back putting your face in it like a DI AR?

    • kregano

      I think the problem is more that the way the Tavor’s gas piston is set up in the receiver doesn’t allow gas to come out the front easily. If you look at MAC’s KelTec RDB video, he shoots it suppressed for a while and most of the gas comes out the front, and that uses a short stroke gas piston that’s exposed to the outside of the gun.

      • Josh

        good to know

  • Jack

    Still haven’t seen anything concrete on if you can put a barrel shorter than 13″ on the x95. Is the new hand guard removable? The barrels are compatible between the SAR and X95 correct? Any idea if the new bolt catch is compatible on the SAR?

    • KestrelBike

      Almost immediately after the x95 announcement/showing at SHOT people were asking if they were going to release an SBR X95 and they said yes.

      Hopefully with said SBR version they de-gimp the added length of the buttstock and handguard and revert to the round barrel style of the latter.

      • Jack

        I heard about the sbr version but that was 13″. A 10″ (shorter?) 300blk or 9mm would be tiny and so much fun!! (Not usually paired together)

  • Badwolf

    For a second there I though I heard her say “with your tongue”. My mind is playing tricks on me.

    • Laserbait

      It’s an extension of the Gross Motor Skill reload drill from Firepower United. 😀

  • Paul

    A hands on review of the IWI X95 micro tavor:

    I have wanted to write this post for quite some time and am finally just getting around to it. I was very excited last year when I began to see the IWI Tavor make it to the US, I have always been interested in new weapons technology and was excited to get some hands on time with the weapon that has been phasing out the M4/M16 family rifles in service in Israel. Fast forward 1 year, and I currently am carrying the X95 micro Tavor as my issued weapon and never got a chance to even get my hands on the full size counter part in the US before leaving for the middle east but now for the review;

    Reliability: 5/10
    Comfort and Ergonomics: 2/10
    Craftsmanship: 2/10
    Accuracy: 6/10
    Overal rating: 4/10

    Reliability: I have found that GENERALLY for the most part my Tavor will go bang when I need it to. However, it gets really really dirty, really really fast. The design of the bolt carrier group I think is a absolute failure and that there are a lot of areas that seem to accumulate lots of carbon during fairly short range visits and are almost impossible to clean appropriately. I have found that my Tavor with various ammunition is extremely sensitive to fouling and will begin to malfunction very quickly. After about 200 rounds or so I will begin to experience failures multiple times per magazine ranging from double feeds to failure to extract and culminating in short stroking. This is a HUGE negative and something that even with almost daily cleaning has left me skeptical of my weapon. I was unable to take any internal photos at this time but will post some later to highlight the areas I am the most concerned with.

    Comfort and Ergonomics: I have found the X95 to be very uncomfortable to carry daily. I eat, sleep, and shower with this weapon and am not very pleased with my sling mounting options, I have to resort to the Israeli method of tying paracord loops through the different holes and mounting points molded into the body. My only real option is a two point sling mounted through the hole in the stock portion of the body and a sling mount on the left side. What bothers me the most about this set up is even with my sling tightened as far down as it will go I find it too long for my liking and it seems that in hands free maneuvers my barrel will no matter what find its way to getting stuck inside my knee pad making it impossible for me to run due to the height it hangs at. The second negative is the sling loop is plastic and I have seem a very large number of them break clean off the weapon after very little abuse. I found the X95 to be rather uncomfortable to shoot in the prone, I really miss having the adjustable stock of an M4 and just can’t seem to get comfortable. The extremely short front end leaves no room for your hands and the charging handle will end up in the center of your palm unless you use a palm up supporting position (which the Israelis do teach) but if you are one that is used to a thumb over bore grip or a more aggressive grip you will find the X95 extremely uncomfortable. I also have found that the positioning of the bolt catch on the bottom of the gun to the rear renders it useless in the prone as you essentially have to rest your hand on it causing it to not function. In the standing position the rifle shoulders fine and didn’t seem to bother me too much but I will say that in day to day use it is noticeably more heavy than my previous M4 with a similar optic. The last item on my comfort list is the trigger, it is a very heavy and awkward trigger pull leaving much to be desired.

    Craftsmanship: I will be brief and just say that I am simply disappointed in the final product from IWI. The back up irons are plastic (depending on variation the rear may be metal) and not only is my front sight snapped clean off (plastic with no kind of metal internal support or strengthening) but the front BUIS also does not seem to lay truly flat with the rail when folded if present. The bottom rail of the hand guard is not very stable and with a vertical grip mounted to it play in the rail and bottom of the weapon are very noticeable.

    Accuracy: In zeroing this rifle on a 25m target I was getting sub 1 CM 5 shot groups and have been able to comfortably touch at 300 meters so I will say I was quite surprised with what I was able to achieve with the 13″ bbl.

    Final thoughts, I really wish I carried an M4 but shall make the best of my time with the X95 and hope to see in the future IWI re think some of their design features and improve this system to better equip the IDF soldiers carrying and working with it daily. Below are a few pics I snapped quickly of my weapon to highlight some of what I wrote about.

    • That review is from 2013. My understanding is that the X95 has gone through one or two design revisions since then.

      • Colin s

        Was just going to say the same, read it years ago and seems to be going against what all the other reviews have said.

        • The Truth

          Exactly. He was clearly paid off by competitors. I’ve never in my life read a review so negative about any Tavor from anyone. Hell, the IDF guys who use these on a daily basis aren’t even as critical about them and this guy uses it for a little bit then completely trashes it? Give me a break. He’s a total plant without question. I’m betting either Kel Tec or Desert Tech hired him to trash it, most likely Desert Tech since their MDR is brand new. When he claims the guns shoots extremely well then gives it a 6/10 for accuracy pretty much anything else he says has no validity at all after that.

    • Vitor Roma

      You probably got a lemon, I’ve seen Tavors and X95 shooting way more than 200 rounds without a hitch.

      • The Truth

        There’s a guy who has 75k rounds through his Tavor without a failure. Look it up. He’s sort of famous in Tavor circles. He comes to all the shows.

    • Jack

      I’m not a high volume shooter but I’ve shot my SAR mostly suppressed with a wipe down once in awhile. It’s been problem free even with the added fouling from the can.

      Anecdotal I know but based on the little I’ve seen I’d think there was an out of spec issue of there were problems after so few rounds fired.

      • MrSatyre

        So far, I’ve put five thousand rounds through my SAR with only one thorough cleaning. Never had a single failure. The thing’s a tank.

        • The Truth

          Yeah they are tremendous guns. I know 6 people that have SAR-21s and between them they have almost 30k rounds through all 6. Not a single failure between 6 different guns and 6 owners!! Truly amazing guns.

    • The Truth

      This guy gave a 6/10 for accuracy at the same time complimented the ability to shoot tight groups. His review is complete bullshit. He’s being paid off by a competitor for sure. Who gives a 6/10 for accuracy when the gun shoots sub MOA? Idiot.

  • iksnilol

    What was the long metal mag?

    • Nicholas C

      It is a 40rd mag by ASC. You can get them from Gunmagwarehouse

  • Jay

    The thing is bulkier than the original. I don’t see much of an improvement in that respect.

  • David Harmon

    YES!! NOW I CAN PAY AGAIN FOR A RIFLE I ALREADY PAID FOR!!!

  • Ryan

    I’ve had similar issues with my Tavor suppressed using a few different variants of suppressors. I’ve considered removing the brass deflector to assist the gun but I haven’t had a chance to try that before my X95 came in. The brass will hit the deflector and come back into the chamber and you can see violent wear patterns on the brass.