Gun Review: IWI Tavor 9mm As A Possible Race Gun

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In the photo above, you can see the 9mm Tavor laying down next to a Sig Sauer MPX SBR. My friend Matt B. and I went to the range last Friday. The MPX is his. I tried his MPX and the 9mm Tavor on a five target steel plate rack. There was no clear winner. Neither gun was any faster than the other. Next up is to test it in a course of fire like those in USPSA.

USPSA is looking into creating a pistol caliber carbine division. They have provisional rules regarding this new division. Here is a PDF with the rules.

Talking with several USPSA shooters the general consensus is that SBR’s will be the fastest in this division. Arguments about barrel swing and negotiating props on stages make it clear that a short barrel would perform better than a rifle. Well bring in the bullpups. At Big 3 East, I asked IWI for a 9mm Tavor however they said they are sold out but they do have a bunch of 9mm conversion kits. They sent one out to me to test and review. Unfortunately the current 9mm conversion kit is not compatible with the X95. The barrel system is slightly different and the magwell is shorter in the X95 so the magwell adapter wont seat in all the way. I was able to install the barrel and bolt. However there are these circular protrusions that block the charging handle of the X95. I would not be able to load a mag nor chamber a round. So I had to borrow my friend Greg’s Tavor SAR to try out this 9mm kit.

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IWI 9mm conversion kit.

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X95 barrel assembly on top, 9mm SAR below

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X95 barrel on top with VG6 Gamma brake. SAR 9mm barrel below.

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Magwell adapter hits the bolt assembly before the holes can line up to pin the adapter in.

 

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You can see the cylinder with the notch sitting behind the house shaped piece of metal. That is preventing the X95 charging handle from moving backwards

The conversion on a X95 is a lot easier than the SAR. There are fewer parts that you need to remove from the X95 than the SAR.

I mounted my Eotech onto the SAR. I use the Eotech for my KRISS Vector and KSG Shotgun. I am not concerned about temperature shifts for shooting targets at most 25 yards away. The field of view works great and the reticle is quick for target acquisition like on steel targets.

I went to a local USPSA match at Pardoe Sportsmen’s Association. Sam Brown, the match director, let me run the 9mm Tavor as long as I did not care about my scores being recorded and uploaded. Since PCC is still provisional there are no options yet to submit them to USPSA and I do not believe Practiscore has PCC as an option in their program for scoring. I was fine with this, since I am just testing the 9mm Tavor for this exact purpose. The Tavor did better than I had anticipated. I was still using the stock IWI Tavor trigger and did not find that it was slow when shooting controlled pairs. I think it could be faster with a Geissele or Timney trigger but watching my performance, I do not think it will help. I am at my limit of speed as it is. There is a compromise between speed and accuracy. The paper target hits were mostly A and C zone hits. A few double Charlies along with a couple double Alphas on target. I could slow down to get better hits and a better score. However time is a factor in USPSA. Steel is fun and easy with this setup.

One of the stages has a wooden hallway like structure that you need to navigate and engage targets through port hole like windows along the way. The short OAL of the Tavor clearly shines here. I did have a brain fart and should have ran the gun dry to bolt lock then inserted the next fully loaded magazine. Loading the IWI 9mm mags and colt SMG mags is tough. There is a lot of pressure on them and they do not like to seat on a closed bolt. Of course I could down load them. It is something to consider if you intend to compete with a 9mm Tavor. I favor having more ammo as I make up my mediocre accuracy with speed. Throwing a wall of lead is my game plan. If I miss, throw more lead at it until something happens. You can see this back up plan near the end of the hallway stage. I got flustered with the mag change and was missing those three steel poppers. So I kept shooting until they fell down.

 

Putting my issues aside, the Tavor 9mm worked amazingly. I was about 10 seconds faster than the fastest shooter on my squad. I think he might be an A Class shooter. He is quick and accurate so he was my benchmark for the day. My friend Tom M. is faster and I would have liked to see how fast he could run his JP Enterprises 9mm AR on the same course. Ideally it would be better have a good shooter with an SBR 9mm to compare against.

Pardoe also had a 3Gun side match so I took the X95 out for some more testing. It performed well. The targets were only about 75 yards away.

The Tavor 9m looks to be a worthy competitor in the up and coming pistol caliber carbine division in USPSA. A shooter just needs a good stage plan and know when and how to load the Tavor quickly. A muzzle brake might help a bit but I noticed a bit of movement when the bolt slides home. I do not think a muzzle brake will help with that.



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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  • Chris Earp

    The Brownell’s affiliate links on the text “9mm” (this article) and “handguard” (Rainier Arms article) are both screwy. One leads to a barrel, and the other to a YHM handguard. FYI.

    • Nicholas C

      Unfortunately those are automatic. I have no control over those links.

  • PCC is in Practiscore now, I saw it as an option last weekend at a local club match.

    • Nicholas C

      Excellent news everybody!

  • Bub

    Personally I’m excited about the new PCC USPSA division. I’ve been looking at getting the JP or Wilson’s new carbine. I had discounted the IWI mainly for mag change reasons.

    • Nicholas C

      It isnt that bad. It all comes down to stage planning and stage design. Releasing the mag is not bad and if you shoot to bolt lock then loading a full 32rd mag would be easier. Releasing the bolt is easy as well.

  • Suppressed

    I’ve had the application for Pardoe Sportsmen’s Club printed out and sitting on my desk for a couple months. I heard it was nice, but having grown up in Mercer I couldn’t believe that anything nice is actually there, lol. Looks like I’m going to have to send that app in come 6/1!

    • Nicholas C

      It is a little far for my liking to use it as my local range. I am in Cranberry Twp. Pardoe is not expensive which is nice. Compared to my club BVRPC which is $125 a year! They don’t do USPSA and they don’t even have decent pistol stages like Pardoe or PMSC. They do allow tannerite and there is no time limit I can go shoot at night if I wanted.

      • Suppressed

        Nice, I used to live in Cranberry, in one of the developments out Freedom Rd. I had no idea you were this close to me, I live in New Castle now.

  • Drunk Possum

    PCC needs to die as fast as possible. It absolutely IS going to change the pistol aspect of the sport. If y’all want PCC go start an outlaw match. Courses are hard enough as it is sometimes, add in some 50 yd targets so you PCC f*ckers feel properly “challenged” and you’re going to kill the sport.

    • Nicholas C

      I think your paranoia is unfounded. It comes down to the match directors. I don’t think stage designs will be altered to cater to PCC. In fact some stage designs could actually be harder for PCC shooters. It is just a matter of the stage design. I remember attending a first ever USPSA match for a club that normally just ran IDPA matches. I could tell the USPSA stages were designed by an IDPA shooter because he had a lot of stages where you had to shoot around cover. It forces you to shoot weak hand at an awkward angle where it was very difficult to get a good two handed grip on the gun and a good sight picture of two Texas stars that were both partially obscured.

      It would have been a nightmare for PCC

      • Drunk Possum

        If the match director likes PCC, it’s going to be a PCC focused match, it happens now at my club, my MD shoots Lim, so a lot of stages are designed with Lim in mind. Don’t get me wrong PCC looks fun, which is also why it’s scary. If it gets super popular, more and more you’ll see stages designed with PCC in mind. For me personally, I’m already a fine rifle marksman, I like shooting the pistols because it’s more challenging. I understand your comparison, but a USPSA centric club won’t be much of a comparison. As Han Solo would say, I’ve got a bad feeling about this Chewy.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    How would you compare the muzzle blast to a traditional-style carbine? Is there a noticeable sound difference with the muzzle being closer to your face?

    • Nicholas C

      With a muzzle brake it is noticeable. I am not shockwave sensitive like my friend so I don’t notice it. Also I shoot my SCAR17S and that has a very obnoxious muzzle brake.

      But with a flash hider you don’t notice it much.