IWI Tavor TS12: The Spacegun Shotgun
Making a big splash at SHOT Show 2018, the IWI Tavor TS12 shotgun was impossible to walk by without noticing. Even at early hours, there was a line to pick up and handle this thing. This author was expecting a lot more heft, but even at roughly 8lbs unloaded, the Tavor TS12 shocked me how light and well balanced it felt. The balance improves even further when fully loaded with roughly 1.25lbs of shotgun ammo. It has been a long time coming to market, however, due in large part to IWI wanting to perfect the shotgun’s reliability with a wide range of loads before it got into consumer hands.
Specs, per IWI:
Model Number(s) TS12B Gauge 12ga/3″ chamber Action Semi-automatic Operating System 2 position gas regulator, Short stroke gas piston Magazine Capacity 4 3″ Shells, 5 2-3/4″ Shells, Per Tube Barrel Length 18.5″ Overall Length 28.34″ Height 10.23″ (from pistol grip to the top) Weight 8 lbs. Choke Accepts Beretta & Benelli Stock Type Reinforced polymer bullpup configuration Safety Cross bolt MSRP $1,399
Note: The preproduction TS12 weighed 9.1 lbs unloaded and 10.4 lbs loaded with heavier 9 ball 00 Buck 3″ shells
Some of us at TFB were lucky enough to assess and try out pre-production examples of the Tavor TS12. I emphasize pre-production, because the features, specs, and appearance of the gun may be altered somewhat in the final design that goes out to consumers. Upon opening the box, the shotgun’s futuristic appearance sets it apart from most other shotguns. The controls and layout are very intuitive. Even without a manual, in five minutes I pretty much figured out all the controls and a workable manual of arms for the TS12.
The bolt handle, bolt release, trigger, magazine rotation lever, safety, bolt hold open, loading port, and shell release are all located close to each other near the grip. this makes for easy enough manipulation whether loading, firing, or unloading the shotgun. The trigger pull on my sample was quite good. Trigger movement was straight back. There was a bit of initial movement, and then the trigger broke crisply at an average of 8lbs, though it felt lighter. Reset was audible, tactile, crisp and short.
The controls feel solid, are ambidextrous (with the exception of the bolt release). Though the TS12 preproduction prototypes had the ability to change the ejection port from R to L, this feature has been omitted from production models. There will be RH and LH specific models on the market in regards to ejection. The M-LOK slots on the forend make for easy attachment of lights and other necessary accessories for a defensive shotgun.
Though its height of 10.23″ without an optic or sights is taller than most shotguns, its 28.3″ in length renders this 18.5″ barreled shotgun rather compact, only about 2″ longer than the diminutive KS7. The compactness of the Tavor TS12 made it fit into my old Blackhawk! discreet case. Its excellent balance and flexibility of sling configuration also made it easy to carry while doing ranch chores and even on a mountain bike. The TS12 also fit into a few of my daypacks for even more discreet carry if needed. Not bad for a 12 gauge shotgun with 15 rounds on board.
When it came to carry inside of a vehicle, the compact Tavor TS12 gives one a lot of options. Contained in the case, the TS12 was super easy to conceal in my truck and became my favorite shotgun to roll around with. Around the house or in an RV, it will be a great option for a compact concealed firearm with quite a bit of firepower on board.
As far as carrying the TS12 from a sling, there are multiple options. The Tavor TS12 has two QD cups on each side of the gun. They are located in front of the chamber and just forward of the toe of the stock. Between these four locations, one should be able to find a sling configuration that fits ones needs. If further flexibility is needed, the M-Lok slots and picatinny rail provide even more options.
We did not receive any manual with the preproduction version of the Tavor TS12, but the basics are pretty simple. To change from the “L” to “H” setting, one simply grasps the charging handle, wiggling it outwards. Using the charging handle as a tool, insert it into the notch on the setting drum, and move it up or down accordingly. Reinsert the charging handle into the bolt and you’re good to go. Once I practiced this process a few times, it took me less than 10 seconds.
To load, one can load shells into the magazine tubes on the left and right side of the shotgun. Once these tubes are full, one can rotate the tubes in the direction of one’s choice to expose the third magazine tube. If the bolt was locked back prior to loading, the bolt will automatically close and chamber a round when a loaded magazine tube comes inline, so be aware of this.
Once loaded and on target, you’re ready to send projectiles downrange. When one has emptied a tube (in little to no time at all), one can press one’s trigger forward to release the magazine tube rotation lever, which reminds me of an upside down Galil ARM magazine release. The shotgun will automatically recharge when the tube comes inline underneath the bolt.
Good times while lead flies
Honestly, the best thing about the IWI Tavor TS12 is the shooting experience. This thing absolutely churns through ammo. Hammering out up to 16 rounds per loading process, the empty hulls will pile up at one’s feet in a hurry. There’s a huge amount of satisfaction in how quickly you can keep the gun running. With a forward movement of one’s trigger finger to the magazine rotation release lever and a flick of the wrist of one’s support hand, the bolt automatically runs forward and recharges the chamber from a fresh tube.
The crisp, positively resetting trigger made fast splits facile, with a magazine tube running empty about as fast as I can shoot from any shotgun. This includes the notably fast Winchester designed action of the FN SLP12. Shooting with iron flip-up sights and a low power optic (A Leupold Mk 4 I used purely due it’s space-age aesthetic) resulted in completely devastated A-zones at common defensive distances out to 25 yards with buckshot and 50 yards with slugs.
Though I fired some 3″ loads that would be rather stout in other shotguns, especially ones with a bullpup layout like the Tavor TS12, recoil on the “H” piston setting was not brutal. I give the Tavor TS12 especially high ergonomic marks in how one’s cheek rests on the stock. I never felt any uncomfortable recoil energy transferred to my cheek in all the rounds I fired.
In comparison to other similarly laid out shotguns that I have fired such as the AA-12, Hi-Standard Model 10, and the KS7, the Tavor TS12 was by far the most enjoyable shooting experience. I had no discomfort churning through 100 rounds at a time. In comparison to conventionally laid out shotguns, the Tavor TS12 is nearly identical in length to a Mossberg 500 Cruiser, yet eminently more shootable. I have not had the chance to fire the roller-delayed removable magazine SRM1216 in comparison, but have handled one. The build quality, balance and controls of the TS12 felt better than the SRM1216.
Besides the most fun way to unload the TS12 by sending lead downrange, administratively unloading the shotgun is easy enough. Pressing the magazine tube unloading button on either side of the shotgun will send a shell out of the left or right aligned magazine to a catch that prevents the shell from hitting the dirt.
All choked up (and I don’t mean Verklempt)
The Tavor TS12 is compatible with Beretta or Benelli chokes. Though my preproduction sample came with a standard length Improved Cylinder choke, I installed a Benelli extended Crio Cylinder choke to test it out. Though it stuck out past the muzzle, the Benelli choke threaded in perfectly. If one has a full set of Benelli of Beretta chokes already, they should be good to go in the TS12. I have had very good success with Benelli chokes in the past, and find them pattern extremely evenly, with little to no blank spots.
Without a doubt, the IWI Tavor TS12 Shotgun is a very unique shooting experience. Objectively, it was comfortable to shoot with a large variety of loads, ranging from less-lethal to the heaviest and fastest 3″ slugs I could find. The gas adjustment is quick and easy to do with some practice. All of the controls felt solid and functioned as they should. Subjectively, this author believes the Tavor TS12 is the strongest contender of any compact semiautomatic shotgun for defensive work. Innovative, intuitive, and compact, one should handle (or even better, test-fire) a TS12 when considering a new defensive shotgun.
For more information, please visit IWI.US.
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