The IWI Tavor® SAR Piston-Driven 5.56mm

The IWI Tavor® SAR Piston-Driven 5.56mm

Hopefully, you read my columns because you want to hear my honest opinion about concealed carry and home defense. If I don’t like something, I will tell you. Such is the case with the Tavor SAR. I’m not saying you shouldn’t consider or buy it—I’m just saying that, personally, it’s not for me.

The SAR is the semi-automatic version of Israel’s new close quarter battle rifle, the TAR. Unlike the Israeli Galil, the TAR/SAR appears to be a new design, and is solidly rendered. When the Israelis design something, rest assured that the overall function and operation will be drop-dead reliable and bulletproof, and in this regard the SAR does not disappoint.

The SAR’s action is piston driven. This means that its action will be kept clean, unlike that of the direct gas driven AR-15. This is important for a weapon designed for desert warfare, and can be desirable for many civilian shooters. The fact that the SAR is a bullpup rifle may not be desirable for every civilian shooter.

While Bullpup rifles are much shorter than traditional designs, they have a barrel of the same length, thus giving up nothing in terms of bullet velocity to the longer traditional designs. For example, the overall length of the SAR is some five inches shorter than an M4 carbine with the stock closed. For those users for whom space is at a premium, such as those who need a compact carbine for their RV, boat, or vehicle, this is a major plus.

The problem is that bullpup designs house the action in the buttstock, instead of forward of it. While truly ambidextrous bullpups such as the FN 2000® and PS90® eject empty cases forward or downward respectively, the SAR ejects brass from the right side of the stock. If you fire the SAR left handed, hot brass will likely be bouncing off of your left cheek. Further, making the SAR friendly for lefties is not a simple matter. There are a total of eight steps—including barrel removal and an optional left-handed bolt—required for the changeover.

As far as handling goes, once the SAR is locked into the shoulder, it is a good shooter. However, getting it there takes getting used to since the majority of the weight is in the buttstock. The stock wants to slide down your shoulder if you don’t lock it in quickly. The feel is entirely different from standard defensive rifles.

The SAR trigger is actually good for a bullpup, and not a hindrance for CQB use. Recoil is zero, and functioning is flawless out of the box. A set of BUIS is built into the top rail, but they are truly backup sights.  You will need to mount optics or iron sights of your choice, and a single point sling will be essential. The SAR uses standard AR-15 magazines, and one 30 rounder is included.

I don’t like the bullpups, but that’s just me.  I can’t use the SAR as a duty rifle because our qualification course requires a phase where we have to fire our rifles from the left shoulder, and I’m not willing to take the hot brass.  If you intend to fire the SAR only from the right shoulder, it may not be an issue for you.

If you are interested in the SAR, I urge you to handle one at your favorite dealer. Current prices are in the $1800 range.

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21 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. I like bullpup rifles and shotguns…just really handy. The Tavor is no exception. It feels good to shoot and the trigger can be made even better very simply (ask the importers the “trick” with the sear reset spring).

    Are they cheap? No. Are they inexpensive? Oh heck no! Do they do what is advertised? Oh heck yes. Are they for everyone? Nope, not even close. But I like mine.

  2. The brass deflector works quite well. It can be shot left handed without issue. As for bullpup designs, purely a personal choice. It is not for everyone.

  3. In a perfect world, Homeland Security would provide them through the county sheriff in 6.8spc with in gray digital camo with a half dozen mags and a couple cases of cartridges.

    1. I agree, & I belive it will happen just as soon as we get a Homeland Security that belives in security.

  4. Sorry, but I disagree. I had the opportunity to fire one a month ago, and I was seriously impressed. Specifically:

    1. Your point that it takes 8 steps to convert from one side to another … that is a problem? It takes less than 5 minutes for a one-time conversion (for most people).
    2. The platform controls are highly intuitive and easy to use.
    3. Pointing was natural and intuitive.
    4. Using a mounted Aimpoint, I was getting 100 percent hits at 100 yards onto a mini-IPSC target within 3 initial calibration rounds. It don’t get any better than that.
    5. Recoil was almost non-existent.
    6. For CQ situations, in urban or home environments, the bullpup design is optimal.

    I loved it.

  5. Just happened to buy the first one my gun shop had seen. I’ve always liked bullpups. The trigger is better than any I’ve found on bullpup rifles. I like the way it handles and with a red dot sight it hits what its pointed at. The only problem I’ve encountered is with failure to feed using my AR 30 rd metal mags. I’ve never had a problem with Magpuls – they work great. The rifle takes some getting used to but if they ever make one in .308 I’ll probably buy another one!

    1. Check Kel-Tecs .308 Bull-Pup, Ted. Takes the FN FAL magazines and works like a charm!

  6. Been on a waiting list for one for over 6-months before being able to obtain a 16.5″ barrel model. Before even shooting it the first time, performed the YouTube trigger job where the return spring is removed to reduce overall trigger pull. Mine was over 12-lbs. with, but then <8-lbs. with the spring removed — much better, but did have a couple failure to reset (going to have to watch this). Topped off with a variable SWOT scope & 45-degree dot for CQB need.

    At the range, it performed much better than expected, even with Wolf black box ammo. From a rest, groups were 1.5" & remarkably better with some PMC brass I had laying in the bottom of my ammo box. Had various mags used & none of them were an issue!

    I like bullpup designs anyhow, so knew I had to have one of these. They're certainly an "eye catcher" right now & will draw a crowd when other shooters see you have one.

  7. Also, for a bullpup in .308 that’s “truly ambi”, one needs to loook no further than the KelTec RFB. Looking to get one with the 24″ barrel – still shorter than an AR-10! Just add an OSS over-the-barrell suppressor and I’m good to go – and legal for home defense AND hunting in Oregon, according to ODF&W and the State Police.

  8. Cliff,
    My wife is petite and I have been considering some home defense protection. She is 5 feet tall and weighs 105. This sounds like a weapon she could handle with the small amoundt of recoil. Could she handle it without shouldering?
    Did I understand that one reply said he had a problem with the 30 rd clips. Is there an issuue with the 15 rd. clips? I am in the early stages of Alzeimers and I want her to feel safe in our home since that is were she wants to remain. If something would be better I am open to suggestions. I had thought about a a small shotgun.
    Thanks for any help.

    1. A 410 shotgun is ok but a 38spl revolver might be easy to use

    2. Cliff, My wife appropriated my Kel-Tec PMR-30 for her nightstand and purse. Easy slide to operate, good trigger, 30 rounds of .22WMR (I prefer either of the Hornady’s “Critical” versions) and a rail under the barrel for laser and/or flashlight. Kel-Tec’s ad shows a loaded PMR-30 and a spare mag with a loaded AR mag – that weighs the same as the gun and mags. Check one out.

  9. Im 6’7″ and despite it being non-adjustable, it fits me perfectly. No problems shooting lefty (just to see how effective the deflector is), if you’re naturally lefty just buy that model. Zero failures through my first 1000 rounds, totally random just to see if it doesn’t like something. Just be careful of who you let shoot it, my 5’2″ girlfriend wants one now too.

  10. My wife and I both have a Tavor. It’s a great rifle for anyone but most woman like it because the weight sits back at the shoulder and not in you support hand making it easier to handle. Very easy to field strip for maintenance. It will handle any 30 round AR 15 magazine. It will not handle 100 round beta mags. It will handle any manufacturers 223 or 5.56 but the Isreali’s prefer brass.

  11. JIM
    I have had one for over a month and I like now more then ever.
    I have several sporting pieces Blaser & Dakota mags and more. I shoot a lot and I’ll say this much it’s different. If you like AR’s stay away from the Tavor. It is different handling. It was like that for me. For a sight I have the 174 power Pit Bull which has a 144 feet of view! WOW IS THAT FUN ON MOVING TARGETS.. It is easy to say that only we are lucky to have a place to shoot like this.
    I am having a blast with it!!!!!! I RELOAD

  12. I have found one major flaw in the bullpup design.Fast magazine exchange.You have to unshoulder your weapon to exchange the magazine.Not acceptable in the middle of a fire fight.

    1. bob, never leaves shoulder til all amgs empty. keep shouldered, hand on forearm, change mag easily. just not same as ar.

  13. Thanks’ Scott for another awesome product review, and I will have to say that I agree with you 100% on the SAR this firearm is not meant for me I have never shot on but I just don’t like the bullpup I do believe I will stick with my AR platform , I have no issue’s with it and I can shoulder is just fine and functions perfect and I like the longer barrel on the AR platform thanks’ Jeff Hayden

  14. Thanks, but I’ll stick with my AUG!

    1. I had the AUG A3, despite lack of attention to manufacturing detail (crank em out during ban talks) – nicks & dings in the receiver, copper melting/sticking in the piston system (little on the replacement barrel under warranty), carbon back into the receiver on the right side behind the piston, poor front sling location, charging handle knuckle buster (should be over or under and make no diff), heavy HEAVY … I got rid of it and currently waiting on a Tavor after handling in the local shop (they did not have or interested in AUG at this time). Even had the wife handle the AUG versus the M4 – she was wowed and picked the M4 over the AUG A3. She gave the approval to export the AUG.
      Perhaps I got a lemon, but the AUG did go bang and has that second kind of cool. The weight is heavy over the trigger. There are pros to the AUG and I wanted to like it from the first time I seen the A1’s …yes, its a battle proven relic … Glad yours worked out for you!

  15. It is not such a big deal, having eight steps to switch it to a “leftie” model. How many time would you need to do that anyway?

    Also, check out Jerry Miculek’s trial/endorsement of the Tavor on YouTube.
    40 rounds in 6 seconds…

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