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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