|The TAR-21 (or simply Tavor) is an Israeli bullpup assault rifle chambered for 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition with a selective fire system, selecting between semi-automatic mode and full automatic fire mode. It is named after Mount Tabor, while "TAR-21" stands for "Tavor Assault Rifle – 21st Century". Since 2009, it has been selected as the standard issued weapon of the Israeli infantry. The MTAR-21 (Micro Tavor) was recently selected as the future assault rifle of the Israeli Defense Forces, and some infantry division are being issued with the rifle, replacing the larger, standard TAR-21.
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The TAR-21 uses a bullpup design. Bullpup rifles are configured in a layout in which the bolt carrier group is placed behind the pistol grip; this shortens the overall length but does not sacrifice barrel length. The TAR-21 provides carbine length, but rifle muzzle velocity. The bullpup design is also used to minimize the silhouette of soldiers and to maximize effectiveness in turning corners in urban warfare.
The TAR-21 has ejection ports on both sides of the rifle so it can easily be reconfigured for right or left-handed shooters. However, this process requires partial disassembly, so it cannot be quickly reconfigured while the rifle is in use.
The TAR-21 design was created by Zalmen Shebs, with the express purpose of creating a weapon more suited to urban combat than the M16/M4 carbine. It is based on advanced ergonomics and composite materials in order to produce a more comfortable and reliable rifle. The TAR-21 is waterproof and lightweight. The weapon has a built in laser and MARS red dot sight, but the TAR-21 can also be mounted with an array of different sights such as a holographic weapon sights, night vision systems and other electronic devices.
The TAR-21 accepts standard STANAG magazines. It can also be mounted with the M203 grenade launcher. Its ambidextrous fire mode selector above the pistol grip has a semi-automatic mode and a fully automatic mode.
Externally, the IMI Tavor TAR 21 along with the Singaporean ST Kinetics SAR 21 and the South African Vektor CR-21 (all minus the foregrip) as with most other bullpup designs bears only a superficial appearance/resemblance to the Austrian Steyr AUG, although the advent of the bolt action bullpup Thorneycroft carbine in 1901 preceded the Steyr AUG (in production since 1978) by almost eighty years.
The Tavor assault rifle comes in different variations:
- TAR-21 – standard version intended for multirole infantry.
- GTAR-21 – standard version with notched barrel, to accept an M203 40 mm under-barrel grenade launcher.
- CTAR-21 – compact short barrel version intended for commandos and special forces.
- STAR-21 – designated marksman version with folding under-barrel bipod and Trijicon ACOG 4× magnification sight.
- MTAR-21 – extremely compact version.
- Zittara – Indian locally produced version of the MTAR-21 Micro Tavor modified to use the local 5.56×30mm MINSAS cartridge manufactured by the Ordnance Factories Board.
- Israel: After initial testing within Israel Defense Forces` infantry training units, the TAR-21 was distributed to members of the training company of the Tzabar Battalion from the Givati Brigade who were drafted in August 2001. They received their rifles in November 2001 during basic training. Initial results were favorable – the TAR-21 was found to be significantly more accurate and reliable (as well as more comfortable) than the M4 carbine during extensive field testing – but the battle proven and widely issued M4A3 rifle and its variants will remain in service for some time to come; their unit purchase price is about one third that of the TAR-21. Originally there were some issues with fine sand entering the Tavor`s chamber, but numerous adjustments were made and was rectified by 2009. A number of other improvements were also made between 2001–2009. Tavor CTAR-21 rifles saw combat service in Operation Cast Lead, used by Givati Brigade and Golani Brigade, and the soldiers reported the Tavor rifles functioned flawlessly.
The rifle is in use by all the IDF regular Infantry battalions and brigades, except for Paratroopers and Kfir Brigades.
In November 2009, the IDF announced that the Micro Tavor (MTAR-21), rather than the TAR-21, would become the standard infantry weapon of the IDF, with the addition of an integrated grenade-launcher.
In December 2012, the IDF announced that they would begin equipping and training all their reserve forces with the TAR-21 assault rifle starting in 2013.
- Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan purchased a number of TAR-21 for the special operations forces of the Azerbaijani Army in August 2008.
- Brazil: Taurus, the local firearms manufacturer, produces the Army. Small numbers are issued to soldiers in the Frontier Brigade.
- Colombia: The Colombian Army operates the TAR-21 for their special forces, in the army, marines and in the Colombian national police.
- Ethiopia: Ethiopian Prime Minister bodyguards were seen with the TAR-21.
- Georgia: Since 2001, the Georgian Army has entered into a USD 65 million supply agreement for approximately 7,000 TAR-21 rifles (including different variants and grenade launchers). Uses all TAR-21 variants. The rifle was first revealed to the public during a military parade in 2005 with a Special Forces Battalion named Gulua Group carrying it. Further arrangements like a TAR-21 production facility in Georgia were dropped due to pressure from Russia.
- Guatemala: Guatemala`s police force or PNC (Policia Nacional Civil) operates the TAR-21 for routine tasks, and some special operations.
- Honduras: Honduran army special forces uses MTAR-21.
- India: In late 2002, India signed an INR 880 million (about USD 17.7 million) deal with Israel Military Industries for 3,070 Tavor assault rifles to be issued to India`s special forces personnel, where its ergonomics, reliability in heat and sand, and fast-point/fast-shoot design might give them an edge at close-quarters and employment from inside vehicles. By 2005, IMI had supplied 350–400 Tavors to India`s northern Special Frontier Force (SFF). These were subsequently declared to be "operationally unsatisfactory". The required changes have since been made, and tests in Israel during 2006 went well, clearing the contracted consignment for delivery. The Tavor has now entered operational service – even as India gears up for a larger competition that could feature a 9 mm MTAR-21 version. Known as the Zittara is manufactured in India by the Ordnance Factories Board for Indian service, the new Tavors have a modified single-piece stock and new sights, as well as Turkish-made MKEK T-40 40 mm under-barrel grenade launchers. 5,500 have been recently inducted and more rifles are being ordered. The Indian Navy`s elite marine commandos are also preparing to adopt the assault rifles. A consignment of over 500 TAR-21 Tavor assault rifles and another 30 Galil sniper rifles worth over INR 150 million (USD 3.3 million) and INR 20 million respectively was delivered to the MARCOS (marine commandos) in December 2010. CRPF has ordered 12000 micro tavor rifles also known as X-95 and it received the first shipment of the rifles in early 2011.
- Macedonia: Police special forces.
- Nigeria The State Security Service employ it as the primary assault rifle for their close protection and tactical units replacing the Uzi.
- Philippines Small quantities in use by special units of the Philippine Marines. Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) also has 120 units of CTAR, while Philippine National Police – Special Boat Unit was also issued with Tavors.
- Portugal: Small quantities of the TAR-21 are in use by field and intervention units of the Polícia Judiciária, like hostage negotiation teams and investigators who usually work alongside other dedicated law enforcement intervention units—the Special Operations Group (GOE) and the National Republican Guard`s Special Operations Company (COE); these weapons were initially intended to equip a new unit under the command of the Polícia Judiciária resembling the GOE. The TAR-21 also participated in the competition for the new service rifle for the three branches of the Portuguese Armed Forces and the Police Special Operations Group (GOE)—a bid that also included the local production of the TAR-21 in Portugal. However, the TAR-21 was excluded from the shortlist. The competition has meanwhile been annulled, after the other contenders and both political and defense critics accused the competition of favoring the Heckler & Koch G36.
- Thailand: To replace some of its current inventory of M16A1 rifles, The Royal Thai Army purchased three batches of TAR-21 rifles for USD27.77 million (THB 946.99 million) and approved delivery of a fourth batch on 15 September 2009, bringing the total to more than 58,000 TAR-21 rifles.
- Ukraine: Yuriy Lutsenko, head of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, announced on October 1, 2008 that Israel Weapon Industries and the Ukrainian research and production company RPC Fort will jointly manufacture the Tavor TAR-21 assault rifle, that will enter service with special Ukrainian military and police special units. RPC Fort had displayed working samples of Tavors chambered to take 5.45 bullets with Milkor UBGLs to showcase to Ukrainian security forces officers as a means of convincing them to buy Ukrainian-made Tavors for Special forces units.
- Vietnam: From 2012, the Tavor entered service in special units of the Vietnamese army, equipping special forces, marines and naval units.
- USA: In August 2013, IWI US announced that the Pennsylvania Capitol Police had adopted the Tavor SAR, a version specifically designed for the U.S. market.
Operation Defensive Shield
Operation Summer Rains
Second Lebanon War, Operation Hot Winter, Gaza War, Colombian armed conflict, South Ossetia War, Cambodian-Thai stand-off
Automatic Rifle (Bullpup)
Former IMI, Now IWI: Israel Weapon Industries, P.O Box 63 Ramat Hashron 47100 Israel, Phone: 972-3-7606000 Fax: 972-3-7606001 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gas operated, rotating bolt
3.27 kg (7.2 Lbs)
725 mm (28.54 in)
460 mm (18.11 in)
20 or 30 rounds
detachable box magazines
Reflex Red Dot
Rate of fire:
750 - 900 RPM
910 m/s (2,986 ft/s)