If you are looking for something different in a carbine, the bullpup market is a great place. Much of the world (outside America) is moving to this design in their military rifles. If they are not using an AR or AK platform, it’s usually some sort of bullpup.
The compact design of a bullpup makes long-term carry easier, helps with deployment from vehicles and is quick for use in CQB operations. Utilizing a longer barrel eliminates many of the reliability issues with shorter designs while maintaining a compact platform. Piston systems provide smooth and cooler operation. Those willing to look outside the AR or AK box can find a lot to like, and one of the best out there is the IWI Tavor.
The Israeli Weapons Industries Tavor has done very well. No other bullpup has experienced the same level of popularity. Others have had a niche group of followers, but the Tavor has gained widespread use in the civilian market. Much of its success is due to the use of features many American buyers want.
Employing standard M16 magazines taps into the huge inventory of existing supply. And a bolt-hold open mechanism on the last round is also a big plus for most American buyers. The Tavor’s safety operates the same as an AR, it has a non-reciprocating charging handle, and an oversized bolt release allows for rapid magazine changes.
As a civilian version of an Israeli battle rifle, the trigger is designed for hard operational use. The rugged reliability of the Tavor has endeared itself to many, and it continues to grow in popularity. While it certainly does not have the ability to be “accessorized” like an AR, its getting better each year.
Triggers Are Where It’s At!
Any dealer knows margins on most guns are minimal. Accessories are the ticket, and one of the most often purchased is the trigger. It was true with my M1A decades ago, and my first AR-15 rifle.
Military rifle triggers designed for combat are typically heavy, gritty and stiff. Most consumers look to replace these, and the Tavor is no exception. Built for troops in a desert, the trigger is reliable, but feels like a Mil-Spec M16 trigger. Fast repeat shots were tough. Clean, crisp triggers facilitate accuracy, control and fast repeat shots.
So far three companies have come through with aftermarket triggers for the Tavor. Each is a bit different, with strengths and weaknesses catering to different shooters.
Swapping Triggers In The Tavor
First off, IWI designed the Tavor to be user-friendly and easy to maintain. Swapping trigger packs on the Tavor is a no-tools operation taking less than a minute. Make sure the gun is unloaded with no magazine. Rack the charging handle to reset the hammer and put it on “safe.” Push out two captured pins and it drops into your hand. Insert the new trigger pack, push in the pins, perform a function check and you are done — it’s that simple.
Over the last year, three companies with proven histories have made triggers for the Tavor. All have been around long enough to be thoroughly tested.
Timney is long known for its triggers, along with Geissele. Shooting Sight is a bit less well known, as it has remained focused on the M1A market. Building some of the best trigger parts for the M1A, it has served the service rifle match leaders for years and has a very strong following. All were tested extensively, over thousands of rounds, a couple of years and in most any configuration possible with the Tavor.
Timney was the first to provide a replacement trigger pack for this rifle. Early versions experienced issues in a few rifles, mostly light primer strikes. My first trigger pack had this issue, as did a few others among friends.
Timney started working on it from the first complaint. Given the total number sold, the instances were rare by comparison, but they did occur. After about 200 rounds, some of my Mil-Spec ammo had light primer strikes. After a few months testing other triggers, Timney’s latest version hit the streets.
Comparing the two, the hammer was a bit different, with more mass. But whatever the company did, it worked. During testing over the course of about 1,000 rounds of the very same ammunition, it did not miss a beat. It was flawless with every load and worked well while suppressed. Timney’s trigger is built in a nice aluminum housing with a wired EDM cut, heat-treated, Teflon-coated hammer, offering many years of use.
Anyone that prefers the feel of a crisp and clean single-stage trigger similar to an AR will like the Timney. Overall take-up is minimal with a crisp and predictable break that measured right at 4 pounds. As a two-stage kind of guy, it took me a few rounds to get used to, but it is very nice. To those used to aftermarket AR triggers, this is the ticket.
I handed it off to a couple of friends preferring single-stage designs; they all liked it the best. The only difference is a bit of take-up, and that is due to the factory Tavor trigger bow.
Shooting Sight offers its TAV-D trigger in either a Delrin or aluminum housing. Mine was an early model using the Delrin body, but the internals are identical.
Parts are machined from heat-treated plate tool steel. An ultra-hard, low-friction surface coating ensures reliable operation in dirty environments. Built to mimic an M1A match trigger, it is a two-stage design.
The first stage is 3 pounds, with a 2-pound second stage netting a 5-pound total trigger weight. It was tested thoroughly, and spent many months in my rifle. It was also used in a colleague’s rifle during a Crimson Trace 3-gun match to his great delight.
During a Haley Strategic Carbine class where fast trigger times were critical, it performed well. Not as fast as my competition two-stage AR triggers, but close. My split times rivaled many of the AR rifles, and it was accurate at ranges out to 500 yards. It has been flawless from beginning to end with all ammunition, both suppressed and unsuppressed.
The Shooting Sights TAC-D is well suited to anyone who prefers a two-stage trigger, especially if you like an M1A feel. The 5-pound trigger weight is perfect for duty rifles, providing excellent accuracy with rapid fire much easier than the factory trigger. Given the built-in take-up of the factory trigger bow, it took some getting used to, but generally it was fast and predictable.
The TAV-D trigger saw the most use given the time it was in the rifle. There were no light primer strikes, failures to reset or any other issues.
Geissele Automatics has earned a strong following among those using AR rifles for duty or competition. All my personal ARs use SSA two-stage triggers.
The last to hit the market in force, the Super Sabra Tavor trigger has become a favorite for many shooters. Built in a 6060-T 6 housing, it is designed around Geissele’s proven Super Semi-Automatic AR trigger. Internals are all S7 tool steel and nitride coated for wear and corrosion resistance. Unlike the others, the first stage is adjustable for pull weight. The second stage is fixed at 2 pounds, which ends up with a trigger in the 5.5- to 7.5-pound range. Given an adjustable first-stage, take-up is less than the Shooting Sight, with the same crisp 2-pound second stage. This trigger allowed me to set it up to very closely mimic my AR triggers. Tested over the last few months, it has proven very precise and fast.
Having the ability to adjust that first stage gives you some control over the added take-up. If you run a Geissele in your AR, this will likely be your preference as well. Some police agencies don’t allow adjustable triggers, so that might be an issue, but it is acceptable for just about any use in my mind.
Geissele Trigger Bow
Introduced at SHOT show, the Geissele Trigger Bow offers an improvement over the factory unit and enhances the operation of each of these triggers. The aftermarket triggers on the Tavor all suffer from pre-travel — you must take up some spring tension before the trigger pack actually kicks in.
Geissele’s new Lightning Trigger Bow allows adjustment and simplifies and strengthens the mechanism, providing a flatter trigger face that encourages better accuracy.
Changing the Tavor trigger requires more effort. It’s not difficult by any means, but it requires some tools and tear-down. If you have swapped barrels before, it only requires one more operation. Outside the barrel removal wrench, which you can get from Geissele, a punch and hammer do the trick. Customers can get through it using the Tavor armorer’s manual available on the Internet given competent mechanical skills.
It works with all triggers, including the factory model. It requires some attention with the pre-travel adjustment, as each trigger pack is different. The Super Sabra required removal of pre-travel; the Timney and the Shooting Sight required the opposite.
Those who like the Timney will enjoy the difference the most, turning it into a true single-stage trigger. All of the trigger packs performed without any light primer strikes, failures to reset or any other issues. Adding the trigger bow was an upgrade across the board. The Tavor Lightning Trigger Bow is Scheduled for a spring 2015 release with a $99 retail price.
While there are certainly other upgrades for the bullpup Tavor, the trigger is the one most customers should look at first. The difference is noticeable, and it improves every aspect of its design.
It’s easier to be accurate with shooting on the move and at long range. Faster repeat shots are the norm, and it is overall more enjoyable to shoot. Whether you install the new trigger bow or not, the improvement is huge. It really turns the Tavor into a more enjoyable rifle with no loss in reliability or usability. With time, more accessories will surface, but for now this is the easiest with the most bang for the buck.
All are priced within about $25 of each other, so it becomes mostly about personal preference. Either way, you’ll send your customer home with a tricked-out rifle that will just be a ton more fun to use.