The TAR-21 “Tavor” assault rifle project with the bulpup line, aimed at replacing the M16 rifles, began in 1995 and ended on 31 in March 2004 with the official adoption of Tavor. However, the improvement of the new assault rifle did not end there. Although the TAR-21 "Tavor" after a series of improvements and improvements fully meets the requirements of the Israeli infantry, in 2004, the special forces of Israel and special forces of the IDF general staff "Sayret Matkal" expressed a desire to have their own, even more compact version of the rifle. Actually, this moment can be considered the starting point in stories create X95.
At the heart of the requirements of the Israeli military were two main conditions:
- make the weapon as short as possible;
- the presence of a removable barrel caliber 9 mm and the ability to install a silencer.
They were due to the following considerations.
Firstly, the Israeli special forces are overwhelmingly carrying out their operations in a city where soldiers have to act in conditions of limited space — inside buildings, on narrow streets, in underground communications, etc. In such combat scenarios, a clash with the enemy often occurs suddenly, close range. Therefore, the paramount requirements for an individual soldier’s weapon here are the small size and speed of transfer to the combat position. And although the TAR-21 “Tavor” bundled according to the “bulpap” scheme provided the minimum response time for opening fire (it does not need to turn down the butt to transfer from the traveling position to the combat position), with a total length of 725 mm this weapon was not compact enough for the specified scenarios .
The second. The IDF is a highly mechanized army, saturated with a variety of armored vehicles, army vehicles and helicopters, which are used to deliver soldiers to the battlefield. This is dictated by the desire to protect the soldiers as much as possible from enemy fire as well as from the hot Israeli climate: any walking march through the hot desert, especially in summer, during the season of sandy winds, is a tough test even for a trained soldier. The close assault landing units of the armored personnel carrier, infantry fighting vehicles and helicopters impose their own restrictions on the infantry of the infantrymen. The Israelis had learned the lesson they had learned with the “Romat” rifle (a licensed copy of the Belgian FN FAL), which was part of the IDF’s 50 – 70s. Long and heavy, it created a lot of inconvenience during transportation, and during the 1973 “Doomsday” war, Israeli soldiers often changed it to captured Kalashnikov assault rifles. By the way, until recently, Soviet machine guns, along with the CAR-15 carbine (a shortened version of the M16), have for a long time been the actual armament of the Israeli special forces, and the "naval commandos" were fully armed with AKMS assault rifles.
The adoption of rifles, first “Galil” and “Glilon” (a shortened version of “Galil”) with a folding butt, and then the M16 A1, did not solve the existing problems. True, as an interim measure, the IDF command decided to acquire about 900 M4 A1 carbines, but this weapon with a total length of 880 mm with an extended butt could not be called truly small-sized. With almost the same barrel length by 155 mm, the shorter Tavor met the logistic requirements much better, however, this did not suit the military either. For example, when landing from armored vehicles through narrow hatches (for example, the rear landing door tank “Merkava” has a width of only 600 mm) neither “Tavor” nor any other standard IDF rifles allow you to place the weapon in the “on the chest” position so that you can open fire immediately after landing without wasting time folding the butt or removing the weapon from from behind.
Now about the second requirement. The bikalier nature of the weapon was needed so that the base model for the 5,56 mm caliber assault rifle (assault rifle or carabiner) could be transformed into a weapon under the 9-mm pistol (submachine gun) if necessary. Thus, the same weapon can be adapted to perform various tasks. This reduces the overall cost of purchasing weapons, and also during the operation saves money and saves the life of the main parts of the weapon, using it, for example, in a pistol caliber for training purposes, and in automatic one - for performing combat missions.
As the basis for the new assault rifle, which received the designation X95, IWI selected the ultra-compact version of the Tavor rifle, СAR-2008 Commando TAR, developed in 21, and a number of significant changes were made to it. The new model was initially known by two different names: MTAR-21 "Micro-Tavor" and "Tavor-2". After intensive and very tough long tests, the X95 was adopted by the special forces of the Israeli army, and from 2011 onwards it has entered the units of the IDF.
Barrel and receiver
With a total length of 580 mm, the X95 bulpup is a truly ultra-compact weapon. With such dimensions, ХХNUMX in the “on the chest” position does not stand for the generally accepted transverse dimension of the human figure, equal to 95 m. Based on this value, engineers and architects design the entire “infrastructure” surrounding people - passageways, doors, hatches, manholes, furniture, seats vehicles - in order not to interfere with a person during his movements. For example, a fighter with a X0,6 on a belt can quietly “dive” into a tank hatch, without worrying that the weapon will catch on the edge of the armor and will impede its movement. Well, do not forget about the advantages of small size in terms of hidden wear. ХХNUMX can be transferred without dismantling, without attracting attention, in a usual travel or sports bag, business case, in a case for film equipment, etc.
The X95 barrel is cold forged and in the “automatic” version has 6 right-hand grooves in increments of 7 inches (178 mm). This is quite interesting, because the IDF uses two types of 5,56 x 45 mm ammunition: the old American M193 cartridge designed for 1 rifling pitch: 12, and today's standard NATO cartridge SS109 (M855), for which the optimal step is 1: 7. The fact is that the bullet cartridge M193 has a greater ability to fragmentation and, therefore, the best stopping action. In addition, the Israeli army has a large stock of ammunition cartridges of this type. Heavier cartridge bullet M855 has better ballistics and penetration ability. Therefore, the Israeli military doctrine provides for the use of M193 cartridges in conventional units, and M855 cartridges are supplied only by infantry department snipers, called in Israel "Kala Sa'ar" (equivalent to American "Marksman") and armed with sniper variants of the M4 carbine and M16 A2 E3 rifles. X95 can successfully use both types of ammunition, since at short distances, for which this weapon is optimized, the difference in the ballistic characteristics of the two cartridges does not appear so significantly.
Movable parts move inside a plastic receiver, which also performs the role of the forend and stock, along U-shaped metal guides. Compared with the "Tavor" from X95 changed the brand of plastic used for the manufacture of the receiver. Previously used polymer material, which had the highest resistance to shock loads. This is traditionally the weak point of all high-strength plastics, for which they are always inferior to the "classic" construction materials of small arms (high-quality and stainless steels, aluminum alloys, hardwood). However, the experience of operating Tavorov showed that although such plastic resists strong blows, after them it becomes unable to absorb the load in the same volume: microcracks began to develop in the structure of the material, creating a threat to the overall strength of the structure. Therefore, in the X95 plastic was replaced by a somewhat greenish shade, taken in Tavor, a new gray-black plastic has come. The new plastic is somewhat “softer” than its predecessor, but it does not cause the appearance of cracks with intensive use of weapons and, moreover, is more resistant to the effects of ultraviolet radiation (which is especially important for the Middle Eastern climate).
On the left side of the receiver, behind the recess for movement of the reloading handle, there is a round hole that serves to access the barrel retainer. Replacing the barrel produces a military weapon master, and this operation lasts only a few minutes and requires the application of the simplest tool. A rubber butt pad is attached to the back of the butt, preventing the butt from sliding and softening the recoil of the weapon.
X95 uses two different systems of automation and locking.
For automatic cartridges of 5,56 mm caliber, a scheme is used with the removal of powder gases from the hole in the wall of the barrel and locking with a rotary bolt. At first glance, the bolt with the bolt carrier resembles similar assemblies of the Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle, but upon close examination, significant differences are visible.
Firstly, the gas piston is rigidly coupled with the bolt carrier and is not separated from it during movement. The fact is that because of the short barrel, the gas chamber is located quite close to the muzzle cut — removed from the rear cut of the barrel bushing (breech) by 187 mm — and less gas is flowing into the gas chamber than the weapon with the longer barrel. Having made the piston and bolt carrier one-piece, IWI designers made it possible to “collect” the gas pulse throughout the frame stroke.
The second. Although the G36 and X95 disconnect the bolt and bolt carrier through a pin inserted into the transverse hole of the prismatic frame body, in the German sample, the figured control cutout that provides the bolt rotation is located on the bolt carrier and the Israeli rifle is directly on the bolt.
The third difference is in the number of lugs. In the Israeli sample, their number is reduced to three, which is favorable from a technological point of view and at the same time ensures a reliable and stable position of the shutter mirror during locking (the three points of support form a plane). Three lugs shutter located asymmetrically: their position corresponds to the position of a clockwise at twelve, four and seven hours. The last one is divided into two parts. Locking grooves for the bolt are located in the barrel bushing. The shutter of the rifle is made hollow inside so that when a gas breaks through the primer or when the ammunition is destroyed, it creates a kind of “protective shell” that holds the powder gases and protects the arrow and the mechanisms of the weapon from damage.
Another interesting feature of the X95 is the unusually short path of moving parts, the bolt carrier and bolt slide back only 70 mm - about half the recoil length in AKM or AK-74 and only slightly longer than the length of the 5,56 x 45 cartridge mm . Since the slide frame comes to the rear position at high speed, the X95 design provides a buffer, softening the impact of moving parts on the receiver and reducing the rate of fire.
In the version of the submachine gun caliber 9 mm free shutter is used. In this case, in place of the butterfly valve, the slide unit is stationary relative to the bolt carrier, and the locking is carried out only by the mass of the moving parts and the force of the return spring. The rest of the automatic submachine gun acts in the same way as a rifle / carbine.
Unlike the TAV-21 Tavor, the cocking handle is not on the forearm, but shifted somewhat back - the experience of operating the first Tavors showed that the handle located in front is often an obstacle to the movement of a fighter, because of the risk of catching it on surrounding objects, for example for a window or doorway. Optionally, the reloading handle can be mounted on either side of the weapon.
Closer to the back of the weapon, on both sides of the receiver are two windows for ejection of spent cartridges. For a right-handed arrow, for example, the right window remains open, and a reflector of the sleeves is mounted near it with a screw. The opposite window, vice versa, is closed with a plastic lid. If it is necessary to change the direction of ejection of the sleeves, this operation is performed by the army master gunsmith in the field.
The rifle trigger guard is made very large and wide in order to play the role of additional protection for the shooter’s hand. It can be replaced with a traditional-shaped brace and in such units, for example, the 13 Shayette (special forces of the Israeli Navy), the preference is given to the usual variant, which is more convenient for operations in thick diving gloves. Above the pistol grip is a three-position two-way translator-fuse. In the “S” position, the weapon is fused, “R” corresponds to the single fire mode (such marking is inherited from FN FAL rifles, where “R” means the English word “Repetition” - reloading), “A” means automatic fire mode.
The descent force of about 4 kg may seem rather large, but, on the other hand, for weapons with a bulpap layout that is eternally suffering from USM diseases due to the “long thrust” problem, this value can be considered an achievement. In addition, USM X95 has a pronounced "dry descent" with a small trigger stroke, which is very fast and sharp. As they say in the West, it works, as if “fragile glass” is breaking.
The trigger mechanism, reminiscent of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, is mounted in a removable module, located between the pistol grip and the shaft of the store. It can be separated within a few seconds by knocking out two large axes, which makes life much easier for both the shooter (for example, when cleaning a heavily polluted rifle) and military gunsmith during the repair and maintenance of weapons.
The two-way button of the store is located above the trigger and is activated by the index finger. It is covered with a small visor to prevent accidental pressing. The button connects to the latch of the store with a long barrage. X95 uses regular STANAG 4179 magazines from M16 rifles containing 30 cartridges. It is believed that such a unification significantly reduces logistics costs.
Of course, joining a magazine with a rifle “bulpap” scheme is not so convenient and takes a little longer than that of a classical scheme weapon. The IDF see a solution to this problem in intensive training: when retraining from M16 / M4 rifles to TAR-21 and X95, young soldiers perform exercises consisting in multiple (more than a hundred times) joining / separating the store. With their help, muscular memory is developed, which allows to achieve high speed and develop the automatism of this operation, including in stressful conditions.
Sights and other accessories
The main rifle sight is mounted on the more elevated rear of the upper Picatinny rail. Most often, they are the Mepro MOR collimator sight, which is a combination of the “red dot” sight and LCC, capable of operating both in the visible and in the IR range. This device is equivalent to the AN / PEQ-2 standard US sight and US Special Forces, and was developed by Mepro specifically for the Israeli army. It has an 4 operating mode: “active collimator”, “passive collimator”, “visible laser” and “invisible laser”. The “passive collimator” mode is always available and allows the sight to work without a power source. In case of insufficient lighting, the “active collimator” mode is used, by connecting batteries, it intensifies the glow intensity of the “red dot” aiming mark. In urban battles at a short distance, the "visible laser" mode is used, and in cases where stealth is needed, the "invisible laser" mode is used. To activate, for example, a laser, it is not necessary to reach for the power button located on the device itself. An alternative way to turn on and off the LCC can be the so-called remote PTT button, which has a wireless connection to the controlled device and can be mounted on the velcro in any place of the weapon where it is convenient for the shooter.
At the rear of the Picatinny rail is a mechanical sight, which is integral with the polymer hull. It is shot at 300 m and is a backup, used only in case of malfunctioning of optoelectronic sights. In addition, the Meprolight MX3 triple-rifle can be used with the rifle, which is used for firing at extended distances, as well as Mepro Minimon-I and II Gen nighttime passive IR sights, which can be used in combination with ordinary day collimators. And although there is still a more advanced Mepro Minimon-Gen Gen night-vision device, which allows to act only when illuminated from the starry sky, the IDF leadership believes that the I and II Gen models are quite comfortable with the armed forces, since the Israeli army conducts actions mainly in populated areas, where and at night there are enough light sources for effective use of night sights I and II generation.
To the additional accessories X95 belongs the bayonet. It is attached directly to the flame arrester.
The incomplete decomposition of the X95 is very simple. After separating the store and checking the contents of the chamber, it is necessary to knock out the pin fixing the back plate, and the latter leans back, opening access to the inside of the receiver. Then you need to grab the plastic buffer with your fingers, which holds the return spring and its guide rod, and remove all moving parts from the receiver. This incomplete disassembly is considered complete. In fact, X95 understands the field conditions into only two large parts: the barrel with the receiver and the bolt group. No small parts, axes, pins that can be easily lost.
The X95 rifle can transform into a 9 x 19 mm submachine gun, firing from a closed bolt. This modification is indicated by the index X95 SMG. The kit for such a remake includes the barrel, bolt and adapter to the shaft of the store, providing the use of standard 32-charging stores from the Uzi submachine gun. The barrel of a submachine gun does not have a vapor device and differs in the size of the barrel and rifling. Of course, the shutter does not have a swivel head.
There is also the option of a submachine gun under the designation X95-S, equipped with an integrated silencer. Due to the special design, it does not require the use of special subsonic ammunition, but allows you to shoot with regular regular 9 x 19 mm cartridges with supersonic initial speed.
There is a possibility of performance of the X95 in other calibers, in particular, experienced versions have already been created for the 5,45 x 39 mm (X95-R) cartridge and even the 7,62 x 51 mm HATO. The latest version is the response of IWI to the negative experience that the US Army gained in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the IDF during the last war in Lebanon. In these regions, where there is a huge drug market, soldiers often had to deal with an adversary under the influence of narcotic and psychoactive substances. The stopping effect of cartridges of caliber 5,56 mm for such purposes in some cases turned out to be insufficient, hence the desire to have a weapon for more powerful ammunition. The X95-L version is distinguished by the use of a barrel extended by 50 mm. Most likely, its appearance is explained by the interests of the civilian market, primarily the United States, where in some states there is a restriction on the length of the trunk.
The latest version of the X95 family is the X95 Flattop (“flat top”), which differs only in the execution of the Picatinny top rail, which does not have a “step” and thus allows mounting a wider range of optoelectronic devices and accessories.
India. The Indian version ХХNUMX, which received the designation “Zittara”, was developed by specialists of the state enterprise Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) of the Ministry of Defense of India for use in national special forces. It differs from the Israeli version of Zittara in the presence of three configurations for different types of ammunition: a carbine chambered for 95 x 5,56 mm (Indian-made ammunition shortened .30 Rem, used in the AMOGH carbine), an assault rifle of the 223 x 5,56 mm caliber and a submachine gun caliber 45 x 9 mm.
USA. During the development of a new rifle, a number of US special forces units (special forces of the US Army, US Navajo SEALS, and others) acquired the Micro-Tavor MTAR-21 rifles for evaluation tests. These tests were carried out in order to decide on the adoption of this sample into service.
Ukraine. The Vinnitsa KNPO “Fort” of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and the IWI company in 2008 announced the creation of a joint venture for the licensed production of TAR-21 “Tavor” rifles and their modifications. December 23 2009, by decree No. 1577 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, these samples were adopted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Their number includes the X95 rifle, which received the Ukrainian designation "Fort-224". The Israeli company supplies parts and parts to Ukraine, while Fort KNPO produces the remaining components and assembles weapons.
So, in the form of ХХNUMX, the IDF special forces received small arms of the new generation - a modular multi-caliber system, which, depending on the tasks, can be transformed into different types of weapons - an assault rifle, a carbine, a submachine gun. The X95 has an excellent balance, thanks to which the rifle can fire even if it is held with one hand. The design of the rifle is different originality, as evidenced by several patents obtained by the authors X95 in the process of its creation. The widespread use of plastics makes weapons easy and cheapens the process of its manufacture. The results of the tests that the X95 has undergone at the design, development and commissioning stage, including various comparative, ergonomic and field tests, look quite convincingly and impressively. Their program was so diverse and extensive that I did not dare to bring it in a journal article, so as not to tire with such a long list of readers. It should be noted here that the IWI designers follow the traditions of the Soviet arms school, which placed the main priority in designing weapons for their reliability and ability to pass through the hearth of a complex system of various acceptance tests.
And another feature of the new Israeli development. When creating the X95, IWI also tried to design a rifle that was as simple as possible in terms of operation. According to the developers, most of the operations for maintaining the life cycle of a rifle should be carried out directly in the army, by the battalion repair platoons, and only in cases of particularly serious malfunctions the rifle is sent to repair units of a higher level. This is quite logical if we consider that the X95 is a weapon designed for special forces, which is used much more intensively than ordinary infantry weapons. In addition, the desire of special-purpose units to be as independent as possible from parts and divisions of services is completely understandable.