The IDF is in the midst of replacing the M-16 rifle with the Israeli-made Tavor.
By next year, three infantry brigades of conscripted soldiers and four reserve brigades will have made the transition to the Tavor, a development that has been welcomed by conscripts and reservists alike.
Maj. Roniel Turgeman, head of the Infantry Corps’ weaponry department, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the latest – and smallest – version of the gun, called the Micro Tavor, places most of the weight of the firearm at the back, thereby making it more comfortable.
“It has no forward weight,” he said. “It was created as a new standard-issue firearm. It’s more reliable, jams less, is lighter, and more stable.”
The first Tavor guns were issued in 2007 to the Givati Brigade as a pilot program. By the end of 2007, battalions in the Golani and Nahal brigades were armed with the Tavor as well.
It takes five days of training and fire-range courses to complete the changeover and adjust to the new rifle, Turgeman added. The training includes the use of nightvision scopes.
The IDF is currently introducing the firearm to new recruits for the first time.
During Operation Pillar of Defense last month, the army worked to ensure that reserve soldiers who had used the Tavor exclusively during their mandatory service would receive the same weapon during when they were called up.
“These reserve [soldiers] never saw an M-16,” Turgeman said.
There is no significant difference in ballistic capabilities between the two rifles, he added. “It would have been easier to go on purchasing the M-16. But the IDF decided to provide its soldiers with a better firearm. Our units are very satisfied with it. The feedback has been very positive.”
“I personally think that its a good thing they are retiring this Vietnam-age weapon,” one reservist told the Post.
“There are several new versions of the M-16, which other armies are using while we are using these 40- to 50- year-old metal pipes,” he said. The US Army first used the M-16 in Vietnam in 1963.
Another reservist said, “The Tavor is very impressive. It looks more comfortable. The conscripts have been praising it.”
He added that he was pleased by the transition. “Someone who is experienced with a firearm will easily get used to the Tavor. At the end of the day, you have to look through the sight, aim, shoot a few times, and get used to running and jumping with it. It’s not too complicated.”