Resting among the row of rifles on display at Israel’s ISDEF Defense and HLS expo this week in Tel Aviv was a rifle called Carmel. It’s the “future,” said a representative at the booth of Israel Weapons Industry (IWI). ISDEF is the country’s largest defense expo and the rifle was one of many IWI was showing off, alongside sights by Meprolight in a convention center full of other Israeli and international companies.
Ramat Hasharon-based IWI makes the popular Tavor bullpup-style rifle used by the IDF’s infantry and special forces. The Carmel may be the next revolution. A stable, reliable weapon, it could be a replacement for units using M-16s or other similar rifles abroad, and in Israel.
What makes it so exceedingly powerful? Debuted in April at the LAAD Defense and Security expo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it started a buzz. It was then also showed in Peru and now has made its way back home to ISDEF. At the ISDEF counter, two barrel lengths were on display. Even though it isn’t designed like the Tavor with the short-looking bullpup design, the Carmel has a shorter barrel at 267 mm. Overall length with its foldable stock is 526 mm according, to an IWI representative. With the stock extended it reaches 721 mm. An M-16’s barrel by contrast is 508 mm and one meter long.
While the M-16 originates in the 1960s, the Carmel is made with a modular modern concept. Just as civilians readily accessorize their iPhones, so soldiers want a rifle that can easily be equipped with a night scope, sight, or other gadgets. “Everything is modular,” says IWI. “You can adjust the stock and it opens and closes and folds. All the controls are left- and right-handed, ambidextrous.” This latter point is important. With relative easy, the cocking mechanism that you’d pull back can be pushed into the rifle and appears on the other side for a left handed shooter.
IWI highlights more technical issues. “The cases are ejected at 45 degrees and the cocking or charging handle can be moved to the other side. It is a short stroke gas piston with several gas positions, including silenced. So if you are shooting 5.56 there is almost no recoil,” the IWI representative says at ISDEF. “You can change the barrel easily with a button so you could switch to a longer barrel. And in the future we will have multi-calibre options. It is operational in 5.56 and has been sold in that caliber. In the future our plan is to make multi-calibre.”
This last detail is interesting. IWI’s X95 rifle, which is a bullpup design, has three calibers. This included 5.56, 9mm and 5.45 according to the IWI website. The new Tavor 7 comes in a 7.62 caliber. IWI says that is due to changes in the battlefield and the necessity of this more “potent” caliber. NATO uses the 5.56 and 7.62 as well. Why does this matter? Because the 7.62 is a more powerful, larger round. The M-16 uses a 5.56 while its 1950s-era predecessor the M-14 used a 7.62.
The Israeli arms industry’s defense engineering ingenuity is at its best with the Carmel, providing a battle-tested weapon with multiple options and maximum flexibility. IWI at ISDEF said that the new weapon has been purchased by foreign militaries and that they are receiving feedback. In addition some units in the IDF have seen the rifle. It’s the next generation. According to those that have used and tested it the rifle say that it matches the durability of the Israeli Galil which was produced in the 1970s and is in use around the world. The Carmel is supposed to have the same durability in mud, sand and snow, basically all the conditions a rifle might be put in over years of slogging alongside an infantry soldier.
The Carmel is lightweight. According to Modern Firearms, at 3.3 kg., it weighs less than an AK-47 or M-16. IWI’s website says the Tavor 7 weighs 4.1 kg., which means the Carmel is shorter and less heavy. It also has a specially designed pistol-style grip that was engineered by users for comfort. If the ISDEF expo and previous shows with this rifle are an indicator, we’ll be hearing more about the Carmel. The Firearm Blog, which profiled the rifle in April, said it looks like it will be mainly for export.