Your first reaction to the IWI Tavor X95 might be wrinkling your nose and wincing at the word bullpup. After all, the short and stubby design is not as common in America and is typically frowned upon by many.
But those that look down their nose at these rifles do so at their own loss, as there are many benefits and even superior features to some bullpup designs.
Today we will look at one of the flagship rifles from the Israeli arms giant IWI, the Tavor X95 bullpup. Like all bullpups, the X95’s breech and firing mechanisms are behind the trigger. This shortens the overall size of the weapon by utilizing the space in the butt of the firearm that is normally vacant.
I’m no stranger to bullpups, so prepare yourself for some perspective as we go over this very popular and robust little rifle.
The first trip to the range with the X95 included a hundred or so rounds. I’d brought a few magazines to run through the rifle of various types. I had only installed a red dot as a sighting device with plans to shoot with a riflescope at a later date.
After loading a few magazines and a quick preflight inspection of the rifle, it was time to go hot. Charging the rifle is a very familiar process, seating the magazine and running the charging handle to chamber a cartridge. The safety selector is easily operated with the thumb, making the rifle ready to fire.
I fired a few magazines through the rifle, adjusting my sight a few times for a better point of impact. My initial impressions of the rifle were better than expected. The rifle shot smoothly and reliably. The trigger was a bit mushy for my taste, something common with some bullpups. But I could still shoot properly and get hits where I wanted them.
Reloading the rifle is different than a typical modern sporting rifle. Stabbing the magazine into the rear of the rifle can take some getting used to if you are new to bullpups. The bolt release is centrally located behind the magwell, allowing you to actuate it with your thumb upon seating the magazine. I would have liked to see a more flared magwell, but it could have just been my familiarity with this particular model.
The controls and ergonomics of the rifle seemed to fit me well. The charging handle does have a claw to capture it under recoil. I would have liked a slightly different configuration that offered just a smidge more purchase but again, this is just my preference.
One thing I did find a little annoying was during a reload motion; my trigger finger would often migrate behind the trigger. This made for an awkward transition back to shooting, but again it is likely just a lack of practice with the rifle that could be overcome with some training. Continue reading here
I’ve had a bit of experience with bullpups, some more than others. But if you’re interested enough in them to be reading this, you may want to read my last piece “Ode to bullpups” where we discussed bullpups in general. Today we will be speaking specifically about the Keltec RDB bullpup, a sixteen inch barreled 5.56 bullpup semi-auto.
Keltec has been around since the early nineties, with a motto of creating original and innovative firearms in the state of Florida. An overview of Keltec firearms gives the impression that affordability, alternative designs and materials are all part of their operation. My personal experience with Keltec has been modest at best until this RDB came to me, so this review will represent a fresh look at the rifle.
The RDB is a 5.56 nato chambered bullpup rifle, the action and magazine are located behind the pistol grip. This allows the rifle to present with a much shorter and well balanced platform than a traditionally configured rifle such as an AR-15. The RDB is fed by standard AR type magazines, and those cartridges are loaded by a piston driven bolt-carrier. The sixteen-inch one in seven twist barrel features a 1/2-28 threaded muzzle that came with a birdcage style muzzle device, as well as an adjustable gas block to meter pressure into the operating system. The cunning ejection system that sets the RDB apart from its competition is it downward ejection, the spent cases are pulled behind the magazine and ejected out the bottom of the rifle. The controls of the rifle are pretty standard, but not like you are used to for sure. There is a reversible charging handle that can be placed on either side of the fore-grip after disassembling the rifle. The safety is ambidextrous and located in the right position, right where your thumb would expect it to be.
The magazine release and bolt catch are both located behind the pistol grip. The mag release is a stamped piece of metal that reaches around both sides of the lower-rear receiver, there is a push-pad at the front of this horseshoe shaped piece just behind the pistol grip to release the magazine. The rifles locks open upon emptying the magazine, and the bolt release is located on either side of the lower receiver, but uses a captured lever on the right side of the rifle to aid in leverage to easily release the bolt after loading a fresh magazine.
There is a picatinny rail across the top of the rifle for sight mounting, and there are several points on the rifle for attaching slings with a hook or other attachment. The Defender handguard features M-Lok slots at three, six, and nine o’clock for attaching additional accessories.
I have seen Keltec firearms for years and had many opportunities to handle them. So when the RDB case arrived I wasn’t particularly surprised by its contents. I picked the RDB up from its case, and cleared it for inspection. I shouldered the rifle to give it a feel, it was then that I noticed it was lighter than I had anticipated, six-point-seven pounds according to Keltec. This was a pleasant discovery.
I played with the rifle for a few minutes to get a full understanding of its operation and features, and then I stared at it for a bit. At first I thought it appeared like a high school or college engineering class had drawn this thing in Solid Works, but the more I looked the more I could see what they were working at. The bullpup balance was like most others I’ve held, balanced right at the grip area. I again ran the charging handle a few times, the handle can be pulled to the rear and lifted into a locked position to leave the action open. But the ejection port being on the bottom, there isn’t really a place to inspect.
I wanted to try out the trigger, which for many bullpups is famously terrible. To my surprise the trigger was not bad, the first stage gave way to a solid wall that broke clean and firmly. So firmly in fact I almost immediately felt the desire to open up the rifle and see what was making such a significant strike when I pulled the trigger. Internal inspection showed a very curious design, both the hammer and trigger mechanisms were far from what I’d imagined.
The hammer itself is not unlike a turkey wishbone, with two legs coming together at the top to form a hammer anvil. The hammer splits around the magazine well, and the sear/connecting linkage travel all the way up to the trigger group itself. The whole thing is quite interesting, and explains why the trigger feels so good compared to other bullpups.
While inside I noticed the very short bolt carrier. The bottom ejection requires the bolt-face to travel far enough behind the magazine as to allow spent cases to clear the magazine and trigger parts. The short bolt and firing pin are similar to most other semi-auto bolt designs, with a rotating bolt guided by a cam-pin that also locks into the receiver guide rails as it goes into battery.
With fresh perspective, I reassembled the rifle and went to work preparing it for a range session. The rifle had come with set of Magpul flip up sights, but I also added a Sig Sauer Romeo RDS. I was surely going to try the rifle suppressed as well, to see how the adjustable gas system could accommodate the difference.
On the Range
Once on the firing line, with some thirty-round magazines I loaded the RDB and prepared to fire. Initial ergonomics were not bad, the rifle fit me well. The charging handle on the left side of the rifle was easy to find blindly and provided plenty of purchase. With an easy click of the safety I was in business. Recoil was just what I expected from a 5.56 caliber bullpup, not bad at all. The spent shells began to pile up neatly on the ground in front of me. When my first magazine went empty, it was time to try out the reloading controls of the rifle. Stuffing magazines through the rifle and doing lots of reload drills taught me a couple things about the RDB. It could use a more flared magwell, as it seemed a little bit of a stickler to get the magazine stabbed in properly. The magazine release worked better than I had anticipated, almost too good. I have long heard of people complaining that the mag release is too easy to inadvertently drop the magazine while maneuvering the rifle. And it proved to be so for me as well, a slight miscalculated move of the shooting hand can drop your magazine from the rifle. The bolt release took some time to get used to as well, reaching back and hitting it with my right thumb seemed to be the best option. I’m sure with some training it could become second nature. Cross training on different rifle platforms doesn’t hurt anyone, and its a bit of a pet peeve of mine when bullpup haters act as though a slight retraining in operation somehow renders a gun “useless” in their opinion. Continue Reading Here…
One of the biggest questions when buying a suppressor, is selecting one out of the hundreds of options. I’ve been through a bunch at this point in my life, so let me shed some light on the subject for you. What caliber? what configuration? And so many other questions you’ll be asking yourself. With so many options how can you pick one that is best for your purposes? The right answer is that there are always too many good choices to pick only one, but today we are going to look at the subject as a first time suppressor buyer, and a suppressor that might just cover all your bases.
Why the YHM R9?
What makes the YHM R9 a perfect can for an NFA Greenhorn? I’ll get right into it. Todays gun owners come from every walk of life, our modern world has given them overwhelming opportunities for firearms and accessories. That said, there’s a good chance that most firearm enthusiasts looking into a suppressor probably have an Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) of one kind or another. That rifle is probably chambered in the extremely popular 5.56, or one of the other calibers that are growing in popularity like 300blk, 6.5G, 6 ARC, etc.
The R9 from YHM is ideal for using with any of these calibers, it can suppress large frame cartridges too, like the 6.5 Creedmoor and 308 Winchester. It is rated to suppress pretty much anything under 308 Winchester really, even with limited amounts of full auto. But Wait! There’s more! The R9 is also a perfect fit for a 9mm pistol or carbine, it’s stainless construction is more than enough to retain pressures generated by the cartridge, and other 9mm rifle cartridges like the 350 Legend.
The way I see it, it is pretty damn likely that your apprentice level prospective suppressor purchaser would benefit greatly with an R9. One could swap it back and forth from various rifles, and install a booster and run it on their Glock as well.
YHM is one of many manufacturers that has embraced the uniformity of threads. The threaded rear end of the R9 can be fitted with a direct thread cap (1/2-28 or 5/8-24), or it can fit a Nielsen booster assembly and run with one of various piston manufacturers. It doesn’t end there, it can also use YHM’s Phantom QD system, which allows rapid swapping of the suppressor from various YHM muzzle devices. Further still, the can uses the same threads as other major manufacturers like Dead Air and SilencerCo, so you could also install those devices. I have all three options for my R9, I have both thread caps that I use when shooting the R9 on my precision guns, and I also have the QD mount so I can swap it back and forth on my carbines as well. I run a Rugged suppressors piston inside my Nielson Booster assembly, which makes my Canik TP9 quiet and smooth as ever I could ask.
The R9 is only threaded on the breach end, the rest of it’s construction is solid baffles welded together making it simple and no non-sense. The provided tools allow the user to tighten down the various assorted mounting options, and perhaps more importantly disassemble them after being used.
Shooting with the YHM R9
The very first shots I fired through the R9 were with my pistol. It was the first mounting adaptor in my possession so I went straight to the range to try it out.
The R9 tamed all the sounds produced by my pistol, adding of course its due weight and a bit of added backpressure. But the heavier muzzle sure made the pistol smooth and even more controllable. Shooting the pistol in closed quarters was very tolerable, the sound reduction was everything I’d hoped for, and the function was flawless.
Shortly thereafter I received the 5/8-24 direct thread adaptor, and the R9 went straight to my SRS M2 chambered in 6mm GT. It stayed there for quite some time, hundreds of rounds sent through the R9 from fifty to seventeen-hundred yards. The accuracy of the rifle was if anything enhanced by the presence of the R9, this is typical in my experience. Cartridges like the 6mm GT were easily suppressed by the R9, making precision even more pleasant.
The QD mount for the R9 is perfect for running the suppressor back and forth between rifles. I ran the Phantom flash hider on my 308 carbine threaded 5/8-24. and on my 5.56 chambered carbine I use the Phantom Turbo 556 muzzle brake. This made it easy to swap the R9 back and forth between the two rifles, both of which sounded great when suppressed with the R9. With the gas turned down a notch on both rifles, they functioned perfectly without gassing me out at the breach.
First or Fifth?
Ya, I said first or fifth. The reason I put it that way is because even though I have a dozen or so cans at any given time, the R9 is still an excellent addition to my collection. It is very useful on better than half of my gun collection, and with an MSRP of only $494.00 it is pretty economical compared to many other cans.
I’m at a point in life where I seldom go places without a rifle, and much of the time I have two or three rifles. Having an additional suppressor that will fit most of my rifles makes it an easy choice for me.
If my positivity is hasn’t been obvious enough about my feelings about this little suppressor, let me make it clear; I think this is the perfect suppressor for a first time NFA victim. It has everything most people need, multi-caliber, adaptable, tough as nails, and all at a very reasonable price. If I had to say something about the R9 that I dislike, you’d really have to force it out of me. The only issue I’ve ever had was keeping the thread caps tight, this was almost certainly due to me not tightening them on using the supplied tools as I’m a lazy ass. But I wouldn’t put that at the feet of the boys over at YHM.
So there you have it, the R9 is nearly a flawless purchase in my opinion. Short from needing magnum capabilities or a bunch of machine guns you need to suppress, this is an excellent suppressor for your typical firearms consumer. Best get yourself one.