8 Aug 12

International trends, from a friend in Israel:

“American-made M16s and variants are still the mainstay here, but our locally-made Tavor is now gradually replacing the M16, at least in our special-forces brigades.

The bullpup Tavor Rifle (TAR21) is designed and manufactured by IMI (Israeli Military Industries).

Until several years ago, rear echelons got Uzis. Front lines got locally-made Galils (our copy of the Kalashnikov) and M16s. Now, the only Galils I ever see are carried by interior guards.

What gave the Tavor a boost was a significant deal with India. Singapore, Vietnam, and several South American nations have also bought them.

Our Tavor is starting to replace AKs, worldwide!”

Comment: I remember seeing photos of soldiers all over the world carrying M1 Garands and M1 Carbines for several decades after the end of WW2. They were plentiful and functional.

Most were eventually replaced with Kalashnikovs. The ubiquitous AK was manufactured in many countries and copied by the Israelis and South Africans, among others. It still sees regular service in many parts of the world.

American-made M16s are also seen, but only in the USA and places where the USA has had influence, like Israel, who were supplied with them at essentially no cost.

Now, the title of international “top rifle” is up for grabs, with contenders like the French FAMAS, the British SA80, the Chinese QBC95, and of course the Israeli Tavor in competition. The SA80 is fraught with problems and not popular, even in the UK. The FAMAS enjoys a good local reputation, but is rarely seen outside France. Thus far, the Chinese have not marketed their QBC95 aggressively. The M16/M4 is surely functional, but now generally looked upon as “old technology.” Thus far, gas-piston versions have not caught on.

So, the aggressively-marketed Tavor is rapidly gaining market share.

Markets and international politics are as unpredictable as ever, so the issue is far from settled. However, in the short term, it appears the Israelis have a winner!