Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) originally attempted a shortened version of its bullpup TAR-21 assault rifle (detailed elsewhere on this site) as the "MATR-21". However, this initiative was ultimately abandoned as attention turned towards an all-new offshoot of the rifle in the "X95". The weapon is a very-compact-version of the original and is recognized as the "Micro-Tavor". Design began in 2003 with service entry arriving in 2009.
Bullpup weapons allow gun manufacturers to utilize a full-length barrel, taking little away from accuracy and range, while promoting a more compact weapon profile as the action sits behind the pistol grip and trigger unit. The result is a well-balanced weapon and a concept steadily growing in popularity where frontline service rifles are concerned (the Austrian Steyr AUG of the late-1970s is one of the earliest examples of a widely-accepted bullpup assault rifle). The X95 follows suit and has become a well-accepted addition to the Tavor rifle family line in its own right.
Internally, the weapon has a gas-operated, rotating bolt action and chamberings vary depending on model in question and range from the ubiquitous 5.56x45mm NATO intermediate round to the popular 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge (though the latter version fires through a blowback, closed-bolt action). The X95 accepts standard 30-round STANAG detachable box magazines (the 9mm form uses a 32-round magazine instead).
Externally, the weapon takes on a conventional bullpup form with the pistol grip at center mass under the rifle body. Aft of this is the oversized shoulder stock, fixed in place, housing the firing action. The forend section is very short and ribbed for a firm grip. A tactical vertical foregrip can also be fitted under this section for a better two-hand hold. The barrel is mostly shrouded by both the forend and the receiver but protrudes just slightly ahead and is capped by a slotted flash hider. An accessories rail is seated over the receiver for mounting optics and laser aimers as needed. Similarly the vertical foregrip can be replaced by an accessory (such as a tactical flashlight) along the available underside rail section.
The primary form of this gun family is the X95 chambered for 5.56x45mm and firing with a 13" long barrel assembly. A Submachine Gun (SMG) model sees the weapon chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge while relying on the same barrel length as the base X95. The X95S, another SMG model, has an integrated sound suppressor for clandestine work and a 10.8" long barrel for compactness. The full-length rifle is the X95L chambered for 5.56x45mm and featuring a 15", 16.5" or 26.4" length barrel. The X95R is another compact model with 13" barrel length in the carbine role. Development of a true NATO rifle-caliber is ongoing and is expected to support the 7.62x51mm NATO full-power cartridge.
Additional notable models include the locally-produced Ukranian offshoot as the Fort-224 (5.45x39mm Soviet cartridge), the local Indian "Zittara" model in 5.56x30mm MINSAS, and the .300 AAC chambered for 7.62x35mm ("300 AAC Blackout").
Since its introduction, the X95 has seen adoption by Angola (Army), Azerbaijan (Army), Colombia (police), India (named "Zittara" and produced by Ordnance Factories Board for issue to police elements) and Ukraine (National Guard). For the Israeli Army, the X95 has been marked as its future standard-issue assault rifle and will feature expanded tactical support for an Under-Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) with revised trigger group and longer barrel (15").