Israel Weapon Industries: From British Beginnings To Modern Global Protector

posted on June 4, 2022

The British army occupied Jerusalem in late 1917. Great Britain’s Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour explained at the time the decision was, “…to favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Some argue the move had ulterior motives, although there’s no debate over the benefits reaped by a 1933 mandate out of London.

British authorities that year demanded firearm manufacturing begin in the territory. In response, the Israel Military Industry was established and quickly began gun production. It was a strategic move that paid off when English troops left in 1948, the year Israel officially became a nation.  

That status has been challenged militarily since then, with the tiny country more often than not outmanned. The success of its troops through multiple conflicts was no accident, though. It’s a product of the close collaboration between the Israel Military Industry and Israeli Defense Force that began in the 1950s—a concerted effort to improve on and develop cutting-edge small arms.

The Uzi, Tavor, X95, Galil ACE and Jericho are just a few of the results. The company’s guns are now fielded by some of the finest militaries and law enforcement agencies across the globe.

In 2005, the small arms division was spun off and privatized by the Israeli government, creating Israel Weapon Industries (IWI). Eight years later, IWI US was established to answer enthusiast demand in the United States.

To say the response has been a warm one is an understatement. By 2014, the Tavor SAR claimed one of American Rifleman’s coveted Golden Bullseye Awards. Business grew fast, and in 2015, the North American Sporting Goods Wholesalers Association named IWI USA its Importer of the Year.

The company shows no signs of slowing, either. The Tavor X95 bullpup and Galil ACE in either 7.62x39 mm or 7.62 NATO became available in the U.S. in 2016. Both are popular choices among enthusiasts.

American Rifleman’s detailed review of the Tavor 7 describes a performance standard throughout the company’s line. “The Tavor’s close association to the IDF’s issued service rifle inspires confidence of not only having a unique platform, but also one that works as advertised. Many will find the Tavor 7 desirable due to its compactness, reliability and hard-hitting terminal punch. This is a combination that's hard to argue against.”


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