IWI Tavor TS12 Shotgun

Cardboard box full of gauge

IWI has always been one of the leaders in innovation, but this week it has gone into overdrive. We got our hands on the Tavor TS12 Shotgun, which is unlike anything else you have ever seen. Now first glance is not going to sit well with the traditionalist crowd, for certain. If we are being honest, it does look like a Buck Roger’s space gun, perhaps tossed in the blender with the old H&K G11 for good measure. But, even our M-16’s looked flakey compared to the battle rifles they replaced, so you have to keep a bit of an open mind.

Choke tube compatible with cylinder bore in the box.

The Tavor is a bullpup design, which lends itself to some unique strengths. Now I am not generally a bullpup fan when it comes to rifles, though they are popular. I issue a waiver to shotguns though, for a couple of reasons. First of all, if we don’t want to bother with a tax stamp, a shotgun has to be 18 inches long. Unlike the 16 inches required of a rifle, because the law is dumb. So while that two inches isn’t everything, it is nice that our Tavor packs an 18.5 barrel into an overall length of 28.34 inches. For comparison, a Remington 870 with a comparable barrel is 38.5 inches long.

Hull making made easy.

Second, I don’t usually get down with bullpup rifles because it slows the speed of a reload. Maybe you can correct that with extensive training, but I don’t see it. However, shotguns are already slower to load, so you don’t lose much by going to a bullpup. And as we will see in a minute, the Tavor is a unique snowflake in that regard as well. The reloading method on this bad boy is nothing short of ingenious.

Tested with Trijicon MRO

So our space gun TS12 is a semi-automatic, with a short stroke gas piston method of action. Despite the overall large size (10.23 inches tall), it only weighs 8 pounds. The venerable 870 weighs 7.5, to give you a frame of reference. Out of the box, the TS12 feels like all that weight is centered over the pistol grip, for a kind of reward center of balance. Loading it up, however, corrects that to a more even feel.

Gas settings selector lever

Then we get into the wild part. The TS-12 is chambered for either 2 ¾ inch or 3-inch shells, which is excellent for a tactical shotgun. But if we go with 2 ¾ length, we have an overall capacity of 15. How you ask? Magic. And some out of the box thinking by IWI.

Closed bolt, with bolt release button

The grip area for your support hand is a tube that holds the shells, nothing outlandish about that. But if you noticed it is triangular in shape, there is a reason. Because the tube is actually three tubes, that rotate in either direction. At 5 rounds per tube, we get 15+1. Or 4 for tube, if you opt to run some big boy 3-inch turkey shells.

Round in the tube, finger on shell release button.

And it doesn’t offer just great capacity. To me, it really then helps exploit the biggest strength of the shotgun. The ability to use a variety of round types, depending on the situation. For LE, you could have a tube of CS, a tube of bean bags, and a tube of rubber shot. For tactical situations, you could run two of buckshot, and one of slugs. With a little bit of practice, it is pretty easy to be able to select on the fly. Like all shotguns, you still have to burn or eject the round in the pipe. But it does offer some flexibility that is category unique.

Unloading made easy

When it comes to loading, IWI also batted one out of the park. The TS12 features loading ports on either side, so you don’t have to rotate the tube around in a circle to get them all back to topped off. The ports are also located in an easy to reach spot that is instinctive to use. Unique that I have seen among tactical shotguns, you don’t even need to take it out of your shoulder to gas it up. Pretty cool.

Barrel nut removed

The pistol grip/ trigger assembly looks a little odd, but it does work well. The front bit acts as both a knuckle protector and a trigger guard. It is on the big side, but you don’t even notice when using the shotgun. At the front of the trigger guard is the release to rotate the magazine tube, which is easily reachable with your trigger finger. The trigger itself is pretty fantastic. It isn’t custom shop 1911 good, but it is a far cry better than most of the shotguns I pick up.

Two mag tubes visible with bolt disassembled.

The front of the housing is M-Lok compatible, so no worries about space for flashlights and lasers. The top is one continuous Picatinny rail, which is important for this gun. It doesn’t ship with iron sights, and the bullpup design means you would be better off with a red dot anyway. We chose the Trijicon RMR, and I would recommend it highly.

Buttstock disassembly button

Despite a relatively lightweight, IWI did a good job on the recoil mitigation system. Even though the action happens four inches from your shoulder, the TS12 eats most of the recoil for you. It isn’t the lightest recoiling 12 gauge on the market, but it was more comfortable than I expected.

Tested with an absolute gaggle of brands of ammunition!

So that is a lot of good, is there some bad? Unfortunately, this time, yes. Reliability, in my opinion, is a factor with this gun. I gave it more than a fair shake, but I’m still not 100% confident in the TS12. This is how it went.

Fore end removed

I do not normally shoot a review gun before I turn the camera on. But I have some friends in the industry that have also reviewed the TS-12, and they all said it required a break-in. So I went out to see for myself. Now granted, during break-in, I only had a lighter load of Federal Grand on hand. And the manufacture recommends a minimum of 1200 feet per second, with a 1 1/8th ounce load. My break in ammo was a bit lighter, so I had failures around 10% of the time across 200 rounds.

Bolt removed from firearm

In the modern era, it is actually kind of odd for a firearm to need a break-in. But it isn’t unheard of, so I would have been willing to forgive everything in that 200 rounds as irrelevant. But today, I went out with 6 brands of ammo, all well past the 1200 fps 1 1/8th threshold. And I still had failures about 1 out of 15, or 1 out of 10 on some occasions. I would also forgive a shotgun for not eating birdshot at all, as birdshot is a training only round in the tactical world. But the TS12 still had failures with high brass buckshot, which does not give me warm fuzzies.

Tool-less field stripping

Was the failure rate so high that the TS12 is a complete wash? No. And maybe, with a longer 400-500 round break-in, it becomes near 100%. But that is kind of hard to stomach in an ammo crunch, I’m sure you would agree. So while the TS12 is cool, and has some outstanding innovation, it isn’t what I would consider combat reliable. Should you still get one? Well, that is very much a personal decision. But if you do, it shouldn’t be your bump in the night gun until you have tested the hell out of it yourself.

Second piece of buttstock being removed.

For more information visit IWI website.

Buy a Tavor on GunsAmerica Today!

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • richard September 25, 2020, 1:17 pm

    As always, I appreciate the detailed and practical review.
    Regarding the “forest management” comment in the beginning of the video however, I’d like to point out that of the 33 million acres of forested land in california , only 3% is owned by the state and rest is federally owned or private/ corporate/ land trust owned .
    In washington , 12% is state owned, with 43% owned by feds and 36% in private ownership.
    Of the 30 million acres in oregon, 34% is private/corporate owned ,tribal is 3% and the state has less than 25% ownership. The the feds own the rest.
    Just sayn’

  • Matthew Luckey September 25, 2020, 11:58 am

    I really enjoy Clay’s honest reviews! Simple and straightforward. It makes me crazy as a lefty to see modern guns not design ambidextrous weapons.

    • michael September 27, 2020, 8:01 am

      Been shooting left handed all my life, at least 40 years. Little longer. I’m not sure I would feel comfortable shooting a left handed weapon. I find shooting left handed & being right hand dominate to benefit me greatly. I would like to try a left handed rifle sometime just to see how fast it would speed up my game or slow me down. I’m sure at first it may take some getting used to.

  • Zupglick September 25, 2020, 11:12 am

    Just my 2 cents worth.
    Sounds like there is a heating and/or lubrication issue with the weapon.

  • Gary September 22, 2020, 9:11 am

    An honest review!! I sir am impressed!!
    Not so much with the shotgun however..it’s not quite ready for prime time yet.
    Thanks!

  • StreetSweeper September 21, 2020, 1:43 pm

    I will not have ANY gun that I cannot shoot either handed. In a SHTF situation you never know what you will encounter and I practice shooting from both sides.

    • michael e arentz September 27, 2020, 8:21 am

      So why can’t you shoot this with either hand ? Clay did in the video. I would have no issues with either. And it may be possible to switch the charging handle fromm one sidd to the other ? Not sure, but I did see him remove it to change the gas position. Just not sure if it would fit in the other side. Would be nice to know.

  • Stuart B September 21, 2020, 1:16 pm

    I generally love IWI products (have an original Tavor) and was excited when the TS12 was announced. The review doesn’t give me a lot of warm fuzzies about it and the price point? Well, it’s high. I have a KelTec KS7 already that fits this need and was a heck of a lot cheaper. So far so good with it and it’s pump, not semi-auto. Maybe it’s just me but I find semi-auto shotties to be somewhat “shell sensitive.” My Mossberg 930 SPX is the perfect example. It will eat Winchester shells all day with zero problems, but if I throw Federal in it, it jams every few rounds. Never have been able to figure out why and I’m definitely not saying that one is better than the other — just been my experience.

    Still, an intriguing weapon. Love the idea of multiple tubes and loads (similar to KSG). But for home defense (my criteria) if I need more than 8 shells, I have much bigger problems!!

    Thanks for an honest review!

  • Scott September 21, 2020, 12:43 pm

    A buddy bought one. We tested it with 200 various loads, none of them light, although no 3″ either. After a number of stoppages, even after 180+ rounds it seems like a range toy. We did not experience a 10% failure rate though, it was about 5-6%. It liked Federal buckshot more than Winchester. To be fair it may have a few loads that it works really well with and a real test would involve much more than we did but IWI should have done a little more tweaking. We also felt that even with large hands it needed two grabs to rotate a tube unlike the SRM that we can do in one grab. Second guessing is easy but four tubes would have been better right? Maybe could have just used the SRM setup and made it detachable as well?

  • RICHARD J GROENIER September 21, 2020, 11:30 am

    SECOND THE MOTION FOR PRICE INFORMATION. THANKS FOR THE HONESTY REGARDING “HIC UP” CHARACTERISTIC. THIS IS ENOUGH TO STEER ME AWAY FOR NOW. i BELIEVE THAT I WILL STAY WITH MY OLD MOSSBERG 590. WHILE I HAVE NOT HAD TO USE IT TO DISUADE/PERSUADE SOMEBODY IT HAS SEEN SOME FAIRLY CONSISTENT RANGE USE AND NEVER FAILED TO FEED OR FIRE. MAYBE “IWI” WILL TAKE OUR HINT AND STRAIGHTEN OUT THE “HICUP” PROBLEM TO 101% FEEDING AND FIRING.

  • Calisdad September 21, 2020, 9:58 am

    That gun is for righties only. Not properly shouldering the weapon had to factor in on the performance.

  • Andrew Smith September 21, 2020, 9:54 am

    What about the price? I’m amazed at the number of articles on GunsAmerica that simply don’t mention the price. Very frustrating. Gimmie a general ball-park figure if you have to, but let me know what we’re working with. Thanks!

    • Brandon September 21, 2020, 10:07 pm

      It’ll run you about $1400 plus or minus depending on the dealer. I acquired the TS12 back in March and I love it. It does require some breaking in to be 100% reliable. It took about 400-450 rounds to get there for mine. Seems like a lot but it’s worth it to me. This is one amazing firearm. It’s so fluid in handling once you get accustomed to it. Mine happens to like Winchester 2-3/4″ shells the best. You honestly don’t really need a red dot or any sights with this gun unless you’re running slugs. I highly recommend this puppy. Once you shoot one and it’s broken in you’ll love it beyond words.

    • Matt September 21, 2020, 10:33 pm

      About $1500 at the right place.

  • Phillip DeWitt September 21, 2020, 9:31 am

    Think I prefer a 500 or 870 pump so I have a club if I run out of ammo. Plus the 500 can use mini shell’s.

  • TOM September 21, 2020, 9:13 am

    Good, very informative article! Interesting gun, but I don’t do “maybe” it will fire guns. Fix it – then maybe!

  • Jon Dough September 21, 2020, 9:04 am

    thanks for the good review…but I think I’ll keep my KSG thank you….

    BTW; Agulia shortys work fine and 25 will fit in it… LoL

  • Robert Bartelt September 21, 2020, 8:58 am

    I will stick with my Kel-Tek KSC this 12 gauge will run anything. I am very pleased with mine

  • Steve September 21, 2020, 8:53 am

    I picked one up a couple months ago. I’ve put almost 200 rounds through it so far. A mix of slugs but mostly 00 buckshot. Not one jam so far. Used Federal, Winchester and Fiochii loads. I have read a couple articles mentioning reliability issues, but so far haven’t experienced them yet. Hopefully ammo prices and availability will get under control so I can put more through it. It is very fun to shoot!

  • Adam W. September 21, 2020, 8:52 am

    Clay, you mentioned shooting lefty is less than fantastic. I can see in the video you’re holding your face back, or at least not getting your cheek in a normal shooting position. Are the shells hitting you in the face or bouncing off your chest? Either way it looks less than ideal as you said for southpaw shooters. Hoping your injury has you back to the right side of the world soon buddy, but thanks for testing the waters for us lefties!

  • Ace September 21, 2020, 8:51 am

    Clay,

    You lost me at “let’s see if she is going to run today”. No matter how interesting the weapon, will not abide poor reliability at any price.

    Great review. Stay safe.

  • Ken B September 21, 2020, 8:22 am

    Srm1216 blows this thing away. Hold 16+1 (even if it’s 3” shells) and takes detachable mags (quicker loading). I can load a full mag in about 15 seconds, I’m sure it would take atleast a minute to load the Tavor.

  • louis September 21, 2020, 7:42 am

    As most shotguns are set up for right handed people. This is an good example of the abuse for left handers

  • Frank S. September 21, 2020, 7:07 am

    Get the reliability issue solved and this would be a great LE/Special Forces gun for close quarters work! No real sport application, just a shell chewer on the range. Now if it was reliable with Aguilla Mini Shells it would even be better! They are 1300 fps but only 7/8 ounce. But 24 rounds of self-defense loads with 7 #4 and 4 #1 buckshot pellets would be awesome clearing an office building!

  • Ron Franklin September 21, 2020, 6:43 am

    I will stay with my DP12.

  • Leighton Cavendish September 21, 2020, 5:53 am

    I like the honesty about reliability and break-in…sometimes these things gets glossed over or omitted to keep the manufacturer/advertiser happy.
    I have one of these…and it is a neat gun…but be prepared for malfunction drills…you will get really good at it, though.

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