All About Guns Allies War

The IDF Mekut’zar Carbine: The Extraordinary Israeli Improvised Rifle BY Will Dabbs

The IDF Mekut’zar Carbine is a uniquely Israeli weapon. I took this picture in Israel in 2012.

Images like this from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor rightfully conjured a white-hot rage among Americans of the era.

Dark Days In History

Certain dark days are burned into our national consciousness. For our grandparents’ generation, it was December 7th, 1941. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor claimed 2,403 American dead and helped precipitate the bloodiest war in human history.

Every adult who lived it remembers the details of 9/11.

For us, that day was obviously 9/11. On the 11th of September 2001, nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists directed by Osama bin Laden transformed four heavily-laden airliners into massive manned missiles with which to attack our homeland. Three of the planes struck their targets. The fourth was foiled by the valiant passengers onboard the doomed aircraft.

At the end of the day, some 2,977 Americans perished. This egregious terrorist act conflagrated a Global War on Terror that still smolders on more than two decades later.

Dark Days In Israel

On the morning of 7 October 2023, the nation of Israel had their own 9/11. The attack occurred less than a week ago as I type these words, so the details are still a bit fuzzy. Current estimates are that the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas based in the Gaza Strip launched a widespread attack with up to 2,500 heavily armed militants.

In the first 24 hours these maniacal Islamists murdered at least 1,300 Israelis, most of whom were civilians. Many of the victims were actually children. This was the bloodiest day in modern Israeli history. More Jews perished on this one day than had died on any other single day since the Holocaust. The sheer unfettered brutality of the thing shocked the planet.

A Point of Political Privilege…

The Jews are justifiably none too keen on allowing things to come to this again.

I honestly do see both sides to a degree, at least in theory. Six million Jews were institutionally exterminated by the Nazis during World War 2. Many of those who survived made their way to the Middle East and resurrected the historical nation of Israel as a refuge and sanctuary from the hate that nearly wiped them out.

This small piece of dirt, roughly the size of the state of New Jersey, was the only truly safe space in the world for the Jewish people in the aftermath of one of the most efficient and effective genocides in human history.

Hamas’ recent murderous attack on Israeli civilian targets wrecked any pretense of civility in the eyes of the world.

By contrast, I own a small piece of land in Mississippi. If American Indians returned to my farm and took it by force because their ancestors had lived on it two thousand years ago that would upset me.

However, whatever moral capital Hamas and the Palestinian militants might have accrued evaporated the moment they decapitated Israeli infants sleeping in their cribs. That was simply beyond the pale. Hamas showed the world that they are now synonymous with ISIS, themselves the most bloodthirsty mob of psychopaths since Heydrich, Himmler, and Mengele. Anyone who defends Hamas is either delusional or something far worse.

The World Is Holding Its Breath for Israel

At this moment upwards of 150-200 Israelis and assorted foreigners are feared abducted. After a week’s worth of merciless aerial bombardment, the Israeli Defense Forces stand poised to launch a massive ground assault into Gaza with the twofold mission of exterminating the Hamas terrorists and retrieving the hostages. The world is holding its breath to see how it all unfolds.

I shot this picture of a Merkava tank on the side of the road in Israel. The IDF is preparing a ground invasion of Gaza as I type these words.

Unlike conflicts of eras past, we get to watch this one in real-time. The terrorists live-streamed their murderous killing spree as it occurred. IDF troops with helmet cameras produce gritty combat footage that is uploaded as soon as the smoke clears. The rest of the world has a ringside seat to the carnage.

While our hearts break for the innocents on both sides, it is impossible for a true gun nerd to look away. The weapons, equipment, and tactics on display are morbidly fascinating. The Israelis have been fighting without serious respite since 1948. They are, by now, quite adept at the art of war. Their small arms reflect this storied military legacy.

Combat Iron

The Tavor X-95 is a state-of-the-art bullpup combat rifle.

This was typical of the Tavor rifles I encountered in Israel. Note the conventional trigger guard as opposed to the full-length sort on our civilian versions. Also note the ubiquitous application of dummy cords.

One of the common long guns seen in our newsfeeds coming out of Southern Israel is the Tavor X-95 bullpup assault rifle. The GI-issue version sports a 13-inch barrel and an overall length of just 22.8 inches. The Tavor is a combat-proven design that is well-liked by the IDF troops who carry it. However, at 7.3 pounds stripped and empty, the rugged X-95 is undeniably portly.

Loosely based upon the Colt 653 CAR-15, the IDF Mekut’zar Carbine is unique to Israel. The barrel on this homebuilt example is slightly longer than the originals so as to comply with American firearms laws.

The other common rifle seen in our newsfeeds is the M-16 carbine in a bewildering array of forms. Some are standard M4’s with flattop upper receivers and 14.5-inch barrels. Others sport stubby little 11.5-inch tubes. The most fascinating of the lot is a curious home-grown Frankengun they call the Mekut’zar. Mekut’zrar appears to be an alternative form of the term. I fear I don’t speak Hebrew, so I am unable to elaborate. However, I’m told this is simply IDF slang for “CAR-15” or “Shorty.” These locally-produced weapons do not seem to be as common as was once the case, but I have still seen a few in the news in the past week.

Origin Story of the Israeli Carbine

There have been more than ten million Uzi submachine guns produced.

Israel prosecuted their miraculously successful Six Day War in 1967 armed predominantly with the Uzi submachine gun and FN FAL rifle. The Uzi is the most-produced pistol-caliber SMG in history. The FAL is a magnificent piece of iron, but it was designed for service in Europe. In the dusty spaces where the IDF served the FAL suffered reliability problems. The Israeli answer was the Galil assault rifle.

The Israeli Galil was a rugged though expensive combat weapon.

Introduced in 1972, the Galil was a hybrid combat rifle that incorporated the action of the Kalashnikov, the cartridge of the M-16, and the folding stock of the FAL. It was versatile, accurate enough, and as reliable as a tire iron. The Israelis even incorporated a bottle opener into the forearm. The first prototype Galils were built on Finnish Valmet receivers smuggled into the country illicitly.

While the Galil was a superb infantry weapon, it was both fairly heavy and expensive to manufacture. The Israelis needed a lightweight rifle that troops both on duty and off could carry with them while going about their daily routines. In the 1970’s that rifle was the American M-16.

The 1967 Six-Day War represented an astonishing example of Israeli military prowess.

The 1967 Six-Day War was a stunning victory for the Israelis. Their enemies call it “The Setback” to this day. However, the follow-up Yom Kippur War in 1973 was a very iffy thing for the beleaguered IDF. One of the reasons the Israelis prevailed was Operation Nickel Grass.

The Americans gifted untold thousands of M-16A1 rifles to the Israelis.

Nickel Grass was an emergency strategic airlift of American weapons, ammunition, and supplies from US stores to the IDF. Tanks and planes were shipped directly to the war zone, had Israeli insignia painted on, and then went straight into the fight. As part of this massive outpouring of military support, the Israelis received tens of thousands of American M-16 rifles.

The IDF Mekut’zar Carbine has proven to be a popular and effective weapon in the hands of IDF troops. My semiautomatic clone was built up using an XM177E2 from Troy Industries as a foundation. The barrel is roughly three inches longer than that of the GI originals.

The M-16 was lighter, handier, and more accurate than the Galil. As they came from the US as military aid, these rifles were also free. This substantial pool of combat weapons served as a foundation for the Mekut’zar Carbine.

I snapped this picture in Old Jerusalem. These guys used to be everywhere.

Back in the day, IDF troops who were home on leave often carried their weapons with them. Back when I was there in 2012, every decent crowd had a handful of young studs in civilian clothes packing Tavors, M-4’s, or Mekut’zar Carbines. Lamentably, that is apparently not as common today as was once the case. However, to fill the need for a lightweight yet powerful personal defense weapon, Israeli armorers went to work modifying those full-size M-16 rifles into something stubbier.


The collapsible stocks on IDF Mekut’zar Carbines are frequently adorned with a little extra bling like this fancy sling mount.

 The first step was to exchange the fixed stocks of the M-16’s for collapsible versions. Some of those were standard American-made stocks as found on the M-4. Others were Israeli-specific variants. FAB Defense was the most common local source. However, the biggest transformation was in the barrels.

To create the Mekut’zar Carbine, Israeli armorers pruned the 20-inch M-16A1 barrels shown here back to just behind the existing gas block. The front sight base was then relocated rearward to accommodate a carbine-length hand guard.


IDF slings include this nifty little pouch for ear plugs.

IDF small arms are often heavily customized. They all seem to sport electronic optics nowadays. I saw quite a few Trijicon ACOGs as well as a variety of domestic sights from Meprolight. Israeli slings are typically a bit wider than our own to help better distribute the weapon’s weight.

The slings usually have a quick-release feature as well as a pouch to hold earplugs. There are additionally scads of nifty little Velcro and elastic additions all designed to make good guns better.

The weapons I saw in public carried a loaded thirty-round magazine in the magwell and an orange chamber block under the bolt. IDF troops with whom I spoke explained that they were trained to rack the bolt, remove the chamber flag, and have their weapons in action very quickly. Most everything on the weapon, including the magazine, chamber block, and optical sight, was usually secured with a length of dummy cord. is a one-stop shop for all of this cool IDF gun stuff. is the source for genuine IDF weapons accessories. Before the recent war, you could order this gear over the Internet and it would show up over here in a week or two. I have no idea what the situation is today given recent sordid developments.


 Israel is indeed a nation forever at war. Both sides have legitimate grievances, and there are clearly no easy answers. Tragically, the foundations of this current conflict go back millennia and are, at this point, impossible to rectify. However, this recent horror is shocking even by ISIS standards.

The Israelis’ fight is with Hamas, not necessarily with the Palestinian people. However, given the egregious nature of this recent massacre, Hamas as an entity will likely have to die. Barring anything unexpected, I doubt the IDF is going to stop until Hamas is essentially exterminated. As we Americans sit comfortably at home watching the carnage on the news we should all be thankful that such tragedy is not occurring on our own shores. To keep the chaos at bay will no doubt require proper vigilance in the months and years to come. It remains to be seen if our political leaders have the stomach for that.

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