Comparing the IMI Barak and the IWI Barak

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I was recently able to procure two Barak handguns – one an early IMI model, and the other a later IWI model. I have been working on the assumption that the IWI model is a redesign of the IMI model, and not some sort of parallel variant that no one has ever heard of.

I’ve field-stripped both in an effort to determine what differences are between them.

The frames are mostly the same. The IMI model has a second pin over the trigger, and I have no idea what it’s doing. The IWI model is missing that pin, so they must have a different way of holding that particular piece in.

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Otherwise, the only difference seems to be the logos. The mechanics, including the triggers, felt pretty much the same. Even the mold injection marks were in the same places.

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The slides, however, have more apparent differences.

First, the IMI recoil springs are of coiled/twisted-together wire, most commonly associated with AK hammer springs. The IWI recoil springs are the more traditional piano wire springs. Using a twisted wire spring on a recent-design handgun is an odd design choice, so I’m not too shocked they moved away from that. Perhaps the original designer thought that the twisted-wire springs were more reliable and resistant to failure? Slide pull seemed about the same.

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Second, the slide serrations are different. The IMI slide has many serrations close together (Browning Hi-Power style), whereas the IWI serrations are farther apart (Jericho style). In use, I like the IWI serrations better.

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Third, the rear sights are radically different. The IMI slide has the infamous “hump” with fixed rear sights. The IWI has a dovetailed traditional rear sight (not sure if this is Jericho dimensions?). Both utilize a 3-dot system, and I suppose the IWI slide has the advantage that you could install tritium sights later on. On the other hand, I really did like the IMI sights a bit more… they seemed to be slightly faster, for whatever reason.

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Finally, the decocker button is much larger on the IWI model than the IMI model. There is probably no real difference here if you’re not carrying in condition 1 – either you’re carrying it cocked-and-locked, in which case the decocker won’t function, or you’re carrying it loaded-and-decocked, in which case hitting the decocker by accident won’t do anything. In theory, you can carry the Barak safely in condition 1, but I’d be nervous to do so – no trigger or grip safety.

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Besides the rear sight change, none of these differences are too big a deal. As I’ve stated before, my suspicion is that these were a transitional model to span the gap from the Barak to the Jericho B.

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