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“The Army has ordered that soldiers may use only government-issued magazines with their M4 carbines,” military.com reports, “a move that effectively bans one of the most dependable and widely used commercial-made magazines on today’s battlefield . . . [The P-MAG’s] rugged design has made it as one of the top performers in the small-arms accessory arena, according to combat veterans who credit the PMAG with drastically improving the reliability of the M4.” Which raises a simple question: why ban it? ‘Cause the U.S. Army has improved its standard-issue aluminium M4 mag and it doesn’t want its supplier facing competition from P-MAG, for one reason or another. Some withering analysis of that idea after the jump . . .

The improved magazine uses a redesigned “follower,” the part that sits on the magazine’s internal spring and feeds the rounds into the M4’s upper receiver. The new tan-colored follower features an extended rear leg and modified bullet protrusion for improved round stacking and orientation. The self-leveling/anti-tilt follower reduces the risk of magazine-related stoppages by more than 50 percent compared to the older magazine variants, PEO Soldier officials maintain. Soldiers are also authorized to use Army magazines with the older, green follower until they are all replaced, the message states.

Military.com asked the Army if the improved magazine can outperform the PMAG, but a response wasn’t received by press time . . .

The same infantryman serving in Southwest Afghanistan had this to say about the new and improved magazine:

“Like any magazine, they work great when they are brand new and haven’t been drug through the dirt and mud. I haven’t noticed much of a difference between these tan followers and the older green ones. After some time training up for the ‘Stan, the same issues started to occur: double feeds, rounds not feeding correctly so on and so on. While it seems to occur about half as often, it’s still not a great solution.

“The magazines still get bent at the opening and are still prone to getting crushed in the middle. I haven’t seen any issues like this with the PMAG due to the polymer casing. I have seen an empty PMAG get run over by a MaxPro [vehicle] and operated flawlessly later that week when we tested it at the range. Last time I saw this happen to a standard issue magazine, it was scrap metal after that.”

51 Responses to Army Bans P-MAGs

    • The magazines are only half the issue the other side is the M4 needs replacement ASAP,, that is why all the old M14 are going back into service .

      • Really? I agree that the M4 is a train wreck, but I hadn’t heard they were issuing the M14 on a large scale. We used to use them as the designated marksman rifle, but that was it.

      • The M4 is a extremely reliable weapon. The M14 is being placed back into service because no other 7.62 NATO caliber rifle is as available as the M14 to serve as a designated marksman rifle.

        In SOCOM, the SCAR H and Mk 20 SSR are being fielded, which are giant leaps forward compared to the M14.

        The problem with M4s is lack of adequate PMIs and lubrication. The military, in its “infinite wisdom” still uses CLP as a lubrication and teaches the fallacy of minimal lube, which dries after prolonged firing (the DI impingement rifle characteristically shoots hotter than gas piston designs). The use of synthetic motor oil, acquired from the motor pool, works miles better.

        • If the M4 is such crap, then how come my brother, and ODA Team leader in AFG, his whole team, and virtually all of the SF operators, Delta, and SEALS I know and have worked with in theater (I’m just a lowly Cavalrymen) tried the SCAR, turned them in (5.56 version, they love the 7.62 version and kept as many as they could), and drew their old M4s. The SCAR may be great, but there is no proof that it is better. I also refer you all to Mike Pannone’s article for defensereview. The M4 is one exceedingly reliable weapon as long as the springs are replaced at the proper interval etc.
          My M4 served me well. It serves my brother well. If you are looking for a maintenance free weapon it just doesn’t exist. If you dump your mags as fast as you can change them out, you are going to melt the barrel on a SCAR as well as the M4. I also urge this thought. In a military facing serious budget problems over the next decade or more, is it wise to replace the hundreds of thousands of M4/M16s for something much more expensive and only marginally better, if it is better at all. I also believe for the average soldier the 5.56 is more than adequate. But that’s a debate for another time.
          Rant over. I do love PMAGS though, and I would bet most Soldiers who have them will keep using them. I applaud the army upgrading the standard mag. But in this case Soldiers should be allowed to use personal PMAGs if for nothing more than piece of mind for 11 bucks.

        • I have no idea. What I do know is that I carried one for 13 years including three deployments and would certainly not choose to carry one again if given the choice. They are objectively less reliable when compared to comparable 5.56 carbines, and the ergonomics are garbage for left handed shooters like me.

  1. Call me crazy, but isn’t it free market competition that spurs product improvement and progress, thus ensuring better future products?

    • I would only ask if your armorer was properly maintaining round counts, and replacing parts as necessary. Generally I know they do not, and quarterly services are hand waived all too often. And if the magazine is the problem, the SCAR uses the same one.
      I don’t disagree with your experience. I and almost every Soldier, have seen m4s fail, just as I have seen every autoloading rifle fail because the perfect Rifle doesn’t exist. But almost every one that failed with one of my Soldiers was improperly maintained or had a bad magazine. It wasn’t that they were too dirty, in fact all too many are over cleaned to pass “white glove inspections,” but improperly lubricated, overdue for services, or rusting from having humid arms rooms etc. These were not the individual Soldier’s fault, but a problem nonetheless. Truth is the Army keeps weapons in service too long even when the phosphating is gone, springs weak, etc. that would be a problem no matter what type of weapon is issued. Even if the weapon is well designed, and individual Soldiers do the right thing, as a two time troop commander in theater, I know that units fail their Soldiers and their weapons with poor maintenance programs all too often. I know, as hard as I tried we were not perfect with our unit level maintenance, and I’m just thankful it never cost one of my Soldiers their life.

  2. Looks like the military’s getting political again, eh? What could be better for our troops… *facepalm*

  3. I am active duty military and my job is in the supply and logistics arena.

    The military is notorious for buying low quality, overpriced equipment because we are locked into a contract or a the vendor has the ear of a congressman or senator. Whenever we want to go procure our own equipment from a separate civilian source we are often told no because it hasn’t passed the “Milspec” test (translation: senator so-and-so has friends (or owns stock) at government contractor Rip-Offs-R-Us and it would hurt their profits and actually make them have to be competitive if we solicited our own suppliers.

    On a lot of things, milspec is a joke.

    The military uses the oldest, most outdated equipment (Special Forces being the exception) because it takes so long to change anything (and because it is cheaper for Rip-Offs-R-Us to produce the older technology and, well, they have the contract until 2020). Yes, some of our tech does seem pretty cool and advanced, but that is only because we use it to blow stuff up.

    Whenever you hear about the latest and greatest new military tech, rest assured the civilian sector has been using it for several years now (and paying half of what we pay for it), just in different applications. There are of course a few things that we have that the civilian sector doesn’t, but not as much as you think. It takes forever to improve anything because of the lengthy acquisition and approval process (made even worse by pencil pushers sticking there nose where it doesn’t belong).

    The army banning P-Mags is just another example of how our political leaders value getting their pockets lined more than providing our troops with the best equipment. I know of many times officers have had to go spend their OWN money to get equipment and training for their troops because big military wouldn’t buy it for them.

  4. PMAGs would be a dead giveaway sticking out from your M4, but PMAG *followers* would be much less conspicuous…

  5. There may be contractual obligations working behind the scenes.

    Here’s the “gotcha” when it comes to public agencies and acquisitions:outside of minor transactions that are mission related, large purchases ( over $100,000 IIRC from my Air Force days as enlisted Finance) HAVE to legally go through a contract process. Because the DoD cannot spend appropriated funds on an item not specifically authorized by Congress on pain of fines and jail time, they have to go through the “contract process” to purchase items. The products selected have to be compared before a mass order will be authorized to ensure no “Fraud, Waste, and Abuse” is happening. As long as the items fit and work and are reasonably alike, the next criterion of selection is who has the lowest bid in order to * save the taxpayers money*.

    Sad as it is to say,quality of product only marginally plays a factor in what actually winds up in DoD stock. If the PMAG is 5 cents more than a competing magazine which works in the lab but falls apart in the field, the PMAG loses the contract on the cost basis. If the contracting office approves the PMAG anyway for the sake of quality, they face fines, dismissal, and jail time for violating Fiscal Law.

    Why is this stupid rule in place, you might ask? Because this way people in government don’t decide that a Lincoln Navigator Luxury SUV has a durability standard above the Fords and Chevys submitted for a government vehicle contract. On one hand, Fiscal Law is written to prevent excesses and abuses of public funds-and its sadly necessary, as plenty of folks make careers out of finding loopholes to buy stupid crap for their bosses under the *current* system . On the other, it frequently disqualifies superior product from use by our military members. If we repeal the rules so that the line guy can get superior hardware, his bosses at the Pentagon will find a way to use the regs to get caviar and limos on the public dime.

    • Unfortunately true in the civilian construction market as well, particularly for government contracts, federal, state or local. The contracts are usually sealed, and the bid goes to the lowest “responsible” bidder. Which means that the winning contractor has inevitably underbid the job to get the contract, and the game is how to find creative ways to create and inflate “change orders.”

  6. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

    This is ridiculous. I can’t believe… wait a minute… RF, you do know it’s not April 1st right?

  7. An active duty Marine that is a well-respected poster on a forum I frequent claims he was witness to a heat-related PMAG failure in a SAW that rendered the weapon inoperable. Take it for what it is worth, (some guy on the internet) but based on his posting history, I tend to believe him.

    • I believe it. I saw a SAW essentially eat a plastic mag. Combo of heat and vibration because it’s a frickin’ machine gun.

      • Right. Then put those same machineguns in a squad full of guys with PMAGS in their chest-rigs…..
        OR, you can give them steel or aluminum bodies mags that you know wont send hot plastic into the action of any of the weapons used by said squad.
        Just sounds like common sense to me.

        • A SAW generally won’t feed more than 2-3 rounds from an aluminum mag. They are supposed to be able to feed from a mag in an emergency, but in practice they don’t work. They are normally belt fed.

          The only time I’ve ever seen a SAW go through a whole AR mag without choking was using a P-Mag.

        • @Mark

          Most people just don’t push it in far enough (that’s what she said). I’ve had ok results with the standard metal mags – but getting them out again was not easy.

        • The M249 SAW uses a 30 round mag as a backup. I understand that the military wants their calibers and equipment to be as compatible with as many weapon systems as possible.

          The flip side? The PMAG is way more reliable than the old aluminum 30 rounder. I’m basing that on my own personal shooting experience, as well as my experience with the SAW, M4, and my personal DI and piston AR’s. I hope soldiers and Marines in the field give this order every bit of respect it deserves, and file it next to the latrine.

          I have the same issue with the Army’s disdain for alternate calibers like the 6.8 SPC or 300 AAC – which are exactly what I would want as a general / CQB round and as a suppressed round, respectively. In an LWRC platform. But I digress…

    • first of all, PMAGs feed extremely reliably in the M249. Second, the SAW is not to supposed to use a magazine unless in a emergency. You are exceeding the engineering of the PMAG to begin with. It is designed for rifles.

  8. Lets play the old time honored game”Follow The Money”! It would be interesting to find out who the stock holders are and what the pentagon/congress connections are.

  9. Right at about 01:39 I was thinking “they should do a burnout on them”.

    Wish granted. 🙂

  10. It has less to do with money directly lining the pockets of Pols than the power of office. If a company in Congressman X’s district has the contract and then loses it to a competitor. The company has to lay off people and/or goes out of business. The Congressman will not be re-elected. That is all Pols care about. The power first and the money associated with it second.

    Military brass want a VP position in a large defense company. And the power and money that come with it.

  11. I’m not sure which I find more outrageous – this, or what happened with Dragon Skin armor that our servicemembers bought with private money that they were forced to relinquish and was then destroyed.

  12. There is one real reason I can see the military banning the p-mag. Cost, you can get 2-3 gi mages for the cost of 1 p-mag. Other then that there is no real reason. Just my two cents worth.

  13. I used PMAGs on my last three deployments without issue. Though to be fair being an O5 on the last two, its not like I slung a whole bunch of lead down range. I do have some SF friends who don’t like them, but they use PMAG followers in aluminum mags.

    The only thing I don’t like about them is that its tough to get two of them into a two magazine pouch or snap the top on a one magazine pouch.

  14. It’s probably much simpler than everyone else is thinking. A magazine is a disposable item in combat, it can be thrown out as quickly as it can be purchased. Not to say people don’t save them, but that doesn’t matter. In the eyes of congress, buying PMAGS is wasteful spending. Why buy another magazine, from a third party vendor, for more money, when the military owns the rights to it’s own magazine???

    Not saying the PMAG isn’t better, that doesn’t matter. It’s all about how the finances can be squeezed so we aren’t over budget. Or at least in our case, less over budget.

  15. Eh. Just try to enforce what thousands of infantryman are carrying. Won’t happen. They also have extremely strict and seriously worded prohibitions against befriending local dogs, but I don’t know a battalion yet that doesn’t have a dog or two over seas.

  16. If the M4 is such crap, then how come my brother, and ODA Team leader in AFG, his whole team, and virtually all of the SF operators, Delta, and SEALS I know and have worked with in theater (I’m just a lowly Cavalrymen) tried the SCAR, turned them in (5.56 version, they love the 7.62 version and kept as many as they could), and drew their old M4s. The SCAR may be great, but there is no proof that it is better. I also refer you all to Mike Pannone’s article for defensereview. The M4 is one exceedingly reliable weapon as long as the springs are replaced at the proper interval etc.
    My M4 served me well. It serves my brother well. If you are looking for a maintenance free weapon it just doesn’t exist. If you dump your mags as fast as you can change them out, you are going to melt the barrel on a SCAR as well as the M4. I also urge this thought. In a military facing serious budget problems over the next decade or more, is it wise to replace the hundreds of thousands of M4/M16s for something much more expensive and only marginally better, if it is better at all. I also believe for the average soldier the 5.56 is more than adequate. But that’s a debate for another time.

  17. There was a major that did a study on the M4 reliability, and he concluded that going to the P-Mag was one of the best things we could do. Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced it. What we need more than anything else is to replace the 5.56 cartridge.
    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA512331&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf
    But that’s not going to happen for a number of reasons – first of all cost and second, all of NATO would have to agree. Won’t happen.

    • Opps. This is the article. “There are four primary causes of malfunctions in the M4/M16. They are first, worn/unserviceable magazines, followed by a lack of proper lubrication, then worn parts, specifically the components of the bolt, and finally dirty ammunition.” See pages 39-40. “All combat arms units should consider replacing their standard issue magazines with the much more reliable PMAG.” See p. 44.

  18. You guys are thinking too hard. The real reason it was banned is because we don’t want to show that Army issue stuff is inferior thus forcing Joe to buy something else. We have to show “faith” that our issued gear works and that Joe isn’t forced to spend his own money to complete the mission.

  19. hhmmm
    Follow orders and have a gun that jams or disobey orders with a modified mag or straight up P-Mag and stay alive…
    I think I would do that later…

  20. I know a ton of guys that carry the PMags. I have a full kit of the Lancer L5AWM mags and no one’s said a peep to me about this policy.

  21. Sorry to hear our troops won’t be allowed to have them but the good side is there will be lots of surplus PMags on the market for us civilians (maybe at good prices).

  22. Funny how PMAGS have NSNs (NSN: MAG211-BLK MAGAZINE, CARTRIDGE 1005-01-576-5159) and all, so obviously the Army is talking about some other magazine that isn’t provided by the government. Or the people who write these decrees at DA have severe rectal-cranial inversion. Your guess is as good as mine.

  23. friends-there is only one reason why the Army (my former employer) banned PMAGS. The reason is because the company that has made the crap aluminum issue mags does not want any competition from Magpul or any other company that manufactures quality M4 type mags.
    Also, as stated earlier, the M4 is very reliable. Quality oil and a toothbrush will keep your Carbine running like a dream.
    It’s all about the War Profiteers friends. Battleships, planes, rifles, toilet paper, MRE’s, boot laces, Velcro and aluminum magazines.

  24. Another thought: I guarantee that the reserve component won’t be seeing the new improved issue magazines for quite some time–my unit is still rocking the M-16A2–but the PMAG ban applies to us immediately. Nice.

  25. Everybody is missing the point! The AR wasn’t designed to handle 30 rd magazines. The squared feed well is designed to accept SQUARED BOX mags as in 20 rounders not the odd shaped 30 rounders that have an unnatural curve, which is the real problem you see! As bad as the old Colt metal 20 rds mags were THEY STILL WORKED! I only use 20 rd box mags, and only buy the Magpul 20 rounders now. They feed, they dont crack or crush, and drop free at push of a button. And I got mine on sale at $9 each. Usse these and the problems go away.

  26. Just pick up an ak of a dead Taliban or Anp much more reliable and the army doesn’t make a ghetto ass unreliable mag for it. Glad I’m not going back to afghanistan anytime soon gl

  27. Don’t you all worry too much. I’d sooner stop a blow job mid progress than I would stop my soldiers from carrying PMAGs in theatre and I am sure most other leaders would agree.

  28. We have had good responses from overseas soldiers using the Surefire 60 round magazines we have sold. The 100 round is just plain cumbersome but I guess it has a cool factor for civilians as an option to beta drum magazines.

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