On the Army’s new “Tan” Improved Magazines

LTC Chris Lehner of PEO Solider wrote a comment on the blog that I thought deserved its own post. He addresses the issue of why the Army did not just adopt one of the existing anti-tilt follower designs instead of developing their own.

LTC Lehner here. My program office is responsible for the development, production, and fielding of the Improved Magazine (tan follower) along with all the pistols, shotguns, grenade launchers, sniper weapons, rifles/carbines, and even airburst weapons that our Army uses.

Hotgun, you are on target! Our Improved Magazine has been thoroughly tested in every environmental condition for the last several years. We have fired 40,000+ rounds through them, filmed their performance with high speed cameras, and did things to them to try and make them fail. Bottom line, these Improved Magazines offer a 50% reduction in the risk of a magazine related weapon stoppage over our previous Green follower magazines. P-mag, H+K, and others may have “tested” their magazines, but no one has the resources to test the way we do. When an Improved Magazine is fielded from my office (along with all the other kit we provide) there is a commitment and promise to our Soldiers that it will serve them extremely well in combat. The other manufactures of magazines (commercial magazines) usually will not or can not make this promise because of all the unknowns their magazines will face in battle.

As a side note, our Improved Magazines (with the tan, anti-tilt, follower) were developed a few years before similar magazines hit the market. The reason our magazines are only now available is due to the extensive testing regime we must put all of our equipment through. And it is a good thing we do, because there are many commercial magazines that our soldiers bought “off the shelf” that are starting to give them problems. More on this in the future.

For all Soldiers in OIF or OEF, be sure to keep your eyes open for the Armed Forces Network (AFN) Infomercial due out at the end of this month. You will actually learn valuable information on your Improved Magazine and where they are being issued in theater. Also you can log onto the PEO Soldier Web site to learn more about the magazine, new weapons, night vision devices, and body armor that we are fielding. Thank you for your time and keep up the fight!

Chris Lehner
PM Individual Weapons

Read more about the Improved Magazine here.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Concerned_Soldier

    Hell Yeah, tell’em Sir!!!

    Don’t you wish you could be the guy who gets to do the testing!!!

    What a great job, pull the trigger until it stops going bang!! Sign me up!!



  • Why do you keep typing “POE” for “PEO”? Have you been hanging out with General Ripper again?

  • SpudGun

    What a very well worded press release from LTC Lehner, it does a great job in bolstering the confidence of the soldier regarding the new magazines.

    Not sure why he singled out H&K mags as not being thoroughly tested in combat environments, I was led to believe differently.

    Oh well, I’m sure the Magpul fanboys will be screaming ‘P-Mags are the new Dragonskin! The Army are covering up the truth!’.

  • Beaumont

    It’s interesting that LTC Lehner felt the need to respond in such detail.
    I certainly don’t doubt that the Individual Weapons office has the ability to test so extensively, but Lehner goes further by making claim that their magazines were developed before improved commercial magazines were. As always, refutation can be found in documentation. Let’s see the paperwork.

  • Retardo, no reason other than maybe a bug in my brain. Thanks, I have fixed the typos.

  • SpudGun, I didn’t read it as singling out.

  • DaMan

    is he trying to say that pmags are shit?

  • Zach

    I’m not buying this defense of the new mags, for several reasons.

    First off, 40,000 rounds is not much testing at all. I know trainers who shoot that much in one month or less. If they were serious about this they could have done 40,000 rounds of testing in a week or so.

    He claims that this magazine revision was designed years before the commercial competition. That would mean it was designed and in testing by around 2001 or so. REALLY? Are you kidding me? You sat on and slowly, slowly, slowly tested this design for 9 years while we had troops fighting two wars? I sure wouldn’t want to be you at a meeting of Iraq/Afghanistan infantry veterans.

    If you think the commercial players don’t have equal testing capabilities – a claim of which I’m a bit skeptical – why didn’t you just buy up some of their mags on the commercial market and TEST THEM YOURSELF with the same criteria. Oh my, we couldn’t do that! No, no COTS option would be at all tolerable! This is the US Army, and we do things in-house, even if it means using incredibly dated weapon systems while the USMC and various army soldiers who want to see their families again try out the new options. I continue to think this is an extreme example of the not-invented-here syndrome.

    And the vague claim that COTS options fail doesn’t hold up. Yes, issues with the H&K mags are fairly well known at this point. But several other options, in particular the Pmags and the Lancer L5 mags (which don’t seem to have a fanboy club, but are at least as good) are in widespread use not only by civilians but also by police and trainers who have full-autos and short-barreled rifles that put as much stress on the mags as the army-issue M4. Yet those trainers and SWAT teams have largely converted to one of those newer COTS options. Sure, those mags eventually break – so do USGI mags. All the mags intended for the M16/M4/AR15 eventually break. The Pmags hold up extremely well for 1000’s of rounds before they do break, which is not something that can be said equally for USGI mags.

    So, please answer me this:
    -why did your testing process take so incredibly long?
    -what year and month was this mag fully engineered and put into testing?
    -did you test any of the COTS options in a fair comparison? If not, why not?

  • zack

    They honestly can keep their new mag. I have used Pmags with 100% reliability over seas and for them not to test other magazines already on the market is a huge waste of tax dollars.

  • JKEverett

    Still not sure why they picked a tan color. Why not something slightly more visible?

  • Xstang

    H+K not being tested? Right. Overpriced, for sure, but if anyone believes the part about testing, just watch this:

  • SpudGun

    ‘P-mag, H+K, and others may have “tested” their magazines, but no one has the resources to test the way we do.’

    I know that several military forces rely on H&K magazines and that they have been thoroughly tested in combat – so what other tests do the US Army do that no else can? – Send them into orbit on the Space Shuttle? Cover them in Buffalo Wing sauce? Make them watch Oprah?

    I think LTC Lehner was trying to use a bit of brand association to say that the new magazines could compete with the market leaders in terms of quality and reliability. This assumption, of course, remains to be seen.

    As an old military friend once said to me ‘If you want to break something, give it to a soldier.’

  • Lance

    Im proud of you Steve you got top military officals giving you data and info. your site is now top notch. I do think the new tan and older greens are far better than origanal black mags and I think its a good upgrade.

    As for spudgun. Dragons skin armor was proven inferior to the newist blastic armor the army feilds they even sued the maker of dragons skin armor and won over a definmation lawsuit. Dont beleave every thing you hear on the news.

    As for you guys who are made because Pmags wernt adopted. To bad they are too expensive for a military contract period. $30-40+ bucks for a Pmag.

    • Lance, thanks 🙂

  • larry weeks

    CS – Development testing no doubt involved holding guns in all sorts of places and positions and pulling the trigger. But, now that they are in production, different story. In the live fire tests we do on the lots we deliver the guns are mounted in a fixture to eliminate variations caused by the way the gun is held. Yeah, you get to pull the trigger but you don’t get to go all John Wayne on rocks, plants and passing ground squirrels.

  • Bill

    SpuGun refers to LTC Lerner’s second paragraph 5th sentence.

    “P-mag, H+K, and others may have “tested” their magazines, but no one has the resources to test the way we do.”

  • d

    grats at wasting tax dollars at reinventing the wheel on something that has existed in the marketplace for years.

  • Concerned_Soldier

    There you go bringing in professionals to comment on your Blog. How dare you be so thorough in your investigations.. (please note sarcasm)

    I think this speak volumes to your professionalism and dedication to Firearms!! Outstanding work, love the Blog, while I am in Europe this is my little tast of firearms because I had to leave mine back in the states.

    Anybody here know what the “SF” in Chris Lehner LTC, SF PM Individual Weapons Signature block means?

    Oh that’s right, SPECIAL FORCEs, how would he know what the hell he is talking about. (please note more sarcasm)

    There are alot of X-File Moulder types out there aren’t there? QUESTION EVERYTHING!!! Even if it the facts are in black and white! I guess some people can’t trust what they hear, read, or see!! Maybe they should pick up a rifle and march a patrol with these weapons and magazines in order to learn for themselves.

    Sorry Steve, I didn’t mean to get all PTSD on your Blog! I do enjoy it and check it everyday!!



    • Concerned_Soldier, im gald you enjoy the blog!

  • Edward

    Xstang, isn’t that a video for comparing the HK416’s internals to, say, a Colt “M4-type” and not a comparison of magazines?

  • Maigo

    When he talks of testing, I’m fairly sure he means “We produced hundreds/thousands of each prototype, handed them (ranges, boot camps, what have you) and a report sheet for each mag (when, how and in what condition if failed). Collected it all up and tested those mags and fixed it for the next version” We’ve got an army, not everyone is overseas getting shot at; still plenty of warm bodies to do the testing.

    I’m sure they’ve seen how much longer the life span of polymer mags are to aluminum, and are already working on them.

  • SpudGun

    Concerned_Solider wrote – ‘There are alot of X-File Moulder types out there aren’t there? QUESTION EVERYTHING!!! Even if it the facts are in black and white!’

    I’ve seen no facts form LTC Lehner, just a lot of opinions, promises and denegration of the commercial competition. If reports start coming back from the front lines that these are indeed the bestest magazines ever, then I will quite happily eat humble pie.

    Until then, I will remain sceptical.

  • larry weeks

    I would hope that all the polymer mag fanboys would read David Fortier’s AR Mag test in the Nov. 20, 2009 Shotgun News. The one where polymer mags dropped on their lips split open and dumped some or most of their rounds while the aluminum mags still ran, and where aluminum mags run over by a 2-1/2 ton truck still functioned. No one mag will be perfect in all situations. There is no govt solicitation requesting a polymer mag tho’ I’m sure the aliens at area 51 are testing prototypes.

  • Destroyer

    “As for spudgun. Dragons skin armor was proven inferior to the newist blastic armor the army feilds they even sued the maker of dragons skin armor and won over a definmation lawsuit. Dont beleave every thing you hear on the news.”

    and yet independent testing contradicted the US Army (whose politician generals are involved with key industrial members), who said the vests experienced “catastrophic failure”. Perhaps it is a conspiracy by Fresno SWAT and other independent sources trying to keep generals’ buddies that manufacture the IBA from getting money (LOL…now thats how you Mulder!!!). http://www.professionalsoldiers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14523 (dont take it seriously, its just a thought).

    Apparently the vest was good enough for generals, PMCs, CIA operatives (which the armor passed their test btw), and other “elites” to wear…how interesting!

    There is a remedy for the disk movement problem…how about wiring the damned disks together instead of gluing them???

    Indeed. Don’t believe everything you hear on the news.

    “As for you guys who are made because Pmags wernt adopted. To bad they are too expensive for a military contract period. $30-40+ bucks for a Pmag.”

    I have never, in my days of yore, seen a PMAG cost 30-40 bucks. That is just plain dishonest.


    US Marines in Afghanistan are using PMAGs. One sure way to test how good they are is to issue it to line units that actually use their weapons in combat conditions…not fobbits or security pukes (who should be credited with the M4’s 90% approval rating [LMAO])

  • Matthew26

    Correction: AFN = American Forces Network. Just sayin’.

  • Al T.

    Ditto to what Maigo said. You have to add to that extreme environmental testing and resistance to exotic petroleum products and other chemicals such as NBC decontaminates. The Army has to adopt equipment that can operate everywhere. I like Pmags and carried same on my Iraq tour. However, I have no idea if they would function in the Arctic Circle or the Panama Jungle – but that would be part of the extensive and time consuming testing the LTC mentioned.

    zack, I’m just taking a wild guess, but I suspect that 40k remark is per magazine for a series of magazines. If your so sold on Pmags, tell me how they worked for you in Alaska. Cold does interesting things to plastic…

  • Palmguy

    “As for you guys who are made because Pmags wernt adopted. To bad they are too expensive for a military contract period. $30-40+ bucks for a Pmag.”

    Uh, no. Maybe after inflation hits. Certainly not now. That’s enough for 3 PMags not bought in bulk.

  • subase

    These magazine are the best. Would the military lie to you?

  • Adam

    “Would the military lie to you?”

    Are we talking about the same military that touted UCP as being an effective camouflage in every environment?

  • Aces n 8s

    well said! 40,000 rounds is chump change for any company with a government contract. i would like to see another zero in that number. Thats roughly 12 rounds a day for nine years. Im a college student and i probably average more then 12 rounds a day for the year.

    Also the idea for improving the mags has been around for quite a while and if they really have been sitting on this since 2001 thats is very large problem. Our soldiers have been fighting for out country for our freedoms for the all 9 of those years and they have been using the “green” mags which have failed time and time again, while the sand makes this even worse. Something needs to be done about this large gap between testing and implementation.

  • larry weeks

    Here’s a testimonial from a Lieutentant in Afghanistan on the new tan follower mags. He said I couldn’t publish his name and unit so I’ve removed those lines. The email address checks out as legit and military:

    >> Dear Brownells,
    >> During the recent Battle of Marjeh, my company was one of two US Army
    >> Stryker Infantry Companies attached to the Marines operating throughout the area. During this operation, we came under heavy enemy contact in rough terrain on multiple occasions. Fortunately for us, our company had just received a shipment of your new imporved M4 mags with the reverse, non-tip follower. Right before this op, we replaced all of our aold mags with your new ones. We could definitely tell a difference in the firefights we were in and experienced much fewer jams and weapons malfunctions. Thank you so much for making a great product. Thanks again.
    >> Respectfully,

  • SGT S

    I don’t know if the new military follower is better than the COTS alternatives, but the point is that PM IW should have completed a market survey and done the testing to determine if a COTS solution was acceptable. The fact that they have not done this and the LTC felt the need to post here justifying his decision only further highlights the complete incompetence of the entire PM IW organization. They will look you in the eye and swear up and down that the piece of crap that they have issued you is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but they really have NO IDEA if it is because they are all engineers with ZERO military experience. The lack of relevant experience does not stop them however, as they surf the net and know for a fact that {insert second rate product here} is the greatest just because they saw it on SWAT.com. Try doing your jobs, remove your personal opinion (because it is not formed on the basis of any Professional Military Judgement) and field what the users are asking for. Its that easy