Some Marine battalions allegedly ban the PMAG

It has been reported on the ARFCOM and Lightfighter forums that some USMC battalions are banning or restricting the use of Magpul PMAG magazines because they are incompatible with the M27 IAR. The PMAG does not work with the HK416 (it does not drop free and needs to be pulled out), and its derivative the M27 IAR, because of slightly different lower magwell geometry.

The Magpul EMAG (Export Magazine) was designed by Magpul to work with non-AR-15/M16/M4 rifles that use the STANAG magazine, such as the SA80 and G36, and should work fine with the M27 IAR.

[ Many thanks to jdun1911 for emailing me the link. ]

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.


  • Technically, PMAGS will work and appropriately feed, but they do not drop free (at least that is the case with my MR556A1). They have to be *pulled* out of the magwell.

  • jdun1911

    Page 3, Magpul rep has some very interesting pictures of SA80 magazines.

    Personally I stay away from HK products. Decent products but over hyped and way overpriced.

    • Melissa DeLarno

      Oh, you mean you’re a cheap bastard.

      • Phil White

        Please refrain from comments of a personal nature——-moderator.

  • Hi Steve,

    AFAIK G36 does not use STANAG magazines but its own propietary magazines.

    Besides, I don’t understand your post. It is supposed that every system which is STANAG compatible has to admit all STANAG magazines. SA80, the late CETME-L, Beretta AR 70-90, HK-41, FN FNC, etc.

    What I don’t understand is how an M-4 can admit both STANAG and not STANAG magazines.

    Thank you in advance for your answers



  • Sorry, I forgot to subscribe to followup comments in the last message

  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys,

    I don’t know what’s worse, a mag that does not fit weapons or weapons that have non-standard magwells!

    Some PMags from a certain Generation don’t work on the SCAR 16S just because the back of the mag, instead of being in a U shape, it’s almost in a V shape and therefore, doesn’t fall freely, doesn’t hold the bolt open, you can’t rack it back to release the bolt and, worse of all, it DAMAGES the bolt!

    The E-Mag is specifically done for the HK416 (from which the M-27 IAR derives from) and the SCAR Mk16 and 16S… The .308 and .223 Pmags can work on SCAR 17S and 16S, but you need to drill a bit of the back of the mag to make that U shape!

    Magpul should make universal mags, not make two or three types of mags for just the .223! The USGI, the HK, the FN and others fit just fine! So why not the Pmags?!


  • Yep, but G-36 as it is issued to German or Spanish soldiers uses its own propietary (user said better, actually) magazines. I guess that if Bundeswehr and Ejército de Tierra decided against maintaining STANAG compatibility, they should have had good reasons for it. Ejército de tierra, precisely, had accumulated some experience with STANAG magazines with its CETME L AR.

    Anyways, is M-4 totally compatible with STANAG requirements? I thought it was, but now I’m not sure

  • ducky

    I own a Cetme L cutaway model – they sell over here in Europe pretty low at the moment:'Subfusiles
    They are in almost new condition. Perhaps some flash rust from careless storage.
    The new spanish steel mag that was delivered with the rifle can be pushed in the mag well only by force. The only other STANAG mag that fits into this overtight (not damaged/dented) mag well is an old USGI mag that rattles in AR15 mag wells like crazy.

  • The issue is the inability to lock into the IAR and is due to a non standard HK416 magazine well.

    The 416/IAR is longer at the front to mimic the magazine well of the SA80A2 (also designed by HK) and thereby be compatible with the SA80A2 blank firing magazine which the USMC does not even use.

    We have the EMag for units using the HK416 but that is of limited help in the IAR which will be fielded amongst M16/M4s already using literally millions of PMags in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The non standard 416 mag well also stops the IAR from using the new quad stack Surefire magazine which would enhance the effectiveness (and survivability) of a Marine Corps rifle team.

    I love the Corps and it was good to me, but I wonder at it’s logic when it comes down to stuff like this.

  • Lance

    Not much of a BIG deal if I can get some third generation USGI mags with bronze follower and new spring system it’ll make the difference.

  • jdun1911


    Pmag was optimized for AR15 platform. HK AR is an AR15 variant. Magpul never said Pmag will work on non-AR15 platform.

    If you read page 3 they designed the HK416 magwell to SA80 standard instead of you know AR15. That’s stupid and Magpul shouldn’t be blame for it.

    This is one of many reason why consumers shouldn’t buy HK products. HK screw you over one way or the other.

    Juan Chulilla,

    M4 can use any STANG mag. The issue is the HK416/IAR which can’t use Pmag, Lancer, etc.

  • Nadnerbus

    If I were the Marines, I would have used my clout to force HK to redesign to a standard mag well geometry before ever procuring. Because of course my hindsight is always 20/20 =)

    Seriously though, why change something that mundane on an otherwise established design? That kind of proprietary crap always pisses me off. I always ran into that in plumbing. Kohler makes a good product, but all their stuff is made in-house, and parts have to come from Kohler, and they are not interchangeable even within the Kohler line. You have to have the exact model, and often the year it was made, since it was changed year to year too. Then you work on a Moen and it uses the exact same part across most of their line, that hasn’t changed in 30 years and can be bought at any hardware store.

    Major OT, but relevant I think. Keep it simple.

  • brandon

    Curse you HK and your non-standard lowers. At least they put the takedown pins where they belong this time.

  • Martin (M)

    I think you’re going to see more and more proprietary mags with smaller armies. I’d imagine that there are a lot of local politics at work (I won’t say corruption), whereby a non-universal mag needs to be produced and procured locally.

  • armed_partisan

    More evidence that the M27 IAR is one step forward, and two steps back.

  • james

    What you have to love about the pmag is that it “fixed” a problem that did not exist. Having owned an ar 15 for over 20yrs, and serving in the Army as an 11b, I did not encounter any real problems with the old mags. They are light and reliable… and cheap. They also fit the mag well quite nicely. If the fit is too tight, you will have trouble inserting the mag when your adrenaline is raging… lost of fine motor skills and all that…

  • charles222

    Gotta love how the Marines order up literally a million Pmags and then buy a magazine-fed weapon that is not compatible with it.

  • Rijoenpial

    Hello there, guys!

    To jdun1911: I have to agree with you on what you said about HK! It surely looks like they are trying to sell shiploads of SA80 mags as well! The Army brass, if they favoured the Pmag over the USGI and were smart about it, could ask HK to manufacture a new lower for their IARs that could take BOTH mags, not one or the other! I mean, the USSOCOM had the 90 degree firing safety on the FN Mk17 and Mk16 changed to the standard M4 180 degree! So, if the Military would demand it, I am sure HK would answer their call! OR not! Apparently, the US Army brass who never liked the PMag use over the normal USGI standard, just had their work cut out for them! I mean, the length of this ban seems a bit suspicious, don’t you think? I mean, a battalion-wise ban?! THis seems to go the way of those who were against the use of non-standard issued USGI mags!

    Regarding the PMag non-universal mag, I think that the mere fact that two or three generations of Pmags worked fine on the SCAR and one didn’t (I believe that’s the 3rd Gen PMag), seems to show that there was probably a glitch on the manufacturing of that generation of PMags!

    I mean, it makes no sense to me that a company has two different versions for the same 5.56 cartridge, one for the US made weapons (PMAG) and one for the European-made ones (EMAG)!

    That’s all I’m saying!


  • Jeff from CA

    So if you are the automatic rifleman in your squad AND you run out of mags and need to borrow some from your buddies, you use the PMag but then pull it out.

    You might lose a second but you are probably not going to be doing speed reloads at that point and drawing from your regular mags (because you are empty).

    OTOH, if your squaddies are carrying spare ammo for the automatic rifleman, they just hand over the whole bandolier of e-mags (or clips) and not worry about keeping mags separate.

  • aaron

    These mags are plastic. It sounds like a problem that could be easily solved with a k-bar and some sandpaper.

  • Most folks do not realize that STANAG 4179 was merely a draft, and was never ratified.

  • @james To many people one magazine is just like another. God and the Devil are in the details.

    Here are some differences that may (or may not) be important to you. There is probably more but these are some that pop into my head awhile back. NOTE: In quantity the Mags costs the US government the same as a USGI ALU magazine.

    PMag internal geometry uses an aggressive constant curve to improve reliability (the USGI has a curved then straight section to work with the M16 straight mag well)
    PMag has a corrosive resistant stainless steel spring, USGI uses stock music wire
    PMag has a 4 way anti tilt follower as standard (only very recent USGI mags have this)
    PMag has a floorplate that is easier to remove and more robust than a USGI
    PMag body has better crush strength than a USGI
    PMag feedlips have better impact strength than a USGI
    In combat deployment after-action reports, the PMag far out lasts USGI mags in theater.
    PMag is functional after a 500 hour simulated salt spray test (the USGI fails)
    PMag has a dust cover (that is optional) but will keep dust and debris out of the magazine during long term storage.
    PMag has a much, much lower IR signature than a USGI
    PMag body is easier to handle in both extreme hot and cold temperatures.
    PMag has color options and it’s color is embedded. USGI finish can wear off.
    PMag has an option for a round cound window that can read rounds remaining obscured by the magazine well.
    All PMags go through the same QC control (internal and external gauge check for EVERY magazine that leaves the factory)
    Not all USGI mags are built for the US GOV and not all a built to remotely similar standards.

    Polymer is progress

    • Lee

      I’m surprised the Marine Corps hasn’t contracted with PMag to specifically make a 40rd STANAG compatible magazine specifically for the M27.

  • @Rijoenpial The issue with the SCAR and the PMags is not one of quality control. It is to do with the position of bolt catch activation bar from center (on the M16/M4) to the left side of the notch on the FN SCAR.

    Newer PMags/EMags will allow for this change in the design.

    As for the PMag and Emag differences. The PMag is optimized for M16/M4 operations. The Emag is designed for compatibility with European type weapon systems that have tighter/different magazine well specifications that require special processing during production.

  • Lance

    You guys forgot that SOCOM dumped the Mk-16 so there no problem with Pmags in SOCOM service since they use M-4s. I think once the USMC will adopted a higher capacity mag for the IAR the whole issue will go away.

  • Lance

    I never get this PMAG crease some of you have Ive shot GI mags for years never had a problem with a decent GI mag.

  • Rijoenpial


    you sound like a broken record already! LOL

    Seriously, though: I don’t know about you, but the fact that you can’t change barrels and the 65 round per minute (1 per second! OMG) nonsense is a bit hard to swallow!

    So, no suppressive fire will clearly be a problem in future combat situations! The IAR may be nice for patrol duties, but an idiotic move if the guys get ambushed and engaged in serious firefights or skirmishes!

    I would not want a 65 rpm weapon doing the suppressive fire! Would you!?!

    To Richard Fitzpatrick: What you stated still doesn’t explain why out of three Gens PMags, only one didn’t work with the FN SCAR! You see tons of photos of SCAR 16S with PMags on them, so they do work on the SCAR! Trouble is just one Gen Pmag doesn’t! The U shape hole is present in USGI, HK SA80, TangoDown, Lancer mags… So all these work fine on the SCAR! The quality control thing is the only explanation I could come up with for one Gen mags from Magpul not working like the other two from the same company!


  • Lance

    At Rijoenpal

    Im not harping on the IAR im saying mag wise ive had no problems with 30rd Aluminum mags and have seen no reason to go ape about Pmags.

    I dont get why you think im talking about the M-27 im not im talking about mags for infantry rifles and carbines.

  • Rijoenpial

    Hello there, guys!

    To Lance: I was referring to your usual Mk16 bashing, not the Pmag op you gave afterwards!

    And I agree with you: USGI mags are not that bad for civilian use! The only issue is weight-wise, and only if you are carrying many mags on you! Military-wise, there’s a new version, improved with non-tilting followers and anti-corrosion springs! You gotta love that! They’re less expensive than PMags also!

    I think any soldier has to worry about weight so the Pmags are great for his standard issued M16 or M4! But if they present problems either on the SCAR or the HK416 or M27 IAR, I think soldiers would be better off considering other brands out there that also do polymer mags! The PMag is too magwell-sensitive in my book!


  • SD996

    USMC Armorers should file the inside front of ALL M27’s down a slight bit to accomodate PMags.

    PMags have NEVER failed us, and Magpul has always been good to go in supporting us.

  • noob

    hmm. would a simple solution be to temporarily “lose” the M27 lowers, mysteriously leaving us with the M27 uppers in a separate crate.

    I’m sure a resourceful armourer could rectify this “problem” by fitting the orphan uppers to some standard M16 or M4 lowers, which happily use pmags.