USMC Bans All Polymer Magazines

Marine Times reports that the USMC ban on all non GI magazines is now official

Polymer rifle magazines, preferred by many combat troops for their durability, have been banned by the Marine Corps, according to a new administrative message published Monday.

Effective immediately, only standard-issue 5.56mm metal magazines are approved, according to the message, signed by Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for combat development and integration. They have a 30-round capacity with either tan, green or black followers, the internal plate that pushes rounds into a rifle’s chamber.

Marine officials began ad hoc bans on polymer magazines last year, citing concerns over their lack of compatibility with select weapons. The new message from Mills, who doubles as the commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, makes the ban official across the force.

[ Many thanks Lance for the tip. ]

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.


  • Nadnerbus

    This will make a lot of Jar Heads happy…

    I have read that the Pmags (lets be honest, that’s what is getting banned here) are not compatible with the HK IAR. Is this the prevailing reason for the ban?

    • Ivan

      Exactly what I heard. Although this what the new P-mag is made for.

    • Nadnerbus

      I guess it helps to read the article. The Corps could have made HK change the magwell dimensions before going into full production, though I know Pmags are not “milspec.”

      So does this conflict mean a stricter rule set on future gear that is not military approved?

      • Nathaniel

        Err, what? They have a National Stock Number!

    • W

      they’re not.

      Its also ambiguous about the fate of HKs very own steel magazines. The USGI mag doesnt fit optimally in the IAR either, though the marine corps, like the army, will always be right.

      Im sure marine infantrymen will enjoy going back to inferior US GI mags in afghanistan…

    • Avery

      I thought the IAR was largely compatible with current weapons. Like, “swap the uppers out” compatible? That would be the ideal solution but it sounds like HK didn’t build it like that.

  • Agitator

    Lancers should still fit the IAR magwell… I think. And honestly I prefer them anyway.

  • Kenny Blankenship

    Wow, just in time for the M3 PMAGs!

  • Nick Mew

    Way to go guys.

  • Well hell. Who wants equipment that works anyway?

  • Mitch

    So, um… Surplus resales in the future?

  • Denny

    In standard M16/ M4 recepticle is only so much space for material of adequate strength. I was once a part of plastic mag development and know what it takes. The result was never to full satisfaction. So I am not surprised with USMC decision.

    Some makers such as Steyer started with proprietary magazines with substantially stronger walls; that is diferent story. But for AR type gun, no plastic is not good enough, mainly for cold weather impact resistance or lack of it for better term. Actually, my preference goes with steel mag and even the stainless with proper treatment (like passivate and teflon overspray) would be the best.

    • Denny

      Just to add to my previous comment: my experience in R&D is bit dated and I do not have hands-on experience with P-mags which seem to garnered so much fame. I do not want to sound un-appreciative, rather to contrary. I highly admire anyone who can produce long term reliable plastic magazine for AR.

      Other alternate design makers certainly know all that and arranged their product line accordingly (Steyer, HK and even lately CZ). They just decided to make it easier for them by adding bulk to it. At that point the plastic mag can be as good as metal and in some ways (such a s weight) even eclipse it.

      Sure, there is a standard recepticle (STANAG) on current fleet weapons. So, what to do with it? For now nothing. But for any future considerations the choice is obvious. When comes to “wish list” on future service rifle, this should be point No.2, right after caliber.

  • Dan

    Once again, HK drops the ball. They have such renown amongst call of duty playing kids, yet they keep making garbage products. The IAR doesn’t have any of the useful features it was supposed to have, and doesn’t even accept P-Mags.

    • Marc

      Yeah, I mean how dare they make magwells to actual specifications! Compatability with non-standard magazines should be top priority for every weapon!

    • Aki

      “Once again, MAGPUL drops the ball. They have such renown amongst call of duty playing kids, and three gun gamers, yet they keep making garbage products. The PMAG is a poorly made solution to a non-existent problem, and doesn’t even work in NATO weapons”


      • W

        I really dont understand why HK decided to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the magazine well (and dont say it is to facilitate reloading; that is bullshit because there are innovative ways to keep compatibility and enhance magazine guidance). Perhaps this was done to encourage the use of their steel magazine.

        Magpul makes awesome products. Its nice to be able to spend bargain prices on backup iron sights and magazines without paying a stupid amount (the magpul MBUS really irks folks since theyre more durable than many more expensive metal ones).

        Marc is right. In addition, Magpul designed the magazine for the AR platform. they introduced the EMAG for other platforms and have finally done what they should have done to begin with and created the M3. People are whining about the M3 not being compatible with their weird ass billet lowers but they can work in more than 90% of guns out there. Figures.

  • Pissed off Grunt!

    Got out just in time. We loved the Pmags in the “Stan” the Alum. ones just plain suck. There are less than 4000 IAR’s in Service, some units are even deploying without them due to ignorance of their role and percieved inefectiveness. Some Boot-tenant straight outta OCS says to his Plt well hell guys its a fully automatic weapon so ummmm Idk shoot it that way ALL the time so grunts are shooting at targets 700M away with 10 round bursts. Also a friend in 1st LAR reported that his entire companys allottment of 27’s would ONLY fire on full auto. Bottom line the higher echelons of the Corps are a bunch of head up thier collective ass POGs or Grunts that have been 25+ years out of the trenches to “get it”. Ask any currently serving Lcpl-Sgt Grunt He’ll (at least for now anyway) tell you whats up. Semper Fi.

    • K

      @ pissed off grunt

      Uhm, a 5.56 LAR at a target 700m away? I, and the rest of the guys I worked with would be firing full auto too. I know the HK is fairly accurate but we’re still talking about a 3.5x SDO sitting on top of a 5.56mm gun in field conditions. It’s not a sniper rifle, and even a MK.12 would be struggling at that distance with any amount of wind. A burst at a target at that range is the appropriate procedure with the IAR in my opinion. 10 rounds is a bit much, but 6-8, you betcha. Again, this is field conditions where there aren’t any range flags to give you a wind reading and you don’t have time to lase your target and dial in your dope.

      I also thought that the aluminum mags weren’t bad with anti-tilt followers. I’ve never seen one fail or be accidentally broken. PMAGs are good kit too though.

      -0321 Sgt.

  • CHS

    It makes sense for them to ban PMAG’s. The PMAG’s aren’t and never have been STANAG compliant. They work in AR15’s with standard forged lowers and all firearms based on the same design (M4, M16, etc). The IAR is 100% STANAG compliant, but since the PMAG isn’t, it won’t work in that gun (nor will it work in the FAMAS or SA80, also STANAG-compliant guns).

    What I don’t understand is the blanket ban on ALL polymer magazines. The Lancers are STANAG-compliant to my knowledge, and so is the Magpul EMAG.

    • W

      they are apparently more compatible with NATO weapons now with the M3.

      • Aki

        If only you could wave a magic wand and make the old mags go poof.

        You can’t.

        It’s easier to ban out of spec equipment and move on.

      • W

        the pmag is in spec with US weapons and then the marine corps HAD to throw the IAR into the fray. :/

        As far as european weapons go…there’s the EMAG…and many have been purchased for those respective weapons. Hell, the G36 and AUG even use different magazines so “STANAG compatibility” (which is a misnomer because the US GI mag HAS NOT been standardized) is moot.

        A superior magazine was banned because it steps on the toes of the contractors that were given exclusive rights to sell a product to the military or even specific branches. That is how the MIC works. Utter idiocy.

    • Likvid

      As much as I understand concern about issues with certain type of magazines in certain type of rifles, it’s really annoying to always see all those guys arguing about compatibility standard, which actually isn’t official, as proposal for STANAG magazine wasn’t accepted by NATO, nor US armed forces. Argument that IAR or whatever rifle is STANAG compliant is kinda empty because of that.

  • Lance

    I know the Pmag craze but ive shot GI mags for years and no problem with them at all they work fine. Shot them in dust really high heat and mud no problems Pmags are good but it should be left for the operator to use what he wants. Unless un the USMC and you need IAR mags so the ban makes more sense to have GI mags. In the All M-4 army pmags are more welcome.

    • CHS

      USGI mags are great mags. They (now) have a decent follower and are lightweight. The problem with them is the aluminum body and feedlips. If you can keep your USGI mags in tip-top shape, they’ll last forever and feed fine. However, due to the aluminum body and feedlips, if you accidentally drop one, step on it, etc, they tend to bend and not spring back. This is where steel magazines (too heavy) and polymer magazines (not always STANAG compliant) have an advantage over the USGI’s. It’s not that USGI’s are BAD magazines, it’s that polymer is just better.

    • Nadnerbus

      I agree for once, Lance. Aluminum USGI mags are quite good, especially with the newer anti tilt followers. They are slightly more prone to going out of spec with wear and damage though, as CHS points out.

      Is there a piece of gear readily available to the line troops to check the USGI mags to see if they are still within spec after use? A go-no go gauge for the feed lips, perhaps a similar gauge to slip into the disassembled mags to make sure the body itself is still trued up? If they are going to stay with USGI mags, I hope there is a system in place to make sure those mags are not used past their useful life, as I think that has lead to a lot of the stoppage issues associated with them.

  • Partizan1942

    Nothing’s as motivating as a ban of their products by such a major potential source of income like the USMC to wake up Magpul and let them know that it is really about time they came up with am mag that is undisputedly STANAG compatible. They tried it, and I have to say it was fun to watch from the outside as they tried to shift standards and make weapons designers bend to their interest but it looks like it is time for a reality check.

    • TCBA_Joe

      That’s what their newest magazine is. However, many mil personnel think “pmag” is a generic term to any polymer mag, no matter how crappy it is. So the USMC singling out what is ok from what is not would be an exercise in futility.

      Plastic requires different construction and dimensions to keep it’s strength than metal does, so it’s understandable that they’ve had difficulty making a magazine with the same dimensions as a standard metal mag.

  • KC

    Really this ban should only ban the M revision PMAGS, the G3 ones supposedly work in the IAR. I wonder if there’s been testing done with other, non USGI mags to warrant a flat out ban on all mags

  • Máté

    Aaand this is why there isn’t much innovation.

    • 032125

      Whhhhhaaat? On what planet is there little innovation in the M4/AR market? Because the industry that I see is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise stagnated economy.

    • TCBA_Joe

      Unfortunately, when it comes to logistics institutional inertia has some merit to it.

  • TCBA_Joe

    Now that they issue the M27 IAR it makes sense. instead of the USMC approving some and not others, running formal tests for compatibility, and ensuring leaders know their magazines, they just restrict them.

    Considering the whole squad carries ammo for the IAR mag compatibility is vital.

    Also, some of you forget the 416 was designed before PMags hit the scene, and were STANAG designed.

    • Ian

      And since the IAR is its own abortion, it wouldn’t be hard to have the magwell formed identically to all other service rifles.

    • SGT Fish

      but now we have gen 3 Pmags, and have always had Emags. as well as plenty of other great polymer mags.

  • jack Luz

    FACT: Troops will do whatever it takes to get whatever they need in a combat zone. Even if it is out of their own pockets. This was common practice since the American Civil War. Remember the Henry rifle?

    • mechamaster

      Procuring weapon in site is great option. But the risk is great too.. ( if someone set it as a trap and KABOOM ! )

  • gunslinger

    well then.

    i get that USMC wants to have interchangability between units and such. but how enforcable is this? i can see it just now.. “my group had x number of pmags that we bought with our own money so we were better prepared on patrol. now we don’t and something bad happened…”

    we’ll see what happens…

    • Sid

      Yeah, but it wasn’t a real order, was it? After all, it’s peace time. He wasn’t being asked to secure a hill or advance on a beach head. I mean, surely a Marine of Dawson’s intelligence can be trusted to determine, on his own, which are the really important orders and which orders might, say, be morally questionable? Lieutenant Kendrick? Can he? Can Dawson determine on his own which orders he’s going to follow?

  • Graham2

    Surely the strangest thing is that the decision has been made to get rid of the belt fed M249 in favour of the 30 round box fed IAR. Or am I just missing something here?!

    • Máté

      In theory those could fire from 100 round mags too, without overheating, and if those run out, you can just use 30 round mags for it. At least that’s what I understood.

    • Sid

      Belt-fed weapons do not maneuver well. The rounds get out of alignment and cause stoppages.

      They are not getting rid of belt-fed weapons. They are just using magazine fed weapons at the squad level. The weapons platoon will still have belt-fed weapons for support.

  • Riot

    To all those bitching about the IAR being out of spec – it is IN spec the early Magpul pmags aren’t and stop complaining about it not being tailored to the ARs off magwell, HK has other customers and if they sold IARs with different magwells to the 416s and SA80s they already sold them and every other NATO weapon they would be beyond pissed.

  • Lcon

    And The Return of Micky mouse Rules begins today.

  • John Doe

    The standard steel mags are just fine… if you don’t accidentally ding them or dent them. If it keeps our Marines alive, I don’t care what they use. I’d rather be in some hot water for using a good magazine than be dead or injured. Whatever works best for our Marines.

    Well, there’s always the M3 PMags, if compatibility is really the issue.

    • CHS

      Standard USGI mags are aluminum, not steel. That is part of the problem.

  • Mike Knox

    I wonder how magul’s taking this..

  • Nicks87

    First it’s “buy more 1911s” now it’s “ban all polymer magazines”

    What’s up with the Marine Corps brass and this back-@$$ward way of thinking?

    Why is it so hard for the Marines to embrace new technology?

  • Big Daddy

    As far as I was taught the aluminum mags are supposed to be throw away. It was that way in Vietnam and when I served. If they where used a certain amount of times they where supposed to be destroyed. But nobody was exactly sure about the details as usual.

    The idea that aluminum mags will last a long time in real combat is crazy. When they where designed they where supposed to be used once and destroyed. As usual the DOD can’t throw anything away especially the USMC.

    So I can see only using standardized mags as long as it’s OK to destroy them when they no longer work. The feed lips go first unless you just step on them. The old ones where bad. The new ones look good as far as the followers and springs go but aluminum is not a very strong metal that thin.

    The decision by the USMC is correct as long as they follow up with instructing the troops that they have a certain useful life in hard use. Since we are winding down WAR and the idea of starting more wars the DOD is going back into peace mode. So a lot of things that where OK during real fighting will not be OK very soon. It happens all the time.

    I expect the services all to be total messes like when I was in, between wars. Our unit was in the middle of being totally re-equipped. It was a mess of confused leadership. I see the same thing happening now, I do have a friend who just retired. He is happy to get out now because he was seeing the slow change.

    Aluminum mags, fine, throw them out after X amount of uses. If not there will be problems eventually if they think they will last for years in heavy use.

    • Nelson

      Exactly. GI mags should be viewed as consumables, unfortunately they are not. Hell, even in OSUT we never were told to truly take care of our mags, even though us gun guys knew better. I spent money out of my own pocket and carried Pmags, which was an easy decision when I saw the hand me down beat to shit GI mags I was issued.

      • noob

        Is it okay if you buy your own personal stash of pristine and function checked steel GI magazines for use in combat, on the idea that that you baby and hand number and write your initials on *your* mags and then throw these mags away when they get worn and sloppy?

        Would it be possible to keep these personal GI mags a secret and *never* let anyone else use them?

        Or is that begging for punishment?

    • I remember Jimmah Caahtah very well.

  • Leroy

    Or someone’s buddy just got a sweetheart of a deal selling non-poly mags to the government.

    • Nicks87

      General Keys is at it again.

      Is it just a coincidence that Colt makes USGI magazines, I think not.

  • fred

    Lots of folks who have been in combat refuse to use plastic mags in a combat situation.

    Plastic frags don’t show up on xrays.

    The military has probably done this to make as sure as possible that standard mags are used.

    They can not support an endless litany of different fad plastic mags that aren’t even a good idea for combat.

  • James L Miller

    I’ve had a glock model 19 for 15 yrs,I drop the plastic mag’s all the time when combat shooting, never had a problem. On the other hand a still carry a AR180(223) the original mags are still good,the plastic mag’s suck. JLM

    • Mike Knox

      I’m not sure if you know this but glock magazines aren’t entirely polymer, they have a steel internal case. Basically the same steel used in most pitol mags..

  • Shayne

    I smell a kick back.

    When I got to 29 palms, I remember the STAG mags I was given at 29 Stumps (I never did find the palm trees) – Bent feeds, weak springs, and worn out followers. Went to supply for new mags and they had two crates of old mags that they let me dig through, most in similar shape that should have been thrown away.

    If they would actually dispose of damage / worn mags I would support this move, but some supply clerk doesn’t look at what shape the gear is in and only cares that the gear is returned.

  • FormerSFMedic

    Idiots! That is all….

  • Marine #1

    As someone who attended the symposium, I can tell you that this was consensus across the board. It has little to do with the M27 IAR compatibility, but more to do with the fact that only TESTED AND APPROVED magazines are authorized. This is not any change is Marine Corps equipment policy, but just a reinforcement of existing policy. It is just quality control.
    After-market magazines have either not been tested, or they have been tested by the US Army and did not pass. The US Army has policy regarding MilSpec (contracted) 5.56mm magazines. The Marine Corps must enforce the PICA policy concerning the legitimacy of 5.56mm magazines. There is no guarantee that they will perform in the full environmental spectrum required. It has absolutely nothing to do with polymers or H&K screwing everything up. I know that MagPul has improved the qualities of the M3 and will be undergoing testing at APG shortly. If they pass, they will be authorized.
    That said, I own many polymer magazines as well as other non-authorized ones for personal use. Yes, I like them (as do many Marines) better than standard USGI mags for my use; but then I don’t transport them across the oceans and skies in all types of temperature extremes or throw them across a battlefield. In combat, I would rather use the USGI mags (new ones of course). In two combat tours, I have not once used polymers.

  • h rap brown

    i was in iraq back in 03 and decided to test out some canadian and israeli plastic mags in actual combat. they suck for one reason which most of you probably have not considered. the plastic mags are a tight fit and when i was really scared i had trouble putting the mag in. it probably only took an extra second but it seemed to take forever! the gi mags are fine as long as you remember they are designed to be semi desposible

    • noob

      Thankyou for your service.

      Would altering the M4 spec to have a more agressively beveled and flanged magwell be a good idea?

  • northor

    In the norwegian army we were taught to treat the mags as non- disposables, most of us got our own empty mag pockets which we drilled extensively with. you got 7 mags and the entire platoon lost 1 in total over the course of a year. Oh we lost more in the field but policy was that if you lost one the squad had to search untill it was found for the rest of the day. Lets just say that equipment checks were never taken lightly

    That was with high quality HK steel mags though, we were always told that most magazines used by US troops were plastic or aluminum crap that were basically seen as disposables.

  • Alpha Roger

    I love Polymer mags because the mags are light and durable. M mags are really heavy for me. I always put the empty mags back to a pouch that I brought along. However, I had lost quite a few under fire. I spent my own money to buy those Pmags. What a shame for the Marines.

    So the leathernecks are in for the ride, bad luck boys.Bureaucarcy sucks!

  • DB Cooper

    Army found out shortly after they started fielding the 249’s 25 years ago that aluminum mags distort so much with one use they cant be used in the 249 so they had to start buying steel mags. Then to save money (again) they went back to aluminum which, was always the #1 cause of jams and missfeeds in the M-16’s.
    I was working at the 101st a few months back and some soldiers there told me the 249’s tend to rip the top off the pmags and they had quite a few crack when banged against anything hard when it got below freezing. A positive is Pmags arent as noisy as regular mags.

    • Sam Suggs

      why does the m249 saw do this granted thats nothing compared to its poor effective range

  • Cassie Lascola

    what fucking retard put this through? incompatibility? THEY ARE DESIGNED TO FIT AN M16…..WHAT EVER AN M16 MAG FITS A POLYMER WILL FIT!