BREAKING: Has the USMC Adopted the PMag Gen M3?

An update from the USMC has been released today authorizing the purchase of Gen M3 PMags with unit funds for Marine Corps combat units. The update reads:

GENTEXT/RMKS/1. PURPOSE. THIS MESSAGE PROVIDES UPDATED GUIDANCE REGARDING THE USE OF MAGAZINES FOR THE M4/M16 SERIES AND M27 INFANTRY AUTOMATIC RIFLE (IAR). 2. BACKGROUND. MARINE CORPS UNITS WILL NO LONGER RECEIVE THE LEGACY MAGAZINE WHEN ORDERING NATIONAL STOCK NUMBER (NSN) 1005-01-561-7200; THIS NSN WILL DEFAULT TO THE U.S. ARMY ENHANCED PERFORMANCE MAGAZINE (EPM), NSN 1005-01- 630-9508. AUTHORIZATION TO USE THE EPM FOR TRAINING USE ONLY WITH THE M4, M4A1, M16A4, AND M27 REMAINS THE SAME. 3. ACTION 3.A. PM IWS AUTHORIZES UNITS TO USE THE FOLLOWING POLYMER MAGAZINES WITH THE M4, M4A1, M16A4, M27, AND M249: NSN 1005-01-615-5169 (BLACK) AND NSN 1005-01-659-7086 (COYOTE TAN). UNITS ARE AUTHORIZED TO REQUISITION THESE MAGAZINES WITH UNIT FUNDS. 3.B. PM IWS WILL UPDATE SL-3S FOR THE M4, M4A1, M16A4, AND M27 TO LIST THE ABOVE POLYMER MAGAZINE NSNS. NO OTHER POLYMER MAGAZINES ARE AUTHORIZED FOR USE. 4. IOT PROVIDE IMMEDIATE AND SUSTAINING ACCESS TO ALL USERS, A PUBLICATION CONTROL NUMBER (PCN) WILL BE ASSIGNED TO THIS MESSAGE FOR ACCESS VIA THE WEAPONS SYSTEM ID NUMBER SEARCH IN SL-1-2.//

SoldierSystems.net broke the story, which you can read here. PMag manufacturer Magpul quickly caught on and added a somewhat less well supported statement that the Gen M3 Pmag had “been adopted by the entire Marine Corps”:

So what is really going on? Well, it’s not clear to me yet. We know a few things:

  • Legacy magazines (tan follower and green follower aluminum mags) are no longer being procured, but will likely still be in service for a long time.
  • The US Army’s Enhanced Performance Magazine (EPM) is authorized for training use only, not combat use, but will be procured.
  • The Gen M3 PMag is authorized for purchase using unit funds, and authorized for use in combat

These facts lead me to a theory: The USMC does not know how the EPM – the Army’s new magazine with sports a different feed lip design and cartridge presentation angle than previous mags – will perform in their M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles, because the EPM was not designed with those weapons (which are specific to the Marine Corps) in mind. The US Army is likely switching all magazine production over to the new EPM magazine, which means the Marine Corps will have a difficult time buying new production tan follower mags, leaving them with just the existing stock of mags they already have in inventory.

The obvious conclusion here is that the USMC is likely allowing the procurement of Gen M3 PMags as an interim replacement for legacy magazines that are worn out or destroyed, which explains why they are allowing PMags to be purchased with unit funds, but don’t seem to be actively purchasing them through normal procurement channels. The EPM magazines are being used in training, which is likely to allow the service to verify their compatibility with the M27 IAR platform. If the EPM proves compatible with this weapon, then I expect the Gen M3 PMag authorization to be rescinded and EPMs to be purchased as normal.

Thanks to Demetrius for the tip!



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Joshua

    Yes. The M3 is the new magazine of the Marine Corps.

    The EPM will be for training only.

    • If that’s true, that’s an odd situation. Can they not procure enough PMags or something?

      • Duane Liptak

        There are some EPMs already floating around, that may be why, and it will also take a few weeks for the contracts to be in place apart from GSA purchase which is inefficient for large numbers. We can meet the demands of the entire Corps, rather quickly. Not an issue.

        • It took no time at all for me to get an email from an insider. It looks like that’s the case, the USMC is going whole hog PMag (I’m sure you at Magpul already know), and the EPM notice is just for existing magazines pretty much. The Marine Corps never actually procured EPMs, but they received some thanks to an NSN screwup.

          I try to be conservative in my reporting, and usually it works out for me, but not this time. πŸ™‚

          Congrats, Magpul.

          • Ron

            Not so much, your initial assessment was correct this is an interim solution because the current NSN for magazines gets you EPR magazines. If you were to go to a Marine Corps run range up until a month or so ago the Range Gunner would cite the MARADMIN and would not allow the usage of EPRs (or Magpul) even though it was the only thing you could get from the system. This allows units to get magazines for training (both EPR and M3) until a system solution is met. The problem that has been rightfully IDd is the EPR does not work well with the M27, so it makes sense to allow unit the discretion to buy the M3 to issue to M27 users.

          • Joshua

            What issues does the new magazine present when used in the M27?

          • Tears up the forcing cone on the barrel, I’m told.

      • codfilet

        They should be able to go to a couple of gun shows and find all the Pmags they need from sellers who thought they were going to cash in big on Nov 9………..

    • Ron

      The actual message does not say that, it allows units to buy them. Additionally it allows units to use EPR for training.
      Until this message came out Marine ranges would only allow standard AL magazines but in the last several months EPR magazines were showing up because of NSN problem and during the pre-firing inspection, some shooters were not allowed to shoot table 1 because they did not have the magazines listed in the MARADMIN.
      This expands the net to allow continued training with either the standard AL, the Tan EPR magazine or Gen 3 PMAGs. Since most units and the MARCORPLOGCOM have a thousands if not millions of serviceable standard AL, no tilt magazines, it will be a long time if ever that the PMAG gen III is the standard.

      • Joshua

        Thanks for the clarification Ron.

        Having spoken with Magpul about this they were quick to say that this meant the Marines would only be using M3s in combat from this point forward.

        • Ron

          since there are millions of AL mags sitting in 782/IIF gear around the Marine Corps I think their estimate is overly optimistic

  • Duane Liptak

    The M3 was selected after several years of US government testing, with 855A1 and other ammunition types. You are welcome to dig those tests up, Aberdeen and Crane conducted them. EPM is present in the testing as are other commercial mags. The USMC is switching to the M3 Window because the M3, window and non-window, went through a ridiculous number of rounds with zero magazine related stoppages. Zero. In several tests. Yes, the M27 especially does not like the combination of 855A1 and the EPM magazine. But…nothing else likes it that much, either. We feed more reliably in all DoD systems tested, and we do less chamber face and feed ramp damage. (We also do the LEAST damage of any mag to chamber face and feed ramp when using 855A1) The M3 also passed all the cold wx, dust, chemical, UV, salt fog, etc. tests. I’d be happy to have a conversation with you to point you in the right direction to get the correct information. USASOC and the rest of SOCOM will be switching officially, too, as part of the recent SEP council.

    • Joshua

      Congrats by the way guys. Hopefully the Army listens up and does the same.

      Sadly I know the Army has a ton of time and money invested in the EPM and sadly I have a feeling they will not want that to go to waste.

      • From what I understand, the EPMs have/had some QC issues, and might have some design issues.

        Frankly, there’s no reason these shouldn’t be resolved quickly, but that doesn’t mean they will. The process will move at the speed of Army, and I don’t blame the USMC for not wanting to wait around.

        • Uniform223

          “The process will move at the speed of Army”

          >hurry up and wait.

    • Joseph Goins

      Will they be getting the standard, commercially available magazines or will they be sold a specially upgraded version for the DOD?

      • Thomas S

        Right now at least, if they are purchasing out of unit funds they will be just the standard, off the shelf magazines. It basically boils down to a unit being able to just go and buy a bunch of magazines from the same places we all buy them.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        The whole point of issuing the very likely existing NSN number in this case is it’s the off the shelf part.

    • Bullphrog855

      It’s interesting that how the 855a1 performed was an important part of the test with no mention of the Mk.318.

      I feel like I missed something

      • Joshua

        The Marines are adopting M855A1….Or will be.

        • Ron

          I feel eventually it will happen, but I think there may be an A2 variant before that happens.

          The reason Mk318 was not tested was Mk318 is not the program of record for the Marine Corps, M855 is so there is currently not a need to qualification test (and its associated cost) on a non-standard round.

          However since the Mk318 does not have the exposed penetrator and its ogive angle is the same as the M855 there is less chance of same issues cropping up.

    • thedonn007

      How long will the feed lips last?

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Thanks for the first hand info. It’s annoying when people write garbage (*pushes glasses up and snorts*”what’s really going on here”) like above despite the very reputable statement you already tweeted.

      Congrats, you guys are killing it. I’ll try to see you at SHOT.

      • Hah, you make it sound like I was brewing up a conspiracy theory that satellites aren’t real.

        You’re not in my position so you may not know this, but it’s actually my job to take the facts I have and try to piece them together, even if I know I don’t have all the data. That means that I sometimes I’ll get it wrong. I’m OK with being wrong sometimes, as long as I did my job right.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          It’s cool. I’m not going to knock you for saying you want to be a journalist… just that given Magpul’s reputation and that tweet, it’s pretty much settled and doesn’t need the “These facts lead me to a theory: The USMC does not know…”

          • I would hope there’d be forgiveness for not treating a company’s release on their Facebook page as gospel truth – even one as well-regarded as Magpul. This isn’t because the people at Magpul are untrustworthy, it’s because Magpul is a company that is in the business of cultivating good PR and selling products.

            And just since you mentioned it, I am not, nor do I want to be, a journalist. I don’t think I should be called a journalist, either, because I don’t have a degree in the field or any certification. I’m fine with the terms “writer” and “blogger”, as those describe what I do pretty well.

            So when I say it’s my job, maybe somebody imagines I am putting on a hat that I’m not putting on. I’m saying it’s my job, because I am a freelance writer/blogger who has to drive his own train, and that’s the direction that I’ve decided to go. It turns out I get paid for going in that direction, so I’m going to keep doing it.

      • Henry Reed

        Dude shut up, no one likes you and Nathaniel is way smarter than you. These are facts

    • I think that would be very helpful, Duane, thank you. It sounds like there’s quite a bit of public information that I’ve missed out on.

      Please do email me at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.

  • Big Daddy

    The new leaders of the DOD will fix this mess and confusion in short time….hopefully.

  • 22winmag

    Psssst…. D-60?

    • Those things are huge, though– you’re much better off using 6 d10.

  • Joseph Goins

    Why the hell is everything BREAKING NEWS of a sudden? Kim Kardashian getting robbed, Trump writing a tweet, and Marines adopting PMAGS — it isn’t so important as to be “breaking news.”

    • Bullphrog855

      I interpret “Breaking” as meaning that the story is new and still developing. Not that it’s exciting and important.

      • Twilight sparkle

        I feel like this is something that’s quite exciting and important for those that are really into these things. There’s a lot of history based on this one topic which wasn’t mentioned in the article, especially about the army and marine corps both banning magpul pmags at one point. The information about the m27 iar was specifically targeted at that history because it’s the reason the marines banned the m2 mag in the first place, that action itself was responsible for magpul designing an entirely new magazine (the m3)

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Clickbait. It’s breaking because everyone needs them sweet pageviews.

    • Generally speaking, when large amounts of money are involved, using “breaking news” should be considered.

      • Joseph Goins

        Large amounts of money? OMG! The Air Force just bought another F-35 for $100,000,000. Yeah, that’s not breaking news. Neither is USMC adopting PMAGS. It’s news worthy, but not breaking news.

    • n0truscotsman

      …FISCAL CLIFF!!!#$!@#$!!!!

  • xebat

    INB4 someday Magpul will design a ACR 2.0 in 6.5mm Grendel and it will be the future service rifle of the US Armed Forces /tin foil hat on

  • Tom – UK

    Why is a magazine that doesn’t function in NATO allies weapons being adopted? E.g. SA80

    Or are they adopting the Emag that does work?

    • rjackparis

      holyshit you’re right.

    • Joe

      I missed the TFB “SA80A3” article, ugh, why?!
      “Well, the Yanks have been polishing their M16 ‘turd’ for 50 years, we can get at least another decade out of our reviled, ill-conceived bullpup.”
      That’s not a dig at the M16 or bullpups, just this particular rifle, with it’s infamous issues.

    • Magpul

      The Gen M3 PMag is based off of the EMag and as such it will fit and function in the majority of NATO firearms the EMag worked with.

  • Hellbilly

    I had a feeling this was in the works ever since Magpul announced the coyote tan M3 Pmag.

  • James

    That’s interesting, when I was in Afghanistan with the Marines 5 years ago they specifically told everyone that used a P-Mag to stop when an IED went off, cooked the rounds in a P-Mag and blew some fingers off a Marine. No one in the battalion was allowed to use them after that. Don’t get me wrong I like P-Mags, but it’s interesting that its not a consideration.

    • Ron

      The whole reason for the ban was PMAGs did not fit into M27s that was entering the system, additional at the same time the Marine Corps was cracking down on units buying gear similar to gear already procured and in the system.

      Much of it amounted to we had spent billions to buy duplicate gear to what was the program of record and already bought and much of these buys we just based on one person in the unit liking that piece of gear better and not on a significant difference in performance.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      when an IED went off, cooked the rounds in a P-Mag and blew some fingers off a Marine.

      On the topic of things that did not happen…

  • Black Dots

    USMC: “We can’t use the PMAG M2 anymore because of the IAR.”
    Magpul: “ORLY?”

  • valorius

    Briefly, whats the diff between a Gen 2 and gen 3 magpul mag?

    • A bearded being from beyond ti

      It has finger grooves and an accessory rail.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        Later in the gen3 they also went to two pins. And the trigger bar changed πŸ˜‰

        • A bearded being from beyond ti

          I heard that there’s a gen 4 version coming with an ambi magazine release.

  • John

    >”The USMC does not know how the EPM – the Army’s new magazine with sports
    a different feed lip design and cartridge presentation angle than
    previous mags – will perform in their M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles, because the EPM was not designed with those weapons (which are specific to the Marine Corps) in mind.”

    Corollary: the use of magazines that are not compatible with the M27 IAR means the same magazines may not be compatible with NATO countries using the HK416, rendering STANAG compatibility in joint operations impotent.

    A lot is riding on this.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    People are starting to complain about their Gen 1 PMAGs having stretched feed lips which is causing reliability problems. So, as long as they don’t plan on these PMAGs lasting more than a few years then they should work fine.