Four US Senators sent a letter to US Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley on Friday, requesting to know why the US Army does not authorize polymer magazines “for use in training or combat”, given that the USMC recently picked the Magpul PMag Gen M3 as their combat magazine. The odd thing about this request is that the US Army does not, exactly, ban the use of PMags in training or combat. I’ll explain later in the post, but first, the Senators’ request:
We write to you today to question why polymer ammunition magazines for United States Anny riﬂes are not authorized for use in combat or in training. The Army and Marine Corps simultaneously issued orders stating that polymer magazines were not authorized for use in 2012. This month, ﬁve years later, the Marine Corps approved the use of an upgraded version of these polymer magazines. It is our hope that the Army considers them as well, or is able to disclose what issues they’ve found with polymer magazines so that we can make the other service branches aware.
As you may know, the Marine Corps issued guidance against the use of polymer magazines in 2012 due to their inability to function with new automatic riﬂes. To our understanding, the Marine Corps did this following issues with their operation in the new M-27 Infantry Automatic Riﬂe. However, the Anny never ﬁelded the M-27 riﬂe, and it is not clear what speciﬁcations the previous polymer magazines failed to meet in order to be authorized for Army weapon systems. Regardless, the Marine Corps has now identiﬁed polymer magazines that are approved for their M-27 riﬂes, and the same M-4 carbines and M-16s the Army carries.
Reports state that the polymer magazines approved for use by the Marine Corps had zero magazine related stoppages through all of the tests carried out by the Marine Corps when combined with any ammunition tested. Additionally, reports state they also reduce damage to the chamber face and feed ramps when using M855A1 ammunition. As our national debt approaches $20 billion, ensuring the longevity of these riﬂes is important.
We request a response as to why the Army has not approved any polymer magazines for use in combat, or in training, and an update on if the Army is considering approving them now. After years oftechnology advancement for our soldiers, and your fellow service branches testing and approving this technology, it is our hope that the Army is also working to ensure its warfighters have the best equipment possible.
Joni K. Ernst
Jim M. Inhofe
The reason the Senators are under the impression that the US Army prohibits the use of polymer magazines like the PMag is because of a TACOM Life Cycle Management Command announcement made in April of 2012. The announcement references polymer magazines, and states that the authorized magazines are the familiar aluminum-bodied USGI magazines, continuing that “units are only authorized to use the Army authorized magazines listed in the technical manuals”. While this certainly sounds like black-and-white language, in a later announcement it was clarified that this was not a prohibition on polymer magazines but a poorly worded suggestion regarding what magazine TACOM recommended.
Although I realize that Senators are very busy individuals, it took me far less time to confirm that the US Army does not, in fact, have a ban on PMags (and never has) than I imagine it took for the Senators’ request to be written.