Will the US Army Adopt the Magpul PMag? US Army Explores Procurement of “Polymer Magazines” [NDIA 2017]

Will the US Army adopt the Magpul Gen M3 PMag? Until recently, it seemed the answer was “no”. The Army had produced several magazine iterations replacing the legacy “black follower” design, culminating with the latest Enhance Performance Magazine (formerly High Performance Magazine), which they claimed reduced malfunctions by two-thirds. However, buried in the back of Lt. Col. Steven Power’s presentation released with the 2017 NDIA conference records last month, was a reference to a Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP) begun in February to procure and test polymer magazines with the possibility of procuring them for the Army proper. The overview of the program was confined to a single slide on Lt. Col. Power’s presentation:

This SEP appears to be a response to recent events which began with USMC, Crane, and Army tests which showed the Gen M3 PMag as performing considerably superior to other AR-15 magazines, including the current USGI pattern. As a result of this testing, the USMC pushed forward and adopted the Magpul PMag Gen M3, which led several members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to question the Army in an open letter about their magazine recommendations and why the PMag was not one of them.

At the same time, the Army’s new Enhanced Performance Magazine has reportedly met with problems, including out of spec magazine bodies and other flaws, making the initial deployment of what was supposed to be the ultimate Army M4 magazine something of a disappointment. All this together appears to be driving the Army to consider the PMag and other off-the-shelf magazines as alternatives to the evolving standard USGI pattern.





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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  • No, the US Army will not adopt the PMAG.

    The US Army will adopt the Detachable Magazine, Carbine, Polymer Construction, Multi-Caliber, 30 Round Capacity, Improved Follower Ammunition Loading Device Mark I, also known as the “M1”. The US Marine Corps wil immediately demand their own version with a slightly different color scheme and STOVL capability; it will be known as the “M1A (USMC)”, or “PMAG” for short.

    It will not be compatible with weapons designed for the M1, and have only 10% parts commonality.

    • Brett baker

      The truth is NOT funny

    • PK

      This is too real, man. Too real.

    • BudHall

      Oh you cynic!! 😉

  • Audie Bakerson

    The weight increase with a pmag is pretty noticeable. That’s their primary flaw.

    • Lee Attiny

      Can’t figure out if you’re being sarcastic or actually retarded…

      • Audie Bakerson

        Pmags are the heaviest of all the AR mags I own. We’re already at the limit for crap we stick on our soldiers and trying to reduce that, not increase it.

        • int19h

          The difference between USGI aluminum mag and PMAG M3 is 30 grams. That’s about 2 rounds of ammo.

    • MagsOut

      There is a weight difference but it’s only about (slightly less than) 1 ounce per mag. Ounces equals pounds… Still not very significant, unless you are looking at mass supply shipments, in which case Aluminum GI mags take up fractionally less space as well.

      Half of that individual weight difference could be offset by a swap back to 55 grain.
      (Not that that’s at all plausible in an official capacity)

      • Bill

        How about turning those kitchen sink hardware store M4s back into rifles? Bet that would save weight…

  • nadnerbus

    This should have happened years ago. And they should go back and do the M4 dust tests with Pmags. I think that would be illuminating.

    I remember reading somewhere that traditional aluminum mags were made by various companies, some of whom were picked more for meeting political standards that quality, like being minority owned and whatnot. Was there any truth to that?

    • That was before affirmative action was really a thing; the political standards in question were mostly good ol’ fashioned “had lobbyists with deeper pockets and better strip club memberships”.

    • neckbone

      Most likely had retired generals on pay somehow. It’s all in who you know.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Would not surprise me. Minority owned businesses often get preferential treatment in Gov space.

    • TechnoTriticale

      I recall seeing surplus mags back in the 70s made by Adventure Line.

      That (and complaints about those with black followers specifically) might have been the thing that gave rise to the myth of some M16s being made by Mattel. It certainly did nothing to dissuade anyone then inclined to consider the M16 a toy.

      Some adventure.

      • Bill

        Actually, the Adventure Lines weren’t bad mags-I have three and they work just fine. There is a list somewhere of contractors and which ones to stay away from-AR15.com may have it.

    • Bill

      I’ve also heard that. The story was that Colt made two sets of magazine tooling and shuffled them from contractor to contractor. As soon as a contractor started making money they lost the tooling to another one. Just ridiculous enough to probably be true.

  • Frank

    Why not adopt the more durable lancer mags?

    • LCON

      The Marines adopted the PMAG, they claim to have run an evaluation and concluded that it had the most benefits of the trailed magazines.

      • Frank

        What makes the PMAG the more durable one? I don’t see any mechanical difference that would make it preferable.

        • mig1nc

          The test was specific to the M855A1 round. Could be something about the geometry of the curve and the shape of that specific round. Who knows why, but them’s the results. I like my Lancers though and will keep using them.

          • PK

            Same, they’re good mags. My personal preference is for ordinary USGI aluminum mags, then Lancer, then PMAG, but they all work fine.

            Now, if M855A1 ends up being available on the commercial market, my preferences may have to change based on which mags feed best, but for my current needs I’ll probably just stick with boring aluminum mags.

          • john huscio

            It’s available in small batches….mostly through connected sources who sell through gunbroker

          • int19h

            So far as I know, the feed angle of Lancers is identical to USGI mags, while PMAG has the “improved” one that makes a big difference for M855A1.

            That said, it should be fairly easy to change the follower in Lancers for a better angle, if that’s the only reason.

        • LCON

          I did not say Durable I said the Benefits,
          “The Magpul GenM3 PMag was the only magazine to perform to acceptable levels across all combinations of Marine Corps 5.56mm rifles and ammunition during testing. That magazine has, therefore, been approved for use for both training and combat,” Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) told Military Times.
          They tested in M4,M16,M27 and M249 and it worked.

    • ARCNA442

      If you believe what the Magpul reps say, the Lancer is more durable but the PMAG is more reliable.

    • neckbone

      Lancer doesn’t have enough lobbyists in DC yet. And I agree they are the best mags I’ve used.

      • Joe

        Who exactly is lobbying on Magpuls behalf in D.C., neckbone?

  • Robert R Ramos

    Pmag is garbage.

    • Juggernaut

      Sure, that’s why Magpul has sold tens of millions of them- because they are absolute sh*t.

      • Counterpoint: Windows 10.

        • MonF&%@INtana

          As a Linux User, I concur. Most people typically just go with whatever their gun (pc?) comes with (and that’s mostly Pmags, anymore…or…Windows…wait what are we talking about?).

          Don’t get me wrong, Pmags are good (Windows…not so much), I have several, but they have certain limitations. For anyone who runs their weapon hard (as intended), with various mags, you will come to similar conclusions. I whole-heartedly recommend Lancers as primary go-to mags.

    • Joe

      Based on what objective fact(s) Robert R Ramos?

    • Kivaari

      Why? Mine work fine.

  • Bill

    Love it or hate it, I wonder what .mil procurement would be like if somebody could just cut a purchase order for 10 million PMags or tents or BDUs to Walmart. I guess that would take all the fun out of it, and most of the money.

    • ARCNA442

      That’s how it used to work and there is a reason we changed – look at army logistics in the Civil War or Spanish American War.

      • Warren Ellis

        Both wars had very bad logistics right?

    • john huscio

      I’ve never seen a pmag in walmart

  • While economic ties have a very poor track record of preventing all-out war, China is unlikely to start any actual armed conflict with the US for the simple basic reason that they’re really only a major global player economically; they’re mostly a regional power militarily, with no effective means of asserting dominance at a distance.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Have you seen their new carriers?

      Yes, plural.

      They are based on old Soviet carriers- thus, ski jumps, with the limits that incurs. But don’t think for a second there aren’t spies at work to obtain our tech for their carriers. Steam and railgun cats are most definitely top of their wish list.

  • aldol11

    ar magazine are already a pos, theyare going to mke them even worse.
    learn from ak47’s magzines are steel with reinforced lips

    magazines are responsible for 90% of misfeed

    • int19h

      Standard-issue AKM mags have been polymer for a while. And, of course, all AK74 mags are polymer.

  • Joe

    It’s the Army we are talking about, those window lickers will probably adopt the Hex Mag.

    • BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM goes the dynamite!

    • Bookoodinkydow

      The marines will require “insert this end”.

  • Joe

    It’s the U.S. Army we are talking about here, those Tards will adopt Hex Mags.

  • Jedediah Pendergast

    They’ll spend a year writing the RFI, two years on the RFP and two years testing. They’ll spend $20 million pushing paper around and then decide that the old mags are good enough.

    Download the MHS RFP, it’s about 325 page IIRC.

  • john huscio

    Have the Marines drawn dicks all over theirs yet?

  • john huscio

    Steyr should make AR mags….or modify Aug mags to fit an AR/m4 magwell…..then you’d have the best mags ever made available for use in a huge amount of guns.

  • Warren Ellis

    What is the reason for the Army constantly pushing its own particular set of magazines for use? Is it a logistics thing?

    I mean are PMAGs really expensive compared to whatever cheap aluminium mag the military uses?

    • Kivaari

      Pmags will not cost more than a couple bucks each when bought by the hundreds of thousands, or millions. The GI aluminum magazines are pretty good, especially when having the no-tilt followers.

  • Jim_Macklin

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/36519766d14fd6496e052f294b29912fbb42c9fe78e03391986c0d2c32096329.jpg

    Daniel Defense 32 round carbon fiber reinforced polymer magazine. Seems very good and very light weight and very strong.

  • garey

    Wonder if they looked at Elite Tactical Systems mags. Love mine.

  • TRUBOOST

    I would hope for military use that no branch of service would use a pmag, or any other plastic. I know when i bought my 1st AR i bought a bunch of gen2 pmags to go with it because all the internet commandos said thats what i should do. they are not what i expected at all. flimsy plastic. fine for range use, but i would never consider going to combat with those things. to this day i dont understand the hype.

    • Jarrad

      Flimsy? I did two tours in Iraq with Pmags. I wasn’t gentle with them either and they held up. We even took one and ran it over with a Up Armored. Still worked didn’t crack. So what do you mean flimsy

  • Bill

    You just gotta love this. The Army presumably knows about PMags since they are everywhere and instead makes an inferior product, tries its best to put lipstick on a pig and then looks at the PMag like they should have in the first place. I’ll bet all of this was free, too. No wonder the military is running out of money.

  • Sense Offender

    Maybe its because the army has a history of sticking to its guns literally rejecting newfangled contraptions like multishot cased cartridges that would waste ammo and are “unAmerican.”

  • Secundius

    I think “Temperature” is going to be the Biggest Issue?/! Leaving a Polymer Magazine (As Is) in the Hot Desert Sun, Not Much of a Issue. But Loaded with Live Rounds, will Probably Warp the Magazine because of Heat Transfer to the Ammunition inside the Magazine…

    • Sense Offender

      Yes because aluminum is far less conductive than plastic and why we don’t use aluminum power lines anymore but plastic ones today!

      • Secundius

        The Best Polymer Magazine on the Market Today, is the “Lancer L5”. Which is Rated at -50F to +180F, but with “Hot” Ammunition inside. I won’t use it…

  • bobk90

    Everything has its problems and nothing works 100%, right? So simply choose what works in the Field instead of bull shite paper stats! They should pick at least 3 different mags, give them to 3 different infantry units and let the grunts punish them to see who is the winner!

  • BudHall

    Weren’t some units just a few years ago buying polymer mags, I think the earlier PMag, with local unit funds. I think I recall some discussion re. that, pro & con.

  • Thomas Ehrhart