Magpul PMag Adopted by US Air Force

The United States Air Force has become the second US military service to adopt the Magpul PMag as their standard rifle magazine. According to the document USAF AUTHORIZED SMALL ARMS and LIGHT WEAPONS (SA/LW) ACCESSORIES (as of 28 July 17) the Magpul PMag Gen M3 magazine will be replacing both the legacy grey body USGI magazines, as well as the new tan body/blue follower Enhanced Performance magazine in USAF service. The document can be viewed here, but the relevant segment is excerpted below:

This decision came just one week after the leak of a USMC test showing the Gen M3 PMag beating the Army’s new EPM magazine handily in a weapon reliability test – with the EPM coming in dead last after both legacy and proprietary magazines. Seven months prior, the United States Marine Corps announced they were also dropping legacy magazines as well as the Enhanced Performance Magazine in favor of the Gen M3 PMag, likely as a result of this and/or similar tests conducted by the service but not released to the public. The Air Force’s notice only serves as further confirmation that the Army’s Enhanced Performance Magazine, despite its promised improvement in reliability, has proven to be an unrecoverable failure in the eyes of the other services. Also, a recently released Soldier Enhancement Program for off the shelf polymer magazines seems to indicate that this has been recognized by the Army itself, to some degree at least.

H/T, Soldier Systems Daily





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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  • LCON

    SO the Marines and now the USAF, Well Navy, Army? looks like it might be a good time for a Joint Magazine replacement,

    • That may happen by default, unless someone else can come up with a magazine that can touch the PMag Gen M3.

      • BillC

        The Army tried with the EPM, but failed miserably.

      • Wow!

        Lancer probably comes close to beating the PMAG, but at a price point that probably isn’t worth it.

    • James Young

      Agreed. The Army shouldn’t give themselves an unnecessary handicap with their EPM if they know something is better.

      • Risky

        You’re talking about the branch that picked the worst possible camouflage imaginable over competitors like Multicam. They’ll come around eventually, after a decade and $10 billion.

        • Wow!

          Perfect for granny’s floral pattern sofa though.

      • Bill

        That’s not how the military works, however. I’m surprised that the PMag is even still in the running-it works, it’s cheap and it has two moving parts. None of these things are attractive in the world of procurement.

  • Dan

    Man why doesnt lancer ask to get tested. While pmags are great i personally like the lancers a bit more. Theyve also fed in a variety of platforms very wel.

    • Scott

      Lancers are my favorite mags due to steel reinforced lips. I also like their extra stippling.

    • BillC

      Why? They cost more than Magpul Gen3’s and do nothing better. The steel lips aren’t there because metal is better (it isn’t), they are there because Lancer’s polymer isn’t as strong Magpul’s so they HAVE to use metal at the feed lips.
      Trust me, I don’t hate Lancers. I have a good number laying around. They just cost 2x as much for literally no better performance.

      • int19h

        They don’t cost 2x. The cheapest you can find a PMAG M3 for is about $10 right now. The cheapest A5WM, about $12.

        • BillC

          Ha, I haven’t bought a Lancer mag in ages, when they did cost about $20. Still it stands, why pay more for the same or even less performance? I don’t think a Lancer mag will let anybody down, they work (in my anecdotal experience), but the amount of real (not just a yahoo on youtube doing a “torture test”) testing and data on magul mags is incredible.

          • int19h

            Well, for one thing, you can have a fully translucent Lancer, but with PMAGs you can only get a tiny window (and if you buy windowed ones, the price is the same as Lancers).

      • mbs357

        I prefer Lancers to PMags. PMag feed lips can’t hold the rounds straight and they end up side by side and impossible to load in the rifle.

    • int19h

      It has been heavily hinted by “people in the know” in the comments to the previous article on the mag comparison that Lancer was indeed “Vendor B” in that test. Which would mean that 1) they were tested, and 2) they were inferior.

      Note that the test was with M855A1. It is well known that M855A1 has feeding issues with the normal angle as used by USGI mags and Lancers – but not with PMAGs, which feed at a higher angle, preventing the tip from contacting the feed ramp. That might well explain the difference in that test. If so, Lancer could fix this by adjusting the feed lips and the follower in the same manner as Magpul did.

      • Wow!

        That is interesting if sources are true. Either way though, I think it would be kind of a Sig vs Glock issue on the MHS. Even if the Lancers are better, PMags are priced at a good point that I think it is better to go with the PMAG instead.

    • Nicks87

      The steel feed lips can get deformed and cause malfunctions and its hard to tell if they are damaged or not. P-mags either work or dont work and are obviously broken (cracked). Nothing against lancers, I have a few too, but like others said they offer no real benefit over P-mags.

  • Brett baker

    Shouldn’t the Army be embarrassed the Chair Force knows more about small arms than it does?

    • Nicks87

      It’s always been that way. In 2004 we (Air Force Security Forces) took over convoy operations in Iraq and Afghanistan because the Army was F-ing it up. We brought our up-armored Humvees and MRAPs and the rest is history.

      • Colonel K

        Nicks, in all fairness to our Army and Marine brethren, the USAF did not really takeover the convoy mission; we augmented it with combat convoy units that we created from scratch using Air Force ground transportation and Security Force assets. One of my officers did much of the yeoman work that brought the idea to full fruition, including the creation of a training program at Camp Bullis, TX.

        Combat convoy was only one of several dozen “nontraditional” ground support missions we conducted in support of the Army and Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa. The Navy received similar support requests.

        The primary reason the Army needed so much augmentation was due to their force restructuring after the Vietnam War, which placed most of their combat support and combat service support assets in the Army reserve. This was a political decision which had been made to ensure that in any future war they would be forced to call up much of the reserve forces. The idea worked fairly well in the first Gulf War because it was a short war, but the Global War on Terror (GWOT) was a different situation that required, and still requires, decades of ongoing support.

        • Bill

          This takes me back to 1980, when I was in the USAF Ground Launched Cruise Missile Test Program and we did ground defense and convoy training at-you guessed it-Bullis. Rained every day for 2 weeks.

          • Colonel K

            I was at Lackland during part of the 80s, and spent a little time at Bullis analyzing some of their Air Base Ground Defense training. That would have been around 81-83.

          • Bill

            I think we were there at the same time. Do you remember the Civil Service Aggressors?

          • Colonel K

            I’m afraid not. I worked out of AFMTC HQ as a staff officer in the plans and programs division. I researched and funded tests of training systems for the different schools at Lackland – ABGD, dog handling, small arms, electronic crypto mx, etc.

          • Bill

            Ah.

      • CavScout

        All I ever saw was AF transport trucks in those convoys. Gun trucks were all Army. Your facts suck.

  • Warren Ellis

    Is the reason why the Army mags always seem to be so crap due to the Army cheapening out on them or something?

    • MSG1000

      The army also thinks they need 7.62 rifle to replace the m4 for the interim. They simply have an inept, corrupt, gullible and/or ignorant procurement office(s).

      • RobertScales-BigBullez&HK

        *lobbyism…

        • Wow!

          I don’t know about lobbying, I think it is more about form following function.

    • Brett baker

      I have a couple Brownell’s mags, they seem pretty good. I got a couple Okays from a relative in the Marines, used but 1 great, one practice only. It seems like they keep defective mags around instead of destroying them, from what I was told in the 90’s.

      • marine6680

        That is true… A crappy mag circulates because many of the guys using them have no clue how important quality mags are to reliability. Especially the ones not in direct combat roles, and just use them for annual quals… So they blame the gun, or they don’t care enough, and the mag gets put back into the supply chain.

        Many who know, will attempt to remove them from rotation, by bending them in such a way that the armorer must get rid of them.

    • Bradley

      I’m pretty sure the reason is they suck by design. I mean they obviously work, but even setting design elements aside thin aluminum is a pretty stupid material to use for a magazine. Anything that easily bends and holds that bend will cause problems eventually.

      • thmsmgnm

        Part of the problem with M16 series mags has been the fact that they were originally designed to be disposable. Except since about day two of the adoption of the M16 various organizations and users has been attempting to reuse them even when they become damaged or otherwise unreliable.

        The first rule with regard to magazines is to destroy them when become damaged (immediately in training a environment) so they do not get recycled with good mags. Same for .mil and .le, when it comes to mags that jam for no visible reason, there is no reason with the current magazine costs to try and replace springs and followers in an attempt to get questionable mags back to reliability. ($4.99 for a replacement spring from one website not including shipping costs.)

        Regular citizens have the option to is remove unreliable mags from use if they are damage to either diagnose & repair or destroy them as needed. But given the costs….

        • Awory

          I had heard the rumor/urban legend/scuttlebutt that the STANAG was meant to be disposed of after 5 or 6 uses. In a Fulda Gap style scenario chances are infantry wouldn’t have them/be alive to reload them more than that so I can see the logic in it.
          The Soviets did their own aluminum mags for a while but pretty much switched to Bakelite after ’74. Steel mags continue to flow from client states, much like how the USSR went to 5.45 and everyone else kept 7.62. I’ve read, but can’t confirm, that there are no steel mags for the AK 74 and everything is either Bakelite or polymer.

        • Wow!

          This is what I think reliably issues in government stocks stem from. While it is great that they try to stretch the dollar, sometimes when lives count on something, it is better to scrap it early and produce more.

  • Sense Offender

    Maybe its time for the Army to get smart. There’s stupid and then there’s Army Stupid!

  • RPK

    THE AIR FORCE SECURITY POLICE OR “PEACEKEEPERS” AS WE WERE KNOWN AS DURING MY TENURE (NOW REFERRED TO AS “DEFENDERS”), HAS CONTINUED TO BE FORWARD THINKING VISIONARIES. THAT IS A PRIMARY REASON THE AIR FORCE WAS SEPARATED FROM THE ARMY AIR CORPS IN SEPTEMBER 1947. THE M-16 PLATFORM WAS FIRST ADOPTED FOR STANDARD ISSUE TO AIR FORCE SECURITY POLICE VIA GENERAL CURTIS LEMAY TO SAFEGUARD THE B-52 ALERT AIRCRAFT. AFTER REPLACING THE M-15 COMBAT MASTERPIECE PISTOL, THE AIR FORCE SECURITY POLICE WAS THE FIRST SERVICE WHOSE LAW ENFORCEMENT CARRIED A CHAMBERED ROUND IN THE M-9 UPON RECEIPT FROM THE ARMORY. THE AIR FORCE SECURITY POLICE ALSO CARRIED A LOADED MAGAZINE IN THE MAGAZINE WELL OF THE M-16 FOR EVERYDAY CARRY ON ALL POSTS. THE OTHER BRANCHES FIRST HAD TO HAVE A REASON TO INSERT A MAGAZINE AND IMMINENT DANGER TO CHARGE A ROUND. IF I RECALL CORRECTLY, MANY MARINES WERE NEEDLESSLY KILLED IN LEBANON BECAUSE THEY DID NOT HAVE A MAGAZINE INSERTED OR A ROUND CHARGED IN THE WEAPON. THIS IS IN NO WAY A REFLECTION ON THOSE DEVIL DOGS WHO WERE STATIONED IN LEBANON, BUT OF THEIR INEPT LEADERSHIP WHO DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE THREAT. ANYWAY, THE MAGPUL PMAG CHANGEOVER IS A NO-BRAINER. THERE ARE MANY CONFIGURATIONS UP TO AND INCLUDING A REASONABLY PRICED AND RELIABLE DRUM. I HAVE DEEP RESPECT FOR ALL THE BRANCHES OF THE ARMED FORCES. IT TAKES THE ENTIRE ARMED FORCES WORKING IN UNISON TO REIGN HELL DOWN ON OUR ADVERSARIES. THE AIR FORCE HAS A SIMPLE ETHOS OF “WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER”. IT JUST MAKES MORE SENSE THAN TO BUST YOUR ASS FOR THE SAME RESULTS. A HUGE CHANGE IN THE LEVEL OF RESPECT AFFORDED THE AIR FORCE CAME ABOUT FROM ARMY AND MARINE GROUND FORCES DURING THE GULF WAR. THE AIR FORCE OBLITERATED THE COMMAND STRUCTURE AND ARMORED CAPABILITY OF SADDAM. THE PROPER USE OF AIR POWER SAVED COUNTLESS AMERICAN SOLDIERS AND MARINES FROM HAVING TO UNDERGO GROUND OPERATIONS. I AM RETIRED SECURITY POLICE LAW ENFORCEMENT/CORRECTIONS 1979-1999.
    I RESPECT AND APPRECIATE ALL THE BRANCHES OF MILITARY SERVICE FOR WHAT THEY BRING TO THE WARRIOR TABLE.

  • RPK

    BTW, IS THE POST BELOW FROM COLONEL KLINK OR COLONEL KECK?
    COLONEL KECK WAS AND IS, A WELL RESPECTED SECURITY POLICE LEGEND.
    COLONEL KLINK, NOT SO MUCH (OTHER THAN AS A T.V. LEGEND).

  • CavScout

    Authorized doesn’t mean Adopted.

    And PMags have been authorized in the Army for a long time.