US Army Authorizes Magpul PMag Gen M3 for Requisition by Unit Officers

    The US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) has just authorized the purchase of Magpul PMag Gen M3 polymer magazines through requisition by unit commanders, marking a major step in the use of PMag magazines in Army service. Although a previous clarification in 2012 authorized the magazines for use, they could not be purchased using unit (that is to say, Army) funds. The full announcement is replicated below, courtesy of Soldier Systems Daily:

    Subject: Maintenance Information (MI) Message, TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, (TACOM LCMC) Control No. MI 17-045, (Informational), M16/M4 New Magazines.

    Models Affected:
    Rifle, 5.56mm, M16A2 (NSN 1005-01-128-9936); Rifle, 5.56mm, M16A4 (NSN 1005-01-383-2872); Carbine, 5.56mm, M4 (NSN 1005-01-231-0973); Carbine, 5.56 mm, M4A1 (NSN 1005-01-382-0953)

    Total Density of Equipment Affected is 900000, and Density of Equipment affected in SWA is 50000.


    REFERENCES: TM 9-1005-319-10
    TM 9-1005-319-23&P
    MAINTENANCE INFORMATION (MI) MESSAGE, #12-039 dated May 2012

    1. Distribution:

    This is a Maintenance Information (MI) Message. Commanders/Directors of Army Commands (ACOM)/Army Service Component Commands (ASCC)/Direct Reporting Units (DRU), Army National Guard (ARNG), US Army Reserve (USAR) Command, US Navy (USN), US Air Force (USAF), US Marine Corps (USMC) and other Service Commanders and Responsible Offices will retransmit this message to all subordinate Commanders/Activities.

    2. Message Library:

    This message will be available on the Maintenance Messages Web Site located on the TACOM Unique Logistics Support Applications (TULSA) portal within twenty-four hours of transmission. Access to the Maintenance Messages Web site requires CAC authentication. You must first request access to the Maintenance Messages Web site. To request access go to [CAUTION] [CAUTION]. For assistance, email the TULSA Helpdesk at [email protected] The Maintenance Messages Web site also has the capability to email maintenance messages directly to your inbox. To subscribe to the mailing list, click on, -E-Mail Subscriptions-, on the Navigation bar.

    3. Issue:

    Units are now authorized to requisition the following polymer magazines NSN 1005-01-615-5169 (BLACK) and NSN 1005-01-659-7086 (COYOTE TAN) as Additional Authorization List (AAL) items.

    4. User Actions:

    a. The Enhanced Performance Magazine (NSN 1005-01-630-9508) is still the primary magazine for the M4/M16 series rifles and carbines, and will still be included as a Component of End Item.

    Units are now also authorized to requisition, at the commander’s discretion, polymer magazines NSN 1005-01-615-5169 (BLACK) and NSN
    1005-01-659-7086 (COYOTE TAN) as AAL items.

    b. Field Level, Operator

    c. This message supersedes TACOM LCMC, MAINTENANCE INFORMATION (MI) MESSAGE, #12-039 dated May 2012.

    d. NSN 1005-01-615-5169 (Black), P/N MAG556-BLK, 1LX50
    NSN 1005-01-659-7086 (Coyote Tan), P/N MAG556-MCT, 1LX50

    e. Units and Soldiers are authorized to procure and use polymer magazines in M16 and M4 rifles & carbines at the Commander’s discretion. Ongoing testing, due to be complete in 1QFY18, demonstrate Magpul PMAG Gen 3 Black magazines are currently providing adequate performance and reliability in the M4A1 Carbine under virtually all conditions and are appropriate for use. Tests demonstrate PMAG magazines crack/break in cold (below 0 degrees
    Fahrenheit) environments when dropped and units should use Army-standard aluminum magazines in basic to severe cold environments.

    Caution should be exercised when using the magazine in basic cold to severe cold environments (-0F to -60F). Cracking and/or shattering was observed during drop testing at and below -0 Fahrenheit and lighter damage at higher temperatures. Visually inspect for cracks, breaks, chips, or other damage to magazine assembly if dropped. Replace if defective or unserviceable.

    5. Unit Commanders:

    a. Commanders are authorized to requisition polymer magazines NSN
    1005-01-615-5169 and NSN 1005-01-659-7086, at their discretion.

    b. Contact your local TACOM LCMC Logistics Assistance Representative
    (LAR) or your State Surface Maintenance Manager upon receipt of this message for assistance. For assistance in locating your TACOM LCMC LAR, see paragraph 8c.

    6. TACOM LCMC/PM actions:

    a. Publications: TM 9-1005-319-23&P Estimated completion date 2nd Qtr CY 2018

    TM 9-1005-319-10 Estimated completion date 1st Qtr CY 2018

    b. Follow-up action(s): N/A

    c. Assistance to the field: N/A

    7. Supply Status:

    a. Parts required: NSN 1005-01-615-5169 (Black), P/N MAG556-BLK,
    1LX50 NSN 1005-01-659-7086 (Coyote Tan), P/N MAG556-MCT, 1LX50

    b. Requisitioning instructions: Units are required to requisition the magazines through the DoD supply system

    c. Disposition/Availability: N/A

    d. Cost Impact: NSN 1005-01-615-5169 $14.00
    NSN 1005-01-659-7086 $10.00

    e. Who pays: Units requisitioning AAL items

    8. POCs:

    a. The originator of this message is Kenneth Hiltunen, XXX.

    b. There are no appropriate POCs

    It seems that, despite itself, the Army is inching closer to an inevitable full-on adoption of the PMag, but their home-brewed aluminum Enhanced Performance Magazine is holding on a little longer. The announcement’s reservation that PMags are unsuitable for service in cold weather appears to be a holdover from the Gen 2 PMag, which would fail in certain conditions, including cold. However, independent evidence strongly suggests the Gen M3 PMag does not have this problem. Given that both the Air Force and Marine Corps have adopted the Gen M3 PMag, and the Army has already flirted with the idea, it is probably only a matter of time, now. With this announcement, we may have seen the first crack in the armor of Army ordnance.

    Magpul has enough momentum to keep going until the very streets we walk on are paved with PMags, and, frankly, they seem to deserve the good fortune. According to rifle tests conducted by the US Army in 2015, the M4A1-PMag Gen 3-M855A1 system attained a mean rounds between stoppages (MRBS) of 4,800, over a third higher than the 3,592 MRBS objective for the IC program – a program goal which, recall, was criticized by many in the industry as being impossible to achieve. “Rifle C”, the most reliable weapon in that test in terms of MRBS (but not mean rounds between failures/breakages), achieved approximately 2,500 MRBS – a little over half the reliability of the M4A1 with PMags. So, evidently, they were wrong: if you have a good enough plastic bullet box, even a “lowly” M4A1 can shatter that threshold with ease. Imagine what sort of reliability could be achieved with common sense revisions to the rifle’s gas system, trigger, and spring set!

    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. He can be reached via email at [email protected]