USMC joins Army aftermarket mag ban

Well, the Army tried to copy the Marines’ promised women-in-Infantry initiative (which has flopped badly in the Corps), now the Marines repay the plagiarism by boosting the Army’s rifle magazine ban, although they have reasons of their own.

There’s a lot of second-hand second-hand stuff on the gun blogs on this message from yesterday, so we thought we’d direct you to the actual message, MARADMIN 668/12. (You’re welcome). And we’re going to excerpt the relevant text of it right here.

3.  THE EXECUTIVE STEERING COMMITTEE (ESC) BROUGHT FORWARD THE FOLLOWING ITEMS THAT WERE APPROVED BY THE ADVOCATE, DC, CD AND I:

3.A.  DC, CD AND I ESTABLISH, VIA THIS MESSAGE, THE POLICY FOR USE OF 5.56MM MAGAZINES IS RESTRICTED TO THE PURCHASE AND USE OF [ONLY] MARCORSYSCOM TESTED AND APPROVED 5.56MM MAGAZINES WITH NSN: 1005015617200 (TAN FOLLOWER), 1005009215004 (GREEN FOLLOWER), 1005000562237 (BLACK FOLLOWER).

4.  ACTION ITEMS:
4.A.  DC, CD AND I HAS TAKEN DIRECT ACTION ON THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
4.A.1  ITEM 3A:  THE MAGAZINE POLICY FOR THE MARINE CORPS IS ESTABLISHED VIA THIS MESSAGE, AND ONLY THOSE RIFLE MAGAZINES LISTED IN PARAGRAPH 3A AND IN THE ANNUAL EQUIPMENT MESSAGE (PUBLISHED SEPARATELY) ARE AUTHORIZED FOR USE.

7.  RELEASE AUTHORIZED BY LIEUTENANT GENERAL RICHARD P. MILLS, DEPUTY COMMANDANT FOR COMBAT DEVELOPMENT AND INTEGRATION.//

 

MagPul PMAG — doesn’t fit the IAR M27

The Symposium at which Marine leaders and experts reached this decision had a great deal of participation by combat Marines, marksmanship trainers and experts, and this message is not a unilateral decision from Lt. Gen. Mills, although it’s been spun that way in the media. It’s also not cast in concrete: the next Symposium is in June. They also covered several other interesting subjects, including moving-target training (the Marines plan to teach a one-body-width lead for moving men), but we snipped out only the magazine-related matter.

Reportedly, the reason for the mag restriction is the finicky magwell of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, which is essentially a 20″ HK 416. That magwell has also spurred MagPul to redesign their popular PMAG, the previous version of which does not fit in the M27.  Before we all get out our H&K pitchforks, the reason some mags don’t fit is because the wily Teutons designed the mag well präzisionsweise according to the NATO mag-well spec, which derived from the original Colt technical data package for the M16A1 way back in 1967 when the Army was pursuing second-source M16 contracts. But the actual M16s were not made to the spec, due to the limits of the technology used at the time. As a result, some designers of aftermarket magazines who worked off of existing mags and magwells may have designed mags too large for a minimum-tolerances mag well. That’s certainly the case with MagPul PMAGs prior to the new G3 mags… which don’t go into a 416 or M27.

As an aside, there’s a lot of noise about the PMAG as having a National/NATO Stock Number. Yes, but… only two parts do, black PMAG with and without the round-count witness window. When you see PMAGs of any other color in military use, they were bought by the service member or by the unit. The new G3 PMAGs which fit H&K mag wells are not covered by these NSNs.

Now, this Marine admin message is being spun as a PMAG ban, and it is that, but not exclusively so. It bans everything but the three Army-issue mags, two of which have been replaced over there because their reliability and durability is weak (green follower) or dreadful (black follower). (The Army continues to accept the green-follower mags as substitute standard till they wear out, but has recalled the black-follower units). Even the best metal magazine for ARs — the HK stainless maritime mag, which fits the M27 magwell perfectly fine — is banned by this message.

The Army ultimately relaxed its ban, allowing unit commanders to permit the use of aftermarket magazines at the commander’s option. It’s probable that the Marines will follow suit after an interval, at least as far as magazines which will fit the tight H&K mag wells are concerned.

9 thoughts on “USMC joins Army aftermarket mag ban

  1. Christian Wade

    Thank you for writing an article that is well informed and can see what is actually happening here. We are working on ensuring we have the best magazines possible, but in order to get there, we must do this (for now). If a legitimate requirement can be filed, then money can be allocated, and testing can be completed…..and the USMC can have its world class magazine (polymer, metal, polymer/metal hybrid, or whatever it looks like in the end. Many writers have taken this 180 degrees from correct context. You’ve done a fine job here. It does go far beyond [only] the M27 magazine well, although that is a consideration. We would like to have the best (tested and approved) magazine that includes a contract to keep the corporations on the up and up….not something someone buys at the PX/BX because the salesman told them it’s the best.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Gunner,

      thanks for the input. I have to say it’s a leadership issue in part (isn’t everything?). Leaders — and this is mostly an NCO leadership issue — have to ensure than bad mags (individual ones) get taken out of the rotation for good. Your guys need to do at the squad and platoon level what the Army and Marines are trying to do with the service wide messages: start with magazines known to be OK and go from there.

      An IAR gunner has to be able to shout “Mag!” and know that the mag his buddy throws him will go into his rifle. But you also need to know that your mags will work in Harstad, Norway in February 1t -10F as well as in the Arabian Desert at +120. They need to work wet and dry and to break the fall of a soldier or Marine hitting the prone under fire, without giving up the ghost. It has to work for your SF-Ranger-Marsoc-Recon-Ninja and work just as well for the personnel clerk whose rifle is the only thing to stop a VBIED when he’s on guard duty at his FOB. It needs to be soldier- and Marine-proof, and Joe could break a bowling ball just by looking at it.

      A lot of people (including too many troops and vets) are quick to assume that the people handling weapons and accessories procurement are bozos. We should give ‘em a little credit and recognize that, since they’ve already given us a magic rucksack full of cool gear, maybe they do know what they’re doing.

  2. Geodkyt

    Another solution would be to stop procurement of the HK lowers unless an until HK is willing to broach them to the same specs as all the other M16 lowers Uncle Sam buys, and use stripped lowers from other suppliers, or even strip them off existing M16A1s that aren’t going to be issued any time soon.

    To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing magical about the M27 upper that keeps it from being mated to a standard lower. ISTR that the M27 uses a tweaked trigger group, but still uses the same hole positions.

    Of course, if USMC tests and approves the Gen3 Magpuls, they COULD do something similar to what they did with the OKC3 bayonet — specify that USMC marked “official” versions be readily available at reasonable prices for individual purchase by Marines, so Joe Devildog doesn’t replace his lost issue stuff with cheap Chinese clones or other non-spec kit. Hell, sell ‘em through Clothing Sales — “OK, Marines, you can use only O-FFIC-IAL Marine mags. That means either the supply sergeant signed ‘em out to you, or the ultimately superior Magpul Marine Magazines with the EGA on the mag body AND the wrapper, that you get the same place you buy your Staybrite hat brass!”

  3. Hognose Post author

    Your comment makes very little sense at all. I started to reply point-by-point but it doesn’t really merit that response here. None of the authors of this blog is a Marine. This is not a gun-law blog, and this post was not about anything that impacts on the public right to keep and bear arms. The Marines simply decided to restrict the magazines that they can use in government-owned and -issued weapons to magazines that that they have a high confidence will function with all such weapons, at least until they can determine what works and what does not among the thousands of weapons out there.

    Almost everything you wrote has nothing to do with the post, and I can’t figure out where all the hostility and loathing for the Marines comes from.

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