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.//
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.