Ok so I have spent the last week trying to find out why Army officials at TACOM would ban soldiers from using PMAGs in the warzone. I posted a story that explores the issue this morning on Military.com, but I don't think this issue is over yet.
I'm not surprised that the Army wants everyone to use its Improved Magazine with the tan follower that's supposed to cut down on stoppages in the M4. You have to give Army weapons officials credit for finally recognizing in late 2007 that the magazines with the green follower were poorly designed.
It was the way the Army went about improving the magazine that seemed a little questionable. Weapons officials quickly recognized that Magpul Industries Corp. was onto something with its new PMAG. But instead of testing Magpul's polymer design, the Army tried unsuccessfully to develop its own polymer magazine, my sources tell me.
The Army didn't want to adopt the PMAG because acquisition officials wanted to own the technical data rights, a condition Magpul wasn't likely to agree to, sources say.
So the Army settled on improving the follower -- which has a strong resemblance to Magpul's original design. When fielding began in 2009, Army weapons officials maintained that the new design would decrease stoppages by 50 percent, but they would never really discuss the testing process. It's also unclear how the new mags compared to the PMAG's performance. That didn't really matter, because units were free to continue using PMAGs which had an Army-approved national stock number.
That all changed, however, in April when TACOM released its Safety of Use message that authorized only two NSNs for use with the M4 -- the improved magazine with the tan follower and the older magazine with the green follower.
Apparently, the NSN issued for the PMAG was never really authorized, TACOM spokesman Eric Emerton said in a written response to questions from Military.com.
“Units are only authorized to use the Army-authorized magazines listed in the technical manuals," he said. Emerton added that only “authorized NSNs have ever been included in the technical manuals. Just because an item has an NSN, does not mean the Army is an authorized user.”Huh???? That must be why PMAGs are standard issue to special operations units such as the 75th Ranger Regiment -- those boys are clearly confused.
I have asked the Army if it has any proof that the service's new magazine can outperform or even equal the PMAG's performance, but I am still waiting for an answer.
What is really strange about this is that Magpul officials said they don't want to talk about the issue. It could be that the company is hoping the Army will reverse its decision. Or maybe there's something behind the Army's abrupt decision to ban all polymer magazines that hasn't yet surfaced.