Army officials at the Pentagon acknowledged yesterday that TACOM sent the wrong message to the field in April when it declared that polymer magazines, such as the PMAG, made by Magpul Industries Corp., were not on the authorized list for use in the M4 carbine. If you recall, the Safety of Use/Maintenance Information Message stated that the only USGI aluminum magazines — like the Army’s improved magazine, were authorized for use in the M4 and M16.
I posted a story this morning on Military.com, quoting Matthew Bourke, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, explaining that the message was poorly written and should have included guidance that the final decision on PMAG use rests with commanders in the field.
“At best, the message is incomplete; at worst the message allows soldiers to jump to the wrong conclusions,” Bourke said. “Maintenance Information Messages [from TACOM] are permissive. They are not an order.”
What’s really puzzling about this is the fact that TACOM officials had the chance to clarify this issue when I questioned them about it for the initial May 25 story. Instead, they dug in and argued that the only NSN-approved magazines that are authorized for use are those listed in the technical manuals — the improved magazine with the tan follower and the old magazine with the green follower.
It may have something to do with the $10.7 million contract TACOM Rock Island awarded to Brownells Inc. in 2009 to produce 1.4 million Army improved magazines.
Oh and I did get an answer from Program Executive Office Soldier on how its improved magazine performs against the PMAG.
The command responded through Army public affairs that weapons officials had conducted “limited side-by-side testing and found that no commercial magazine was superior to the improved magazine,” Bourke said.