An Air Force bulletin issued on July 28 titled, “USAF Authorized Small Arms and Light Weapons (SA/LW) Accessories,” (PDF) includes four lines that confirm the branch is adopting the Magpul Gen 3 PMag. Tan and black versions, with the window, “…will replace the NSN 1005-01-630-9508 through attrition,” it states. It will also replace the relatively new Enhanced Performance Magazine (EPM) and legacy metal versions as they become unserviceable.
Late last year, the U.S. Marine Corps made a similar move, but didn’t abandon the EPM entirely. It can still be ordered, but use is expressly limited to training. The Gen 3 PMag—again in tan and black—is the only magazine the branch has authorized for Leatherneck use in combat. Individual unit funds must be employed for purchases of the latter, which means bulk, service-wide orders aren’t on the radar screen yet.
The Gen 3 PMag has transparent windows on both sides of its body to allow a visual gauge of rounds remaining in the magazine. Internally, its geometry improves feeding and the anti-tilt follower is self-lubricating for better reliability. Its polymer body is crush and impact resistant and a matrix of dots on the bottom of the floorplate are designed for paint pen marking.
That magazine was introduced slightly more than a year ago as a replacement for the metal-bodied legacy versions with tan, black and green followers in an effort to address concerns that the steel-tipped bullet on the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round was damaging the aluminum in an M4’s feed ramps. Early announcements claimed its modified body and feed lips minimize the metal-to-metal abrasion with an improved angle of cartridge presentation that resulted in a 300-percent reduction in stoppages.