This post comes from PM Soldier Weapons.
The Army has begun fielding the new 5.56mm 30 round Improved Magazine that delivers a significant increase in reliability for the battle-tested M16 and M4 weapons systems. Bolstering the already high reliability ratings of the M16/M4 systems, the Improved Magazine effectively reduces the risk of magazine-related stoppages by more than 50 percent compared to the older magazine variants. Identified by a tan-colored follower, over 500,000 of the improved magazines have been fielded to units in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the U.S.
“With the improved magazines, we’re taking weapons reliability up another notch,” said LTC Chris Lehner, Product Manager Individual Weapons. “By incorporating a heavier, more corrosion resistant spring, along with a new follower design that does not tilt inside the casing, our engineers were able to develop a magazine that presents a round to the weapon with even greater stability. Increased magazine reliability results in overall improved weapon system performance.”
Currently, there are three different types of magazines in the supply inventory that can be identified by the color of the follower. The new, improved magazine follower is tan. Magazines with a green follower are strong performers and are acceptable so long as they are serviceable, but should be phased out from the force as the improved magazines are received. The oldest magazines have a black follower and should be turned in to supply sergeants.
“Soldiers can remember it like this: ‘Tan – is the plan. Green – start to lean. Black – take it back,’” said LTC Lehner. “While the improved magazines increase reliability to an even greater degree, the new magazines by no means reduce the importance of Soldiers keeping their weapons clean and lubricated appropriately for the environment. Also, Soldiers must be proficient on conducting immediate action (SPORTS) if their weapon has a stoppage.”
A significant portion of the system reliability gains are the result of the redesigned follower. The new follower incorporates an extended rear leg and modified bullet protrusion for improved round stacking and orientation. The self-leveling/anti-tilt follower minimizes jamming while a wider spring coil profile creates even force distribution. The performance gains have not added weight or cost to the magazines.
The Army’s goal is to field approximately 7,000,000 improved magazines for the Army’s fleet of M16 and M4 weapons. They are currently free issue for deploying units and those in theater. Future requirements will be met in pre-deployment CONUS fielding. Starting this month, all weapon fielding events will include improved magazines. All units operating in either OEF/OIF theaters should contact their chain of command if they have not already received their improved magazines. The Improved Magazines are available in the supply system now for replenishment and can be requisitioned under the NSN 1005-01-561-7200.
To ensure the magazines that are in the system are up to standard, PM Soldier Weapons will be making a magazine wear tool available this fall that eliminates guess work when it comes to identifying unserviceable magazines. The tool will enable armorers and supply supply sergeants to precisely gauge whether the separation between the magazine feed lips are within specifications – a critical parameter for magazine performance.
To see more pictures of the wear tool and the new improved magazine, visit the PEO Soldier Flickr page.
About Project Manager (PM) Soldier Weapons
Established in 2002 as part of Project Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, PM Soldier Weapons ensures that U.S. Army Soldiers have overmatch in individual and crew served weapons capabilities on the battlefield. PM Soldier Weapons supports Soldiers through the development, production, fielding and sustainment of current and future weapons systems, ammunition, and associated target acquisition/fire control products. As a result of PM Soldier Weapons’ efforts, Soldiers are equipped with products that enhance both survivability and lethality, and benefit from continuous improvement programs. For more information, please visit our website.