National Security

Senators Urge Army To Authorize Use Of Polymer Magazines For Rifles

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Christopher Q. Stone/Released)

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Senators are urging the U.S. Army to consider using polymer magazines in rifles in an effort to enhance weapon longevity.

Sens. Joni Ernst, Tom Cotton, David Perdue, Johnny Isakson and Jim Inhofe sent a Friday letter to U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley asking him why the Army has yet to approve the use of polymer magazines. The Marine Corps has already done so.

“We write to you today to question why polymer ammunition magazines for United States Army rifles are not authorized for use in combat or in training,” said the letter. “The Army and Marine Corps simultaneously issued orders stating that polymer magazines were not authorized for use in 2012. This month, five years later, the Marine Corps approved the use of an upgraded version of these polymer magazines. It is our hope that the Army considers them as well, or is able to disclose what issues they’ve found with polymer magazines so that we can make the other service branches aware.”

Polymer magazines offer a distinct advantage to the traditional metal version, particularly when it comes to weapon longevity. Polymer magazines are more durable compared to aluminum magazines, but most importantly, they reduce damage to the rifle’s chamber face and feed ramps. That means the military’s M4, M16 and M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles can be used longer — saving the government millions over time.

Polymer magazines — specifically those made by Austin, Texas, based arms company Magpul — are a favorite in the special operations community. Magpul’s PMAG magazine was so popular that it was approved for use by the Marine Corps in combat and training earlier this month.

While the advantages to polymer magazines may seem obvious, they were once considered quite controversial. The Marine Corps banned the use of the magazines in 2012 after they were found to malfunction when used with IARs. The Army, however, does not field the IAR. Furthermore, the malfunction has since been remedied.

“Reports state that the polymer magazines approved for use by the Marine Corps had zero magazine related stoppages through all of the tests carried out by the Marine Corps when combined with any ammunition tested,” stated the letter. “As our national debt approaches $20 billion, ensuring the longevity of these rifles is important.”

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