Posts Tagged ‘TangoDown’

In the past, I have written about the PEO Soldier’s self-congratulatory reinvention of the wheel and DepSecDef Ashton Carter’s comment that PEO Soldier’s magazine was not “playing to our strengths.”  Last week, the Army announced that it was banning the use of MagPul Industry’s highly-regarded PMAG as well as other polymer magazines such as Tango Down’s ARC magazine. Clearly, the good idea fairy is at work here.  There is not much I can add to Matthew Cox’s story “In Reversal, Army Bans High-Performance Rifle Mags” but let me highlight a portion:

This seems to be a complete policy reversal, since PMAGs are standard issue with the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and they have been routinely issued to infantry units before war-zone deployments.

Soldiers from B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, had been issued PMAGs before deploying to Afghanistan in 2009. On Oct. 3 of that year, they fought off a bold enemy attack on Combat Outpost Keating that lasted for more than six hours and left eight Americans dead. Some soldiers fired up to 40 PMAGs from their M4s without a single stoppage.

Militay.com asked TACOM officials if the Army had discovered any problems with PMAGs that would warrant the ban on their use. TACOM officials would not answer the question and instead passed it off to Program Executive Office Soldier on Thursday evening before the four-day Memorial Day weekend.

TACOM’s message authorizes soldiers to use the Army’s improved magazine, which PEO Soldier developed after the M4 finished last against three other carbines in a 2007 reliability test. The “dust test” revealed that 27 percent of the M4’s stoppages were magazine related.

The improved magazine uses a redesigned “follower,” the part that sits on the magazine’s internal spring and feeds the rounds into the M4’s upper receiver. The new tan-colored follower features an extended rear leg and modified bullet protrusion for improved round stacking and orientation. The self-leveling/anti-tilt follower reduces the risk of magazine-related stoppages by more than 50 percent compared to the older magazine variants, PEO Soldier officials maintain. Soldiers are also authorized to use Army magazines with the older, green follower until they are all replaced, the message states.

Military.com asked the Army if the improved magazine can outperform the PMAG, but a response wasn’t received by press time.

As the article indicates, the magazine is a common failure point. Even with the vaunted reliability of the AK system, a dented magazine can cause a stoppage. The only rationale that I can see behind this is that not every polymer magazine is great. There are many imitators of the PMAG and ARC that would be downright dangerous for warfighters to use. However, disallowing all polymer magazines is every bit as dangerous. While people fall in love with the whiz-bangery of The Next Carbine™, it is important to remember that better training, better maintenance, and better magazines would all save lives.



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The Program Executive Office Soldier, or PEO Soldier, is a organization within the U. S. Army responsible for rapid development and fielding of technologies that support soldiers.  That is a noble mission no doubt, but my gripe with PEO Soldier is they invest time and money to develop technologies that private companies have already been fielded and that warfighters have battle-tested.  Case in point:  the U. S. Army improved magazine:

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.”

Sounds great, right?  There’s only one problem.  MagPul Industries already developed such a magazine–the PMAG (PDF)–in 2006 and released it in 2007.  Since that time, the PMAG has been continuously improved, gaining a reputation for strength and reliability among civilian, law enforcement, and military users.  The thing is even strong enough to get run over by a truck.  (If one private company is not enough for you, TangoDown has its own high-reliability magazine, the ARC Magazine, which was released in 2009.)  To compound matters, the PMAG is in the military supply chain with its own NATO stock number.

Besides this obvious oversight, PEO Solder’s multimedia folks need a refresher on basic small arms operation:

[Apparently, PEO Soldier Live pulled the video.  No hard feelings! –Editor]

Catch the error?  As Lightfighter member XGEP quipped, “Well there’s your problem… you’re firing the whole cartridge out of the barrel!”  Already at a credibility deficit from “reinventing the wheel,” PEO Soldier takes another hit from a poor presentation.  I have written that those who design weapons could benefit from a humanities point of view; the same is true for humanities folks who are short on experience operating weapons.  There are few people who see both sides of the equation.  (And look!  Here’s one that needs a job!)

However, this is old, old news.  What reminds me of this sad tale?  While jonesing for some Portal 2, I came across this hilarious promotion video:

As Aperature CEO Cave Johnson (J. K. Simmons) lists the advantages of his company’s death-dealing robotic turret, he answers an age-old question:  “How do we get so many bullets in ’em?  Like this!  Plus, we fire the whole bullet.  That’s 65% more bullet per bullet.”  Perhaps, PEO Soldier was finally ahead of the curve!  I can’t help but think the people who put this video together had that silly PEO Soldier video in mind.

Be sure to pause on the “tech specs” of that turret.  There are some funny components including a “empathy generator” and a “empathy suppressor.”  I also had a good laugh at the roughly-multicam turret who says, “I’m different.”  Well done, Valve.  Well done.

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