The USGI magazine is a crappy piece of stamped aluminum that can go from "working perfectly" to "failure to cycle inducer" at the drop of a hat or even for being left loaded for too long. So given the depth of redundant work TACOM goes about trying to improve the aluminum body GI Mag by ripping off Magpul's follower and using Brownell's improved magazine spring. Then they came up with a multiple hundred dollar "gauging tool" to determine if a magazine's feed lips are in spec or not.
Meanwhile, for those actually fighting a war overseas and not working in a cushy lab stateside the GI Mag isn't cutting it. So in response PEO Soldier issued PMags through the Rapid Fielding Initiative. PMags were given a National Stock Number (NSN) and put into the supply system. All is well in the world. PMags for deploying units and there was much rejoicing.
Until this last week when TACOM (Tank and Automotive Command) sends out a message that "Polymer Magazines are not authorized for use on the M4/M16 series rifle" and I kid you not I read the message myself. I couldn't believe it, so I looked up the TACOM manual for the M4/M16 and sure enough the PMag is not listed as an authorized accessory. But then again neither is a "ghetto grip" or "grip pod" or "bipod."
For what it is worth, you can look up TACOM's press release where it claims that "Soldier's use chemicals that may react with polymer magazines" without explaining how those same chemicals don't react to the nylon on our rucksacks with plastic frames, polymer furniture on the M4/M16, and even the Vibram soles of our boots. This is a cheap excuse and the grunts know it. TACOM also says "exit polls from units departing theater continually rate the M4 as a reliable weapon" when asked why the hell they canceled the XM8, HK416 and FN SCAR programs.
So what does a Commander do when faced with bureaucratic idiocy at its finest? Say "Screw you, I'm in command, and I will issue my Soldiers the equipment that I deem is best."
Seriously, there has to be some kickbacks going on at TACOM for this level of crap to be pushed down.
In full disclosure, I have a bunch of GI Mags that I use. Most have been upgraded to Magpul followers but not all (found another 7 mags when I opened an old footlocker that was in storage) so yes I use them. I also have PMags that are still new in the package for a "just in case" scenario. But I can buy a PMag for about 3 bucks more than a Brownells magazine on sale, so it makes sense to buy the PMag. It also makes sense to upgrade my remaining GI Mags with Magpul followers.