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The Army has begun fielding a new 5.56mm 30-round "improved magazine" that delivers a significant increase in reliability for M-16 and M-4 weapons.
Bolstering the already high reliability ratings of the M-16 and M-4, the improved magazine reduces the risk of magazine-related stoppages by more than 50 percent compared to the older magazine variants, according to officials at Program Executive Office Soldier.
Identified by a tan-colored follower, more than 500,000 of the improved magazines have been fielded to units in Iraq, Afghanistan and the United States.
"With the improved magazines, we're taking weapons reliability up another notch," said Lt. Col. Chris Lehner, product manager for 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 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.