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An Overview of the Magpul Generation M3 (3rd Gen) Pmags

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At Shot Show 2007, Magpul introduced the original Pmag to the public.  What an incredible success story – Pmags are now the preferred AR-15 platform magazine choice among military, police, and firearms enthusiasts world wide.  In November of 2012, Magpul started shipping the third generation (M3) of their famed Pmags.  Of course, in November of 2012, Barack Obama was reelected to a 2nd term as President of the United States.  Having made it clear that he was in favor of reinstating an Assault Weapons Ban and other gun control restrictions during the Presidential Debates, many (including myself) started stocking up on AR-15 magazines right after the election.  Then in December of 2012, the terrible Sandy Hook Elementary shooting took place.  The combination of these two events caused supplies of firearms, ammunition, and firearms related accessories to all but disappear overnight from the marketplace as consumers were driven into a panic over the prospect of new gun control measures.  The panic driven scarcity for Magpul Pmags of all types persist as I write this, but I was fortunate to be able to have some back ordered M3 windowless Pmags delivered to me.  Like many, I currently have back orders with several magazine vendors including Midway, Brownells, DSG Arms, and Botach – it was Botach who came through with this particular shipment:

FY7A1415-Edit-Edit

I normally prefer Magpul’s windowed magazines (which allow you to see the number of rounds in the magazine).  But Magpul didn’t begin shipping the M3 Window Pmag until January and as of this writing, none of my back orders have shipped.  So when I saw these non-window M3 Pmags available, I jumped.

I’ve only been shooting an AR-15 the last couple of years – my first AR-15 (M&P 15) actually shipped with a Smith & Wesson M&P branded Pmag (non-window).  Since then I’ve almost exclusively used Pmags.  I’ve never had a magazine related failure using a Pmag so it’s difficult for me to imagine how they can be improved, but here’s a summary of what Magpul states are the upgraded and improved features of the M3 magazines over the previous M2 generation:

-Improvements in polymer technology have resulted in the M3 being “significantly stronger” in all areas.  Improved texture on both the front and back spines, as well as slightly modified side ribs to enhance handling characteristics when wet, dirty, or when under stress.

-An enhanced external geometry which promotes compatibility with the widest variety of platforms possible.

-An unspecified improvement to the internal geometry to improve along with a new, low-friction, four-way anti-tilt follower designed to improve the already stellar adverse conditions Pmag reliability.  “The new follower color is gray, to distinguish it from previous follower generations. ”

-New floor plate design shows significant strength increases over previous designs while being slimmer for easier side-by-side carry.

Given that it’s winter here in Ohio, and given that the panic stricken ammunition market has made purchasing .223/5.56 range ammo all but impossible, I haven’t exactly done a 1000+ round shooting test with the new M3 Pmags (which is why this article is an overview more than a review).  But I have run some ammo through it at the indoor range in which I shoot, and so far so good – it seems equally reliable to the M2 generation magazines I’ve used.  But again, let me stress that I’ve had limited shooting experience with the M3.  Outside of how it performs while shooting, here’s some photos to show the differences between the M2 and M3 Pmags:

RIGHT: M3 LEFT: M2

RIGHT: M3
LEFT: M2

FY7A1478-Edit-Edit

RIGHT: M3
LEFT: M2

Dimensionally speaking, the two generations of Pmags are very close.  From a materials perspective, I cannot visually detect or feel a difference between them.  The only visual and tactile difference I can percieve are the differences in the texture and pattern applied to each.  Here’s a close up of the feed lips and followers:

RIGHT: M3 LEFT: M2

RIGHT: M3
LEFT: M2

Here’s a close up of the side of the M3 Pmag:

FY7A1423-Edit-2

One handy feature the M2 Pmags had which the M3 Pmags do not is the ability to attach the dust cover to the bottom of the mag.  However, the M3 has what is in my mind an even more useful feature – four dot matrix blocks near the bottom of the magazine that can be used in conjunction with a paint pen to mark a magazine.  Right now I use tape on the bottom of the mag to differentiate mags loaded with penetrator ammo –  this will be a more elegant solution:

FY7A1481-Edit

Many are asking if the 2nd Generation (Gen M2) Magpul Pmags going away?  No.  For the time being, Magpul has committed to continuing to produce Gen M2 magazines as part of their MOE line, and will shipping without dust covers in the MOE packaging.  The M2 MOE Pmags will however have a lower price point – the (windowless) MOE PMAG has a new MSRP of $12.95, and the MOE Window PMAG has a new MSRP of $15.95.  In terms of pricing for the M3 Generation magazines , they will carry retail prices at the same levels the Gen M2 magazines were previously.  The (windowless) PMAG 30 AR/M4 GEN M3, 5.56×45, will be priced at an MSRP of $14.95, with the Window GEN M3 priced at an MSRP of $17.95.  If you’re buying magazines for long-term ammo storage, the difference in price between the M2 and M3 Pmags is negligible because you’ll have to purchase dust covers for the MOE M2 magazines – they come in packs of 3 for about $4.00.   

All indications are that the Gen M3 Pmags are a worthy successor to the much loved previous generation M2 Pmags.  Once the ban-scare subsides and I can comfortably replace the ammo I shoot, I’ll add to this review with more usage data, and will be adding photos of the M3 window Pmag once I finally get my hands on them.  Check back for updates.

June 1, 2013

I finally received some 3rd generation M3 Window Pmags from Midway today:

IMG_2927-Edit

I’ll begin testing them right away – check back for updates.

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

  1. Good review John! Thanks for taking time with photos on a great product!

  2. Very good review, John! I’m a firm believer in the Magpul PMAGS. I used to use the Colt GI mags they were good but once I found the PMAGS I’ve pretty much switches everything over to PMAGS. The followers on the old GI mags would wear out. I keep my PMAGS loaded and have never had one follower issue. Granted I shoot a couple times a month but still.. Have you see the new Magpod for the PMAGS? Holy sweet!

    Matt

  3. Is the Magpod that new 60 round drum? I was reading about the just yesterday…intriguing!

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