Service branches and elite units are testing a 60-round drum

LAS VEGAS — A compact polymer drum magazine from Magpul that can hold 60 rounds is being tested for potential use by several U.S. military service branches, as well as elite units, the company’s director of government and international affairs said.

Tray Ardese would not specify which branches and commands are testing the PMAG D-60 drum, but said range testing by the services so far appears to be going well.

Related: The Marine Corps has ordered Leathernecks to use PMAGs for their rifles

“We’re under kind of a handshake [non-disclosure agreement] right now to let them get their tests in so we don’t put a lot of pressure on them,” Ardese told Military.com at SHOT Shot on Tuesday. “But each branch of the service has at least a few of them. It is a solution right now that could save lives.”

Image via Magpul

Magpul appears at the show after a major coup: The Marine Corps’ decision in December to approve the company’s high-performing Generation M3 PMAG as the only magazine authorized for use in combat, replacing the legacy metal magazine.

Ardese said Magpul hopes the ruggedness, balance and reliability of the drum will also win over military users.

“I was one of the biggest drum haters in the world until I saw this one,” said Ardese, a retired Marine colonel. “Because … they’d work great when you treated them with care, but the second you got them dirty or beat them around, they would stop on you. This one hasn’t stopped on me yet and I’ve shot a lot of rounds through it, and I’ve seen thousands and thousands and thousands of rounds shot through it. It runs flawlessly.”

The drum, at 7.4 inches in length, is designed to be no longer than a traditional 30-round magazine, so shooters in the prone position don’t have to adjust their positioning to fire. And it’s compatible with all the weapons that can accept the PMAG, although Ardese said the drum is particularly well suited to the Marines’ M27 infantry automatic rifle.

Magpul's 60-round drum is currently undergoing range tests by the U.S. military. | Image via Magpul

Magpul’s 60-round drum is currently undergoing range tests by the U.S. military. | Image via Magpul

The Corps is currently undergoing experimentation to determine whether more infantrymen should be issued the IAR in place of the M4 as their standard service rifle. The weapon has a slightly longer effective range than the M4 carbine and has features including a free-floating barrel that make it more accurate. And unlike the standard M4, it includes a fully automatic mode. Currently, each Marine infantry fire team is equipped with one IAR, carried by the team’s automatic rifleman.

“M27 is the perfect platform for this magazine. This magazine gives the IAR gunner, the automatic rifleman an advantage in volume of fire right off the bat if they were ambushed or they were hit,” Ardese said. “They immediately have two magazines’ worth of ammunition in a flawlessly feeding drum that is very well balanced. It is a must for the IAR gunner.”

The drum, he said, lends itself to any situation where a warfighter needs to have a lot of ammunition at the ready.

“It would be great for vehicle interdiction, any place you would need a large volume of firepower right now,” he said.

It’s not clear when the services currently testing the drum will make a decision on whether to field it, and for what weapons, Ardese said.

He has received only positive feedback from those in charge of range testing, he said.