Magazine vs Clip: Cutting Through the ‘Clip vs Mag' Confusion

Do you know what's fascinating about firearms? Precision. From the components down to the terminology, everything is well defined. This is precisely why the 'magazine vs clip' debate is a thing.

With everything so neatly organized, no wonder many feel their blood pressure spike when someone casually swaps 'magazine' with 'clip'. No, they're not the same, and yes, it matters.

Stick around!

magazine vs clip

Magazine vs Clip: Clarifying the Basics

In the world of firearms, two terms that often get mixed up are 'magazine' and 'clip'. It's crucial to understand the difference, as they play distinct roles in the operation of firearms.

magazine vs clipGrasping the difference between magazines and clips is a fundamental step for those interested in how to get into competitive shooting, where precision and knowledge of equipment are key.

Let's clarify this 'magazine vs clip' confusion.

What is a Magazine?

A magazine is a device that not only stores ammunition but also feeds it into the chamber of a firearm. Think of it as a storage box with a spring inside. This spring helps push the ammunition up into the gun, ready for firing. Magazines come in various shapes and sizes and can be built into the firearm or detachable, allowing for quick reloading.

Types of Magazines

Magazines come in various shapes and designs, each serving a unique purpose. Let's take a closer look at the different types of magazines you might encounter:

Box Magazines

These are the most familiar types of magazines. Box magazines are either detachable or fixed.

The detachable kind is widely used in semi-automatic and automatic firearms, allowing for quick reloading. Fixed box magazines are often found in bolt-action rifles.

Made from metal or plastic, these magazines can store ammunition in either a parallel stack or a staggered column, making them versatile and popular.

magazine vs clip

Tubular Magazines

Picture these as the classic version of magazines. Tubular magazines are mainly seen in shotguns and some rifles. They sit underneath the barrel and line up the rounds in a single row.

Most tubular magazines are fixed to the firearm, but there are some detachable models out there. Their straightforward design is reminiscent of a simple, linear arrangement.

Rotary Magazines

A bit more unique, rotary magazines store each round in its own separate chamber, much like a carousel. They're not as common as box or tubular magazines but are notable for their higher round capacity.

You might see these in certain rifles like the Ruger 10/22.

magazine vs clip

Drum Magazines

These are the powerhouses in the magazine family. Drum magazines have a circular design and can hold a large number of rounds. They were widely used during World War II.

Today, they are less common due to their weight and the complexity of their design.
clip vs magazine

clip vs magazine

Helical Magazines

The innovative members of the magazine world, helical magazines store ammunition in a spiral pattern, similar to a spiral staircase.

This design allows for a high capacity of rounds without adding bulk. They're rare and a bit more complex to manufacture, often seen in specialized firearms like the Calico series.

What is a Clip?

On the other hand, a clip is simpler. It's used to hold multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit for easy and quick loading into a magazine.

There are some unique or older firearm designs where clips can be used to load ammunition directly into a fixed magazine, which is integral to the firearm. In these cases, the fixed magazine is part of the firearm's chambering process, but the clip's role is still primarily to organize and load the ammunition.

Unlike a magazine, a clip doesn't feed the rounds into the chamber it just makes loading the magazines (especially internal, non-detachable ones) quicker and easier.

Types of Clips

Just like magazines, clips also come in different types. Let's explore the common types of clips:

Stripper Clips

These are the most basic and widely used types of clips. Stripper clips hold several rounds of ammunition in a line.

clip vs magTo use them, you align the clip with the magazine and push the rounds down into it. This method is much faster than loading each round individually. Stripper clips are especially useful for quickly reloading rifles with internal magazines.

Our recommendation are Landser Outfitters Brass Stripper Clips. They work really well and loading the magazine off them is smooth and easy.

#CommisionsEarnedmagazine vs clip - stripper clips

En Bloc Clips

En Bloc clips are a bit more specialized. Unlike stripper clips, you load the entire en bloc clip, along with the ammunition, into the magazine.

Once all the rounds are fired, the empty clip is automatically ejected, or it can be manually removed. This type of clip is famously used in the M1 Garand rifle.

clip vs mag

Moon Clips

Moon clips are circular clips that hold ammunition for revolvers. They allow revolvers to be reloaded more quickly and are used with certain types of revolver cartridges that don’t have a rim for the extractor to grab onto. The entire moon clip, with all its rounds, is inserted into the cylinder of the revolver.

Check out these moon clips from Speed Beez! They are well made and perform exactly as described.

#CommisionsEarnedmagazine vs clip - moon clips

Half-Moon Clips

Similar to moon clips, half-moon clips hold fewer rounds – typically three. They are semi-circular and work the same way as full moon clips, offering a balance between speed and convenience.

The Confusion - Clip vs Mag

Where does the 'clip vs mag' confusion stem from? Well, it's mostly a result of pop culture. Many movies, video games, and even some firearm enthusiasts misuse these terms interchangeably, leading to a worldwide mix-up.

Correct Usage - When to use 'Magazine' and 'Clip'

Understanding when to correctly use the terms 'magazine' and 'clip' is crucial for clear communication in the world of firearms. Here's a simple guide to help you use these terms accurately:

Using 'Magazine'

The term 'magazine' should be used when referring to the device that stores and feeds ammunition into the firearm.

Magazines are an integral part of the firearm's mechanism, whether they are detachable or fixed. They contain a spring that pushes the ammunition into the chamber, ready for firing.

Use 'magazine' when talking about this component in rifles, pistols, and other firearms that require a storage and feeding system for their ammunition.

Using 'Clip'

The term 'clip' is appropriate when discussing a device that holds rounds of ammunition together as a single unit for easier loading.

Clips are used to quickly and efficiently load ammunition into a magazine, but they do not feed the ammunition into the chamber themselves.

Use 'clip' when you're talking about the process of loading rounds into a magazine, especially in the context of rifles like the M1 Garand, which uses en bloc clips.

clip vs mag

The Importance of Precision in Firearm Terminology

The discourse on 'clip vs mag' might seem like an argument over semantics, but it's far more critical in the context of firearms. The two terms are not interchangeable and refer to distinctly different components.

The distinction is not just about being technically correct; it's about ensuring clear and effective communication within the firearm community. Misusing these terms can lead to confusion, misinformation, and even safety concerns.

Hence, understanding and using the correct terminology is an essential part of being a responsible firearm owner or enthusiast. It shows respect for the craft, the community, and the inherent seriousness of handling firearms.

clip vs mag

Maximize Your Firearm Safety and Expertise

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Complement your gear with our Firearm Confidence Course. This expert-led online program covers everything from basic operations to advanced safety protocols. It's an invaluable resource for both beginners and experienced users.

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Precision is what we all appreciate about firearms, isn't it? The words we use matter, and when it comes to firearms, using the correct terminology is a sign of respect for the skill, the tool, and the community.

We've dived deep into the world of 'magazine vs clip', shedding light on their definitions, uses, and the types you might come across. Be it the adaptable box magazines or the rapid-loading stripper clips, each has its unique place and purpose in the world of firearms. Just like earmuffs aren't earplugs, magazines aren't clips.

As the article delves into the specific roles and designs of magazines and clips, it's essential for firearm enthusiasts to remember to maintain them and clean their firearm regularly, maintaining their equipment for safety and longevity.


1. Why is it called a magazine and not a clip?

The distinction between a magazine and a clip is significant because a magazine is an integral part of the firearm's feeding mechanism, whereas a clip is merely a tool for loading. Since the magazine plays a direct role in the firearm's operation, its importance and functionality justify the specific terminology.

2. Which is correct, magazine or clip?

Both terms are correct, but they refer to different components. ‘Magazine’ refers to the component of a firearm that stores and feeds ammunition, while ‘clip’ refers to a loading aid that holds cartridges together.

3. Does a gun have a clip or a magazine?

A gun typically has a magazine, not a clip. The magazine is a part of the firearm that stores and feeds ammunition into the chamber. While clips are used to load ammunition into magazines, they are not an integral part of the gun itself. Most modern firearms are designed with detachable or internal magazines for storing ammunition.

4. Why do people call a magazine a clip?

It's mostly due to a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about the specific functions of these two components. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, which is wrong as they refer to different parts of a firearm.

5. Does a Glock have a clip or magazine?

Glock, like most modern firearms, uses a magazine. The magazine holds the ammunition and feeds it into the chamber when the firearm is operated.

6. Is a clip bigger than a magazine?

The size of a clip or a magazine depends on its design and the firearm it's designed for, not on whether it's a clip or a magazine. Some magazines are larger than clips, and vice versa.

7. What's the definition of a clip?

A clip is a device that holds multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit, ready for insertion into the magazine. Clips make it faster and easier to load a magazine with ammunition.

8. Are magazine clips illegal?

This depends on the jurisdiction. In some places, high-capacity magazines (which are often incorrectly referred to as "clips") are illegal, while in others they're not. It's important to check the local laws and regulations related to firearms in your area.

9. What is a magazine vs clip vs cartridge?

A magazine is a device that stores and feeds ammunition into the chamber of a firearm. A clip is a device that holds rounds together, usually to load a magazine. A cartridge is a single unit of ammunition consisting of the bullet, casing, powder, and primer.

10. What's a clip for a gun?

A clip for a gun is a device that holds multiple rounds of ammunition together, making it faster and easier to load a firearm or a magazine. It's worth noting that not all firearms use clips. Most modern firearms use magazines to store and feed ammunition.

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