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

You know what's fascinating about firearms? Precision. From the components down to the terminology, everything is well defined. This is precisely why the grand cringe-fest at the gun range, better known as 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. If you're nodding in agreement, you've got a fellow grumbler here. If you're not, well, prepare for enlightenment. You see, it's a bit like swapping 'earmuffs' for 'earplugs' – same purpose, but different mechanisms. Stick around!

magazine vs clip

Understanding the Terminology - 'Magazine vs Clip'

As a gun enthusiast or even a beginner in the world of firearms, you've probably heard terms like 'magazine' and 'clip' tossed around, often interchangeably.

Just like confusing earmuffs for earplugs – they both protect your hearing, but they're not quite the same thing. Similarly, while both 'magazine' and 'clip' relate to ammunition storage, their functions and designs are distinct. Let's clarify this 'magazine vs clip' confusion.

magazine vs clip

What is a Magazine?

A magazine is an ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm. Think of it as a container with a spring. When you load ammunition into a magazine, the spring's tension pushes the ammo up, ready to be fed into the firearm's chamber. Magazines come in various shapes and sizes and can be detachable or built into the firearm.

Types of Magazines

Box Magazines

Meet the most common type of magazine - the box magazine. Box magazines come in two variants: detachable and fixed. The detachable ones, which are the norm, find their use in semi-automatic and fully automatic firearms. The less common fixed ones are typically seen in bolt-action rifles.

Made of metal or plastic, box magazines store rounds in a parallel stack or staggered column. Its simplicity and compatibility make it a go-to choice for many firearms.

magazine vs clip

Tubular Magazines

Think of these as the older cousin of box magazines. Commonly found in shotguns and some models of rifles, tubular magazines are located underneath the barrel and store rounds in a single straight line.

This type of magazine is typically fixed, although a few detachable ones can be spotted in the wild. A tubular magazine is like that long, thin baguette you tuck under your arm at the bakery - neatly lined up and easy to handle.

Rotary Magazines

This is where things get a little more interesting. Rotary magazines, less common than box or tubular magazines, operate like a merry-go-round - each round is situated in its own chamber within the magazine.

You'll often find them with Ruger 10/22 rifles and certain shotguns. Manufacturing and using rotary magazines can be a bit more complex, but the payoff is a larger round capacity.

magazine vs clip

Drum Magazines

Drum magazines are the heavy hitters of the magazine world. They have a rotating circular chamber that stores a high number of rounds. Drum magazines saw extensive use during World War II but are less common today because of their weight and complexity.

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clip vs magazine

Helical Magazines

Meet the underdogs of the magazine world - helical magazines. They store rounds in a helix, or spiral, pattern. Picture a spiral staircase full of rounds, maximizing capacity without unnecessary bulk.

Helical magazines are rare gems used in firearms like the Calico series. They may be more complex to manufacture and use than box or tubular magazines, but they can offer a high capacity in a compact package.

What is a Clip?

On the other hand, a clip is a device used to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a single unit for insertion into a magazine or cylinder of a firearm. This is the waiter that brings the food to the table but doesn't stick around for the main course. Clips make loading magazines (especially internal, non-detachable ones) quicker and easier.

Types of Clips

Stripper Clips

Stripper clips are best described as common, but effective. The main job of a stripper clip is to load ammunition into a magazine.

Picture a school bus, with each slot representing a seat for a round. These clips, typically made of metal or plastic, are loaded with cartridges in these slots. Then, in a movement akin to an overeager parent pushing their child down a slide, the clip is pushed down to transfer the cartridges into the magazine.

clip vs mag

En Bloc Clips

These clips are the more adventurous siblings in the clip family. They go where few dare to venture - directly into the firearm. Much like their stripper counterparts, en bloc clips are usually metal and also have slots for the cartridges.

However, the loading process is different. It’s a bit like an all-access VIP pass – the entire clip, cartridges, and all is inserted into the firearm. The cartridges are then pushed straight into the chamber.

clip vs mag

While both stripper and en bloc clips are used to load ammunition, they have distinct roles. Stripper clips are the typical magazine loaders, whereas en bloc clips tend to bypass the middleman and go directly into the firearm.

The Confusion - Clip vs Mag

Where does the 'clip vs mag' confusion stem from? Well, it's mostly a result of popular culture. Many movies, video games, and even some firearm enthusiasts misuse these terms interchangeably, leading to a worldwide mix-up. It's like calling a 'remote control' a 'clicker'; it might get the point across, but it's not technically accurate.

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

So, when should you use 'magazine' and when 'clip'? Use 'magazine' when you're referring to the device that stores and feeds the ammunition into the firearm. In contrast, use 'clip' when you're talking about the unit that holds the rounds before they're loaded into a magazine or a revolver's cylinder.

Just remember - the 'clip' helps you 'clip' together the rounds, and the 'magazine' is like the 'storage magazine' that holds the rounds for the gun.

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

TradeSmart Professional Kit and Firearm Confidence Course

Precision in firearm terminology is only one part of the equation to being a responsible firearm owner. The second part of the equation is to have the right gear and knowledge for handling firearms safely and effectively. TradeSmart decided to provide both 🙂

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Available in an array of vibrant colors (from pink to blue), this comprehensive kit boasts top-notch NRR28 earmuffs that feature a groundbreaking 6-layer noise reduction system. Pair them with our German-quality BASF foam NRR33 earplugs for highest possible NRR38 noise cancellation!

shooting eye and ear protectionshooting eye and ear protectionWith the kit, you also get our ANSI z87.1 certified safety glasses, guaranteeing uncompromised eye protection. And to top it off, we provide a hard carrying case that conveniently fits all your gear.
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This premium online course, brought to you by TradeSmart, covers the entire range of firearm safety and operation. Expertly crafted and led by industry specialists, this program offers over an hour of detailed instructions spread across 10 modules and more than 15 lessons.

No matter if you're just starting out or a seasoned enthusiast, this course is tailored to enhance your understanding of firearms and their safe, responsible usage. Learn everything from firearm classifications and operations, safety protocols to special licenses!

You can enjoy the Firearm Confidence Course absolutely FREE with any safety gear purchased from TradeSmart. Alternatively, if you're interested only in the course, it can also be purchased as a standalone product here.

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In the gun shooting world, precision is more than just about terminology; it's also about your gear and knowledge. So step up your game with the TradeSmart Professional Kit and the Gun Safety Course.


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.


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

The term 'magazine' comes from the Arabic word 'makhazin', which means 'storehouse'. This is fitting because a magazine serves as a storehouse for ammunition in a firearm. A 'clip', on the other hand, is a device used to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit, ready for insertion into the magazine or cylinder of a firearm. So, the reason it's called a magazine and not a clip is because these two parts serve different functions in a firearm.

2. Which is correct, magazine or clip?

Both terms are correct, but they refer to different components. A magazine is a device that holds ammunition for a firearm and feeds it into the chamber. A clip, on the other hand, is a device that holds rounds together, either to load a magazine or to load a firearm directly.

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

It depends on the firearm. Most modern firearms use magazines, but some older models or certain types of firearms may use clips. It's also worth noting that clips can be used to load magazines more quickly.

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 or cylinder of a firearm. Clips make it faster and easier to load a firearm or 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 or a firearm directly. 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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