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Magazine vs Clip

By Chris Nelson on August 21, 2016

It's crazy that we even need to write an article about this but I think it's completely necessary because I still here magazines being referred to as clips from time to time. As a gun owner you should at least sound like you know what your doing. You're a "Gun Owner" and the microscope is even closer and finer these days. We have to be even more professional and responsible in the eyes of the "Anti-Gun" crowd who wouldn't even know which end the bullet came out of. Just watch the news after some sort of public shooting and listen to the Don Lemon's of the world describe how dangerous these "Guns" are. Even if you only own one firearm and take it to the range once or twice a year it's best to know the lingo.

Before we begin, lets take a look at the definition of a magazine and the definition of a clip.

Magazine Definition - A magazine is an ammunition storage or feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm. Magazines can be removable (detachable) or integral to the firearm.

Clip Definition - A clip is a device that is used to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit, ready for insertion into the magazine or cylinder of a firearm. This speeds up the process of loading and reloading the firearm as several rounds can be loaded at once, rather than one round at a time.

So with that being said, do shotguns, pistols and rifles use clips or magazines? Wait ... are they clips or magazines? ammunition clips or magazines? ammo clips or magazines?? Well....

While the term clip may seem interchangeable with the term magazine, they are completely different items.

Analogy: belt and suspenders… What’s the difference, they both hold up pants, right? Not necessarily…

All present day military 5.56mm ball ammo comes in clips or more commonly referred to as "stripper clips", then a provided speed loaded is used to quickly load the 10 round clips into the 30 round magazines.

5.56mm Ammo Crate

Below is a picture of your standard GI 30 round 5.56mm M16/M4 magazine. Which is also compatible with the civilian version AR-15. Look at how the Magazine operates within the AR-15 pictured below. You would have used clips to load your magazine then you would have inserted your magazine into your magazine fed AR-15. The AR-15 is a gas operated, semi-automatic, magazine fed rifle.

5.56 Magazine AR-15

Below is a picture of a clip used in a Mauser C96.

Mauser C96 Clip

A "clip" is a small metal device that bullets slide into. The clip is used to load a magazine that is internal to the weapon. The clip is discarded after the bullets have been loaded into the magazine. The M1 Garand is a WWII Rifle that uses this loading system. Handguns mainly use a detachable, or an ejecting, box "magazine."

Glock 19 Ejected Magazine

All modern pistols use this system. In fact, the only pistol reloaded by a clip, that I’m aware of, is the Mauser C96. The C96 is one of the classic handguns German officers brandish in WWII movies — not exactly a common handgun on today’s streets. So, use “magazine” or the slang/lingo “mag,” when referring to loading and reloading handguns.

But as you can see not all firearm categories are alike. It's all dependent on the firearm but most of today's firearms use magazines. Your way more likely to be correct by saying magazine than clip any day.

So what about a shotgun? Does it have a magazine? Well it depends on the shotgun.

Here's a picture of the famous magazine fed Saiga Shotgun designed by the Russians in the 90s. So in this case it's a shotgun with a magazine.

Saiga Shotgun

But here is the All American Classic Remington 870. Is this magazine fed? Well kind of....It has a magazine tube. It's the shorter of the two tubes in the picture, just below the barrel. The magazine tube is not removed to reload and therefore is strictly referred as the magazine tube.

Remington 870

So at the end of all of this if your still confused and don't know which was is up any more. I have hope for you. Just replace the word "clip" in your vocabulary and use the word "magazine" and your far more likely to look like you know what your talking about then if you were to spit out the word "clip" in front of seasoned gun owners. We all had to start somewhere and no one should ever consider themselves "the know it all gun expert." That's how we know you're full of shit! We're constantly learning and getting better everyday. The idea with this article is to clear up any confusion between the term "clip" and "magazine." If you already knew all of this then I'm happy for you but this article wasn't meant for you. Let's help each other out here.

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